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Adding Value as a Professional Technical Communicator Janice (Ginny) Redish Redish & Associates, Inc. SUMMARY Value added means generating greater return on investment than the cost of the initial  investment.    Return on investment can mean bringing in more money (or increasing users'’  satisfaction) or it can mean reducing costs, such as the cost of supporting customers.    Value  added is a concept that technical communicators can use in a wide range of fields (not just in  high-tech companies) and in a wide range of roles (not just as writers or producers of  documents).    Case studies and literature from technical communicators and professionals in  related fields suggest many different measures that technical communicators can use to show  how they add value.    As technical communicators consider value added, they should be  aware of two important issues: Numbers don'’t tell the whole story; process is also critical.  They may have to go beyond traditional corporate accounting systems to get credit for value  that they add. Despite tremendous growth in our  profession, some organizations still produce  technical communications without professional  assistenceassistance.    In most organizations,  technical communicators, whether employees or  contractors, still struggle for recognition and  appropriate funding.    Too many product managers  and subject-matter specialists still believe the  fallacies of "“anyone can write"” and  "“documentation isn'’t so important anyway."”    In  an era of increasing cost consciousness, we technical  communicators are under ever greater pressure to  justify our roles and our activities-- to show just how  we add value and how much value we add.    How  can we do that? FINDING WAYS TO MEASURE VALUE ADDED Over the course of the project, we have  accumulated a substantial list of ways that you might  measure value added.    Let'’s discuss them in four  categories: 1. Outcome measures 2. Ratings of customer satisfaction 3. Projections (estimates) of value added 4. General perceptions of the value of technical  communicators'’ work In many cases, you do not want to wait until  the work is completed to make the case that the  technical communicators'’ work is going to add  value.    Two ways to estimate value added are to  use historical data and to conduct comparative or  iterative usability tests.
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  • Spring '10
  • m
  • Value added, technical communicators, traditional accounting practices, Professional Technical Communicator, Redish Redish & Associates

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