atw: Re: Statistics to demonstrate value ...

  • From: Suzy <SuzyDavis@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2009 07:04:22 -0500 (CDT)

You have said you don't have time at the moment but I feel I 
should response to your comments.

thanks for your feedback Cas - my comments in line below

Wow, so many gob-smacking statements, I don't know where to begin 
or end!  Wish I had the time to do the thread justice, alas not, 
so I'll confine myself to a couple of brief thoughts.

>> I wouldn't worry; I have limited time to respond; and I have 
>> received enough feedback to know what I need to do next.

1. There are no tender criteria that cover off how pretty the 
tender, nor how much everyone likes the sales guy.   It's the 
quality, appropriateness, and value for money against the stated 
evaluation criteria that count - nothing else matters.  This is 
how it works in both the private and public sectors, period.

>> Yes.  I was never suggesting that the quality of the look of the 
>> document, any document actually - tender or otherwise, out 
>> weighs the basics you've outlined.

2.  Suzy - you've stated up front that you've formed your own 
company, largely on the basis of having refined your methods 
during your current contract.  You've also been honest in stating 
that you want to give up the contract work and have the 
organization engage your company to undertake work, as and when 

It seems to me that you're offering them a business proposition 
that has nothing at all to do with whether you have or do add 
value and nothing to do with whether or not they need a technical 

>> My original post was in response to their latest request for 
>> information from me.  I have given them a proposition where I 
>> have given them two options.  One, the recommended option, is 
>> that they transition to a technical writer because I no longer 
>> want to work as contractor any more and want to build my 
>> company.  I am happy to train that technical writer - I have 
>> given them six months to transition.  I have recommended this 
>> option to them because I think the organisation should have its 
>> inhouse technical writer resource.  And if they get busy and 
>> want back up support they can hire additional resources from 
>> anywhere they want, or use my company's resources.  Like most 
>> contract technical writers I'm happy to move on, and I'm glad I 
>> built a sustainable model that will provide value into the 
>> future - with or without me.

The issue I believe is that the Operations teams and Sales teams 
are not wanting to transition to another technical writer, they 
are wanting to keep using me and my team.  And obviously I'm OK 
with that.  They are wanting help in demonstrating the value in 
ROI terms to the Finance manager.

The difficulty for the finance guy is why they would exempt such 
an arrangement from a competitive process in the open market, as 
opposed to handing your company a service agreement simply because 
that's what would suit you.
>> That's not quite right.  The Finance manager is a fan of 
>> Microsoft Word, and believes the marketing hype - that Word 2007 
>> is so simple to use they don't need a technical writer resource 
>> at all.  I am coming from a place of concern for my 100 document 
>> authors who I know will not be able to achieve the same results 
>> without some support.  They are not Advanced Word users, and 
>> never will be - because they have no interest in documentation 
>> as such.  But they have come to value the good quality 
>> documentation that they have producing over the last couple of 
>> years.  I'm proud to have been part of that transition.

I may be wrong, and I apologise if so, but you seem to have 
mis-interpeted my post a little.  I am not interested in putting 
other technical writers out of work - the opposite really - I want 
to provide an opportunity for newbie technical writers to work 
where they will get great experience.

There are a pile of other "iss-th-ues" going on here, none of 
which have to do with collecting data to prove one's worth as a 
technical writer.  Sounds more like a big basket of office 
politics to me, and one finance guy who is scratching his head 
over why he should outsource to your new company at higher rates 
than you get now .... yes, that's a big assumption on my part, but 
I'm figuring the hourly rate for ad hoc work via your company 
would be in excess of your current full time hourly or daily 

>> It's not really a quagmire of office politics - it's pretty 
>> straight forward so that perception might be more about where 
>> you work.    But yes, I think you've got it, it will be more 
>> expensive or about the same - that's not clear yet, but the plus 
>> for them is that instead of just 'me' that will have 
>> alternatives when I'm on holiday - and I get to have a holiday 
>> without my laptop.  Or they have a trained inhouse resource to 
>> provide 'primary' support. I'm not trying to manipulate this in 
>> my favour.  There are plusses and minuses on both sides of the 
>> equation - I really don't have a preference as to which way it 
>> goes.  And I am so glad that I don't.

CK - yes, have to agree with your points.

It's actually not that difficult to demonstrate the value 
proposition of a good tech writer / document designer / writer / 
whatever.  It's quite a concern that some people in the tech 
writing profession struggle to put together a solid business case 
in support of their own contribution to the success of an 

>> Great - I am here asking for the help of the people on this 
>> list.  How do you suggest I demonstrate this succinctly in one 
>> slide - which has been requested.  I have already had a half 
>> hour presentation which outlines the options and the advantages 
>> and disadvantages.  It would be great if you could share your 
>> wisdom; it is something that I have never had to do before.  My 
>> customers have always come to me on the recommendation of other 
>> customers so I've never really had to sell myself beyond my CV.

Selling your value to an organisation, in the way you describe - 
that any idiot should be able to, is more the domain I think, of 
the permanent technical writer who has to justify budget expense - 
I've only contracted.  And as a contrctor, once you have a spiel 
and happy customers, you don't really need to think too much 
beyond that, the work comes to you without much effort. But if you 
think I should then I'll take that on board - it's certainly 
something I need to start knowing!

Thanks for your feedback. Suzy


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