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In today's complex global economy, good technical documentation is essential. We have all been frustrated when it is lacking -- when we can't find what we need in an owner's manual, when on-line help is no help at all, when newsletter articles are confusing, when installation instructions are incomplete, or when we can't find what we need on a web site. Such poorly-written technical documentation is costly.
Bad owner's manuals alienate customers. Inadequate on-line help wastes valuable time. Obscure newsletter articles do not pass on needed knowledge. Unclear installation instructions cause errors. Poorly-designed web sites drive customers away.
In contrast, good technical documentation has tangible benefits. Clear reference materials can prevent customer errors or make business processes more reliable. The process of documenting a computer application can highlight problems and lead to their correction. Well-written newsletters can make intellectual capital even more valuable.
Other examples include:
- Improved sales that result from the availability of easily-referenced product information.
- Training that is more effective because of high-quality written materials.
- Computer system functions that are clarified and improved to better reflect business needs.
- Errors and gaps in a company's disaster recovery plan that are revealed and corrected.
- Menu names, screen titles, wording of screen options, and general usability that are improved for clarity, accuracy, and consistency.
- Agreement that is reached on system functionality between I/T staff and business departments as a result of developing and finalizing system and user documentation.
- Testing all options of a computerized system in order to produce complete user documentation.
- Access to a computerized system that is reorganized as a result of writing user procedures.
- Reviewing a computer system's functions as part of the process of reviewing and finalizing user documentation.
- Errors that are avoided because of accurate, clearly-written procedures.