My colleague Kai Weber penned a cautionary tale about what happens when a company regards technical communication as a task rather than as a profession.
In Kai’s tale, programmers and testers are brought in from other parts of the company to help update a software product — and then they’re called on to write the documentation as well. The quality of the doc suffers, and customers complain that much of the doc focuses on features and reference information rather than on how to use the product.
Having given in to the “seduction” of reducing costs in the short term, management now finds that the product’s documentation is hard to use and impossible to maintain.
Kai’s story is all too true. I’ve seen it happen. Allow me now to write the next chapter.