Redish, Janice. “Adding Value as a Professional Technical Communicator.” Technical Communication 50, no. 4 (2003): 505-18.
One of the most important roles any employee has is adding value to a company’s bottom line. This value can take the form of ideas, writings, product design, marketing campaigns, usability testing, or research. As Redish states: “Our hypothesis is that even if quality work by professionals takes more resources up front, the return on that investment more than makes up for the costs”. The ongoing challenge for technical communicators is proving that they can add value. Redish suggests several avenues for how technical communicators can show added value.
Redish’s identifies four ways to measure added value:
- Outcome measures
- Ratings of customer satisfaction
- Projections (estimates) of value added
- General perceptions of value of technical communicators’ work
The key for measuring added value for Redish is the ability to reduce the development and maintenance process to key numbers, which can then be used to show how professional technical communicators can either reduce development costs through their input, or reduce customer interactions when a product is released to the market. While Redish notes the caveat that numbers are not the whole story, the ability for technical communicators to highlight where and how they can add value to a business’ bottom line is crucial for the profession. The other important caveat Redish addresses is ensuring that technical communicators claim the credit where due for the value they add.
Technical communicators are often in a position where their status and need is underestimated. By developing procedures along the lines highlighted by Redish in this article and through the case studies she presented, technical communicators can establish themselves as critical to the successful running of most businesses and operations.