One of the biggest challenges for technical authors is to demonstrate and assess the value of the work they do. This is is also true in some other professions as well, such as those in design.
I came across an article by Suzan Boztepe on what exactly constitutes user value and how design can contribute to its creation. Although her focus is on design, some of her findings have relevance to technical communication.
The article is here – http://www.ijdesign.org/ojs/index.php/IJDesign/article/view/61/29
Boztepe identified four major categories of user value: utility, social significance, emotional, and spiritual values.
Typically, the value of user documentation is measured by its utility. Perhaps it should be valued by these additional categories as well?