Survey of UK Documentation Teams

We’ve completed interviewing the managers of UK documentation teams today. We estimate our survey covers 5% of the technical authors in the UK. This means we should have a representative sample size.

The next step is to combine all the questionnaires, analyse the data and write the report.

In our survey, we were particularly interested in discovering:

• Is there likely to be a significant change in the number of authors in the team in 2009?
• Will the split between contract and permanent staff change in 2009?
• Is there a difference between teams single sourcing and those that are not?
• Is there any move to off-shore documentation?
• Are other departments encroaching on Technical Authors’ work?
• How is the documentation team’s performance measured?
• Is there unanimity as to what makes a good document?
• Is the size of the documentation team related to the volume of content produced, the number of programmers/engineers or the size of the company?
• How do authors develop and improve their skills?
• Is there a trend towards customised documentation?
• Is there a trend towards user generated content?
• Is there a move towards DITA?
• Does the adoption of XML based authoring lead to wider use of authoring tools outside of the Publications team?
• How important is documentation to organisations?
• Has there been any adoption of Web 2.0 technologies?
o If there has been a move away from manuals, do technical authors still do the work?
• If there has been a move towards XML,
o Do non-technical authors now get involved in writing content ?
o Do technical authors get source content in XML format (or is it still “cut and paste”)?

It will be interesting to see what answers we find.

We’ll be writing a report on our findings, which will be available in our online shop in the near future.

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