The fear of risk seems to be growing in significance within organisations. According to Intellect, the trade body for UK technology companies:
Operating risks have changed significantly as a result of prevailing economic conditions over the past 18 months. Companies have been under severe economic strain and are focused on adjusting to a drastically changed economic and regulatory environment.
While concentrating on revenue protection and cost reduction measures, companies have not recognised that their risk and impact profiles may have changed substantially while their resilience has deteriorated.
Intellect states these changes have had a significant impact in a number of areas:
- Political and corporate instability brought about by the economic downturn has brought with it heightened levels of operational risk for organisations
- Organisations are required to process, store and secure rapidly increasing amounts of data, which itself poses a huge risk.
- Outsourcing has been widely embraced as a way for businesses to streamline operations whilst maintaining levels of service
- The ‘domino effect’ of supply chain problems means that every organisation is at risk from the recession, both in terms of financial performance and operational continuity.
- Limited capital investment in many organisations has made ‘manual’ services more attractive to CFOs.
The ‘domino effect’ of supply chain means clients are expecting less risky solutions from their software and technology suppliers. Where a software vendor could adopt a “no documentation” or “less documentation” approach six months ago, this is becoming less acceptable to customers.
Indeed, Google has been criticised for only offering user forums to assist Nexus One mobile phone users and for failing to provide decent user documentation with Google Wave.
There is also a greater need to document processes and procedures, in order to mimimise the risks listed above.
User documentation is in some ways comparable to insurance: sometimes seen as a grudge purchase and something that can be avoided … right up to the point with things start to go wrong.
However, one of the best ways to ensure problems are avoided, processes are followed correctly and issues are fixed is to write it down.