The Quickest Way to Secure a Budget for Writing Projects? Show Impact.

By The Good Words Team

October 16, 2023

At Good Words, we understand the importance of documentation: Ask us why documentation is valuable to any organization, and you’ll have trouble getting us to shut up about why we think it’s so valuable. 

Despite our team’s steadfast belief in the virtues of investing in technical writing, sometimes key stakeholders at your company are the ones who need convincing. Over the years, we’ve noticed that our clients often struggle to quantify the ROI of documentation and to demonstrate how documentation efforts can help a business’s bottom line. Neglecting documentation has real costs and consequences–but how can you quantify those impacts to the leaders in your company?

Enter: the Good Words Documentation Impact Calculator. C-suite decision makers tend to get excited about projects when they can easily see the impact that project will make to the company’s bottom line–that is, projects that help them save money or make money. 

Calculating the Bottom-Line Impact of Documentation

When we work with our clients, we use the Good Words Documentation Impact Calculator to help them determine the impact of their documentation (or lack thereof!) in cold, hard cash. To get there, we ask five questions.

1. Does Your Lack of Documentation Affect Employee Productivity?

About half of our clients come to us because their employees can’t find the information they need to be successful in their jobs. In some cases, their product development teams don’t know how to use custom tools that could help them work efficiently, or their most capable (and expensive!) engineers are spending their time handholding new hires through their onboarding process–all problems that can be solved with effective internal documentation. 

To calculate the bottom-line impact of these internal productivity issues, we examine how much productive time these employees lose per week, how much these employees are paid per year, and how many employees overall are impacted by the issue. From there, we can calculate how much money your company is spending on employees who are toiling away when they should be working productively. 

2. How Much Revenue Are You Losing Because of Lost Employee Productivity?

Let’s be real: Most businesses hire employees with the goal of making more revenue. When your employees lose productive hours because of a lack of documentation, your company also loses those employees’ revenue potential. 

To calculate documentation’s impact to revenue, we once again examine how much time your employees lose per week and how many people are impacted by the problem. We then factor in your company’s annual revenues to determine how much revenue potential is lost per year. These losses are even higher for departments with large teams of revenue-generating employees, such as sales representatives or software engineers.

3. How Much Are Your Customer Support Costs?

Internal team members aren’t the only people who are affected by nonexistent or bad docs: Your customers also suffer. When customers can’t find answers to their questions or solutions to their problems in the documentation, what do they do? They 1) get frustrated, and 2) pick up the phone to tell you about it.

To calculate documentation’s impact on customer support costs, we gather data about how many customer support tickets your company receives per week that can be attributed to a lack of effective documentation. We then identify the average cost your company incurs to close each ticket, multiplied by the average number of tickets received per month, to determine the average cost per year. 

4. How Much Does Customer Onboarding Cost?

The most cost-effective way to onboard new customers into your platform is with clear, accessible, self-service documentation. However, we often work with clients whose products or services aren’t documented. To onboard their new customers, their customer support, engineering, and product teams pick up the slack to manually guide customers through the onboarding process.

To determine how much your company is losing in customer onboarding costs, we identify how many employees are involved in onboarding a new customer, how much those employees are paid per year, and how many hours and weeks it takes for the team to get a new customer up and running. We also examine how many customers your company wants to onboard in a given timeframe, and compare the costs of doing so manually against customers setting up their own environments with self-service documentation.

5. How Much Are You Losing in Potential New Business?

We’ve worked with multiple clients over the years who come to us because they’ve lost the deal of a lifetime to a competitor–because their competitor had better docs. Nothing hurts quite like losing a multi-million-dollar deal to your biggest rivals because of the docs, amirite?

To determine the impact of these lost deals, we gather information from your sales teams about how many deals have failed to close because of a lack of effective documentation. We then multiply that number by the average or anticipated deal size for each of those products or services.

Bringing It All Together

Finally, we add up the totals for each of these calculations to determine the overall impact documentation has on your business. We’ve had clients who have been shocked to learn that they’re losing millions of dollars per year–all because they weren’t investing the time and budget to write and maintain a few docs. 

But don’t take our word for it: Try it yourself! Download Good Words’ Documentation Impact Calculator to see how documentation might save your company money, reduce customer churn, and increase revenue. To learn how to use the Impact Calculator, watch our webinar

Note: This article was originally published on June 21, 2023 date and was updated on October 16, 2023.