Headshot of a smiling woman with shortish hairTrish Grindereng, Comtech Services
March 1, 2024

Cost management is a crucial aspect for any technical writing team, ensuring efficient operations and resource allocation. In a recent CIDM roundtable, members discussed the challenges of managing hidden costs, measuring inefficiencies, and adapting to evolving processes. Here are some of the key take aways.

Hidden Costs and Inefficiencies

One member highlighted the importance of identifying and addressing inefficient processes within organizations. By conducting periodic evaluations and seeking opportunities for automation, companies can improve productivity and potentially reduce costs. However, changes in direction or priorities can pose significant challenges, impacting budget forecasts and resource allocation. Members discussed the budgetary strain caused by bringing new employees up to speed, particularly in client-facing roles where billable hours are crucial. The transition period for new hires can lead to increased costs, affecting project budgets and timelines.

When we’re bringing in a lot of new folks, we have the delay in bringing them up to speed. As a result, bringing in someone new you’re churning through hours just bringing them up to speed…It’s part of the process for sure, but that burn rate of budget just goes up much faster.

Another member shared their experience with transitioning to a DITA component content management system (CCMS) and the added expense of retranslating existing content after conversion to DITA. The shift in systems may necessitate additional resources, whether a one-time cost or an ongoing expense, highlighting the importance of budget planning and vendor negotiations.

Managing Process Efficiency

Efforts to streamline processes, such as document review cycles, can yield cost savings and improve project timelines. However, tracking metrics and ensuring buy-in from team members can be challenging. One member emphasized the benefits of adopting agile methodologies, which integrate review processes into project sprints, thereby enhancing efficiency and accountability.

I do think that if you can get a good grasp on cycle time, it is a really strong indicator of either inefficiencies or cost when projects take a long time.

Navigating Corporate Changes

The impact of corporate mergers and departmental spin-offs on budget management can be substantial. A member discussed the implications of departmental spin-offs within their organization, including resource allocation and project prioritization. Effective communication and leadership support are crucial in mitigating disruptions and ensuring continuity in project execution.

We’ve also gone through several acquisitions over the years. We’ve acquired other companies and their documentation. We get new work, new challenges because always residing in other systems has to be converted and we have to own it moving forward, so those things absolutely have a big impact on our budget.

Members agreed that navigating budget impacts in the face of corporate changes requires strategic planning, effective communication, and a willingness to adapt to evolving circumstances. By addressing hidden costs, measuring process efficiency, and leveraging agile methodologies, organizations can mitigate budgetary risks and maintain operational resilience amidst change. Through collaborative efforts and proactive management, companies can navigate transitions more effectively and sustainably manage their budgets.