Headshot of a smiling woman with shortish hairDana Aubin and Trish Grindereng, Comtech Services
March 15, 2023

How do companies measure the business value of technical documentation content, and what does “business value” mean anyway—customer experience, revenue, retained knowledge, or something else? During a recent CIDM managers’ roundtable discussion, members shared their thoughts on defining business value and practices for quantifying the value of content.

One member shared that their company measured content by its external effectiveness and internal efficiencies. External measures included basic key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Value of UX
  • Consumability
  • Integration
  • Value of web content

There are also a lot of sources for internal efficiencies such as content quality metrics, such as:

  • Content delivery systems
  • Content management systems
  • Content governance tools
  • Google metrics

Another member mentioned that they used similar metrics. They implemented those metrics and synthesized them into KPIs and collected measurements. Their company was further ahead in some areas depending on the type of content. When content is more customer-service oriented, the content is in a knowledge base, so that company can track quantifiable measurements such as case deflection.

“While those internal efficiency measures are important, we think really the end goal and the ultimate measurement for us is how successful can customers be with the content we produce.”

Customer experience can be difficult to measure especially when in some industries it is necessary to print instructions for use for regulatory compliance. These companies do extensive testing on documentation before it is released to the consumer; however, they do not have much feedback on user documentation after the product, including documentation, is delivered to customers.

One member shared that they measured internal content quality by how closely the content followed their style guide. Also, they measured case deflection, keeping customers from contacting support, which is an expense that can be quantified.

“We would definitely benefit from having KPIs and numbers on them that clearly state the value of our documentation because that would enable us to push for better tools and more resources, but we actually need more tools and better resources in order to generate content that allows us to prove our values.”

Another objective for members was to have a central place where metrics are collected and then analyzed with business intelligence tools to come up with an automated analytics report to view those metrics on a central dashboard. The process must be automated, because the manual process of collecting and combining these metrics together would be too costly.

Finally, one member shared their ultimate goal to define the business value of their content. They wanted to not only see value to reduce cost through case deflection and support but also to come up with a revenue contribution estimate to measure and track the credit for the sale. Essentially to prove that even though most companies view content creation as a cost, eventually measuring the metrics will show that it’s not only an investment but a revenue generator.

“I wish I knew what button to push to help companies understand that what we do really only has value when we do it well…it’s the endless struggle of the tech writer. But I just wish I knew how to evangelize what we do so that people could see that doing it well is worthwhile.”