Team organization impacts the success of content more than we think.
The main goal of us collecting all these survey data is to empower technical documentation teams and leaders with some knowledge about content relative to business value. In order to do that, we can’t gloss over the importance of team dynamics.
When 57% of respondents reported being a part of a centralized technical writing team in their organization and 32% reported being part of decentralized teams, we made some connections with how that impacts the value of technical communication.
This leaves approximately 40% to 50% of technical documentation teams without the necessary tools for success. As we unpack these numbers, we’ll begin to uncover the interplay between centralized and decentralized documentation teams and how these organizational dynamics impact success.
How does a centralized or decentralized department impact the team and the company as a whole? First, it’s important to understand what we mean by these terms.
Decentralized Technical Writing Team — These are technical writing teams that are embedded into separate product teams, writing documentation for whatever product that team is responsible for and reporting to those departments.
Centralized Technical Writing Team — These are technical writing teams that are used everywhere across an organization, writing documentation wherever it’s needed.
There are many organizations with technical writing teams that don’t fall within either of the two categories and have shared elements of both centralized and decentralized team structures. Still, there are certain differences and similarities that should be noted.
The survey showed that centralized and decentralized documentation teams share issues in three areas.
- Barriers inhibiting team goals
- Biggest content development pain points
- Difficulty tracking key performance indicators
While all documentation teams, irrespective of their organizational structure, struggle with similar issues, we will focus on the final point – difficulty tracking key performance indicators (KPIs).
After all, the ability to prove value is dependent on the ability to establish, track, and report on KPIs consistently.
There’s one outlier in KPIs that stood out as the most difficult to measure: revenue generation. Revenue generation is arguably the most important statement of value that technical documentation teams can make.
We go into more detail on this subject in another survey breakdown post: 33% Of Writers Can’t Report Their Own Value – Here’s How to Start
The differences between centralized and decentralized teams offer a little more insight into performance in certain instances. Two that stood out are:
- Tools for Success — Centralized teams are 10% better equipped with the tools to be successful at their jobs.
- Meeting Customer Demands — Decentralized teams are 6% better at providing more personalized content where it’s needed.
This is our own analysis, but it seems that a centralized technical writing team that’s used across an organization will naturally have more support because of the expanse of their job area. Similarly, decentralized teams will be more effective at creating personalized content because they’re embedded in smaller teams with more particular content goals.
Nearly 50% of All Groups Don’t Feel Equipped Well For Success
An interesting note is that both centralized and decentralized teams reported respective 60% and 50% rates of confidence in receiving tools for success. This leaves both setups ill-equipped for success 40% and 50% of the time, showing that technical writing teams in both categories are woefully underserved as far as being provided the tools they need to succeed.
What’s better than a centralized or decentralized team? A well-equipped team.
There’s no silver bullet for any organization and having your technical content teams centralized or decentralized will be a question of aligning business goals with how those teams are set up. The value of technical communication in your company depends wholly on the goals of content throughout your organization, how they align with business goals, and how your personnel can adapt to the changes that will inevitably come with growth.
Download the full survey here: Measuring the Value of Technical Communications Survey 2021