Both significant cost-savings and increased flexibility can be achieved by outsourcing documentation tasks, but until recently, documentation has not been a focal area for outsourcing. However, after successfully outsourcing functions such as system maintenance and support, leading IT companies are now also starting to outsource their documentation functions.
Not all documentation can be outsourced, but much of it can… the only documentation tasks you really need to keep in-house are those related to highly-confidential information, or where capturing information requires close interaction with developers.
Tasks such as the following can usually be done better and cheaper by external vendors:
- compiling documents
- formatting, layout, DTP
- dispatching and receiving translations
- checking printed documents
- converting documents to online help
- producing PDFs and web pages (converting to HTML, ASP etc.)
What can I offer?
I can provide a turn-key solution where I take the entire job off your hands. Or I can help you both to identify suitable tasks for outsourcing and to find the right partner - whether established supplier or freelance professional.
Click here for guidelines on the factors you should consider when evaluating outsourcing as an option.
Costs can be even further reduced by moving basic documentation tasks (e.g. routine DTP work) offshore – click here for further information.
Outsourcing - factors to consider
While outsourcing can reduce costs significantly, the hidden costs must also be taken into consideration. These include more time spent on both management and quality control, reduced flexibility due to defined levels of service in the service level agreement (SLA), less home-grown innovation, and a risk of exit costs.
However, if you have considered these issues, outsourcing can in fact not only reduce costs, but also increase productivity, because unplanned nice-to-have work becomes more visible and thus easier to control.
Choosing an outsourcing partner
Gartner has identified a number of critical factors that should be considered when evaluating your potential vendor. This may be overkill when choosing a partner for a non-critical documentation task, but better safe than sorry!
Is the vendor:
Making a profit?
Winning new business?
Satisfying major customers?
Financially sound, or dependent on external financing?
Experiencing cancellations in the current market turn-down?
Once you have decided to outsource some of your documentation, the challenge is to find the right partner. For many tasks, it makes no difference whether you outsource to a vendor on the other side of the street, or the other side of the world - the considerations are the same, but the additional cost-savings from offshoring can be substantial.
Up until recently, documentation has not been a focal area for offshoring - or even outsourcing for that matter. However, after having successfully moved key-functions such as system development and call centers offshore, leading companies are now also starting to send their documentation functions offshore.
Like any offshoring activity, moving (parts of) your documentation team offshore requires careful planning to avoid misunderstandings that can be costly, or even worse, that can result in delayed product releases. We can help walk you through the process of starting an offshore documentation function by:
Identifying what sort of work can be safely sent offshore. Not all work is suited to offshoring from day one!
Finding reliable suppliers - we have contact to reliable vendors in India, China, and a network of freelancers.
You can find some interesting articles here:
Offshore Documentation Development in India: Lessons from Experience
Outsourcing documentation development: Assessing the offshore option
You can read more here.