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We recently reviewed a nifty ROI calculator for DITA CMS systems put out by TechWhirl.com.  In that post we mentioned that one of the biggest potential savings from a DITA CMS was reducing the number of calls to your support desk by improving the quality of your documentation, one aspect of the equation that was not included in the Calculator.

Your product documentation and help desk are the two most important touch points with your customers, both pre- and post-sale. Good documentation ensures that newbies can perform basic tasks on their own, which is critical to customer satisfaction as they learn to adopt your product into their lives. It also makes better use of your support resources, allowing them to concentrate on helping customers do things that are more complex and get maximum value from your product.

Jacquie Samuels, the author of the DITA CMS ROI Calculator, responded to our blog to say that she has developed a tool that allows you to put some numbers around the savings you can expect from the call aversion that results from better documentation. We decided to follow up with a look at her Support Savings calculator, which you can access at http://www.writingwise.biz/#!tools/c119c.

Counting the costs

As we wrote in our previous post, the ROI Calculator quantified how much a DITA CMS can save by increasing the efficiency of your product documentation team. The Support Savings calculator does the same thing for your help desk staff. The first step is to fill in how many support people you have, what their average salary is, how many days a year they take calls and how many calls they take on a typical day (cells C2-C5).

When added to the infrastructure costs of your Ticketing Software and Information Management System (C8), you get a baseline for how much you currently spend on support desk resources (C9). If you know your total cost per call – which includes line items like facilities and phone costs – enter it in C10. The spreadsheet uses these figures to calculate how much you will save by averting calls with better documentation.

Next, figure out how much you are currently spending on product documentation by multiplying your number of Tech Pubs writers (C11) by their average salary (C12) and adding in the annual cost of maintaining your tools and keeping your content strategy up to date. Then add to that the additional cost of adopting DITA – developing a DITA strategy, creating a taxonomy and implementing a DITA CMS (C16). You can get this figure from line 24 of the DITA CMS ROI Calculator. (If you haven’t filled out that spreadsheet yet, you can do so now.)

Adding up the benefits

Now we’re ready to get to the good part, the savings you can expect when you implement a DITA CMS system. With the help of a good CMS, your documentation can be web-based, searchable, accurate, up-to-date, relevant and localized. When you provide your customers with easy access to high quality product documentation, and you give it to them in the format and language they prefer, the Support Savings calculator assumes that 90% of them will go to your User Guide or web help system first, before calling the support desk.

Next, to calculate how many calls to your support desk will be averted every day, the spreadsheet assumes that 70% of those customers who refer to your documentation will find the answers they seek. As it says in the notes, the higher the quality, the better this percentage will be.

Using the cost per call figure (C10), the spreadsheet calculates the dollar savings you can expect every day from the reduced call volume (C19), and multiplies that by the number of days your support desk is open to arrive at the annual savings (C20).

Finally, you enter a value for how long your content remains valuable since it was last edited (C23). This will give you the total amount of money you save in support costs by introducing quality into your content (C24). Subtracting the total costs of creating the documentation (Annual cost of documentation * lifetime of documentation) + DITA XML Adoption Cost) yields your net savings and ROI in years.

Summing Up

Just like with the DITA CMS ROI Calculator, the Support Savings spreadsheet will give you a rough idea of the ROI you can expect from an investment in DITA. The spreadsheet assumes that any DITA implementation will necessarily involve a CMS, and if your organization is large and complex enough that you are feeling the pain of increased support costs, a CMS is probably a must.

Beyond cost savings, good documentation is an end in itself. It is always good to delight your customers, especially when they’re having trouble and really need your help.  Not many things have a more positive effect on customer loyalty, and how much is that worth to your business?


Check out our white paper and webinar DITA for Everyone: It’s Not Just for Tech Docs! to learn how Support and other departments can leverage an easyDITA implementation. Sign up for an easyDITA Free Trial and find out for yourself how easy it can be to produce state-of-the-art product documentation.

 

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