Ratio of developers to technical writers
How many developers/engineers are there in a typical product development organisation, and how many technical writers? It boils down to this: How many developers are at the top of the funnel, creating the new features and updates which pour into your well of documentation work?
A quick Google yields some interesting surveys.
Average 12 to 1: Posted on KnowGenesis (November 2007). Based on 162 responses. Plenty of other interesting stats in this article too. And a recommendation that the an optimal ratio is 5 – 7 developers per writer. Does anyone inhabit such an ideal world? 😉 An interesting point: The very same research and result were published by Cherryleaf in April 2003.
Mostly fewer than 10 to 1: From KeyContent (March 2007). Based on 30 responses.
Average 42 to 1, but mostly fewer than 24 to 1: From the Suncoast STC (March 2006). Based on 10 responses, the average is 42 developers to 1 technical writer. But 7 of the 10 responses gave a ratio of 24 to 1 or fewer.
Typically 8 to 1: From Scriptorium (2001), in their Software Development Executive’s Guide to Managing Technical Publications.
What about me? Well, it’s difficult to be precise. We have 3 full-time technical writers and somewhere between 60 to 70 developers, depending on how you count ’em. In the technical writing team, we divide the work by product rather than by number of developers. Let’s go with this: If we count only developers but not support engineers or other teams who funnel work our way, it’s approximately 30 developers to 1 technical writer.
What about you – do you find this interesting, and what are the ratios you have experienced?