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THE COSTS OF

POOR WRITING

Every day, thousands of people pick up a piece of worthwhile

information, but find it too difficult to read. Almost without

thinking they put it down and go and do something else.

That piece of information may be something that took a lot of

time and effort to construct, but because it was not easy to

read, an opportunity was lost.

Managers Reading Costs*:

Where a manager spends time re-writing documents, which

they should not be doing, every 5 minutes spent is nearly

£10 of company money. Reviewing a 10-page document

should only take about 20 minutes if it has been delivered

to the correct specification and standard. The 'Reviewing

Engineering Documents' course will not only help you

be more efficient in reviewing/approving but also encourage

your team to share best practice and 'up their game'

together. Clarity in roles and responsibilities means that work

is carried out at the most efficient level with managers not

doing it for their staff.

Engineers Writing Costs*:

With every document you write, note down how you spend

your time (and how much time) on each element of planning,

writing and editing your document. When you multiply it

up by your hourly rate, plus the overheads of employing you,

your document will probably have cost the business well into

four figures and if you then include iterations of reviewing,

approving and signing-off the document, it may be up into

five figures.

Poor writing increases the liability and risks to your

organisation. In "Total Quality Business Writing" published

in The Journal for Quality and Participation (1995), Michael

Egan wrote:

1. Computer manufacturer Coleco lost $35 million in a single

quarter in 1983-and eventually went out of business-when

customers purchased its new Adam line of computers,

found the instruction manuals unreadable, and rushed to

return their computers.

2. An oil company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars

developing a new pesticide... only to discover that the

formula had already been worked out five years earlier-by

one of the same company's technicians. He wrote his

report so poorly that no one had finished reading it.

3. A nuclear plant supervisor ordered "ten foot long lengths"

of radioactive material. Instead of getting the ten-foot

lengths it needed, the plant received ten one-foot lengths,

at a cost so great it was later classified.

4. Prof. Dorothy Winsor showed "a history of

miscommunication" to be one of the root causes of the

Challenger disaster in 1986.

Doing business today requires writing in plain

English. Poor writing results in costs you cannot

afford to pay.

Average speed

of reading:

200 words per minute

Managers salary:

£50 per hour

Overheads:

£50 per hour

Reading a 10-page document of

5,000 words: £41.67

Annual cost of reading 2 documents a day

£17,000

Salary of engineer

£30 per hour

Overheads

£30 per hour

10-page document

(40 hours) £2,400

DID YOU KNOW?

Our courses support Continuing Professional Development - our training helps

engineers meet the standards required of professionals registered with the

Engineering Council.

For advice on which course would suit your CPD requirements call our training advisors on

+44 (0)207 304 6907 or email training@imeche.org.

* Costs may vary across industry. Information sourced from Impact Information.

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