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January 30, 2012

“Trust me” isn’t a business plan

Knowing you can rely on someone is vital to professional relationships. But when it comes to proposing process change, the words “trust me” are never, ever enough.

For those of us in technical communication, process change often involves selecting new tools and technologies to make creating and distributing content more efficient. If you want to propose changes to your content processes, you need some compelling numbers to back up what you’re suggesting.

Don’t assume that your positive relationships with coworkers and management will guarantee a warm reception to your ideas. Yes, those relationships can help you get your foot in the door to introduce your ideas, but proposing changes without a solid business case can quickly tarnish good relationships. People don’t like having their time wasted—even by good intentions.

Photo of human pyramid


Boost your chances of having your proposal heard and considered by doing some research. Provide answers to tough questions such as:

  • How much time and money will be saved by the content reuse enabled by the new system?
  • What kind of savings will be achieved in automating formatting for the source language and localized content?
  • How long will it take to recoup the cost of the new system?

Even if your proposal is shot down or put on hold because of corporate belt tightening, developing a strong business case demonstrates you have an understanding of your workplace that reaches beyond writing content. That kind of analytical thinking benefits your employer and—more importantly—your career.

Trust me!