In my experience, technical writing alone of all the information technology functions is treated as a luxury. One large company for which I worked, for example, immediately eliminated the technical writing team whenever financial troubles loomed. Technical writing was considered “overhead” that did not directly contribute revenue; therefore, it was expendable.
This attitude has seemed nearly universal, at least in large companies. Only two conditions seem to make documentation a high priority.
1. Regulatory requirements
If a regulation requires documentation, it will be created. A number of people will want to have an imprint on the product. They will want their names listed as contributors, their points of view addressed and their concern for doing things properly noted.
After the document is written and the regulation satisfied, however, it is likely no one will ever read the document or direct anyone to do so, until something goes wrong. Then, the document will become the proof that someone - usually someone in the rank-and-file who is considered expendable - was at fault.
2. Downsizing and cost-cutting
When companies decide to eliminate jobs or lay off or replace personnel, the work those employees handled must be done by someone else. The tasks might be added to the workloads of remaining personnel, or they might be outsourced. In either case, documenting procedures becomes critical. I have even heard of companies penalizing outgoing personnel, via severance packages, who fail to train their replacements.