Software products evolve more rapidly each day. Technical documentation for those products must also follow their evolution. One of the biggest challenges is to maintain screen shots when the graphical user interface (GUI) changes.
An easy way to reduce the pain of updating screen shots is not to use them except when they're really useful. It's been debated before, namely here.
I see lots of technical documents that use text to get the job done, e.g.,
Go to Start Menu > Search programs and files and enter "snipping tool"
rather than putting up three screen shots showing all those steps. It assumes, however, that users are going to know where the Start Menu is, etc. With some software, it's obvious. Also, the user's skill level plays a role in whether or not it's useful to provide screen shots.
The GNOME project has recommendations for online help and printed materials, including screen shots, but it seems that it's limited to one type of software (GNOME Desktop distributions).
Given limited technical writing (training) resources, every screen shot has a risk that it will need updating.
Does anyone know of a set of heuristics or evidence-based reasoning on how to decide whether a screen shot is worth the maintenance risk to put in training documentation? I'm looking for official policy, similar to that of the GNOME reference above, but for other types of software.
Edit: Please don't assume that the technical writers are working for the company producing the software. Many writers have to produce training materials for open-source software used in organizations. Such software is often powerful, but not intuitive; trainers fill the gaps to explain how to use the software.