It has been suggested that I split off the build process so that the
archetecture dependant parts of the program can be built without building the
documentation each time.
If I were you, I'd just convert the .doc to a .pdf. Likewise, your programmer can do that in seconds with a plugin
(and file > save as.. or export?) or a program
(and go file>print) for ms office.
You can locally place it in debian/ folder and call it in debian/mypackage.install:debian/myfile.pdf usr/share/doc/mypackage
I also think it's possible to convert a .doc file to an .html presentation.
Either way, you won't have to build anything and you'll save tons of time and unnecessary build-dependencies.
I feel that computer time is much cheaper that human time.
Generally true, but in a world where everything including hardware is paid and you have thousands of packages waiting to be built/rebuilt/processed/checked/acknowledged (not at the same time, but anyway), you just have to save the buildd server(s) some time.
Plus, you go "green". :)
On the other hand, (personal opinion here) it is pointless nowadays to separate an arch-independent package if it's less than say.. 3 mb. I also think lintian complains if an arch-dependent binary package has a big /usr/share folder.