DMS user's guide - how big should it be?

Subject: DMS user's guide - how big should it be?
From: Ballenberger Gerd <Gerd -dot- Ballenberger -at- med -dot- siemens -dot- de>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 15:00:40 +0200

We are in the process of switching from FrameMaker to FrameMaker+SGML, and
introducing a Document Management System (FrameMaker+SGML, Astoria SGML
database, plus between one and two handful of off-the-shelf and custom-made
tools). "... in the process ..." means, of course, that not all tools
provide an optimum of user-friendliness yet, there are a number of current
bugs, etc. - all of which needs to be documented (I believe). All >100 users
are more or less familiar with FrameMaker, but SGML newbies. Within a year
we expect to have some more users overseas.

It's my task to produce the written User's Guide, another colleague gives
training classes. The user's guide is now 330 PDF pages with bookmarks
which I believe to be as good as an HTML navigation frame (an HTML version
with an index will come soon). I've been trying to _guide_ the users and
explain to them not only what they have to do but also why. I want them to
become competent users - not blind slaves of the system. Still, some users
(and management) question the size of the guide. They want concise
procedures, which may be OK for some users, but not for all. Such
(additional) "QuickGuides" already exist in the guide for the two most
complex chapters, and adding more of them will further blow up the page

Another argument is that we have training classes, so why do we need a
user's guide?

In short: how long may/must/should a user's guide for a our DMS be? Am I
overdoing it? What is the "leading" user support tool, training or manual?
Do I have to rewrite the guide to simply support the training? How can we
both work on the two sides of the same subject and with the same users, and
still be happy?

Any advice and experiences are greatly appreciated.

Thanks and best regards,
Gerd -dot- Ballenberger -at- med -dot- siemens -dot- de
Siemens Medical Systems
Erlangen, Germany

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