RE: Baiting for the single source rant

Subject: RE: Baiting for the single source rant
From: david -dot- locke -at- amd -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2001 11:33:45 -0500

Single sourcing reiterates the cost basis of TW and abrogates any
realization of our value adds. TW is really about market barriers. Not
having the money to do the same job as the monopolies means not making it
over those market barriers. Single sourcing lets management continue to
stick their heads in the sand at the same time that it give an air of
professionalism to our profession for those that don't see any
professionalism in putting words on paper.

Ultimately what it means to the customer, the end user, is less treatment
variety. Help stops being help and print stops being print. The customer
never knows which they will get a print document pretending to be a help
document or a help document pretending to be a print document. What they
know is that if they can't figure out what the book says, they can rely on
help, and training manuals to say the exact same thing the exact same way.
Been there a decade ago--long before single sourcing. They know that they
can go out and buy third-party manuals and get the same misunderstanding
propagated in different, but equally less clear or useful ways. The negative
use costs involved go up as they do all this research for questions that
can't be answered by vendor manuals. And, this happens because the vendor
focuses on costs.

I once spend a day reorganizing four tables that the SME produced without
thinking about the relationships inherent in those table. So my company
incurred eight hours of my salary for what turned out to be one page of
text. My company also benefited from that, because the readers didn't have
to take the time to create those relationships. It took the engineers less
than a minute to get those relationships, instead of ten or more minutes
each at a much higher salary. The production costs were paid for out of the
vast savings in use costs. Those tables went on to be templates, which
further distributed the production costs involved.

At every turn software vendors push production costs off on customers.
Single sourcing is just one way of doing this. And, those customers do
notice that they are not getting their promised performance improvement.
Someday soon, customers will start tracking their negative use costs. When
that happens vendors will have to use more of their money to retain their
customers or the customers will walk away. Market capitalization will fall.
Options as income deferral won't work. Salaries will go up. Efforts to
contain costs will increase tenfold. There will be a little less money for

We are supposed to be producing a product for our customers rather than a
time sink or a money pit. Prior to the emergence of network-based
applications, customers used to pay two times the application's cost to get
at most a 9% increase in productivity. Now they pay six times that amount.
We can't do much about that multiple, but single sourcing and printing out
pdfs does contribute to a percent difference in productivity gain. Most
applications do not garner 9% percent increases. It's usually 8% or less.
And, user support--doc, training, technical support, experimentation, bugs,
etc.--costs drop that a percent or more.

No marketing data exists to support the notions that expertise yields
customer retention, or that customer satisfaction yields customer retention.
But, it is very clear that retained customers represent not just one sale,
but an income stream that lasts forever. It is the increasing return that is
the basis of the software industry and the underlying economics of that
industry. We are the most capital efficient business on the planet. So why
are we pushing to be even more efficient? We need to make our customers more
efficient rather than ourselves.

For some products, customers and documents don't matter at all--those based
on infrastructural software that have become defacto standards--the
monopolies, and there are more than one. These companies have money to burn
to construct market barriers from documentation and other user support
areas. These are the companies that startups try to emulate. Single sourcing
does not reduce the price of entry. It hastens the day when the customers
migrate to the monopolies.

If a company doesn't have the money to write documentation, it shouldn't
write a line of code until it does. We make products not code. We invest in
products not code. Giving the product the short end of the stick, so we can
code pretty much describes how most software vendors operate. Stop accepting
this, or don't take the stock options, instead of cash salaries.

Sure we can do it. But, ego gratification is never good for the bottom line
whether we engage in it, or some SME does so. Techno-hubris kills.

David Locke


A landmark hotel, one of America's most beautiful cities, and
three and a half days of immersion in the state of the art:
IPCC 01, Oct. 24-27 in Santa Fe.

+++ Miramo -- Database/XML publishing automation. See us at +++
+++ Seybold SFO, Sept. 25-27, in the Adobe Partners Pavilion +++
+++ More info: +++

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: OT: Archimedes Socrates, ace tech writer, wins another one
Next by Author: RE: Article: The e-book era is here (despite reports to the contr ary)
Previous by Thread: RE: Baiting for the single source rant
Next by Thread: RE: Baiting for the single source rant

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads