RE: Where does Documentation belong?

Subject: RE: Where does Documentation belong?
From: "Bill Trippe" <btrippe -at- nmpub -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2004 15:46:15 -0500

Hi Roger,

I have seen a number of approaches in small- to medium-sized software

--Documentation as part of marketing
--Documentation as part of R&D
--Documentation as part of "engineering services" to include Q&A and release
--Documentation lumped together with training in some or all of the above
--Documentation as part of customer support, alongside groups such as phone
support, consulting services, etc.

In general, the best approaches have been as close to the customer as
possible, thus, within
customer support.

I think one consideration is the type of product and documentation you are
developing. In one company,
we developed an extremely complex "packaged" solution that was almost always
sold with significant
training, field services, and consulting services. The organization derived
a great deal of its
revenue from these associated services, and customer satisfaction was
measured by their success
in implementing the total package. In this case, documentation, training,
and course development
were together (in a group as small as 3-4 and later as big as 15-16), always
the customer support organization. This made a lot of sense and worked well,
because of the customer focus, and also because we had very strong
management in customer support
and a real focus on making the customer successful.

I think where packaged applications are less the norm and more companies are
selling software
as toolkits that require a lot of programmer time to integrate, the
documentation likely needs
to be more technical than the documentation for the product I described
above. In this case,
I can see the need for the documentation writers to more closely work with
and collaborate with
the original software developers. However, if your organization has an
active consulting services
practice that supports your customer and is often extending the software,
they are the perfect
audience for the documentation and also the perfect technical collaborators
and reviewers for the
documentation professionals.

Hope this helps, and I would be happy to discuss this more here or off-line.


Bill Trippe
New Millennium Publishing
1 West Foster St.
Melrose, MA 02176
781 662 6672
btrippe -at- nmpub -dot- com

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