Re: Re: "If the docs are too good..."

Subject: Re: Re: "If the docs are too good..."
From: "Chuck Martin" <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: techwr-l
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 11:46:42 -0800

"Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com> wrote in message news:229298 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> It would be a good idea to make sure there isn't a point
> before opening a possible can of worms. A great many
> products these days are built on the "value added" plan,
> in which the customer initially receives the entire SW
> build, but only the necessary instructions to perform
> certain basic functions, then is sold additional training,
> instructions, setup consultation, etc., to be able to use
> "more advanced" ones. This accomplishes serveral goals:
> it reduces the out-of-box cost for customers who only
> want the basic functions or who are experienced "power
> users," reduces costs for the company by eliminating the
> need to manage "optional modules" that used to be sold
> separately, and allows companies to bring in additional
> revenue by offering services that some of the competition
> (for example, offshore companies) would have more
> difficulty matching or by partnering with those who do.

That's all well and good, but when training and (especially) technical
support are considered profit centers by the bean counters, there is little
incentive to improve the product (and its usability).

> An example of this that most people here will be familiar
> with is FrameMaker, which comes with all of its functions
> enabled but whose documentation is almost never enough to
> enable a first-time user to be very productive; most
> new users shell out their $799.00, and before too long
> end up buying books or taking classes, all of which put
> additional revenue into Adobe's pockets, either directly
> or indirectly.

To use your example, if FrameMaker hadn't been designed originally by Unix
geeks or if Adobe to focus on redesinging the product so that its
functionality was inherently evident, then all that training and 3rd-party
documentation would be needed a lot less. But it comes back to the training
as profit center driving decisions about product design.

Unless you're inplying that companies deliberatly short-shrift design and
documentation to boost their bottom line from their training and tech
support divisions....

Of course, if you know that your company
> *isn't* working to such a plan and your SME is just trying
> to shine you on, you can mention the enormous costs the
> company is running up providing free support to irate
> users who can't figure out how to use their product due
> to documentation that is very far from being "too good."
> But first, make sure the smoke that will be rising isn't
> coming from your backside being burned.

"Value added" puts helpless users in a Dilbert-esque world, snared in a
Shelob-like web of more and more training (and cost) to get their work done.
"And I thought this software was supposed to make me more efficient, but I
spend half my time in training and the other half of my time on hold waiting
for technical support."

Users can't figure out how to use products because they are not well
designed, not because the documentation isn't good (or een "too good").

Chuck Martin

> ------- Original Message -------
> On
> Wed, 18 Feb 2004 09:46:41 -0800 Chuck Martin?wrote:
> "And your point is?"
> Then sit back and watch the smoke rise....

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