Re: our relationship to the bottom line/certification

Subject: Re: our relationship to the bottom line/certification
From: Garret Romaine <GRomaine -at- MSMAIL -dot- RADISYS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 1995 09:40:00 PDT

>>On July 13, Arlen Walker wrote:
>>"Let's talk about ways to highlight our relationship to the bottom line.
>>want respect? The shortest path to an executive's respect runs directly
>>through the corporate treasury. Prove good
>>writing saves money. If it doesn't save money, it'll never get paid for.
>>it does, they'll buy more than we can possibly supply."

>I'd be very interested in hearing about how other technical writers
>demonstrate their effectiveness "via the corporate treasury," particularly
>those writers who produce documentation for in-house use. It seems that it
>would be easier to justify your existence if you ship handsome, shiny
>manuals with your products.

I'm not sure who responded to Arlen; there's no sig again. But here's a
case in point to partially back up Arlen: my company sent an evaluation
board and a manual to a prospective client. The prospect brought the board
up and got it functioning with their software right away. They told the
sales 'droid, "You guys have the best manuals we've ever seen for these

The manual itself is one color, on crappy 60# stock, in a three ring binder,
laid out in Microsoft Word 6.0c for Windows, with sparse, simple graphics.
Handsome and shiny it is not. But the writing is clear and concise, the
technical accuracy is 99.9%, and the organization is logical. Bottom line:
we got the order. If the board hadn't worked, we wouldn't have, so the
documentation didn't win the sale. It just 'worked', as did the board, and I
dare say, the sales 'droid.

The manual didn't really save money this time -- we do that usually by
avoiding support calls stemming from missing information, which I think is
Arlen's strongest point. The problem is quantifying the savings -- it's
awful hard to prove a negative. "Gee, the phones are quiet today." I think
you can start by recording how many times the support staff gets to mutter
the acronym 'RTFM' as they answer calls.
Post checklist:
[x] Actually belongs on TECHWR-L list
[x] Short enough for the digest crowd
[x] Reply text snipped to the bone
[x] No politically incorrect text
[x] No redundancies
[x] Sig line included

Garret Romaine
gromaine -at- radisys -dot- com

"You can't get 'em all, Josey."
"That's a fact, boy."

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