Re: the cost of SGML

Subject: Re: the cost of SGML
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 11:11:12 LCL

Simon,

You wrote:

> Adopting SGML _is_ extremely expensive, and a company cannot often know how
> expensive until it starts. Meantime it is (whatever it's using) probably
> already spending a fortune on other tools and technologies ... and doesn't
> have a _clue_ what that is costing it.

Agreed! The example I gave in the other posting -- what Intel discovered the
Pentium Pro databook **really** cost -- came from their SGML analysis. And that
analysis was done by technical writers and design engineers working together.
It was a result that none of them expected.

It is also not soley a problem with technical documentation. It is a problem
anytime a company tries to look at a process. My father used to work in the
mining industry. (Did I give this example already?? If so, apologies for using
it again.) He tried to find out how much it cost them to mill out a high-grade
copper sheeting used for caskets. It was literally impossible to break out the
costs in such a way that they could put a unit-cost on that product.

One more. Friend of mine did a consulting job for one of the major package
shippers. They wanted recommendations on how they should alter their pricing
formulas. When he dug into their accounting data, he found that it was
impossible to determine shipping costs per package. They didn't track anything
that would let them assign costs per pound, per sq. inch, per anything! They
were losing money and they couldn't measure the kinds of numbers that would
tell them why or where.

> The adoption of SGML is, IMNSHO, a perfect way of getting a grip on
> documentation costs and of approaching it as an _engineering_ activity.

Yep. Just have to get companies to recognize that information in a
document-form can actually be looked at that way.

Best regards,

/chet

Chet Ensign
Logical Design Solutions
571 Central Avenue http://www.lds.com
Murray Hill, NJ 07974 censign -at- lds -dot- com [email]
908-771-9221, Ext. 164 [Phone] 908-771-0430 [FAX]


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