Re: Justification

Subject: Re: Justification
From: SANDRA CHARKER <scharker -at- OZEMAIL -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 08:00:53 +1000

Betsy Maaks asked for ideas about justifying documentation in the face of
customer service queries about its value, and Robert Plamondon suggests that
the company's Customer Service department conducts a 2-5 year experiment with
the comment:

> Few such groups have the courage to take this risk,
> even on a small subset of customers, if the results will
> be traceable directly to them. But if they go for it,
> you'll learn something.

But you must be prepared for the possibility that the something you learn is
that this documentation does NOT add value to this product.

Assuming you're serious about the profession as well as your income, you'll
publish that result as widely as you would publish a result that 'justifies'
the money spent on the documentation. You would also not generalise from either
result to any other product or documentation set.

In either case, assuming you're still with the company, you would go on to
investigate other factors that might be affecting the rate of customer service
calls: changing expertise in the customer companies; variable quality of
customer service response; number of calls that Customer Service doesn't get
because it's not open or because the lines are busy; changes over the duration
of the experiment in product function, customer expectations, hardware
platforms, user interface, presales support, price of customer service calls,
hours that service is available; use of third-party documentation; use of
third-party training; improved user interface... is that enough or do I have to
start thinking?

I'd like to think you'd get a better response from management by saying 'Here's
a way we can find the most effective way to spend our money' would get further
than by saying, 'This proves I really am worth paying for, no matter what those
guys think.' I'm sure you'll do better for yourself by facing facts, whatever
they are.

Sandra Charker


scharker -at- ozemail -dot- com -dot- au

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