Re: Value of Documentation (was <No subject given>)

Subject: Re: Value of Documentation (was <No subject given>)
From: "Wayne J. Douglass" <wayned -at- VERITY -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 1 May 1997 09:59:06 -0700

At 08:14 AM 5/1/97 -0500, Doug Engstrom wrote concerning my comment:

>>I'm amazed that any company can get away with this. Not only do you
>>your customer base, but sooner or later the support costs will eat you
>Among consumer-goods companies, you're probably right. Among industrial
>users, I don't think this situation is all that uncommon. It's a
>question of playing to customer expectations. If buyers of the product
>anticipate that any problems or configuration changes will have to be
>done by a field engineer, they may be sensitive to the timeliness,
>quality and cost of that support, but it won't occur to them to question
>the basic situation. As the vendor, if you can charge for support (most
>industrial companies can, a feat that has eluded most software
>publishers) you can turn it into a substantial profit center. Just be
>sure to call it "consulting...."
>Obviously, there comes a point when enough of the shine comes off the
>technology and there get to be enough competitors that customers start
>to say "Wait a minute, if you had done a decent job, we'd be able to
>handle this ourselves." But, that is a situation that can take a very
>long time to develop.
I am quite familiar with this scenario; in fact, I am currently working on a
product that is on the cusp of becoming a shrink wrapped app (try saying
that quickly three times). It still gravels me that the development team has
not thought the product through well enough to make the customer more
self-sufficient. In the meantime, I pumping up the manual to drive the
consulting group out of business on this product. Ironically, the consulting
group needs my manual to do the customization they were hired to do.

--Wayne Douglass

Verity, Inc. Email: wayned -at- verity -dot- com
894 Ross Drive Telephone: 408-542-2139
Sunnyvale, CA 94089 Facsimile: 408-542-2040
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