New direction

Subject: New direction
From: Paul Branchaud <paul -at- VEDGE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 10:21:25 -0400

Here's a twofold question all you helpful folks can sink your teeth into,
but first a bit of background information:

Our company has traditionally worked with Independent Software Vendors
(ISVs) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) doing "sub-contracting"
type of development. We have experience with selling one of our products
directly (through distributors), but it is a small portion of our sales
and development work. The company is now changing direction and wants to
sell a new line of products directly to the consumer through the internet.
The writing team is used to delivering all necessary documentation (user
guides, installation manuals, reference books, etc.) to a client in a
"near-final" state, with only ISV or OEM niceties to be added by the
company in question. What we would like to know from those who have
already gone through this is:

1) What more do we need to do to provide a complete documentation package
to the end-user? Are there any additional documents that are required when
selling directly to the consumer, beyond user guides, installation
manuals, reference material, and online help? What does the consumer
expect in terms of documentation (and online help) from a product they
purchase through the WWW? What happy/horror stories have you heard of?
What made the experience good/bad?

2) We are also looking into outsourcing our technical support for this
new line of products. If this goes through, what should we provide the
support company with, in terms of training materials? Are end-user manuals
and online help enough, or should we provide specific training materials
that are not intended for the consumer? What have your experiences been
when dealing with an independent technical support company?

You can reply privately, if there are enough responses, I will compile
them into a digest for all to read.

As always, I am greatly indebted in advance for all your help,

Paul Branchaud "Men, do you fear that, one day, your
paul -at- vedge -dot- com wife will run her hands through your
Technical Writer hair... and you won't be there?!"
Visual Edge Software, Ltd. -- Richard Jeni (on hair loss)
--My opinions are rarely shared by Visual Edge and other smart folks--

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