Re: Managing Expectations

Subject: Re: Managing Expectations
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 10:09:40 -0700

Eric -

> What role do you actively play in managing either customer
> or management expectations for web sites, doc sets, help,
> or whatever?

It's part of the discussion prior to the contract and it's part of the
status reports that get generated during the project. One of the most
important questions a writer can ask prior to starting the project is
"What do you want this [whatever] to accomplish?" At that point, you can
get some idea of just how unrealistic the customer's expectations are,
and do some modification.

Also during the discussion I usually bring up the possibility of having
a designated "naive user" go through the manual or the Help system or
web pages, and try to be productive. I must admit that I usually get
only lip service from customers when I suggest this - their people are
*much* too busy to test-drive the docs, of course.

> Do you tell management that,
> despite a million dollar investment in documentation,
> many people won't read it and they'll still have to pay
> customer support people to read the documentation on the
> phone.

I use an example from a company where we watched how people used - or
rather DIDN'T use - the docs. Among other things, the story helps the
client understand that we want to help their customers get productive,
and that we're trying to deal with the realities of people not having
enough time to read the manual. It usually doesn't change their minds
about what they want, but it does help make expectations more realistic.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems
Or, how do you explain to customers that, although
> the new documentation, Web site, and product are pretty
> darn good, nobody will really be 1000% more productive
> than they were with the old stuff.
>

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