Re: Question: Electronic VS. Paper Documentation

Subject: Re: Question: Electronic VS. Paper Documentation
From: "Huber, Mike" <mrhuber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 10:30:25 -0600

If you simply put the manuals on CD, the cheapest and easiest way is to
just output them to Acrobat. The result will be 2400 pages that will
never be used.

But if you consider the user's work flow, and what keeps them from using
the manuals now (from your description, my guess is that, on any given
job, the tech doesn't feel the small amount of new or unfamiliar
material that might be there is worth the challenge of dealing with huge
mass of paper. The tech might have a great attitude and think the
manuals are real important, and intend to read them, just not right now
for this job...)

There are two things you need to do.

First, reduce the obstacles to using the manual. Even a very basic
online version (as long as it's readable - a plain dump of an 8 1/2 X 11
sheet into pdf may not be readable on a laptop) will do that - it's in
the laptop, not the van.

Second, make the tech know there is worthwhile information FOR THIS JOB
RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. That's the hard part, and you can't as a writer,
do it alone. But what if the information appears right on the screen
where the tech logs the work time? Not the whole thing, just a short bit
on what's new or what caused the most support calls for that job code
last month, with links to the relevant area in the main online document?

I realize I'm proposing a project that involves a huge amount of effort
for the documentation group, both now and ongoing, and a kind of
cooperation with the IS group that handles the laptops that probably
doesn't exist now. But think of the benefits. Not only in terms of
reducing support calls, but also solving little problems that the techs
don't bother to call in, and enhancing the level of service your
customers receive.

mike -dot- huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com
Home: nax -at- execpc -dot- com

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Jonathan Soukup [SMTP:jsoukup -at- ESKIMO -dot- TAMU -dot- EDU]
>Sent: Thursday, February 19, 1998 7:50 PM
>Subject: Question: Electronic VS. Paper Documentation
>The technical manuals that we produce are used mostly by our field service
>technicians. We are finding that after about a year, a new tech will know
>his job well enough to stop using the manual. The problem is that we are
>constantly updating the manual with new and changing information that they
>are not learning. Instead they make costly long distance phone calls to
>field service support when they run into a problem.
>We have about 8 volumes with about 300 pages each (8.5 X 11 pages double
>sided). This makes them very awkward to carry around and a result, stay in
>the service van most of the time.
>Each tech also has a laptop computer which they use for remote billing,
>email and logging their work time. We are considering upgrading all of
>their laptops and converting all of our paper documentation into
>electronic documentation.
>Our hope would be that we could issue each tech 3 updated CD's every 2
>months that would contain the manuals in pdf, html or something like that.
>Do you think this would increase manual usage if it was in an electronic

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