Re: TWs in Product Development

Subject: Re: TWs in Product Development
From: "John P. Brinegar" <johnbri -at- PRIMENET -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 08:31:17 -0600

Congratulations to Sharon, who wrote (in part),

>I would really like to hear from anyone out there who has experience giving
>input at this stage in the development of software. What type of
>information were you able to provide? How was it received? Tips on
>providing input so that it will be well received? Where is the TW
>perspective most valuable?

I had such an opportunity in the early '90s on a large program, in a large
division of a very large corporation. I sat in on all of the meetings aimed
toward developing the functional specifications for the product.

My most important input was to suggest opportunities to improve the human
interface in a way that would reduce the amount of user documentation,
training, and technical support. This was especially useful where functions
were similar to functions in earlier products and I could show large chunks
of documentation and technical support necessary to support those

In addition to the development engineers and myself, these meetings were
attended by people from technical support and marketing.

As is probably typical in large enterprises, engineering had more political
and financial clout that the support organizations, so the effect of our
participation as probably diminished; though, no doubt, valuable. In such
enterprises it is easy for the engineers to steer around difficult or
expensive design problems by believing they can be effectively solved by
documentation, training, and technical support. They are almost never right
when they make such decisions. Money spent "up front" is almost always
"money well spent."

In a small enterprise, your input can be really valuable and effective.

John P. Brinegar
Consulting and development Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.
-Performance support systems (602) 278-7398
-Technical communications johnbri -at- primenet -dot- com or dad -at- vr2link -dot- com

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