What would be the best approach?

Subject: What would be the best approach?
From: Suzette Seveny <sseveny -at- PETVALU -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 15:58:42 -0500

I'm sitting here (lone tech writer) trying to decide on the best way to
approach a user manual for a new software application, when the though suddenly
struck me - I'll ask the experts! Maybe one of you has been faced with a
similar dilemma, and can share your thoughts with me.

The application is a browser-based ad hoc reporting system. There are no
canned reports available at the current time, but may be in a future build.

Some background - this is a retail organization, and the application will be
used both at head office and at the stores. Users can select the criteria they
want in the report (for example, number of stock items vs. value of stock
items, for an individual store vs. all stores vs. range of stores, etc.)

Should I approach this in a linear fashion? Just going through the
application, showing users how to select different values and explaining what
those values mean? Or should I break it down into every possible variation of
a report? For example, one report might be How many gift certificates were sold
by store within a time span, another - How many gift certificates were redeemed
by store within a time span, How many discounted sales took place within a time
span, How many times and for how long an employee opened the cash drawer within
a given date range, etc. The list would be extremely lengthy and would be very

I tend to always like to approach a project from a User Task perspective, but
with an ad hoc reporting system, I suspect this might not be the best method.
Any thoughts?

Suzette Seveny
Markham, Ontario, Canada
sseveny -at- petvalu -dot- com or suzette -at- yesic -dot- com
Any opinions expressed are MY opinions.
Feel free to have your own.
Let's agree to disagree
But Please - Don't Flame Me.

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while, I was a suspect.

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