Justifying colorful manuals?

Subject: Justifying colorful manuals?
From: Geoffrey Hart <Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 14:10:59 -0500

Barbara Stuhlemmer has <<... produced a manual template
using highlighting colour and full colour images throughout.
My immediate boss (the head of engineering) and his
immediate boss are thrilled with the look of the new manual...
[However, the color laser printer] purchase request was
approved, but stopped at the accounting department. They
want justification for using colour, at all.>>

There are a variety of good techwhirler justifications for
color, but these rarely make any sense to the sort of bean
counter who questions something approved by the head of
engineering... but in defence of the accountants, sometimes a
simple conversation with the person who stopped your
request will reveal what information is necessary to make a
compelling case. Until you've had a chance to do that, a few

1. Provide a copy of the manuals from your competitors. If
they're produced in full color, then the justification is "we
have to produce something that looks at least as good as what
our competitors produce"; if not, then the justification
becomes "we can out-market our competitors based on the
quality of our product".

2. Get the head of Marketing (or someone equally influential)
to lean on the head of Purchasing; Marketing usually has
clout way out of proportion to what any reasonable person
would expect, and can pull some mighty big strings.

3. Prepare a cost justification, along the lines of "offset-
printed monochrome manual = $1 per copy, laser-printed
copies = $1 per copy, therefore no net change for a
significant increase in quality." These numbers are obviously
fictional, but you can surely get your hands on your own
numbers and create a comparable case. Don't forget to
include inventory costs (e.g., we printed 500 manuals more
than needed, and had to destroy them) and other related costs.

4. Identify specific examples (in your case, thematic
mapping) in which the end product of the software must be in
color to be comprehensible. Stating that something
monochrome simply fails to communicate is a pretty strong

Good luck!

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

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