Re: Undocumented Procedures

Subject: Re: Undocumented Procedures
From: Jan Boomsliter <boom -at- CADENCE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 1995 12:58:11 -0700

Don't make the customer look for anything. Or wonder. Or be angry or
frustrated. There are options that will satisfy the customer and, if
not satisfy, pacify your boss.

Customers must have happy thoughts when using your widget. Frustration
2x/year is two too many. Not to mention what your customer support
people are going to have to say!

I think I need a sanity check. I'm going around in circles in a dis-
cussion with my boss, and I want to get some feedback on my

Background: I'm revising an operating manual for our product. The
current manual is a three-volume set, about 525 pages total
(including appendices). It's not really well organized from a user's
point of view, various level tasks are mixed in with each other. As
an example, there is no single place in the book where you can
find the basic step-by-step info for a novice user to do a basic
machine operation. The data -is- all in there....somewhere. I agree
that a major reorganization is required.

In addition to this reorganization, we're issuing a major software
release in a couple of months. Everything in the operating system
will look different.

We're splitting the book up so that tasks are grouped by the user's
ability level. Level one is a basic operator, level four is an expert.
We'll publish a book with all level one and two procedures, a book
of all level three procedures, and a book of level four procedures.
(I've over simplified a bit, but please bear with me). So far, so

The boss is all hot on getting the Level 1 & 2 book out, and has ini-
tiated work on the Level 4 book. But the Level 3 stuff is being
intentionally back-burnered. We probably won't issue a level 3
book until at least 6 months (maybe longer) after the software
release. The level 3 procedures total about 265 out of those 525

Based on the software release schedule, I should be able to
update all the pages, so that's not the problem. The boss has "big-
ger and better" plans for the Level 3 work (including troubleshoot-
ing data that has never been developed), and he doesn't want to
release the book until all this "vision" stuff is ready. I say that we're
doing the customer a disservice by releasing software and deliber-
ately choosing to omit significant procedures. His argument:
"That's the stuff they only do a couple of times each year. It's not
that important."

So, what's the Techwhirler's reactions?

Rick Lippincott
Eaton Semiconductor
Beverly, MA
rlippinc -at- bev -dot- etn -dot- com

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