The Evolution Of User Manuals

JoAnn Hackos, Comtech Services, Inc.

If you’ve been listening to your senior management or product managers, they’ll claim that information is just an expense. It doesn’t sell the product; it doesn’t produce revenue for the company (like the actual product does!). They let you know in subtle or not so subtle ways that “documentation is a necessary evil.”

We’ve heard these claims for so long that even smart information developers and managers come to believe that they’re true. So—it was with great surprise that I followed a lead provided by Alexia Idoura of Symantec to Aaron Fulkerson’s article atForbes.com. Forbes is a magazine that CEOs read, and here was a business case arguing that product documentation is “now a core business asset that can drive revenues.”

Fulkerson admits that much documentation is a cost. But well-designed, customer-focused information is a core business asset, one that can help companies make money. He states that companies that invest in developing the highest quality customer information are winning in the marketplace.

Companies that Fulkerson researched report that the “documentation is bringing in over 50% of their qualified leads.”

Please read the article for yourself at http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/07/customer-service-fulkerson-technology-documentation.html.

Read the comments as well and add to them yourself. Forward the article to your CEO and others who argue that supporting the customer post-sales is not important. And, let us know about the response you get. Hope to hear from you soon—hope the response you get is positive.

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