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> Being a manager, I am asked to provide a price for this request. I
> do not want to leave this to the marketing department as I really
> don't think that they know enough about the documentation process to
> assign a fair price. I'm usually battling with them over manual
> Is this a rare thing--for clients to ask for the softcopy? I've
> come across it at two different companies. Each time, the company
> has had no idea of what to charge and has picked a number out of a
First, let me say "Bravo" -- you are in a rare position of being able
to put true value on documentation! That's the good news. The bad
news is that you have to figure out that value... I strongly suggest
JoAnn Hackos's book, "Managing Your Documentation Projects." She's
not going to give you a magic formula, but will help you think it
The softcopy-to-clients issue has been discussed here before, with no
clear resolution. Personally I oppose it, but I am always overruled
at my company. We give it out like candy... prospective customers
have to sign a form, etc. but that really means little in terms of
real protection. We have also provided softcopies to one client who
then reissued it (all legall, by our agreement) in their name, with
their packaging, etc. They even had it translated into five other
languages! The salespeople tell me that our documentation (along with
online help) is one of our greatest selling points. (Yeah, but at
review time, that means zip.)
So, to answer your question, I don't think it's "rare" at all. But I
also have grave reservations about it and I think that you might
consider those in your pricing agreement (repackaging issue, for
example-- if they're going to be making money off of it, shouldn't
you get some of it!?).
Good luck... this is an important issue in our profession.
Jane Bergen, Technical Writer
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com
AnswerSoft, Inc. Dallas, TX