Re: Value of documentation

Subject: Re: Value of documentation
From: Gila Jones <majones -at- EXO -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 08:21:15 -0700

David Castro says:

> Documentation may have helped our company land our biggest contract,
> ever. Our VP of R&D was entertaining potential clients from a
> company that owns 28 hospitals (we write software for hospitals).
> These people were also visiting our competition. Our VP had to
> figure out how to show that our program wasn't just "vaporware," as
> our competition's is.

This was in response to Joanne Greene's remarks about documentation
cutting down on support costs.

I am an independent contractor who works a lot with software
documentation, and I always tell potential clients the following:

"You need documentation for two reasons only. One, you can't sell your
product without it. People want to see the documentation before they
buy. Two, without documentation you will be eaten alive by support
calls. If neither of these issues is a concern for your company, don't
document your product or improve your existing documentation.

(A corollary would probably be that really good documentation probably
helps sales more than mediocre documentation. Really good
documentation almost CERTAINLY reduces support calls.)

Clients' eyes usually get big when I tell them this. Either they've
never thought of it like this and it seems that I am really smart for
spelling it out in such basic terms, or they think the very same thing
and know that any person who believes like they do is a genius. (Heh,
heh.) Either way, it usually lands me the job.

Gila Jones ----- majones -at- exo -dot- com

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