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Client: Leading manufacturer of high-end office and electronic printing equipment.

Project Objectives: The client planned to introduce a family of printers into a marketplace new to them: retail distribution.

Unlike other printers in the client's product line, these printers were intended as consumer market industry-standard, and had to be competitive with the benchmark desktop printers of major competitors.

The printers were to require little if any installation support, and minimal ongoing technical support from the manufacturer.

Issues: The product family consisted of a line of six printers, in both networked and stand-alone configurations. The six printers included two different physical designs.

In addition, the designs called for nine hardware options (such as various paper trays and feeders), three networking options, and specially designed PC software to control network printing. Documentation had to address all of the printers and options.

The client required assistance to develop attractive and user-friendly support documentation for a global, retail market. Because technically knowledgeable salespeople could not be assumed among retail distributorships, the documentation had to provide users as much technical support as possible.

The documentation had to be ready and tested prior to retail release. Thus, documentation deveopment need to occur concurrently with final engineering design and manufacturing.

Solution: The FLI documentation team based initial development on design and engineering specifications, then tested and modified it as equipment became available prior to product release.

To accommodate the many printers, two physical designs, and various hardware/software options, FLI recommended and developed a series of documentation components. (This was a departure from the client's original perception of the documentation as a single document for the entire printer family.)

Final deliverables comprised 24, two-color documents, each translated into eight languages:

  • An operating software manual for all printers
  • Two user manuals (one for each of the two families of printers)
  • Nine installation instruction manuals, one for each hardware option
  • Three network configuration manuals
  • An "Open Me First" kit to assist users in initial equipment unpacking and component identification
  • Two "Quick References"
  • Covers, warranties, etc.

FLI's development team consisted of graphic artists, technical writers, instructional designers, copy editors, and a project team leader. Resources were phased in and out as needed--with a maximum of nine people at the peak of development activity.

For such a large development team, consistency of design and writing style were major concerns particularly since the client did not have documentation standards for a retail audience. FLI designed a short prototype document incorporating all major design variables. FLI used this prototype document to verify client design needs, then prepared a common set of documentation style specifications to which all development team members adhered throughout document development.

Business Results: The client had appealing, effective product support documentation published and shipped with initial units.

Beta test sites reported success in use of the materials, and commented very favorably on their organization, structure, and "user friendliness."

Curriculum Assessment Tools
New Technology Adoption
Interactive Media
Competency Development
Develop Customer / Client Partnerships
Project Management Methodology
Introduce a New Product
Re-engineering Processes
Enter a New Market
Introduce a New Information System
Change the Sales Approach
Document Development