Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spoon-feeding the non-techies

The alleged talent of a product manager is to be able to bridge communication and thought between technical and non-technical people. This talent was best mocked in the movie "Office Space," and yet it is a valid yet ephemeral plus.

Occasionally, I like to roll it out in full bloom, and foist in on a user population who hopefully get as much entertainment out of reading it as I do writing it. Here's my latest offering:

A long time ago, perhaps centuries in dot-com years, a substantial portion of our Customer Support time was spent assuring clients and publishers that the variances between publisher-reported impressions and MOJO reported impressions were either minor, publisher mis-implementations, or simply misunderstood. To illustrate this, I made an “Error Analysis Tool” (dart board) of six causes and said, “If you need an answer for your case right away, you can choose one of these because I assure you that one of them is right.”

It wasn’t long before the clamoring for a less flippant and more elaborate (albeit not any more accurate) version of these cases moved Barak Ben-Gal, Director of No-One-Really-Knows-What, to write the original Discrepancies white paper. This was pretty – it had pictures and text boxes. It had credibility – it was thick. More importantly, Account Managers had something they could throw over the wall to clients and many times it answered their questions. Victory!

Fast forward eight regular years to today, and the treasured white paper has become a relic. Much more has developed in our industry requiring explanation or analysis yet still falling into the big bucket of discrepancies. A young knight named Michael Hauptman joined the Company and has proceeded to deftly dispose of the old and write a completely new version of the document. This version is, I am pleased to say, delightfully concise, yet detailed. Accurate, yet comprehensible. It has a full mid-palette highlighting pepper and nutmeg with a long, lingering finish of smoky elderberries. In short, those of you faced with either diagnosing discrepancies or educating clients on them will find this one satisfying read.

Accordingly, I have placed it on the client-facing Adserver documentation tab of Sharepoint. The direct link is here. If, as a creature of habit you cling to the Internal Documents link of Adserver, I am one step ahead of you. If you do not have the Firefox plugin for reading PDF’s, you can get that here.

But if you ever want to see the original dart board, you’ll have to come by my office.

Thanks Mike,
As my wife often says, I like turning something mundane into something fun.

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