SoleSource, Inc.
Technical Publications
Marketing Communications
How SoleSource Developed Its Unique Outsourcing Concept
In the beginning there was Amazon...
In 1995, Texas Instruments was in the middle of the largest semiconductor development project in its history. Development was almost complete for TI’s version of the Pentium chip, code-named Amazon.

Amazon required a lot of documentation. Because of TI’s aggressive development schedule, the engineering resources required to source the data books and the application notes wouldn’t be available until one quarter before the first drafts were required. TI’s internal publication team was completely buried, unable to respond to the volume and cycle time requirements. TI writers lacked the expertise necessary to create an advanced microprocessor data book.

TI decided to try an out-of-the-box solution. Amazon would use a small internal group of writers to manage the efforts of a much larger group of Silicon Valley tech writers with lots of Intel experience.

This experiment was hugely successful. The books were delivered in record time. The quality of the work was exceptional thanks to the input of the expert writing staff. These experts added value to the project thanks to their in-depth knowledge of the microprocessor market.

Many at TI thought organizing a project of this complexity on an outsource basis would be impossible but they were wrong. The small internal staff responded to the day to day needs of the project, managing the quality of the source information going to the outsource team in California and the quality of their finished output.

Many thought that it would be too expensive but they were also wrong. The costs were actually less than having a large internal staff because the outsource writers only charged for actual hours on the job. There were no charges for downtime.

Amazon ends but an even bigger project begins
Just as the first Amazon chips began to appear out of the fabs, TI changed its strategy and decided to focus on Digital Signal Processors (DSPs), microprocessors specializing in real-time applications. Amazon was cancelled as a result.

TI also decided to aggressively develop its low-touch, mass-market business. Extensive research into the needs of the semiconductor mass-market customer revealed that the market’s number one need was for well-documented applications materials. In 1997, TI mounted a major offensive to add 320 new application reports.

As with Amazon, TI’s internal publications group lacked the capacity or the expertise to develop 320 application documents in less than a single year. So once again they turned to outsource on an even bigger scale than they had done with Amazon.

TI searched nationwide for an outsource communications company with the capacity and talent to do the job. More than thirty companies were considered. During this process, two of the internal writers from the Amazon project, Mike Smith and John Seixas, came forward with a unique proposal that had significant advantages over all of the other traditional technical communications companies.

The SoleSource Concept
Smith and Seixas were veteran technical writers who had worked for many high technology companies in Dallas-Fort Worth. Between the two of them, they knew dozens of top-notch technical communications professionals working in the market. By operating in a low overhead manner, they could pay top rates to attract the best writers, illustrators, and editors to work on the TI application materials.

They bid each application report on a fixed-price basis and required no payment until TI accepted the work. Doing a great number of high quality applications documents in a very short time was TI’s goal. The incentive of no payment until acceptance seemed like the perfect carrot to ensure fast, high-quality work.

TI had been unsuccessful in finding the right kind of talent to develop the applications materials and the Smith-Seixas proposal had no cost associated with trying it out. And since Smith and Seixas already had a good relationship with TI, TI agreed to their proposal. Smith and Seixas formed SoleSource and with a handshake embarked on the most aggressive communications outsourcing project in TI’s history.

What happened? In 1997 TI published not 320 documents but rather 436. With the business continuing strong into 1998, SoleSource now turns it attention on developing similar relationships with companies such as yours.

The SoleSource concept is unique, simple, and effective and can be summarized as follows:

images/bullet.gif (905 bytes) Maintain a low overhead operation by having very few direct employees and turning to independent contractors to do the work.
images/bullet.gif (905 bytes) Leverage the low overhead savings so that we can afford to pay our independent contractors top dollar. The best talent for the job is thus available at at minimum notice.
images/bullet.gif (905 bytes) Challenge the independent contractors to do their best work in the shortest time by paying only on completion and acceptance by you, the customer
images/bullet.gif (905 bytes) Using the finest talent ensures excellent results with minimal hassles.
It’s that simple, and the unique value to you is that you get instant yet outstanding technical communications production capacity with a single phone call.