Re: Agile Environment Opinions Wanted

Subject: Re: Agile Environment Opinions Wanted
From: Jen <jennee -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2013 11:01:24 +0300

My former company wasn't doing Agile very well, I suppose, so there were a
few hitches.

Tech writers were invited to scrum meetings, but doc tasks weren't tracked
anywhere and the writers usually weren't asked for a status. I didn't mind
that - I basically worked Waterfall in an Agile environment, and I liked
that I was free to start documenting when most of the development was done.
(The specs weren't always clear and detailed enough, so many times projects
managers, devs and QAs *hoped* that they were doing the right thing. Once
or twice, this led to 1-2 months of development being scrapped, because the
client/upper management decided it was *not* the right thing.)

I also dealt with a lot of "oh we forgot to tell you we added this"...
sometimes I found out about a new feature 3 months down the road, when the
client logged a doc bug. It got a bit better with time, but most people
simply did not think of including the tech writer in the email threads. If
you can, push for this from the start - the more in the loop you are, the
easier your life will be.

Finally, due to various factors, most of the company did not care about the
doc department, so I could try to push back, but some project managers (who
played the role of Scrum masters) simply ignored me. In that case, I just
tried to do my best, cover my own ass by sending clear emails that without
so-and-so information I won't be able to finish... and hope for the best.

For me, Agile was an improvement over Waterfall - being in those daily
meetings helped immensely. I didn't have to rely on a developer to send me
the information, I was there when decisions were made and I could ask for
clarifications later. We also had client demos for most projects, and I was
there to take notes and make sure all the client's questions were covered
in the doc. The situation was pretty dire before Agile was implemented, so
we felt a big change; if the communication in your company is better than
it was in mine, it might not be such a big deal for you. (But it will
probably be a bit overwhelming at the start...)

Good luck!

> > On Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 3:14 PM, Lippincott, Richard <
> RLippincott -at- as-e -dot- com
> > >wrote:
> >
> > > I know this is an elementary question, but up until recently I've been
> > > glossing over Agile topics as they haven't applied to my work
> situation.
> > > Apparently we're moving to an Agile work environment, and we're doing
> it
> > > soon.
> > >
> > > (We switched to Agile as a configuration control system about six
> months
> > > ago, at that time the standard response to my repeated question "Are we
> > > using the methodology?" was "No, we're just using it for configuration
> > > control, that's all. I learned that we're adopting the process about a
> > half
> > > hour ago when I went to a meeting on a program, and noticed up on a
> wall
> > > were all sorts of yellow sticky notes arranged as "Sprint 1," "Sprint
> 2,"
> > > and so forth. "Oh yeah, we're adopting the process" said the program
> > > manager in the meeting.)
> > >
> > > I'm a lone writer, currently working at about 110% of capacity,
> managing
> > > the operator and field service manuals on about a dozen different
> complex
> > > products, and it's not unusual that I've got three or four different
> > > projects/product manuals in work at any given moment.
> > >
> > > Is my life about to get easier because of this, or is it likely I'm
> about
> > > to get overwhelmed by the pace of changes?
> > >
> > > Thanks...
> > >
> > > Rick Lippincott, Technical Writer
> > > American Science and Engineering, Inc. |
> > > 829 Middlesex Turnpike | Billerica, MA 01821 USA | Fax +1-978-262-8702
> > > Office +1-978-262-8807 | rlippincott -at- as-e -dot- com
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
> > --
> > __o
> > _`\<,_
> > (*)/ (*)
> > Don't go away. We'll be right back.

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