Re: User Documentation in Agile Development Teams

Subject: Re: User Documentation in Agile Development Teams
From: Sarah Kiniry <sarah -dot- kiniry -at- cpanel -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:58:37 -0500

Sue,

The best defense against this sort of thing that Iâve seen is having an agreed-upon company-wide âDefinition of Doneâ for development work that includes not only development and UX standards but also QA, documentation, and other supporting work. If youâre able to get buy-in on this, having it to point to (and having development and docs standards on the same page/in the same list) gives a lot of weight to arguments. Your support department could probably help with this and maybe even provide supporting data, since theyâre the ones who feel the impact first if docs needs arenât met.

Are the writers where you are considered members of the development team, or are they coming in to support specific projects? At my company, I think that a lot of our strength on Agile teams comes from the fact that all of us have a specific team weâre embedded with, and we attend every meeting, every hack session, every daily, etc. regardless of the project, because any project might incur a docs need along the way. Documentation tasks are also included as tasks within the user stories in Jira, such that you *canât* mark a user story as done before the documentationâs finished. I notice that developers and product owners who work alongside us daily tend to be much better about understanding the worth of our deliverables (and the idea that we know more about our scope than they do) than the developers on Kanban teams without writers.

Just my two cents. :)

Thanks,

Sarah Kiniry
Technical Writer II
cPanel, Inc.
sarah -dot- kiniry -at- cpanel -dot- net


> On Mar 24, 2017, at 9:40 AM, Sue McKinney <smckinn2001 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
>
> Hello!
>
> I am a long-time tech writer very familiar with Waterfall development and
> am now getting familiar with Agile. I understand the idea behind lean
> documentation for what I call "back-end" documentation (e.g., requirements,
> user stories, design) but am trying to learn more about getting end user
> documentation into the development cycle. It's tough, given the frequent
> releases, and I now am faced with push-back from managers and developers
> claiming that documentation is way less important in Agile. In fact, it's
> just as important! Even though the software is supposed to "intuitive,"
> we're finding out that users want assistance; we're in the middle of
> creating online help for a second release of something that was deemed
> intuitive enough to not require online help for the first release. And
> then, of course, users complained about not know how to get their work
> done. I'm looking for ways to identify best practices for user
> documentation (online help, user guides) to present to management so that
> the new writer alone on a project has more credibility when he or she
> argues in favor of, say, online help.
>
> Any thoughts?
>
> Thanks!
> Sue McKinney
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References:
User Documentation in Agile Development Teams: From: Sue McKinney

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