Re: Transitioning to Scrum/Kanban

Subject: Re: Transitioning to Scrum/Kanban
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2018 14:00:23 -0500

Sarah's experience is far better than some of the "usual stuff" where the tech writer does not learn of the existence of a project until six weeks before FCS. Even with Agile it is possible for meetings to omit tech writers because they are not developers. "Hey, the artists who do the sales brochures aren't dev, either." Even my much-too-cynical mind cannot see anything wrong with Sarah's report.

On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 12:43:15 -0500, Sarah Kiniry <sarah -dot- kiniry -at- cpanel -dot- net> wrote:

Iâve worked in Agile for the last several years. The key, in my opinion, is to actually become *members* of the development teams rather than a resource for them. (Sometimes, I like to throw around âcommunications developer,â which conveys a lot of the ideal attitudeâthat writers are part of the development process.) Iâm lucky enough to work with a department of 10 writers, in a company structured such that we only have to be on 1-2 teams at any given time.

Each team has 2 backend developers, 2 frontend developers, 2 QA analysts, a docs writer, and a PO and scrum master. We all contribute to the work, and to the project management/planning and design process.

Being a fully-fledged member of the development teams makes information gathering so much easier, and it also generates a very different relationship with your SMEâs. Theyâre more available (and, maybe, willing?) to do quick technical reviews on drafts, since youâre at standup with the developers every day. Documentation can also be developed iteratively then, rather than ending up in a waterfall situation. We have a departmental definition of done that requires documentation tasks to be included in user stories/epics alongside the development work, and code canât be merged until the docs are also good to go.

We do have a Kanban board that the docs department uses to do maintenance work/work that doesnât originate from a team, and we all just pull from that backlog as we have bandwidth available. Turning docs into a scrum team just themselves seems like an antipattern, since it separates part of the work from the actual project itself. If the project is âadd a widgetâ then the work isnât done until said widget is in the documentation, since the documentation is part of the users' experience of the product.

Iâm not aware of any good resources on this, unfortunately. When we switched to Agile, everyone in product development did a scrum certification training, and even the instructor was a bit confused by the presence of docs writers. Itâs really unfortunate, though, because every conversation Iâve had at STC and elsewhere leads me to believe that this is just how it should be done. Iâve presented on this topic once or twice; if you have any questions about the workflow, etc., Iâd be happy to chat.

Regards,

Sarah Kiniry
Technical Writer II
cPanel, L.L.C.


On Nov 16, 2018, at 10:40 AM, Keith Hood <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:

The place where I work is changing everything to use Agile in their development from now on. They've reorganized into scrum teams and moved everybody to colocate all the team members and changed all the codes in the time tracking system to relate to features/epics/etc.

But, the documentation group where I work is not a scrum team. We're still a shared resource that has to work with all the development projects. We've been trying to set up to use Kanban to manage our work. And I've never worked under that scheme before.
Has anyone had any experience in a similar situation? If so, what advice/warnings would you offer?

Does anyone have any recommendations for books or other materials useful in carrying out such a transition? And I mean materials that are specific to the needs of tech writers going through this. There are a huge number of books that talk about switching to Scrum or Kanban when you're on a development team. I've already seen several, and I could really use something that doesn't have to be dissected for bits that *might* apply. I know a documentation-specific source may not exist, but I can hope.
Thank you.
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