Agile Technical Writing: Tips for Surviving the Transformation

Agile Technical Writing: Tips for Surviving the Transformation

What happens when tech writers are told to be "Agile"?

How does a technical writer survive in an environment that is so developer-centric?

First we’ll learn what Agile really means. Then we’ll uncover how an Agile transformation can be a great opportunity to integrate technical writing into the development process and improve your product documentation.



April 11, 2013


  1. 3.

    HISTORY LESSON 3 Architects Testers Analysts Tech Writers Managers Server

    Devs Client Devs Database Admins Network Admins Friday, April 12, 13
  2. 14.

    9 Maximize Feedback FREQUENT RELEASES Listen to Users Validate Assumptions

    Discover Features Build Only What You Need Friday, April 12, 13
  3. 15.

    9 Maximize Feedback FREQUENT RELEASES Listen to Users No Fear

    No Stress Validate Assumptions Build Confidence Discover Features Build Only What You Need Friday, April 12, 13
  4. 20.

    RETROSPECTIVES 14 Regardless of what we discover, we understand and

    truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand. Friday, April 12, 13
  5. 25.

    PAIRING With Everyone First User Communication Skills Pairing  Be

    assertive but cooperative  Encourage new users to drive  Use tools - pairing stations, projectors, collaborative software 17 Friday, April 12, 13
  6. 26.

    DOCS ARE PART OF DONE Documentation requirements are identified as

    part of the project plan The development user story is not “done” until the documentation is complete The product is not ready to release until documentation is complete Documentation requirements are discussed at every stage of planning  Sprint 0  Sprint Planning  Entry and Exit Meetings 18 Friday, April 12, 13
  7. 30.

    MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS Close Feedback Loops with Users Assessment of

    Workflows and Strategies 22 Friday, April 12, 13
  8. 31.

    WRITING STRATEGIES 80-20 Rule Minimalism Content Reuse Single Sourcing 23

    Become more efficient. Deliver “just enough” documentation. Friday, April 12, 13
  9. 32.

    24 TOOLS Topic-based Authoring  DITA  Author-it  Online

    Help tools Agile Project Management Tools  Visual Media Board  AgileZen  Pivotal Tracker Automated Publishing  FrameScript  DITA Collaborative Authoring  Google Drive  Some newer DITA-based tools Friday, April 12, 13
  10. 34.

    THIS WORKS!  12% increase in productivity  Incoming defects

    decreased substantially  100% of the users surveyed reported that accuracy and quality improved  100% of the users surveyed reported that satisfaction improved  Morale and job satisfaction among technical writers increased  Our reputation within the organization improved  The need for more writers and more sophisticated tools gained c-level attention 26 In the first six months, we noticed a few quick wins that continued to payoff moving forward. Friday, April 12, 13
  11. 35.

    KEEP IT SIMPLE Start Small Embrace Failure Lean on each

    other Have Fun 27 Friday, April 12, 13
  12. 36.

    28 REFERENCES The Agile Manifesto  Agile Principles  Tools  DITA: wg_abbrev=dita  Author-it:  AgileZen:  Pivotal Tracker:  FrameScript: Friday, April 12, 13