Towards an Agile authoring methodology – webinar recording

You can now watch the recording of our webinar on “Towards an Agile authoring methodology”, via Adobe’s website.

Agile development is a way of managing IT development teams and projects that creates new challenges for those involved in providing User Assistance for those products.

See:

Towards an Agile authoring methodology webinar recording

 

Planning and running a documentation sprint

Atlassian’s Sarah Maddox has posted her slides from her STC Summit 13 presentation “Doc sprints: The ultimate in collaborative document development”. It’s a useful description of a documentation sprint and its benefits:



Contact Cherryleaf if you’d like help and assistance in managing a documentation sprint.

You can now download our white paper “Towards an Agile authoring methodology”

Towards an Agile authoring methodologyYou can now download our Adobe-commissioned white paper “Towards an Agile authoring methodology” via Adobe’s website.

Agile development is a way of managing IT development teams and projects that creates new challenges for those involved in providing User Assistance for those products.

See: Towards an Agile authoring methodology

How can a Technical Author find more time to write user documentation in an Agile environment?

Agile planning board Flickr Creative Commons image: VFS Digital DesignWe’ve been working on a white paper that looks at how User Assistance can be more effective and developed more effectively when you’re working in an Agile environment. The white paper should be published in the next few weeks, but here’s a sneak peek at one of the issues we discuss: the lack of time available for creating User Assistance.

Agile’s iterative release of products, and sometimes frequent changes to the functionality and the User Interface, can make it difficult to create the user documentation. The Technical Author can end up having to rework content they’ve written, delete sections on functionality that’s no longer part of the product, and add information on features that have been introduced towards the end of the project. If the Technical Author waits until the product has been completed, they can find they have very little time available for writing the user documentation.

So what can you do about this?
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Slides: Applying Lean principles to content strategy

We’ve uploaded the slides from Ellis’ lightning talk at February’s London Content Strategy Meet Up to SlideShare:

See also:

 

Webinar: Towards an Agile authoring methodology – learning from Lean

Agile programming has grown in popularity and it has led to new challenges for those involved in providing user assistance for those applications. So is it time for technical authors to develop an equivalent method for developing content for these projects? Is it time to develop an “Agile authoring” methodology? Also, if we want to move away from a hand-crafted approach to developing content and towards a more engineering-like approach, what can we learn from the latest techniques being applied in manufacturing?

Such a method needs to complement Agile programming, but it may be a mistake to take Agile programming as the starting point for developing it. The developers of Agile drew upon the principles of Lean manufacturing, and perhaps technical authors should do the same.

In this webinar, we will explain how the principles of Lean manufacturing can be applied to developing and managing content. It’s a way of writing that focuses on maximizing the value to the user and minimizing waste. It involves measuring the processes and value of what has been delivered so that iterative improvements can be made over time.

This webinar will be hosted by the Society for Technical Communication.

Promo code: WS030513

Register for Towards an Agile Authoring Methodology – Learning From Lean

Upcoming Cherryleaf events during September and October 2012

Here are some upcoming Cherryleaf events during September and October 2012.

Our Q4 Trends in Technical Documentation talk

The Lean User Manual: Using Lean principles in Technical Publications

  • 20th September 2012, 09.30-12.30 Free

Dr Tony Self’s DITA training courses in London

Publishing with the DITA Open Toolkit

  • 8 October 2012

DITA authoring best practices

  • 9 October 2012

Is “document late” a good idea?

One of the strategies in the Agile methodology is to create documentation as late as possible. Is this actually a good idea?

According to Scott Ambler:

A common agile practice is to defer the creation of all deliverable documentation as late as possible, creating them just before you need to actually deliver them…Fundamentally, this strategy is to wait until the information has stabilized before you capture it in documentation.

The reason for this harks back to one of the “three wastes” of the Toyota Production System – the waste of muda. The goal is to eliminate the time spent on activities the customer will never receive or would be willing to pay for.

However, there may be situations where documenting late results in one or both of the two other forms of waste – muri and mura. Muri means overburden – overloading or making things too difficult for certain teams within the production process (and/or for the customer). Mura means unevenness – which can lead to unnecessary waiting time for certain teams within the production process (and/or, again, for the customer).

If the cost of these wastes is greater than the waste of documenting sections that are abandoned at a later stage, then it may make sense to abandon the idea of “document late”. In order to be able to make this judgement, it is essential Technical Authors measure both the value of the documentation (e.g. the productivity of the user, the number of support calls, the number of times it is used) and the cost of producing it. With this data, Technical Authors can then make a stronger case for modifying this practice within Agile projects.