Technical writing and documentation in an Agile environment

Writing user documentation in an Agile environment can be difficult

You often have very short timescales and a busy development team. There’s often little formal project documentation.

Do Agile projects need user documentation?

In an ideal world, a product will be intuitive, but often this isn’t possible. In reality, products developed using Agile methods still need user documentation. Some of your users will get stuck, and some won’t understand your product’s conceptual model.

This means User Assistance should be an integral part of the product itself. It’s embedded Help, onboarding screens, online Help, reference guides and Knowledge Bases. You should deliver them at the same time as all the other parts of the product.

Treating documentation as code

Many Agile teams now include them in their definition of “Done”. Some teams do this by treating documentation as code. This means applying software development techniques and tools to software documentation. Their processes can be more closely aligned with the development process. They use the same version control, repository and review systems. They can even integrate the content with engineering code.

Writers and developers can both use lightweight markup languages and static site generators. These can be accessible to the whole team, even customers.

Cherryleaf can help

Cherryleaf pioneered the idea of using Lean and Agile methods in technical communication. The goal is to focus on maximising the value to the user, as well as minimising waste during production.

Minimum viable documentation

We’re not in the business of writing documentation that isn’t needed. We use a technical communication method called Minimalism. It helps us focus on the content that the users actually need.

Fitting into your workflow

You can use our in-house team of Technical Authors. You can have a contract or permanent Technical Author onsite. Whatever works best for you. This means you can embed technical writing resource into your Agile teams.

You might want the content written in Markdown and pushed to Git. You might want it created in another way to fit in with your existing development workflow. We can set up the writing process so it suits your needs.

Collaborative Authoring

Technical writing shouldn’t turn into a bottleneck. Some documentation projects are best done collaboratively. This allows everyone to create, share, discuss and update the information. We can work in a way that you and your colleagues are able to add content themselves.

For example, your developers can record their knowledge into the authoring system. We can then turn this into user-friendly information.

Contact us

Want to discuss your situation, and explore how Cherryleaf could help you? Contact us via this projects enquiry form.