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Agile2013 - How Writers Can Thrive in Agile Software Development
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Agile2013 - How Writers Can Thrive in Agile Software Development


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Presentation delivered at Agile2013 by Gavin Austin.

Presentation delivered at Agile2013 by Gavin Austin.

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  • 1. How Writers Can Thrive in Agile Software Development Gavin Austin Lead Technical Writer
  • 2. “Safe harbor” statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: This presentation and the oral remarks that accompany it contain forward-looking statements the achievement of which involves risks, uncertainties and assumptions. If any such risks or uncertainties materialize or if any of the assumptions proves incorrect, our results could differ materially from the results expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements we make. All statements other than statements of historical fact could be deemed forward-looking, including any statements concerning new, planned or upgraded services or technology developments, any projections of subscriber growth, earnings, revenues or other financial items and any statements regarding strategies or plans of management for future operations, statements of belief and statements about future customer contracts or future customer use of our services. The risks and uncertainties referred to above include - but are not limited to - interruptions or delays in our service or our Web hosting; our ability to complete and successfully release new and improved versions of our on-demand platform and development environment; our new business model; problems integrating, launching or operating services based on newly acquired businesses or technologies, breach of our security measures; possible fluctuations in our operating results and rate of growth; the emerging market in which we operate; our relatively limited operating history; our ability to hire, retain and motivate our employees and manage our growth; competition; our ability to continue to release and gain customer acceptance of new and improved versions of our CRM service; unanticipated changes in our effective tax rate; fluctuations in the number of shares outstanding; the price of such shares; foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates. Further information on these and other factors that could affect our financial results is included in the reports on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K and in other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission from time to time, including our Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2009 and our Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended April 30, 2009. These documents are available on the SEC Filings section of the Investor Information section of our website at Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase our services should make purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available., inc. assumes no obligation and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements, except as required by law. Safe Harbor
  • 3. My story I’m a writer who likes to talk.
  • 4. The writers’ story From unhappy to happy. (Why does this matter?)
  • 5. 66 31 80 30 78 42 52 23 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Are you satisfied with the rollout of agile? Is agile making your team more effective? Agile will maintain or improve the quality of our products. Since the rollout, I'm having a good time. R&D DS Unhappy Writers
  • 6. Happy Writers 0 24 23 62 30 14 46 00 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 The best time A good time Not much fun A terrible time Mar-07 Mar-08
  • 7. 2000  A couple of developers  Several product releases  Releases on schedule 2005 & 2006  Hundreds of developers  Fewer product releases  Release schedule changes The story
  • 8. 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Features Delivered per Team Days between Major Releases Before Agile
  • 9. 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Features Delivered per Team Days between Major Releases After Agile
  • 10. ADM has delivered total visibility, total transparency and unbelievable productivity…a complete win!” Steve Fisher Executive Vice President, Technology “ Acceptance
  • 11. Originally, the methodology did not include documentation, but many organizations have figured out how to use it…” Alyssa Fox & Meredith Kramer Mobile and Agile: The Floating Writer’s Survival Kit © 2008 WinWriters, Inc. “ Writers’ Challenges
  • 12. (Challenges) terminology A new language that confused writers and everyone else.
  • 13. (Challenges) product specifications Agile means we don’t need any specs, right?
  • 14. (Challenges) estimates I think, uh, it will take me, like, seven days to do that.
  • 15. (Challenges) time tracking tools My time tracking app is better than your time tracking app.
  • 16. (Challenges) meetings Do you want me to attend meetings or write documentation?
  • 17. (Challenges) multiple teams Why does everyone else get to be on one team?
  • 18. (Challenges) team loyalties Who should I write for today?
  • 19. (Challenges) context switching Was that user story for my other team?
  • 20. (Challenges) time I spend more time on Agile than I do writing.
  • 21. (Challenges) fiction You want me to document something that doesn’t exist?
  • 22. (Solutions) implementation
  • 23. (Implementation) encourage patience We’re not perfect; we’re human.
  • 24. (Implementation) provide training At least one day of Agile training for everyone.
  • 25. (Implementation) build templates XML, GoogleDocs, whatever it takes to guide writers.
  • 26. (Implementation) standardize tracking tools Many teams, one tracking tool.
  • 27. (Implementation) pad estimates It always takes longer than you think.
  • 28. (Implementation) provide clear definitions Take a look at this wiki.
  • 29. (Implementation) hire more writers It takes a village to reduce support costs.
  • 30. (Implementation) learn to adapt Like it or not, focus on the benefits.
  • 31. (Implementation) extend doc deadlines Just a few extra days goes a long way.
  • 32. (Solutions) daily best practices
  • 33. (Daily BPs) ask questions Go tell it to your Scrum team.
  • 34. (Daily BPs) email your team Click send to receive.
  • 35. (Daily BPs) write fiction Put that creative writing degree to use.
  • 36. (Daily BPs) revise fiction Good writing is good editing.
  • 37. (Daily BPs) skip meetings You’re important but not that important.
  • 38. (Daily BPs) schedule doc office hours If they need doc, let them come to you.
  • 39. (Daily BPs) organize doc blitzes It can be fun to find flaws.
  • 40. (Daily BPs) work in reverse It’s okay to backtrack.
  • 41. (Daily BPs) learn what to ignore Agile focuses on software development, not writing.
  • 42. (Solutions) teams
  • 43. (Team BPs) volunteer You’re not just a writer.
  • 44. (Team BPs) be wrong There are no stupid questions.
  • 45. (Team BPs) speak up Express yourself.
  • 46. (Team BPs) barter If you want that documented, how about…
  • 47. (Team BPs) self organize You can call a meeting too.
  • 48. (Team BPs) be a shared service Check out my interview task on the wall.
  • 49. (Team BPs) claim the last line of defense You’re like a customer and QA engineer rolled into one.
  • 50. (Benefits) there’s a lot
  • 51. (Benefits) writers have more impact An equal member of a team.
  • 52. (Benefits) writers are more visible It’s good to be seen.
  • 53. (Benefits) learn what to expect Oh, I’ve worked with Bob before...
  • 54. (Benefits) retrospectives solve problems We can all use some therapy.
  • 55. (Benefits) self determining Be your own boss.
  • 56. (Benefits) personable environment Hey, we hang out every day!
  • 57. (Benefits) team spirit We built this thingy.
  • 58. (Benefits) sense of ownership Hell, yeah, I did that!
  • 59. (Benefits) features are less complex This is way easier to write.
  • 60. (Benefits) clearer communication We talk about things a lot.
  • 61. (Benefits) know who does what Because we talked about it at the Scrum meeting.
  • 62. (Benefits) fixed deadlines You can finally take that vacation to Hawaii.
  • 63. (Benefits) fewer surprises No unexpected help systems or developer guides.
  • 64. 1. Teach these strategies. 2. Emphasize the benefits. 3. Reduce costs by supporting your writers. Takeaways
  • 65. Questions?