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Managing Documentation Projects in a Collaborative World

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Managing Documentation Projects in a Collaborative World

Managing Documentation Projects in a Collaborative World
Presentation at STC Summit: 4 May 2010

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    Managing Documentation Projects in a Collaborative World Managing Documentation Projects in a Collaborative World Presentation Transcript

    • Managing Documentation Projects in a Collaborative World Technical Communication Summit May 2010 Larry Kunz [email_address] www.sdicorp.com Twitter: larry_kunz
    • Outline
      • The changing process for developing technical documentation
      • Trends that are bringing changes
        • Web 2.0
        • Agile
      • Challenges and solutions
      • Where do we go from here?
    • Let’s collaborate….
      • Twitter: #stc10 or #pmcollab
      • My blog: http://bit.ly/bsE2PH
    • The Traditional Process
      • Long development cycles
      • Static “official” documentation products
      • Gathering content
      • Writers sometimes isolated from product developers
      • Write/Review /Edit/R epeat… then Publish
    • The Doc Plan
      • It is the star to every wandering bark…
      • Shakespeare – Sonnet 116
    • The Process: 30 Years Ago
    • The Process: 10 Years Ago
    • The Process: Today
    • The New Traditional Process
      • Short long development cycles
      • Dynamic, community-sourced Static “official” documentation products
      • Collaborative Gathering content
      • Writers must be in close touch with sometimes isolated from product developers
      • Write/Review/ Publish /Edit /Repeat
    • Trends that are Changing the Process
      • Web 2.0 (and beyond): New, varied sources for content How can I keep track of—much less control—the flow of content?
      • Agile methodology: “Just in time” development Hey, what does that do to my doc plan?
    • Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0
      • Web 1.0: One-way information flow
        • Static publishing
        • No interaction
      • Web 2.0: From publishing to participation
        • Information sharing and collaboration
        • User-generated content
        • The community
      • Web 3.0: Marketing buzzword, or unrealized vision?
        • “ Intelligent Web 2.0”
        • Semantic Web, personalization, intelligent search, mobility
      • (Source: J. Leigh Brown and Peg Mulligan)
    • Web 2.0 and Publishing
      • From publishing to participation
        • Doc sprints, FLOSS manuals
        • User-generated content augments and even supplants the “official” documentation
      • The concept of the community
    • Web 2.0 and Publishing
      • Example: Adobe Community Help
    • Web 2.0 and Publishing
      • If you build it, they won’t just come
      • You have to
        • Invite participation
        • Make it easy
        • Give prominence to UGC
    • Web 2.0 and Publishing
      • You need a content strategy
        • Creating content
        • Delivering content
        • Governing content
    • The Content Strategist
      • “ Curator” – not “gatekeeper”
      • Keeps the big picture in mind
      • Manages content throughout the content lifecycle
      • Enforces a strategy that’s repeatable
    • The Agile Manifesto
      • We value:
      • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
      • Working software over comprehensive documentation
      • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
      • Responding to change over following a plan
      • That is, while there is value in the items on the right… ….We value the items on the left more.
    • An Agile documentation project
      • Small, tightly knit teams
        • Scrums
        • Writers have to be fully involved
      • Modular writing
        • Focused on major needs of the user
        • Topic based
    • An Agile documentation project
      • User stories
        • They drive the product and the docs
        • Basis for your audience analysis
      • Short development cycles
        • Sprints
        • Geared to being flexible
        • How quickly can you publish?
    • An Agile documentation project
      • The doc plan is subsumed by the content strategy
    • Principles for Writing in Agile
      • From Anne Gentle’s Just Write Click blog
      • Only deliver things that an actual customer would find useful.
      • List and prioritize all tasks that get you incrementally closer to your goals.
      • Understand the business goals. Ask questions and seek details.
      • Deliver something that the team considers to be done, shippable, and customer- ready .
    • An Agile documentation project
      • New wine into old wineskins?
      • No.
      • New wine into new wineskins.
      • (St. Mark 2:22)
    • Web 2.0 and Agile Challenges and Solutions
    • Web 2.0 and Agile: Challenges
      • Reviews are often ad hoc and very limited in scope
      • How to edit
      • What to do with legacy information
      • How to plan for localization/translation
    • Challenge: Reviews
      • Very few SMEs involved
      • Hard to squeeze into the iteration schedule
      • Topic-based reviews don’t provide the big picture
    • Solutions: Reviews
      • Make sure that Tech Pubs is a full member of the team
      • Find a champion
      • Conduct targeted reviews
      • You might need a special “big picture” review
      • Keep track
    • Challenge: Editing
      • Editing can’t be a one-time event
      • A comprehensive edit isn’t possible
      • Writing teams might not know each other – or the editors
      • Content comes from nontraditional sources
    • Solutions: Editing
      • Editing as an ongoing process
      • Topic-based editing
      • The editor is still part of the team – working closely with PM and content strategist
      • Style guides are vital
    • Challenge: Legacy Content
      • Easy to overlook in sprint-based reviews
      • Reviewers don’t see new and changed content in context
      • Scrum team members don’t have time to review old content
    • Solutions: Legacy Content
      • Don’t skip the content inventory!
      • Content is best reviewed by an experienced SME
      • Review can be done at any time
      • Help the SME by laying out the ground rules
    • Challenge: Localization
      • Scheduling translation
      • Handling changes to the product content
    • Solutions: Localization
      • Break the translation into pieces
      • Align the translation schedule with your iterations
      • Take advantage of the processes your software developers are following
    • Evolving a set of best practices
      • We’re still learning
      • Let’s share the things we learn
      • What new trends are coming?
    • Resources
      • Bailie, Rahel: “Rahel Bailie Provides A Content Strategy Primer,” Sept. 2009 (article at http://thecontentwrangler.com)
      • Gentle, Anne: Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation
      • Halvorson, Kristina: Content Strategy for the Web
      • Hamilton, Richard: Managing Writers: A Real World Guide to Managing Technical Documentation
      • Sheffield, Richard: The Web Content Strategist's Bible: The Complete Guide To a New and Lucrative Career for Writers of All Kinds
    • Your turn Q & A