Wanted Team Players

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Presented in November, 2008 at the LavaCon Professional Development Summit. This presentation gives an overview of agile documentation, and talks about the benefits and challenges of the Agile methodology to technical writers.

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Wanted Team Players

  1. 1. Wanted: Team Players! Using Agile Principles to Create Documentation Projects Megan Leney VeriSign, Inc. 1
  2. 2. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  3. 3. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  4. 4. Introduction + 2001: Agile Manifesto and principles + Scrum is one of many Agile methods 4
  5. 5. The Agile Manifesto http://www.agilemanifesto.org 5
  6. 6. A Summary of Agile Principles + Create value + Welcome change + Frequent delivery of working software + All functional teams are involved + Trust stakeholders, and give them what they need + Face-to-face interaction is essential + Working software measures progress + Sustainable development + Continuous attention to excellence + Simplicity is essential + Self-organizing teams + Retrospectives Source: Wikipedia 6
  7. 7. Definitions + Scrum ▪ Daily check in meeting ▪ You report progress and blocking issues ▪ Part of a sprint (or iteration) + Sprint (or Iteration) ▪ Iterative development cycle ▪ Length is determined by team + Stakeholder ▪ A team member who is committed to the success of the project ▪ Examples are Product Owner, Scrum Master, and others. + User Stories ▪ Simple stories that reflect customer requirements ▪ The basis for backlog items and tasks Source: Wikipedia 7
  8. 8. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  9. 9. Benefits of Agile + Creates options ▪ Product always potentially shipable ▪ More flexibility ▪ Keeps up with customer demands ▪ More room for innovation + Improves quality ▪ No stop ship bugs at end of iteration ▪ Following this rule improves quality + Reduces risk ▪ Accurately scoping features ▪ Committing to as much work as you can afford ▪ Never taking on too much work 9
  10. 10. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  11. 11. Gaining Valuable Knowledge + Tacit knowledge (intellectual capital) ▪ Most valuable form of knowledge ▪ Gained only from conversations ▪ Most only harvest 5-10%, but 20% is optimal ▪ Agile is a smart methodology for gaining tacit knowledge + Explicit knowledge ▪ Can be documented ▪ Easily transmitted to others ▪ Technical communicators produce it ▪ Agile improves the quality of explicit knowledge deliverables Source: Wikipedia 11
  12. 12. Collective Intelligence 12
  13. 13. How Collective Intelligence Works + Diversity + Decentralization + One collective verdict + Independence 13
  14. 14. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  15. 15. Agile at VeriSign + Early Agile at VeriSign ▪ Adopted Agile July, 2006 ▪ Didn’t understand Agile ▪ Had to adapt to developer-centric process ▪ No formal training, steep learning curve + Initial challenges ▪ Lacked sprint planning skills ▪ No training on scrum process ▪ Didn’t understand iterative documentation ▪ Worked with distributed teams + Making progress ▪ Set expectations with initial “brown bag” presentation ▪ Outlined Documentation team involvement ▪ Still not fully engaged in the process + Refining the process ▪ All teams are now Agile ▪ Better understanding of process ▪ Some training ▪ Daily engagement ▪ Confronting challenges, but more informed Source: Wikipedia 15
  16. 16. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  17. 17. Increasing Team Influence Functional Groups Product Teams http://www.fotosearch.com 17
  18. 18. Increasing Team Influence + Attend all meetings to: ▪ Improve visibility ▪ Be a recognized member of the team ▪ Gain valuable information ▪ Have a forum for blocking issues + Increasing “group-mindedness” ▪ Tasks are a team effort ▪ One group blocked = team problem! ▪ Help with other stakeholders’ tasks + Practicing active communication ▪ Ask questions to clarify issues ▪ Be specific in reporting status 18
  19. 19. Increasing Team Influence + Architecting the documentation deliverables ▪ Present informed options ▪ Be a user advocate ▪ Align with the product owner + Showing the team what we do ▪ Stress the importance of good design ▪ Educate team on task scope 19
  20. 20. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  21. 21. Improving Processes + Accessing subject matter experts ▪ Knowing each team member’s specialty ▪ Developing relationships + More technically-savvy documentation ▪ Learning details during daily meetings ▪ Taking longer discussions “offline” + Better response to change ▪ Team strategy to adapt to product changes ▪ Keeping the customer in mind + Using organizational tools ▪ Using ScrumWorks to track tasks for our projects ▪ Accessing user stories in SourceForge to understand features ▪ Using Subversion to create product builds in our own workspace 21
  22. 22. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  23. 23. A Typical Two-Week Iteration Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Iteration Planning Daily Scrum Daily Scrum Daily Scrum Daily Scrum Meeting Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Daily Scrum Daily Scrum Daily Scrum Daily Scrum Handoff (Go/No Go) Retrospective Iteration planning: Product manager and team meet to review next set of items from the backlog. Team updates task board. Daily Scrum: What have you done since last meeting? What will you do before next meeting? What is in your way? Review: Meet with Product Owner to review and accept/reject work. Retrospective: Review and reflect on process and how it can be improved. ©2007 Enthiosys 23
  24. 24. Using Sticky Notes 24
  25. 25. Using a Planning Tool 25
  26. 26. Iterative and Holistic Planning + Iterative planning ▪ Documentation plan captures scope and time line ▪ Plan backlog items and tasks with team ▪ Feature-specific reviews each sprint + Holistic documentation ▪ Holistic review late in the release cycle ▪ Team sees “big picture” ▪ All team members are required reviewers 26
  27. 27. Introduction and Definitions Benefits of Agile How Agile Gets You There Agile at VeriSign Increasing Team Influence Improving Processes Planning Deliverables Challenges
  28. 28. Lack of Training + On the job training isn’t enough + Need task planning skills ▪ Points valuation ▪ How to break down tasks ▪ How to plan effort level ▪ Weighing task estimation against skill level + Need iterative documentation strategy ▪ Keeping up with iterative done-done-done ▪ Holistic reviews without scrambling 28
  29. 29. No Up Front Information Architecture Could be any/all of: - Technical architecture Vision - Business architecture - Information (UI) architecture Architecture design and overall specification Micro-project Micro-project Micro-project Feature design Coding Integration/Test User Feedback User Feedback User Feedback Stabilization iter0 ©2007 Enthiosys Source: Alan MacCormack 29
  30. 30. Lack of Scalability Strategy Project Size/Scope Issues Implementation ▪ Product changes and ▪ Writers attend development +Simple development cycles. planning meetings, scrums, and hand off meetings Above issues, plus: ▪ Possibly an informal scrum of +Moderately Complex scrums ▪ Multiple development cycles ▪ Communications across teams ▪ Product UI needs a consistent ▪ Information Architecture is +Highly Complex look and feel elevated to release planning level ▪ Need holistic documentation ▪ Formal scrum of scrums across projects 30
  31. 31. Lack of Higher Level Planning + Currently no scrum of scrums ▪ Difficulty planning writers’ hours across projects ▪ Writer starts mid-cycle ▪ Lack of feature parity/consistent vocabulary + Need terminology review board ▪ Lack of consistent terminology ▪ Different vocabulary = different user experience + Some interim solutions ▪ Good paper trail ▪ Mentor relationships ▪ Boot camp training 31
  32. 32. Working with Distributed Teams + Issues with distributed teams ▪ Not conducive to Agile methods ▪ Daily communication is difficult + The reality ▪ Definite business case for many ▪ Companies merge with/acquire distant partners + Long-term workarounds ▪ Transition to co-located teams where possible ▪ Limit distributed locations and team members 32
  33. 33. Working with Distributed Teams + Coping with the situation ▪ Realize it won’t be perfect ▪ Weekly and “as needed” documentation synch up meetings ▪ Keep meetings short ▪ Centralized repositories for builds and information ▪ Scrum Master resides with the majority of team members ▪ Same scrum coach working with all team members ▪ Be respectful of other peoples’ time ▪ Compromise on meeting times ▪ Very thorough documentation artifacts ▪ Handoffs when everyone can attend 33
  34. 34. Top 10 Take Aways 10. Use best practices in working with distributed teams 9. Plan documentation iteratively and holistically 8. Treat the project as a group effort 7. Help product team see the value of a good user experience 6. Improve your cake layer (functional group) 5. Improve your cake slices (product teams) 4. Leverage tacit knowledge and group intelligence 3. Actively participate in all meetings 2. Hold higher level planning meetings (scrum of scrums) 1. Architect your deliverables during release planning 34
  35. 35. Questions + Answers 35
  36. 36. Resources Books + Cohn, Mike. (2004). User stories applied: for agile software development. Boston:Addison-Wesley. + Frappaolo, Carl. (2006). Knowledge Management. West Sussex, England: Capstone Publishing Ltd. + Polanyi, Michael. (1983). The Tacit Dimension. Glouester, MA:Peter Smith. + Suroweicki, James. (2004). The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies, and Nations. New York: Random House. 36 Megan Leney; mleney@verisign.com
  37. 37. Resources Presentations and Case Studies + Heimgartner, Stacia and Locke, Melody. (2006). A Tale of Two Writing Teams. Presented at the Agile2006 Conference by Rally Software Development. + Hohmann, Luke. (2007). Agile Planning and Project Management: Agile is all about planning for and participating in the infinite game. Presented by Enthiosys. + Toyoshiba, Len and Najafi, Maryam. (2008). Two Case Studies of User Experience Design and Agile Development. Presented at the Agile2008 conference by VeriSign, Inc. 37 Megan Leney; mleney@verisign.com
  38. 38. Resources Blogs and other Web resources + Abbott, Jennifer. (Accessed October 15, 2008). Agile Documentation: Help’s Role in the Development Process. WritersUA.: http://www.writersua.com/ohc/suppmatl/suppmatl07/abbott.pdf. + Agile Open California. (Accessed November 4, 2008). A self- organizing group that uses an Open Space forum to discuss Agile topics. http://www.agileopencalifornia.com/. + Ambler, Scott. (Accessed October 15, 2008). Can Documentation be Agile? Dr. Dobb’s Portal: http://www.ddj.com/184415786 . + Beedle, Mike, et al. (Accessed October 15, 2008). The Agile Manifesto. Manifesto for Agile Software Development: http://www.agilemanifesto.org. 38 Megan Leney; mleney@verisign.com
  39. 39. Resources Blogs and other Web resources (Continued) + Fox, Alyssa and Kramer, Meredith. (Accessed October 15, 2008) Mobile and Agile: The Floating Writer’s Survival Kit. Writer’s UA: http://www.winwriters.com/articles/AGILE/index.html. + Gentle, Anne. (Accessed October 15, 2008). How to be an Agile Technical Writer with a cool acronym like XTW. Just Write Click Blog: http://justwriteclick.com/2008/02/19/how-to-be-an-agile-technical-writer- with-a-cool-acronym-like-xtw/. + Gentle, Anne. (Accessed October 15, 2008). Writing End-User Documentation in an Agile Development Environment. Just Write Click Blog: http://justwriteclick.com/2007/07/02/writing-end-user-documentation- in-an-agile-development-environment/. + Gentle, Anne. (Accessed October 15, 2008). STC2008 Wrap up STC Summit trip report. Just Write Click Blog: http://justwriteclick.com/tag/agile/. 39 Megan Leney; mleney@verisign.com
  40. 40. Resources Blogs and other Web resources (Continued) + Kuhnen, Eric. (Accessed October 15, 2008). Excellent and Consistent Content Development through Agile and Scrum. The Content Wrangler Community: http://www.thecontentwrangler.com/article/excellent_and_consistent_conte nt_development_through_agile_and_scrum/. + Maddox, Sarah. (Accessed October 15, 2008). The Agile Technical Writer. ffeathers-a technical writer’s blog: http://ffeathers.wordpress.com/2008/01/20/the-agile-technical-writer/. + Maddox, Sarah. (Accessed October 15, 2008). ffeathers-a technical writer’s blog: The Agile Technical Writer II. http://ffeathers.wordpress.com/2008/01/26/the-agile-technical-writer-ii/. + Wethington, Mike. (Accessed October 15, 2008). Day in the Life of an Agile Writer. The Content Wrangler Community: http://thecontentwrangler.ning.com/group/agiledevelopmentandtechnicalco mmunications/forum/topic/show?id=2008157%3ATopic%3A29824. 40 Megan Leney; mleney@verisign.com

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