December 14, 2009

Adopting or Adapting Agile

Filed under: Uncategorized — heratech @ 11:07 pm
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I’ve decided to change the tagline for my blog to “Adapting Agile to the ancient art of Technical Writing.” It’s a small change, only one word, from “applying” to “adapting.”

Since I started this blog a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been doing some heavy-duty thinking about everything that I’ve read and learned about Agile in the past year. Agile is a process that was designed to address the pain points of developers, not the pain points of technical writers. And I keep coming back to the same thing, TWs are not developers. And I’m not convinced that writing code and writing documentation have all that much in common.

Agile has the stated claim of reducing documentation. But technical writers have a vested interest in documentation, as that is one of our primary functions in the organization. Of course, when Agile practitioners say “documentation” they are referring to requirements, design documents, functional specs, and other product documentation. When technical writers say “documentation” they’re referring to installation guides, user manuals, online Help and other user documentation. (I supposed I should get used to calling what I write “user assistance” but I’m so used to calling it “documentation” it’s hard to make the mental shift.)

Technical writers don’t have a choice of whether or not to “go Agile.” If our development team adopts Agile practices, then we have to follow along or fall behind. Thus, the more I think about it, this blog is not so much about adopting Agile “as is”, but about figuring out how it can be adapted to better meet the needs of technical writers.


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