Agile Documentation Engagement

Engaging Customers in Agile Documentation

– Ravindra Dhumane

The title has been chosen deliberately to suggest a process change in Agile Documentation within the overall Agile software development cycle.

Agile Documentation aims at enriching documentation iteratively that starts with a minimal viable draft. The Technical Writers and Customer Support function teams actively collaborate to figure out ways to improve the documentation. However, the key differentiator between the conventional form of rolling out documentation and Agile Documentation is the proactive approach to check how the documentation is perceived by its target audience.

Process Overview

Agile Documentation as a process has two components in addition to the existing documentation process – Customer Engagement and Backlog Grooming. Together with these additional components, the Agile documentation process would look like this.

Component 1 – Customer Engagement

Generally, customer engagement happens passively when documentation defects are found, or content enhancements are suggested, and not to forget unrelated issues.

In this new process, a Point of Contact would be appointed to oversee the rolling out of a release and identify if the users had challenges in using the documentation based on the product features. As a result, two inputs would generate:

  • Defect – What are the documentation issues that should be changed?
  • Enhancement – What needs to be done to make the documentation better?

Component 2 – Documentation Backlog Grooming

This activity is similar to the software backlog grooming. Here, the two inputs from the Customer Engagement component will get converted into trackable backlog items. Additionally, the roadmap items will also be created.

Roadmap Items

Imagine a feature named Seasonal Allotment to be developed. This feature will preoccupy cargo capacities so that the booking capacity is properly adjusted. The feature will roll out in three steps:

    1. Seasonal Allotment configuration: A check box to determine whether seasonal allotment is to be applied or not.
    2. Seasonal Allotment maintenance: A set of cargo items, their capacities percentage, and duration.
    3. Seasonal Allotment: Picking the appropriate seasonal allotment according to the duration and adjusting the booking capacity.

Now, when the Seasonal Allotment configuration is ready for development, a placeholder concept topic, called Seasonal Allotment, will be sufficient. None of the stakeholders should be worried because the concept topic does not provide much details. The topic is slated to be documented not earlier than the first step and not later than the third step of implementation.

Benefits

Agile Documentation in this process helps to get detailed and relevant feedback from the real time users.

  • Feature documentation is more likely to be documented into smaller, goal-based topics as opposed to large, monolithic topics.
  • Backlog grooming technique helps in documenting topics at the appropriate juncture, and features in their most realistic form as opposed to the traditional plans.

About the Author

Ravindra Dhumane has been a Technical Writer for over 18 years. He has worked in several domains such as banking, payments, financial products, and CRM. Although the user assistance content forms the major chunk of his work, content for marketing and presales is his personal favorite. Contact him on LinkedIn.

Ravi Dhumane
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