Friday, January 01, 2010

agil development means valuable end user assistance

gile development methods have become more and more popular during the last few years. Especially the software domain tries to speed up development cycles and deliver new features on demand of the customer. most common method today is SCRUM.
there are many good books, articles, forums and blogs out there describing the goal, advantage of diving into agile software development. but less or zero of them covering the creation of end user assistance, like online help, for the different users groups and additional, required information must be shipped with the product.

#1 principle of agile manifesto
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software.
"valuable software" of course means one the customer is able to use, therefore end user documentation is essential part of the software development process.

that means that you have to change your process to
  • no more write documents / additional information instead
    write valuable information assigned or integral part of the product component it belongs to
    a document is one potential output if a customer value can be achieved with this type of output
  • no more prioritize, test, deploy and measure customer feedback for the application and the user documentation as separate applications instead
    while working on a particular feature prioritize, test and deploy all valuable user information and work together with the customer to get feedback for the complete application (incl. user documentation).
sounds simple, but as you know that isn't simple at all. many companies currently workaround the mentioned issues or just ignoring the resulting consequences.

by the way one of the few blog posts I found "Writing End-User Documentation in an Agile Development Environment".

what is your experience and solution to this challenge?
  • do you discuss end-user documentation requirements while sprint planning / review...?
  • do you prioritize end-user documentation along with the corresponding user story?
  • do you test your end user documentation while test your application?
  • ....?
  • do you localize user documentation while localize your application?
  • do you use dedicated professional writes or other team members for creating end user related information products?
  • ....?

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