Don’t Lean on Development’s Agile Process

Don’t just try to fit into development’s agile process. Create your own lean content development process.

Technical writers are increasingly finding themselves involved in the agile process of the development organization.  The most common way this happens is that a writer gets assigned to the team for a sprint and is expected to produce documentation in the same sprint as the developers produce the feature.

This has one huge plus for writers: development cannot declare the sprint complete until the documentation is done. This means that it is in the interest of every developer to help ensure that the tech writer has what they need to get their work done. Given that getting information when needed is a major issue for many tech writers, this can be a very big win. read more

Reducing writer errors

One of the most consistent responses I have received to my posts on revision as waste (Improving First Run Quality, and Revision, Waste, and Evenness) is some variant of “mistakes happen”. Some felt I was blaming writers, or even questioning their integrity. (Such comments were much more prevalent on LinkedIn than on the blog itself.)

Actually, this has very little to do with either the integrity or the diligence of individual writers. Writers are human, and they do make mistakes. The problem is that they tend to work in environments that make mistakes more likely, and that make discovering them less likely. If we want to reduce waste in the content creation process, we should be looking not at individual writers, but at the process and environment in which they work. read more

Revision, Waste, and Evenness

A couple of weeks ago, in a post titled Improving First Run Quality, I cause a kerfuffle, and some questioning of my sanity, by suggesting that rather then celebrating revision as an essential part of the writing process, we should regard it as a sign that the writing process is flawed.

Today I wish to expand on this idea that we should be regarding revision as a bad thing. One of the key principles of lean thinking, which takes it inspiration from the Toyota production system, is the reduction of waste in the production process. Waste is anything that does not add value to the product. Rework is waste. If work is done, and then has to be done again, that is wasteful. Revision is rework, therefore revision is waste. read more