Where Technical Writers Meet Agile (Meeting Review)

We had a great panel discussion on October 20 about Agile development from the Technical Writer’s perspective. Panelists included our own Barb Philbrick, Paulette Tiggs, and Paul Holland along with guest speaker Nicole Derr.

Nicole is a Technical Writer turned Agile Coach. She works with organizations that want to develop high-value products and high-performing teams. Nicole has 12 years of experience in a variety of Agile coaching roles in a broad range of industries.

Barb, our Immediate Past President and Honors Committee Chair, works for Keithley Instruments where they have been moving toward Agile for quite a few years. The team that Barb is currently on is the first one trying to be fully Agile.

Paul, our Webmaster, also works for Keithley Instruments and it’s his third company to work for where he’s had an opportunity to work in Agile development.

Our final panelist was Paulette Tiggs, our Vice President. Paulette works for Rockwell Automation where her information development team is one of the first to be fully on the Agile train.

We had a lively discussion about Agile and project management with regard to technical writers. Our panelists covered questions like:

  • What is the Agile methodology?
  • Is Agile only for software development?
  • What if you are not staffed for Agile?
  • What if you are on multiple Agile projects? How do you manage your time?

For those of us, like me, who were new to Agile, we learned that Agile Development is practices and methods where solutions evolve through cross-functional teams and self-organization. In 2001, 17 software practitioners developed four core values in what they called the Agile Manifesto:.

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

“That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

While there are four core values, there are also 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto.

Then, there’s the difference between Three Amigos (fun name, right?!) and Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®).

You can use these links to learn even more about Agile development:

By Lisa Adair