Month: March 2008

Yes! Expect or Write an “Agile” Requirements Document

By Eric Kuhnen, Focal Partners, special to The Content Wrangler Mike Wethington, Certified Scrum Practioner, runs the Agile Development and Technical Communications forum inside The Content Wrangler Community. One poster in that group recently expressed the following regret: “I think the Agile, iterative approach is great, but I miss the up-front, fleshed-out spec that gave me the full picture early in the project.” The quoted poster (above) hints at a truism: documentation managers cannot guide their teams effectively when product management is in anarchy.  When documentation managers have a complete picture of the product, they make better choices in planning documentation planning phases about what to write, how to cross-reference it, when to use examples, what facts to double-check, etc.  When anarchy reigns, announcements of new product features are known perhaps two weeks before the documentation is due.  Documentation teams kiss their loved ones good-bye and start writing.  So, when an Agile product manager says that there will be no more product requirements documents because the company has adopted Agile, documentation managers understandably get a little jumpy. Somehow, in the rush to adopt Agile principles for software development, some product managers have overreached in their interpretation of how “agile” they should be.  Indeed, at a recent conference I attended (the P-CAMP Unconference for Product Managers put on by Enthiosys), some attendees were arguing that adopting Agile meant tossing out...

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Defining Policies & Procedures – Three Perspectives

By Raymond E. Urgo, Urgo & Associates When a professional organization conducted an informal survey to find out how P&P practitioners define policies and procedures (P&P), more than 90 percent of practitioners define two terms–“policy” and “procedure”–and the relationship of one to the other. While the definitions provided for each were similar, the survey indicates the limited view that most P&P practitioners have about the policies and procedures specialty. With more than 25 years’ experience working with P&P in organizations, Urgo & Associates defines P&P with a micro, macro, and mega perspective. Our experience and research indicate that most people, including P&P practitioners, define P&P on a micro level, primarily because they have not considered other perspectives. Here are three perspectives about policies and procedures by which you can think, speak, and act in today’s workplace. Micro perspective – policies OR procedures At the micro perspective level, a policy refers to an organization’s position or stance about what should or should not be done as it relates to a practice; a procedure refers to sequential steps that enable someone to accomplish something, including a policy. For example, a university may have a tuition refund policy to state the terms about when a student is entitled to a refund. The university may also have an accompanying procedure(s) with steps about how to apply for and issue a refund, when applicable....

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SharePoint Has Become the New Lotus Notes: CMS Watch Cites Collaboration Pros, Proliferation Cons

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 is repeating history as it mimics the allure and pitfalls of Lotus Notes, according to research released today by CMS Watch, an independent analyst firm that evaluates content technologies. SharePoint exploits traditionally underserved collaboration needs for information workers laboring within Office tools, and fulfills a common desire to easily create disposable workspaces, CMS Watch found. Like Notes in a previous decade, IT often embraces SharePoint as a simple answer to myriad business information problems.  But the platform can easily morph into a technical and operational morass, as repositories proliferate, and IT comes to recognize that various custom applications require highly specialized expertise to keep running properly. CMS Watch also found: Prior to the advent of SharePoint, simple collaboration services were remarkably clumsy or absent in many content management and knowledge management systems. “By focusing on basic file sharing,” argues contributing analyst Shawn Shell, “SharePoint addresses an immediate need for many small and mid-sized businesses, as well as autonomous enterprise departments.” As a collaboration platform, SharePoint does have its drawbacks.  Explains CMS Watch founder, Tony Byrne, “Customers readily shared their frustrations: Redmond’s rather belated embrace of Web 2.0, SharePoint’s poor support for individuals working on multiple different teams, as well as its cumbersome and incomplete integration with Outlook.” Unfortunately, as you grow very large SharePoint environments, the controls that enterprises would want to see simply...

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How To Write Content For Reuse

More than just discussing the value of reuse, in this DCL News article, Pamela Kostur shows you how to do it. Read her advice on how to convert unstructured (or loosely-structured) legacy documentation and make it suitable for...

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Current Topics in Medical Localization

By Richard Sikes, special to The Content Wrangler; Reprinted with permission, MultiLingual magazine, Copyright March 2006, issue #78 If two localization professionals begin to chat about the special problems that their work entails, a fair amount of energy is developed. Get five or six on the phone in a conference call, and the energy abounds. Multiply that by six or seven in a round table setting, and a synergistic “wow factor” really sets in. Professionals responsible for localization work in the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries deal with a special set of problems that those in the “classical” localization industry do not. When they have an occasional chance to meet under the auspices of the Localization World conference in a round table setting just for them, they discover through that forum that they and their peers share many top-of-mind concerns. Such sharing is unique and contrasts starkly with other industries. The Medical Localization Round Table is the only forum for pharmaceutical and device companies to discuss translation and localization issues. Medical localization shares many attributes with other realms of the industry such as software localization, and there are many areas of overlap, such as medical imaging software, for example. But there are also profound differences. A poor or inaccurate translation may generate a smirk factor when it occurs in the context of a consumer software program. It may be annoying...

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