How to Write Technical Documents in an Agile Software Development Project

How do you document a ‘moving’ feature in Agile? Today it’s blue, tomorrow green. One of the dilemmas for technical writers is trying to document new features between sprints.

The upside of Agile is that you get to see something, even a prototype, and can start documenting it in tandem with the sprints. That’s the theory.

The downside of Agile is that prototypes change.

So, what do you do?

  • Wait until the prototype is completely finished, then document it?
  • Document it from sprint to sprint to sprint?
  • A bit of both?

Here are some thoughts on how to document new technical feature if you’re using Agile for development.

First, why is it difficult to document new features?

  • The functional specification is vague, poorly written, or also a ‘living’ document. In other words, it changes too.
  • The feature is changed with each iteration. Some things are minor IU tweaks, others are major overhauls.
  • Documentation is supposed to be updated with each iteration.
  • Finding change requests and changes is difficult if they are not tracked.

How to work around this?

  • Review the requirements or functional specification (if they exist).
  • Attend workshops, if possible. Ask questions about everything. Workshops are to learn.
  • Discuss with business analyst how it’s supposed to work. Don’t assume anything.
  • Discuss with developer how they intend to develop it, which could be different than what the BAs want.
  • Discuss with QA how it’s being implemented, which again could be different that the original specs.

See if as a ‘fact-finding’ missing. Soak up as much information as possible. This is not the time to be shy.

Talk, ask, probe.

Then

  • Document the new features in the first iteration
  • Monitor the sprint backlog
  • Review new tasks related to the feature

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t take screenshots. Expect the UI to change.
  • Confirm your understanding. Is this how it’s supposed to work?

My approach is as follows:

  1. First, learn as much as possible.
  2. Document the technical architectural. This helps you understand how it all ties together.
  3. Document the conceptual materials.
  4. Document reference material as it comes available, for example, API and other parameters.
  5. Leave the procedures to the end. Changes to the UI may affect how the procedures work. Take screenshots near the end as these may change right up to the last minute.

What about you?

Download Technical Writing Templates

This Technical Writing template pack includes the following documents.

  1. Audience Analysis – 30 pages
  2. Data Sheet – 2 pages
  3. Documentation Plan – 7 pages
  4. Error Message Guide – 14 pages
  5. Fact Sheet – 2 pages
  6. FAQ Template – 17 pages
  7. Installation Plan – 22 pages
  8. Product Document Plan – 14 pages
  9. Quick Start Guide – 14 pages
  10. ReadMe Template – 2 pages
  11. Release Notes – 17 pages
  12. Setup Guide – 29 pages
  13. System Admin Guide – 35 pages
  14. Troubleshooting Guide – 12 pages
  15. User Guides – 5 x 16 pages

Download 15 Technical Writing templates to write technical documents faster

Download these templates to start

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan