The IT industry never stops: the approaches and priorities that were popular yesterday become obsolete and out of trend today. Previously, we cared more about the quality of software and documentation. Now, we think more about what benefits this software or documentation will bring to our users and whether this software or documentation really solve day-to-day tasks of our target audience. One can definitely state that in the IT industry, the focus has shifted to the end-users.
And this shift has made IT specialists rethink the way they worked before and adapt to the new challenges.
I’d confess that previously, Information Developers (aka Technical Writers) were the advocates of the users. We constantly thought of the possible user scenarios and did our best to make lives and experiences of our users better. Today, this is not enough. Users’ habits have changed and are still changing with the speed of light; the pace of the world is changing even quicker. Everyone has become more impatient. So, very often, it doesn’t even get to documentation in its traditional meaning. Users want to get the information they need right at the very moment they need it.
At this point, you understand that the past process doesn’t work, and this is when you have to charm a bit and bring magic to your everyday work life.
Our company did exactly the same. Believe it or not, we found that everyone on the team has their own piece of alchemy that is crucial for success:
- Developers construct magnificent software solutions
- Business Analysts (BA) make great potions that include requirements specifications and use cases
- UX Designers produce wonderful beauty creams for the applications
- Quality Engineers guard the primeval woods from nasty bugs
- Information Developers write sagas about this wonderful fairy world
But what this fairy world often lacks is collaboration. A result, sagas are often incomplete, potions do not work, and beauty creams have no effect.
To improve the situation, team members started uniting into the so-called “magic pairs”. The first to do that in our company were BA and UX experts. These people understood that the appealing look of the application is nothing if it does not respond to users’ needs. In the same way, very detailed requirements won’t bring any value to the users if the UI of the application is not friendly.
We saw that such collaboration results in awesome solutions for end-users and decided to join and work our magic. In fact, Information Development area has a lot in common with various fields: BA, UX, PM, QA. We chose to start from creating a magic pair with BAs as they are the people who know the origin of everything on the project and are the advocates of the clients.
In general, a BA forms the vision for the product and ensures that it responds to the business needs of the clients. InfoDev has a fresh eye of the first user impartial to perceive the complexity of the solution.
Both BAs and InfoDevs have pretty close information transforming tasks to resolve. BA collects the information (requirements) from a Product Owner and transforms it from the business aspect into technical specifications so that the development team can understand the whole picture. InfoDev, on the contrary, transforms information of the technical type into simple, to-the-point, and easy to use instructions. So, what’s important is the fact that BA and InfoDev need to speak both technical and non-technical languages. And this is the point where both parties can collaborate to achieve the best results.
Here is a short checklist of how you, as InfoDev, can contribute to this pair:
- Ask many questions. Very often, BAs get too immersed into analyzing the details and may omit the nuances visible to people who are not familiar with that area.
- Help with BA documentation (various types of specifications, diagrams, etc.). Make it more clear and structured. When everything is consistent, they’ll find that nothing skips their attention.
- Help BAs analyze use cases and create complete specifications and UML diagrams. Don’t be afraid to question the defined use cases or check the workflows shown in the diagrams.
- Bridge BAs and developers communication. Save BAs their time needed to inquire information from SMEs (developers mostly) by providing documentation of complex technical matters on the project (e.g., network architecture documentation, DevOps guide, etc.). Thus, InfoDev might be a kind of a bridge between developers and BAs, saving time for both parties.
- Ask BAs to review the documentation you create. They are the people who know most about the application. And to make this process effective, share your knowledge on the principles of creating technical documentation (minimalism, consistency, structure, etc.). In the same way, InfoDevs need to learn the basic BA terminology and methods to collaborate efficiently.
- Communicate with a BA a lot to get information – as much as possible. The documentation is more likely to be better written from the first time if your cooperation with a BA starts earlier than at the review stage.
Collaboration of InfoDev and BA brings much value to the project. The requirements get more succinct and closer to users’ needs; the documentation gets more complete and effective. When working in “magic pairs”, you have new engaging tasks and learn a lot, while accomplishing your to mission of helping end-users. The users are happy with the products you create, and that’s the point!
In the next blog article, I’ll discuss the importance of collaboration with UX designers. So, stay tuned.
Also, I’m really curious whether such practices exist in your companies and would be really glad if you share success stories of collaboration with other departments in your company.