Dont' Like Documentation? Think Of "Persistent Communication" Instead.

Scott Sehlhorst has an outstanding post at Tyner Blaine about documentation. Not technical documentation, but the information you write down to make the development process work. By work, I don't mean just the activities within the development team, but also the rest of the value chain, too.

Scott is talking about the role of documentation in Agile development, but his points are relevant to any team, Agile or not. Agile creates greater sensitivity to the issue, since too much documentation can cripple the team's velocity. Of course, the lack of documentation can damage the team's success:


Some collaboration is transient – communication happens right now, and is only important right now.  Other communications are persistent – the collaboration happens right now, but we need to remember later what we agreed upon and why.


Scott's post is a great illustration of what I was discussing yesterday about treating requirements as conversations, not dictionaries. Requirements are part of the conversation, but a lot of the same content that defines what to build, and why, gets recycled later when you need to describe what you built, and why. For example, personas get passed around quite a bit among groups. Perhaps the originate in the development team, but people in sales, marketing, support, and other downstream groups have a keen interest in that information. 

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