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December 10, 2018

Agile content strategy

In an agile environment, a company develops its products in continuous iterations with incremental deliveries called sprints. This approach allows the company to test the success of each small change to the product and adapt the development process accordingly. So what does that mean for content?

Here are some considerations for executing a successful content strategy as part of an agile process:

Identify your end goal. An agile approach involves multiple product deliveries, but your company still has an overall end goal for product development. Your content strategy should support that goal. Because agile development is so incremental and open to change, it can be challenging to stay on track as you put new content processes in place. Identifying and firmly establishing your business goals up front can help ensure you stick to them, even if your strategy undergoes some changes along the way.

Allow for flexibility. Some aspects of the initial product plan will likely change throughout the development process as it is released and tested in sprints. For example, you may discover in one sprint that you need additional metadata or a different output format that allows you to deliver content in a way that better meets your customers’ demands. An agile environment requires a content strategy that’s built to anticipate and adapt to these kinds of changes.

Take a phased approach. Instead of overhauling your content processes all at once, think about rolling out your content strategy in smaller phases. People accustomed to the short sprints of agile development may be more receptive to an incremental content strategy. This approach also puts less pressure on product developers who serve as subject matter experts in content creation. The phases of your content strategy don’t have to be directly aligned with your sprints, but the strategy’s milestones should take your sprint schedule into account. (A phased content strategy has another major advantage: it’s often easier on a company’s budget!)

Encourage collaboration. An agile environment requires close collaboration between the development team and any other departments with a stake in the product. It’s essential that content creators are part of that collaboration, especially in cases where content is delivered as part of the product. All content-producing departments—such as tech pubs, marketing, and training—need to work together to keep content creation in line with product development.

For those of you in agile environments, how do you approach content strategy? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced when improving or building new content systems?