Thanks to all who made it out for another great meetup in April! We had roughly 35 attendees who spent several hours last Tuesday evening chatting about project documentation.
Special thanks to:
- Swift for hosting the meetup at their spacious office (and Rachel Havens for coordinating the space, snacks, and beverages)
- Lori Dunkin at FINE Design for custom-printed nametags that we’ll be using at future meetups
- Andrew McCullough and Amber Stansfield for helping me facilitate the evening’s breakout groups
After some mingling while guests arrived, we got started with the evening by breaking out into three smaller groups. All of the discussed project documentation, but each had a different area of focus. Amber’s group discussed documentation supporting the design process. Andrew’s group talked about development documentation. I led a group that discussed pre-sales and project-framework documentation. Below are some highlights from each group.
Pre-Sales and Project Frameworks
I brought several document examples to the discussion, including our statement of work template and stage gates. We also touched on:
- The importance of including primary contact info and process explanations in statements of work
- The necessity of reiterating that websites are living things, and that contracts need to call out the requirements around ongoing maintenance and development
- Whether SOWs are part of the sales process, and using the SOW template as a means to facilitate asking the right questions in discovery
- The idea of a pause clause, where certain client activities or inactivities (unresponsiveness, non-payment, etc.) will freeze a project, and it resumes at the agency’s discretion
- What sorts of presentation decks, demos, and protoyptes different organizations use to present projects to clients
Amber’s groups followed up the March meetup topic of design process by getting into further details around documentation to support design. Topics covered included:
- The nature of documentation continuously evolving throughout the course of projects and over multiple projects
- Variations of creative briefs and user profiles created to identify design needs
- General project requirements documentation used to gather information pre-design
- High-level questions documentation should answer, including:
- What is the project?
- Why are we doing it?
- Who are we talking to?
- What do they think?
- What do we want them to think?
- What do we need to tell them?
- Documentation that encourages the discovery of design preferences, including:
- Branding requirements
- Graphic preferences
- Similar project examples
- Mockups & prototyping
Andrew’s groups delved into documentation to support development. They covered:
- Technical specifications, user stories, and other means of documenting development requirements, features, and tasks
- What formats people use for documentation, including MS Office, Google Docs, Gather Content, and more
- How to create development documentation that serves client needs versus documentation that serves developer needs
- Who creates technical documentation, and how it is translated and communicated to clients to keep everyone on the same page
Details on May’s meetup are forthcoming, but mark your calendars for May 13th at 5:30PM. Pending securing a space that works well for a single-speaker format, I’m likely going to take a month off from the breakout group format we’ve been going with and hijack the evening to give a first presentation of my PM-focused session that I’m preparing for Drupalcon Austin entitled Scaling People, Process, and Tools. I look forward to seeing everyone in May!