We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Laurel Counts, the director of technical communications at Moody’s Analytics, a financial services company that provides credit ratings, research, tools, and analysis. In addition to being an Acrolinx customer, earlier this year Laurel participated in a panel discussion at the Intelligent Content Conference, where she shared some of her ideas about how agile content development works at Moody’s. As the head of a global team that’s responsible for the documentation of all of Moody’s products, as well as product managing the localization and UI of that documentation, she’s a content development expert who’s well versed in agile.
Below are some highlights from our conversation about her experiences with agile content development at Moody’s.
Acrolinx Team: So tell us, Laurel, what exactly does agile mean to you?
Laurel Counts: For most people, agile content development is about adapting to the needs of a changing environment and being able to iterate rapidly. For technical communications, I think it plays out a bit differently. There’s a tendency to want to fit into agile methodology, but it’s something that was created for product developers by product developers. Tech comms is a different world. So, when I think of technical communications and agile, I think of making our documentation nimble, quick, and clever so that we can make changes rapidly and push them out to our clients.
AT: Ok, you alluded to the need for speed more than once. Why do you think velocity is so important?
LC: It’s all about time to market and competition. Moody’s Analytics builds software to help companies address the numerous financial regulations that are issued in both Europe and the United States and demonstrate that they are meeting the requirements those regulations set forth. New regulations are always coming out and there are numerous other companies that are competing with us to in this space, so we have a very short window of time to act. For that reason, velocity is critical because we want to get ahead whenever we can.
AT: And how does velocity and being agile change the way that content gets created?
LC: When I started at Moody’s four years ago, the tech docs team was smaller and pretty isolated. They were literally just working off in the corner. Since then, I’ve done a lot of work to make them part of the product team part so that they can get the information they need in a timely manner. That allows them to be more agile and make changes quickly, which is exactly what you need when you’re working in agile development.
On a day-to-day basis, my team is a part of the larger product team’s scrums, standups, and other meetings. I always encourage my writers to be active voices in those meetings in terms of trying to assess what the product team’s projects mean for them in terms of technical communications.
AT: Do you think your customers have noticed all of this agile content work that you’re doing?
I think it’s a work in progress. I don’t think they would have noticed a couple of years ago, but as we move forward and adopt an increasingly agile approach to documentation, I’m confident that our customers will notice and that they will appreciate what we’re doing.