We Don’t Document In Agile!

What is going on, guys? Anatoly, from Define Agile here. Let’s talk about today’s topic. This is a very important one and I think we should talk more about it. It’s about documentation.

Stephan asked me a really good question on LinkedIn.

Stephan asked, “I was wondering if you might have a video where you talk how to handle the documentation when we’re working according to some ISO certification. In Agile, especially in Scrum, we want to minimize the documentation. On the other side, working on some ISO certification is requiring quite some documents. I was wondering how both of those can be satisfied in the very same project.”

This is a very good question and to elaborate on that, a lot of teams when they see the Agile manifesto, which says value working software over a comprehensive documentation, we might think, “Okay, we should probably document as less as possible,” which is totally not true.

What it means is that if we can choose between the two – you’ll have a working software or really documented pieces of all the requirements – we’ll choose a working software. We don’t want to spend all our life writing requirements for something that’s going to change in a month or two and then all those requirements might be obsolete. In Agile, we’re trying to adopt to change as better as possible. However, there are often things that need to be done by the business and these things cannot be avoided.


So what I suggest you do, Stephan, and many others – think about what does “done” means to you? Try to define your definition of “done” for your team. And if ISO certification is part of the definition of done then you need to do it. I know it can be time consuming, but think how to include documentation in the process in such a way that everyone can contribute to.

If business requires something, you cannot avoid it because, otherwise, you might get audited and it can be detrimental for your business. So, I highly recommend just do what is right. If you need ISO certification, explain it to your team. If you need any other audit documents, you still should have it. Agile does not say, “Don’t document stuff.” If it’s required by your business, you should do it. Agile says, “Don’t document lots of requirements ahead.” Don’t document every line of your code because every thing of this is going to change. If you spend all your time doing that, it’s going to change anyway and you might just waste yourself lots of time.

Hope that make sense,

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