Saturday, April 14, 2007

Agile Publishing -- Working Product Delivered Frequently

Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months) -- Principle Number 2 of the Agile Software Development approach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development). What does this mean for an Agile Publisher?

One of the key issues that arises in traditional software development is that the client's vision of the features and functionality of a product are different from the developers' vision. Another is the inability of the stakeholders to control development against their budget. These two issues are at least partially addressed through the use of Agile's frequent delivery of working software principle. Specifically, by getting frequent releases, clients can see for themselves how conformant the developers' vision is to their own. Also, and especially when combined with another concept -- planning for priority features in the early releases, should the development cost begin to approach the project budget, the project can potentially be terminated early with much of the priority feature set in working order. Powerful stuff.

Developing a publishing product can follow a similar flow to software development, one in which iterations of content are created and reviewed. This is especially true for products with content derived from many sources. Following a similar flow of development, we can exert the same control -- create iterations of working versions of the product and with more important features (included content sources perhaps) developed first.

In the realm of electronic publishing, it is almost always true that a product is derived from many sources and I've seen many publishing efforts held up in order to include a particular content asset. I wonder if that asset was important enough to the product to incur the delayed release and resulting revenue.