Bridge the gap between dev team and business people! – Idea #3

This article is the third out of an unlimited series (let’s say at least 5!) where I’m gonna try to give you some ideas and easy things to put in place in order to bring your team closer to business people so that you can work collaboratively and efficiently with them.

Written so far:

Event Storming

In the previous post you read how Impact Mapping gives you the goal to reach and what are your options to do so, now it’s time to get more into how the system works.

An Event Storming session will involve almost the same people as for an Impact Mapping’s one but the aim is quite different!

Event Storming is about to find out all the events that occur in the system -> the business processes.

As Alberto Brandolini says:

Ideally, one would like to have participants coming from two fields: people with questions and people with answers. They provide the perfect mix of curiosity and wisdom.

Domain experts, the business people, know the system by heart and their job here will be to answer to a lot of questions! Those questions will be asked by a mix of different people (including developers, team leaders, testers, …), bring the curious ones!

After an ES session, everyone should be able to share the same vision on how the system behaves and the icing on the cake: everyone should share the same language to describe this (see the Ubiquitous Language).

First of all, you’ll need to find a big wall that you’ll cover with plotter paper or electrostatic sheets in order to be able to put sticky notes and maybe draw some lines and write text. Get some markers and different colors sticky notes. Decide to focus on a particular part of the domain (unless this could last more than a day!) and start by asking this simple question to your domain experts: “What’s the most important event that should occur in the system?”. If you’re working for a company that sells things on the Internet, and that you’re focusing on the ordering process, the answer should sound like “Cart checked out” or something similar. Now that you have that specific event, act as a time machine and try to find out together with the domain experts, what happened before this one. Write every single event on sticky note and put them in the right order.

Follow Alberto’s advice: Here’s the dogmatic color coding for #eventstorming follow it or perish!  :-) (source)

eslegend

This first part of an ES session really focuses on outcomes. Here’s a simplified version of what you should have:

CustomerLoggedIn->ItemSelected->ShoppingCartValidated->DeliveryAdressConfirmed->PaymentAccepted->CartCheckedOut

Now that you know everything that happens before a cart is completely checked out you can focus on the causality: the corresponding commands that lead to those events. Put another color – blue if you don’t want to perish ;-) – sticky note on every events and write the command name (you can also draw the actor that fires the command – User/Job/Time/…). Here’s another simplified version of what you should have:

LogCustomerIn->SelelectItem->ValidateShoppingCart->ConfirmDeliveryAddress->ValidatePayment->ConfirmOrder

Look what we have here? The method names of the not yet written application code! How could you be more close to business people if even your code speaks business? ;-) That’s the point where your code really brings business value!

And where the magic happens is when the QA tester can even start to write BDD styled tests during the ES session:

Given a Customer Logged In
When he Selects an Item
Then the Item should be selected in the Cart

I must admit this is a too simplistic example but you get the point, right?

At the end of an ES session every people involved knows exactly how the system works and behaves, what are the events that should occur and their corresponding command (and actor). You should be able to point out potential conflicts or missing concepts but new opportunities as well! Last but not least, everyone shares the same language and did speak together!

Mission accomplished!

Bonus: If you’re into DDD, Event Storming can even bring more than that as you’ll be able to find out the Bounded Context and Aggregate Roots of your system.

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Bridge the gap between dev team and business people! – Idea #2

This article is the second out of an unlimited series (let’s say at least 5!) where I’m gonna try to give you some ideas and easy things to put in place in order to bring your team closer to business people so that you can work collaboratively and efficiently with them.

Written so far:

Impact mapping

One of the worst things about specifications is that they are boringly linear. They just tell you what to do, from point A to point B, no alternative. Have you ever seen specifications with options in them? nah!

Smart as they are, business people are nonetheless error-prone. Well, to be honest I would not want to do their job. It would be impossible for me to know exactly how the future will be and write this into documents weeks before any project start. Even if I’m currently working for a betting company I’m not used to place bet on what should coming on!

Impact Mapping is no crystal ball, it won’t tell you the right path to follow to reach success, but it will give you options! Impact Mapping is like a real roadmap, not the kind of roadmap that gives you only one way to go from point A to point B (as specifications do) but the kind of real roadmap that will tell you what are your options based on the current traffic jam and potential road works ahead.

But who’s gonna find those options? Everybody!

First interesting thing Impact Mapping brings, is that every people involved will share the same goal! With the development team having the same goal to reach as business have, is a key success factor. Think about a military unit engaged on a mission without having the main goal in mind, what would happen if something comes up that specifications had not anticipated? –> Fail!

Sharing the same goal will help people to find out options on how to reach it and one of the best way I know to do it is to make an Impact Map.

As Gojko Adzic says:

An impact map is a visualisation of scope and  underlying assumptions, created collaboratively by senior technical and business people. It is a mind-map grown during a discussion facilitated by answering the following four questions: WHY? / WHO? / HOW? / WHAT?

The WHY? is obviously the goal I was talking about. The WHO? are the actors that can influence the outcome. The HOW? are the impacts, the options. And finally, the WHAT? are the deliverables, all the features that we might deliver.

Of course, everything should be measurable in order to be able to switch from one option to another if we see quickly that it won’t reach the goal. Like if your project management was switching from working with commitments on a linear plan to GPS navigation system that reacts to unexpected events!

Keep in mind that your options must be on a survivable scale, meaning that if it fails the project must stay alive! That’ why they must be measurable, achievable, realistic and timely!

When do you need to do Impact Map? Well, obviously before the project start so that you can define all the different goal-to-deliverable paths – the assumptions. But you should do Impact Map during the project as well to check if the chosen option is producing the expected impact!

When you do Impact Map, the first thing to focus on is the goal. If it’s too big or if it contains sub-goals, then cut it into milestones. Do not spend to much time on the What part, focus on the actors and impacts instead (and stay tuned for the next idea to come that will focus more on the What and how Business people could help there)

At the end, Business people will share their goal and everyone involved will think about the best ways to reach it. As Ron Jeffries said:

It shortens the communication lines between the people who want things and the people who do things.

Mission accomplished!