Posts on Communication Skills

Using “Given-When-Then” to Discover and Validate Requirements

By Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener

In our book Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis we discuss the usefulness of the “Given-When-Then” technique to explore (discover) and confirm (validate) product options. Here we summarize the technique*, brainchild of Dan North.

What it Is 

Given-When-Then (GWT) is a structured format for expressing scenarios with example data, including pre- and post-conditions.

Usefulness

GWT helps project stakeholders (business, customer and technology partners) communicate using business domain language. You can use GWT to explore product options and confirm selected options and confirm selected options, in a concrete, tangible way. Often called “specification by example,” GWT provides living documentation for your delivered product. It simultaneously specifies requirements while identifying acceptance tests, thereby streamlining discovery and delivery.

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Agile Product Partners: Friends or Frenemies?

It continues to baffle me.

Clients share their struggles managing three, four, or five different product owners (or, as we refer to them, product champions). Delivery teams end up abandoning deployable software right before the end of an iteration or release.

Why?

It’s because the product champions can’t agree among themselves, or with the delivery team, on what to ship. As a result, the team members spend too much time in ineffective meetings and not enough time building high-quality software that delivers value.

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Best Books for Software Developers

This winter, SD Times editor Jennifer deJong Lent asked me to contribute an SD Times article on recommended books for developers. Jennifer and I agreed my list would exclude books about languages, databases or IDEs. I was pleased to contribute.

Jennifer begins her article with the following: “With the proliferation of online articles and ebooks, old-fashioned paper books seem not to have a place in today’s world. Many experts, however, still find useful things in paperbacks and hardcovers. From technology to people and team management, these books still help developers out today. Here are what the experts recommend.”

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This Week’s Business Analysis and Requirements Workshop: 2 Days of Learning in Las Vegas

I was recently interviewed by SearchSoftwareQuality editor Yvette Francino about this week’s Business Analysis and Requirements Workshop at the Better Conference/Development Conference this week in Las Vegas, Nevada (6-7 June, 2011).

Yvette asked me to explain the logistics, if we would be emulating gathering requirements for a particular project and if the workshop be relevant regardless of domain area. Here are my answers: As conference chair,

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Are Your Software Development Practices Jumping the Shark?

By Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman In September 1977, the TV sitcom Happy Days had über-hip Fonzie, clad in leather jacket and swimshorts, water ski over a shark to prove his mettle—and at that moment even diehard fans knew that the show was past its prime. They were right. After that episode, ratings plummeted, and the…

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What Inquiring Minds Want to Know: 120 Brains, 30 Minutes, 13 Themes

What Tough Agile Analysis Questions Do Business Analysts Need Answered? This is the question I posed to the participants in a facilitated workshop at the Building Business Capability Conference (BBC) 2010 this past fall. The BBC conference, held in the Washington, D.C. area, was the first official IIBA ® conference. It offered tracks for business…

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Agile Requirements by Collaboration

By Guest Blogger Rob Elbourn, Scrum Team Lead working at a major financial concern in UK. Visit Rob’s Agile78 Blog

I recently attended the “Agile Requirements by Collaboration” presentation at Skills Matter lead by Ellen Gottesdiener from EBG Consulting. Here are some of the main points I got from it.

Ellen described how collaboration needs to happen on several different levels of granularity along the way requirements are viewed on agile projects– the product (which establishes the product or portfolio roadmap), the release and the iteration (or work-in-progress).

Exploring these views can occur in several different facilitated workshops, from the roadmap workshop, to the release workshop to iteration workshops. The corresponding requirements that are clarified or driven out from these workshops also appear on different levels – boulder, rock and pebble.

The idea is that the pebbles form your user stories and are driven out at the level of the iteration workshop. Projects can encounter rock sized requirements at the iteration level and suffer a time delay as new pebble requirements are chipped off from them. This brings to question the level of “doneness” for a user story.

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