Archive for the ‘events’ Category

3 INCOSE takeaways on requirements

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Last week’s INCOSE International Symposium was refreshing. The sessions and events offered great opportunities to network with other industry professionals interested in systems and not just software, and I joined some useful tutorials in systems engineering. I’m still distilling my thoughts on “systems engineering vs. software engineering”, and will post later on that topic.

Participating on the “Is Requirements Engineering Really Necessary?panel with Brian Berenbach, Mark Sampson, and James Hulgan was great fun. We don’t have the official session survey ratings yet, but we drew an audience of several hundred who never ran out of questions for us. My top 3 takeaways from our discussions are:

  1. Emphasize activities, not titles. The more stakeholders and team members who understand and can use Requirements Engineering methods effectively, the more the system and business will benefit. RE advocates have to remember, though, that most systems engineers aren’t, and don’t want to become, “requirements engineers” or even “requirements analysts”. They are committed “control systems engineers”, “electronics engineers”, “software system engineers”, or “power systems engineers” who are passionate about their own domains of expertise. To be most useful, training in requirements elicitation and analysis should be aligned to their domain worlds, instead of expecting systems engineers to align with the world of RE.
  2. System requirements need systems thinking, too. How formally requirements are managed should depend on the risks and consequences – not all requirements are “created equal”. Likewise, how requirements are documented should depend on who they are being documented for – the audience who needs to understand and use them. With today’s increasingly complicated systems and escalating time-to-market pressures, the same old mountain-of-text-documents approaches don’t scale; we need to adapt, and start ‘system-engineering’ how we handle our requirements to fit the needs of the business and the system.
  3. No silver RE bullets. Requirements engineering isn’t a panacea that can solve any and all problems in a system. Requirements aren’t mushrooms to be “gathered” for analysis. They’re more like truffles that need to be carefully searched-for and unearthed. RE techniques can help you find the truffles and ensure that key needs aren’t overlooked. And RE can help you analyze and manage needs to ensure that requirements are well-defined, prioritized, verifiable, and necessary. RE can’t guarantee that you’ll never miss a requirement, include extraneous features, or misinterpret an important aspect. Using a mixture of senior and junior staff can help: experienced people are guided by the pain that came from overlooking key requirements or quality attributes in the past, and junior people can help the team avoid “expertosis”, by questioning assumptions and asking “why?”.

(My “point of view” slide can be downloaded from the Agile Teams website, as well as my 1-page position statement.)

RESS’11 wants YOU

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Requirements engineering for ‘systems of systems’ is an emerging area of research which is critical to many complex challenges we face today. Key industries include transportation, hospital networks, smart buildings and smart grids, defense systems, as well as systems from many other domains.

Are YOU doing interesting work with requirements for such systems? The RESS (Requirements Engineering for Systems of Systems) workshop at RE’11 is looking for contributions addressing issues, challenges, and solutions related to requirements engineering for such systems. Please consider submitting a paper describing your work and ideas!

All papers (4-page position papers, 6-page experience reports, or 8-10 page full papers) must be submitted by May 16. The full CFP (call for papers) is online at The workshop will be held on Aug. 30, 2011 in beautiful Trento, Italy as part of the RE’11 Conference – see for more information.

upcoming events in Requirements

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

REFSQ’11 (Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality) in Essen, Germany, March 28-30, 2011: Calls for empirical proposals are being accepted now through January 7 (I’m on the Empirical Research Fair program committee). The Empirical Research Fair is new in 2011, and is intended to offer “lively discussion between academics and industrials to identify the right context for empirical studies” as well as identifying “empirical studies that can be conducted during the REFSQ 2011 itself”. Are you a researcher seeking to address the needs of people doing real requirements engineering in practice? Or an industry practitioner who would like to find an academic or two interested in RE research that’s genuinely relevant to your business? See the call for proposals, and please consider submitting one!

INCOSE (International Council on systems Engineering) IS2011 in Denver, CO, June 20-23, 3011: I’ve been  invited to participate in a proposed Requirements Engineering panel at the 21st INCOSE International Symposium. My point of view will focus on bringing an agile perspective to the topic of requirements engineering in systems engineering. This promises to be great fun if our proposal is accepted (we’ll find out around Feb. 22). We hope to generate some light, with minimal heat, in the discussion. Oh, and if you’ve been working on advancing the state of the art in engineering critical systems, check out the call for papers: they’re looking for a diverse range of submissions (due Nov. 3).


Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

A very full week at SATURN 2010 is now over. I’ll be summarizing the sessions I attended on our WordPress blog shortly, but in brief: it was an excellent conference offering great networking opportunities and bringing much-needed attention to effectively combining architecture with agility.

Our AHEAD tutorial on Tuesday morning was well-received, and several enjoyable, thought-provoking discussions with participants ensued later in the conference week. Following Linda Rising‘s good keynote advice on using the Just Say Thanks pattern, I’d like to publicly thank Aldo for co-presenting it with me, and express my deep appreciation to Elizabeth for her extensive preparation work and thoughtful support as we developed the tutorial together.

see you at SATURN?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

SATURN is coming!

In May I’ll be co-presenting a half-day tutorial at SATURN 2010 on “Efficient Software Technology Evaluations Leveraging ADD” with a colleague. We’d love to have you join our tutorial (T2), so if you haven’t yet registered, please consider signing up! Or even if you’ve already registered, you can still add our tutorial at the early bird rate (deadline is Friday).

Either way, if you’re going to SATURN too, drop me a note here – or send me a tweet and I’ll add you to my SATURN list on twitter. We look forward to meeting you in Minneapolis in May!

adventures at SEPG 2010

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I’m at SEPG North America in Savannah this week, and at the halfway point it’s already exceeded what I expected when I tweeted via LinkedIn that I was “ready for #SEPGNA, and looking forward to [re]connecting with interesting people there.” Here are some links you can use to see what’s going on:

Blog posts by some of the interesting people I’ve met up with here:

It’s already been a great week for reconnecting – with Beth Layman (, more than a few TSP colleagues from SEI and other companies, and someone I enjoyed working with (but last saw/spoke with) 15 years ago in another state.

I’ve been taking a few pictures and some softcopy notes, which I’ll upload later; I’ll be updating this entry with additional names and links during the rest of the week, and I’ll summarize my key takeaways and recurring themes when it’s over.  Enjoy – comments and questions welcome!

Practical Software Development

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I had a great time participating in the “Practical Software Development” discussion at the Eastern NC IEEE Computer Society chapter meeting on Feb. 16 with Bob Galen and Andy Hunt. Since I was one of the panelists, my notes are somewhat incomplete, but I’ve summarized some of the key questions from the audience and moderator John Baker, as well as the panelists’ opening  point-of-view statements.

An unexpected highlight of the evening was our discovery that Dr. Frederick P. Brooks (yes, THAT Dr. Brooks, of Mythical Man-Month fame!) had honored us by joining the audience. His comment to me afterward on why he came: “You always need to keep learning.”

(Added Feb. 28: event photos, including one with Dr. Brooks, are now included at the end of the post.)


IEEE news – Feb. 2010

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Feb. 16 IEEE Computer Society meeting, Eastern North Carolina Section: I’ve been invited to participate on a panel on “Practical Software Development” with two local luminaries: Andy Hunt (/\ndy) and Robert Galen.

People who RSVP can suggest specific questions they’d like us to tackle, and moderator John Baker promises to bring some additional ‘clever questions’ on balancing agility and discipline. If you’re in the Raleigh area, do plan to come by at 6pm for pizza and the lively discussions that are sure to ensue! IEEE Members and guests are welcome.

Where: Engineering Building I Room 1005 Centennial Campus NCSU

RSVP to John Baker at jbaker (at) to confirm your attendance and suggest questions for the panel.

upcoming events

Friday, February 5th, 2010

2010 has been super busy so far, and is off to a great start. In addition to a new IEEE Computer Society meeting panel invitation, and our previously accepted SEPG 2010 presentation on requirements engineering metrics, the Agile Teams collaborators now have a half-day tutorial accepted at SATURN. If you’re also attending SEPG or SATURN this year, please look for us and say hi!

Windows 7 event recap

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I’ve been hearing rumbles about Windows 7 for quite a while, had just a bit of hands-on time with it on a colleague’s new laptop, and seen a mentally sticky Mac ad deriding Windows 7 as “waaay better than [ Vista | XP | NT | 3.1 ]”. This morning I attended my first big-picture presentation on Win7, a free event at the NCSU McKimmon Center (details here and here).

It was well attended, planned, and executed; other than a few A/V annoyances, my only quibble is that for future I’d suggest the organizers plan more lecture time for a more leisurely talking pace, and less Q&A time at the end. Presenter Tim Hodgkins, an Enterprise Technology Strategist from a nearby Microsoft office, is clearly experienced and knowledgeable, and he was refreshingly frank – kudos to him for a useful and entertaining talk that effectively addressed a diverse audience.

However, due at least in part to that diversity in interests of the audience, the topics covered weren’t nearly as tech-oriented as I had hoped. While it had been described by NCSU as a ‘business and technical’ talk, the slides actually covered were pretty light on ‘how’ details, and devoid of discussion on financial benefits. My first red flag that it might not be very geeky was the absence of a prominently-posted Twitter hashtag 😉  Then Tim asked the audience at the start whether they were consumer users or enterprise users, and unfortunately for me, the consumers were the vast majority. He then sensibly tailored his talk accordingly, but to address both segments in the two hour lecture time allotted (minus A/V adjustment time), he visibly skipped a bunch of enterprise-focused slides, and had to go pretty fast overall.

I tweeted only once, during a brief A/V break, and the rest of the time I took old-fashioned notes – impressions and reflections now summarized below, with a side note on Windows 7-based entertainment in a separate blog post. (Those of you who already have hands-on experience as Windows 7 users or from beta-testing for months may disagree or have further insights to offer; comments welcome!)