After an inexcusably long delay, here is another post on one of the sessions from Agile 2011. This one, Agile Thinking for Business Analysis: Going Beyond User Stories was presented by Steve Adolph & Shane Hastie.
The premise of the session was that although User Stories are the “industry standard” way of documenting requirements in agile approaches, they by themselves are insufficient to fully explain the problem space and solution constraints, by design. To get a full picture of what the team is trying to deliver, you need to progressively elaborate the information, starting with an understanding of the scope & context, the proceeding to epics and stories, which act primarily as a planning mechanism, and finally providing greater detail through the use of acceptance criteria.
The key points I pulled from the talk:
- When it comes to analysis, don’t through the baby out with the bath water. In other words, there is still some use for models in agile to drive understanding, just don’t spend a lot of time making them look pretty. They are tools to aid conversations, not the only means of communication.
- The questions we are trying to answer should drive the model we want to use. Choose wisely.
- Write use cases at the level of intent, not content (thanks Shane for that poetic nugget of wisdom)
- A handy way of remembering quality constraints (non-functional requirements): “PERFUM”
My favorite quote coming out of the session, Shane’s reference to a 200 page specification document as the “Tome of uncertainty”.