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There's No Such Thing as a Requirement and Devops Evolution

posted 1 Jun 2015, 07:38 by Royd Brayshay   [ updated 1 Jun 2015, 07:38 ]
Andy Burgin at Agile Yorkshire
The first talk of the May meetup was given by Andy Burgin. Andy spoke to our group a year ago and introduced us to the idea of DevOps, Developers and Operations teams working side by side on a product. Too often in large organisations imaginary bondaries exist between teams, Development to Testing, Testing to Release, Release to Operations. Each boundary acts as a hurdle for knowledge transfer and removes the understanding of the business need from the people supporting the application day to day. Andy advocated a work environment free of these boundaries, where teams were composed from people accross all parts of the business where knowledge could be carried from inception to delivery.

With background and history from the inception of DevOps as well as pictures, stories and anecdotes from the recent Paris conference, Andy guided us through the Evolution of DevOps from it's inception to the present day. I'm sure more than a few people headed back to their companies with a few ideas they'd like to try out! Hopefully he'll have a few more recruits for Leeds DevOps over the next few months!


Tony Heap at Agile Yorkshire
The second part of the evening was lead by Tony Heap. When I first read the title "There's no Such thing as a Requirement." I was worried, I had visions of a hippy telling us to embrace change and try to persuade our clients to accept fluid specs and hazy deadlines. What Tony brought us however was very different!

We started with an exercise, the CEO of a major supermarket wanted to buy a new tablet. For that he needed to increase profits, he decides to set his IT Manager the task by selling online. The IT Manager takes on this requirement and designs the high level functionality of the site, he passes each page as requirements onto his subordinate who designs what each page should look like... what we quickly realised was that Tony's claim was correct - there is no such thing as a requirement! There are only different levels of design which are done higher and higher up the process. If these "requirements" are simply someone elses design then they should be questioned and challenged!

While we grappeled with this newfound knowledge Tony guided us through the rest of his process. Development teams today are too often held hostage to those fiddly low priority stories, the last 20% of a requirement which takes 80% of the time. Tony illustrated the value of proper prioritisation, weighing the value of those final 20% of tasks against the business need of other user stories. Using the HMS Waterfall as an example Tony demonstrated how proper prioritisation and planning of User Stories is as essential to the modern team's work as a compiler and keyboard. More details of Tony's process can be found on his blog It's All Design.

Finally thanks also to all our volunteer team who make the event happen and to main sponsors Piksel, Callcredit and NewRedo and to our prize sponsors O'Reilly, JetBRAINS,Manning, Wrox and PluralSight. 

I hope to see you all in June - Adam Griffiths.