I attended Ken Pugh‘s session on agile requirements management today on the SQE‘s Agile Development Practices conference. What surprised me was that most participants were newcomers to agile – stuff like user stories, planing poker, story points etc. were a complete novelty to them. Judging from the questions & teamwork during the session and the chats during the breaks I have to say that we are doing pretty good as a team in this area. We have a pretty good process for starting projects and getting requirements from clients in an agile way. We get the most important user stories within one few-hour long initial backlog creation session – and then refine and evolve the backlog together with the client as the project develops.

Many of the techniques presented by Ken were applicable mainly to projects ranging from large to huge – and in corporate environment. But still I walked from that sessions with few ideas how we could improve what we do – and add to our toolbox for a bigger project when it comes our way.

One of the things Ken demonstrated was Business Value Points technique. The idea is to capture the relative business value of each user story as seen by the customer. It works pretty much the same as story points for effort or difficulty: stakeholders can do “planning poker” on perceived business value of each user story. As with each poker-style estimating only stories where there is a disagreement in the group get discussed at length and a consensus is achieved. The result can be then one of the factors in the planning sessions. Or it can be used along with story points to calculate how much value for the effort could be obtained. It is – I think – a great process for fostering some agreement on the priorities when instead of one product owner we have a group with different interestes.

Overall, this was an interesting day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.