Partially Attended

an irregularly updated blog by Ian Mulvany

Research Software Engineering conference 2018 workshop abstract

Thu Jun 21, 2018

311 Words


As SAGE is sponsoring the Research Software Engineers conference in September we get to submit a workshop. I’m thrilled to be able to attend this conference. Many years ago I used to write research software in astrophysics. Over the years I have learnt how complex the interplay is between specification, software writing and getting to the heart of user needs. Along with this is the critical question of how we find sustainable models for these kinds of activities.

I’m convinced that tools of thought from lean product development can have a impact in helping people with these questions so I’m going to take this opportunity to try out some of my thinking by running a workshop on the topic. I’ve just submitted the following abstract to the conference.


Software can quickly take on a life of its own, new feature requests, thinking about refactoring, bugs to be squashed. Given that the only bug free code is no code, as soon as you start committing you are committing to one path over another.

How might tools from lean product development help in prioritising feature development? How might they help with thinking about sustainability models for software projects?

In this workshop we will look at a hierarchy of tools that can help with thinking about prioritisation questions, from project level down to specific feature level.

We will do a deep dive into a couple of these tools.

The lean value tree can help to orient broader program efforts. The lean canvas can help to identify the largest risks that a project can face.

Working with the group we will solicit some real use cases to use for the workshop, and attendees will then be encouraged to try the tools out on their own projects.

We will be using post-it notes and sharpies for the workshop, no special prior knowledge is required.

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