Live From RE’11: Gathering Requirements for Requirements Conferences

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In my last blog post, I alluded to a “coup” at the IEEE RE conference.  Today marked the beginning of what is being described in some circles as the “Velvet Evolution” of RE Conferences.  This was borne out of late-night discussions about the goals of such conferences, and whether requirements conferences are actually achieving the “Business Objectives”, if you will, of the participants.  A few conference regulars came up with the idea that we should eat our own dog food and gather requirements for requirements conferences.  So, this week, I have been conducting elicitation sessions with attendees to determine their objectives for attending the conference, trying to determine their impressions of how the conference satisfies or falls short of those goals, as well as beginning to define some features that an ideal conference would have.  All of this is quite reminiscent of and perhaps even inspired by Niel Maiden’s keynote address at REFSQ

The “rebels” are still in planning phases right now, but there is talk of using the results of our elicitation to gather requirements and perhaps publish a massively distributed paper, or conduct a workshop on how requirements conferences can better meet the objectives of requirements practitioners and researchers.

I should mention that although I refer to this as a “coup”, it actually has the support of the conference committee, and the two primary spokespersons for the coup were given some time this morning to address the masses.  The address was quite unconventional, with Martin Mahaux and Alistair “Mav” Mavin performing a skit emulating the post-conference debates which so often occur over beer when the sessions for the day are over (the beer in the skit wasn’t a prop, by the way :)).   Pictures will be uploaded as soon as I am back in Austin.  Most of the attendees responded favorably, and we collected dozens of email addresses of those interested in joining the “Evolution”.  More elicitation sessions will be conducted, and the hope is that we eventually determine success criteria for requirements conferences and ensure that the format, content, and logistics of the content help achieve success for those of us “in the trenches”.



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