Anthony Tsakiris on Facilitating the Mini Quality Attributes Workshop, Will Chaparro and Michael Keeling, SATURN 2014 Presentation

by Anthony Tsakiris
Ford Motor Company

Architecture development activities as presented in books, articles, and classes are sometimes “heavy” – that is, they require a lot of time and people resources relative to what is available. That’s my view from an automotive embedded-control-systems environment. An argument can be made that that’s what it takes, but there’s another reality that time and resources are truly in short supply. It’s difficult to get stakeholders who are busy with multiple projects and production concerns to commit big chunks of their time to an activity like a Quality Attribute Workshop for a new project.

Will Chaparro and Michael Keeling of IBM gave a presentation at the 2014 SATURN conference that can help. They showed how they facilitate a mini version of a Quality Attributes Workshop. Their mini-QAW can take as little as 1 to 2 hours. They emphasize the scenario brainstorming, consolidation, and prioritization aspects of a more traditional QAW. Scenario refinement can be done if time allows or it can be done as homework; it’s a critical step that can’t be skipped. They also use a few aids to speed up the process and provide a helpful framework for people. A pre-established quality attribute taxonomy helps focus stakeholders’ attention on the most relevant quality attributes. A graphical scenario template helps capture raw scenarios. I expect the graphical template keeps peoples’ attention more than a textual list of scenario content.

This mini-QAW can’t completely replace a traditional QAW, but it should be able to help those of us with limited time and resources or who are new to using QAWs. You can watch a video of the presentation. It’s posted on the SATURN 2014 web site at http://www.sei.cmu.edu/saturn/2014/video.cfm and below. The presentation won one of two attendee-conferred awards at SATURN 2014. Check it out to see if you can leverage this approach in your setting.

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