Mini-Quality Attribute Workshop

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Good quality requirements help you make the right architectural decisions, but gathering quality requirements is not easy. The Quality Attribute Workshop (QAW) is a fantastic way to gather requirements with stakeholders, but the traditional form of the workshop can be costly and cumbersome to organize.  What if you could run a faster, cheaper, QAW without hurting the results?

For software-development teams that need an effective yet inexpensive method for eliciting quality requirements with stakeholders, the mini-QAW is a lean workshop that quickly and cost-effectively helps teams identify and prioritize quality attribute scenarios. Unlike the traditional QAW, the mini-QAW substitutes time-consuming, ceremonial activities with equally effective group activities that better promote collaboration and understanding. The mini-QAW achieves this through a quality attributes taxonomy, a clearly defined subset of quality attributes tuned to the presumptive concerns of your stakeholders. The mini-QAW leverages this taxonomy in three primary ways:

  1. Quality attributes defined in the taxonomy form the basis for a structured brainstorming activity called the System Properties Web.
  2. The taxonomy enables an informative visualization that allows stakeholders to see the "quality signature" of their system.
  3. A taxonomy-based questionnaire (TBQ) allows facilitators to reliably and predictably elicit good quality attribute concerns from stakeholders.

The Mini-QAW is perfect for Agile teams.  Variants of the mini-QAW exist for both face-to-face and remote collaboration. The mini-QAW method has been used successfully by several groups throughout the world and is finding its place as a standard tool among many software architects.

Mini-QAW Resources

Here are several resources to help you get started.

Facilitating the Mini-Quality Attribute Workshop (slides) by Michael Keeling and Will Chaparro

  • Introduces the method and describes benefits, differences from traditional QAW
  • How to use a systems properties web to assist with structured brainstorming
  • How to use a taxonomy-based questionnaire
  • Techniques for visualizing scenarios and stakeholder priorities
  • Facilitation tips and tricks

Quality Requirements on a Shoestring (slides) by Thijmen de Gooijer

  • Introduces remote facilitation practices
  • How to create a stakeholder empathy map for use when important stakeholders cannot participate.

Both of these talks were also recorded.

Quality Attribute Taxonomies

Quality Attributes and Service Oriented Architecture by Liam O'Brien, Len Bass, Paulo Merson

Know of a taxonomy?  Built a questionnaire?  Let me know and I'll add it to the list!

Other References and Resources

Running your own Mini-QAW Training

You have permission to use any of these training materials provided on this page with your own teams or within your own training courses provided you agree to the following conditions.
  • You will send us feedback about your use of the Mini-QAW.
  • You will include proper citations in any distributed or presented materials.

There are two versions of the training available.

To facilitate a training you'll need the following.

  • Print enough persona cards for all participants.  These cards define the stakeholders and roles for the "team" during the simulation.
  • Print enough Quality Attribute Scenario Worksheets so each "team" has a few to work from.  We've found it's best to work in pairs or triads within the groups.
  • Print enough example quality attribute taxonomy samples so each "team" gets at least one.  These sheets define the quality attributes we'll use during the simulation.
  • Prepare flipchart paper with a blank taxonomy web pre-drawn on the paper.  Each group should get one.  It should look similar to this example.
  • Markers and sticky notes, enough for all groups.

The 90 training was recorded at SATURN 2016.  You can use this video to learn how to facilitate the workshop, let us facilitate through the video, or some combination (show video of the intro parts and you facilitate the workshop parts).


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