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What can you gain from Event Storming workshops?

July 19, 2022 / 4 min read

people during event storming process

Event Storming is a relatively young but increasingly popular method for collaborative discovery and process modelling inside complex business domains within which software is produced. There are many industries that developers and technical experts face in their daily work. Unfortunately, sometimes getting the information you need to design quality software for a domain you don't know is challenging. Fortunately, the Event Storming workshop comes to the rescue.

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What is Event Storming?

Event Storming was developed in 2013 by Alberto Brandolini, who actively promoted it. Brandolini is also currently in the process of writing a book on Event Storming (you can purchase it on Leanpub). Since the concept's inception, the technique has gained a wide following associated with Domain-Driven Design, which uses it to model the business domain in information systems.

ES is a flexible technique that you can adapt to current needs. In addition, the process seeks to map how the industry for which the software is being designed operates. Thus, it informs programmers, analysts and architects about how they should build the given system.

Unlike similar methods, Event Storming is exceptionally lightweight and requires no computer involvement. Thus, ES boils down to workshops involving technical and domain experts from the client’s side. Also, the key is the presence of a facilitator to ensure communication accuracy. The workshop takes place in a room without chairs, with a whiteboard as a critical tool.

Event Storming describes domain events, i.e., how the software is supposed to work in a given situation. Each participant of the workshop has cards in the colour corresponding to their role (so-called Event Storming colours). On them, they write down their conclusions. As a result, specialists from different fields exchange knowledge and confront opinions. Here’s the Event Storming example:

Event Storming example process Author: Henning Schwentner; image source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_storming

Event Storming: benefits for your business

The simplicity of Event Storming determines that you don't need any specialised software to reap the benefits of using this technique. Moreover, ES offers help for the more technical and complex domain for which the software is developed. Let's take a look at some of the advantages of using Event Storming.

Benefit 1: Align organisation

Extensive structures and tools in a company, as well as numerous internal processes, very often cause difficulties in communication between departments. Sometimes, diverse teams within a company do not know what others do. Working with Event Storming makes it possible to find out how individual processes occur in a company and how the following elements of this chain affect each other. Bringing together all the people involved in a project in one room provokes discussion and allows multiple perspectives and opinions to be heard and confronted. In addition, the "to be" vs. "as is" technique will enable you to discover valuable differences between how you want something to work and how it actually works.

Benefit 2: Know what you don’t know

Lack of communication can lead to tragic results. The 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster is the best illustration; it broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, resulting in the deaths of seven crew members. However, experts claim the incident would not have happened had the engineers understandably explained the potential danger of taking off at too low temperatures.

That is, of course, a very extreme case, but there is no doubt that sharing knowledge is the most effective risk mitigation method in all organisations. Reverse storytelling, which is used in Event Storming in combination with analysing events from the future to the past, makes it possible to detect potential shortcomings, risks, or so-called "hotspots" ES gives space to discuss problems and threats from different perspectives and reveals gaps in knowledge or conflicting positions of people on the team. Thus, Event Storming effectively minimises potential risks.

Benefit 3: Discover what’s important

Software development is expensive, so software creators should carefully tailor the developed application to companies' needs. On the other hand, not all business needs of a company require the creation of dedicated software solutions. For example, if you need to implement an e-commerce invoicing system, you can buy one and integrate it with your platform. On the other hand, there are tools (e.g., specialised machine learning algorithms) that are so specialised that they need to be built from scratch.

Event Storming allows you to understand the domain and discover bounded contexts and their boundaries. For example, one product in a store can be in different contexts like warehouse or checkout. ES reveals the communication between systems, allowing you to discover the relationships between functionalities in the software and create a product that meets all business goals.

Benefit 4: The best technology start

To build software that effectively serves a particular business and meets its needs, programmers need to know what problem they are solving. Unfortunately, that is not always the case in practice, leading to numerous complications, but Event Storming provokes dialogue.

The exchange of insights allows technical teams to propose an adequate architecture and technology stack. Thanks to that, the software will structure the enterprise architecture and meet the enterprise's needs rather than the other way round. Moreover, all meeting participants can also align on business priorities, which leads to an effective testing strategy.

Benefit 5: Discover the common language

Lack of proper communication in a company can have severe consequences and prevent the effective implementation of extensive projects. Even teams composed of the best experts in a given field can fail if their communication is insufficient.

There can be many reasons for communication problems, but a lack of understanding can often result from imprecise nomenclature. Different interpretations of essential things can lead to using different terms for one thing. That does not have a good effect on the efficiency of communication. The solution, again, is Event Storming, which introduces the "ubiquitous language" that meeting participants use. Using it, you will gain confidence that each team member is heard and, most importantly, understood by others.

Summary

ES relies on the discussion to creatively develop knowledge that the team can later use when creating a joint project. It is hard to find a more effective method of visualizing a future project and the activities leading to its implementation than Event Storming. In addition, employees who don't have technical knowledge can effectively communicate with developers, which results in faster performance and allows you to catch errors that can be costly to fix later. Add the economic aspect to the above list of advantages, and the conclusion is obvious – you should give ES a try!

Author

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