The Software Practice Advancement Specialist Group of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT - is noted for its successful annual conferences that provide practitioners a rich programme of workshops, tutorials and presentations, over multiple days and streams (the SPA Conference in July 2018 in London ran three parallel streams over three days).

The SPA conference has been valued by practitioners and generates a healthy surplus that supports year-round monthly evening events in London and a free showcase event - Mini-SPA, away from London. Mini-SPA provides a taste of Software Practice Advancement to a broader audience and includes sessions from SPA conference, as also complementary sessions around the broader theme of software practice development.

This year’s Mini-SPA, hosted in Leeds, showcases five nuggets - four taken from the SPA conference, and one based on session at another event complementary to the SPA conference theme. The event will benefit a broad audience - software practitioners, professionals working with them, clients/consumers of software practice, students and academics.

A couple of the sessions will give a taste of the workshop environment at SPA conference. The tutorial environment at SPA conferences is usually much more engaged and involved with longer sessions. Mini-SPA though will give delegates a taste of the learning and good practice exchange opportunity SPA conference provides, with many delegates attending the annual conference on a regular basis. It is also our intention to record sessions from this event and make some of these available to an even wider audience online.




Tea and Registration                                                             0930-0950


Introduction by Chair                                                             0950-1000

Amit Bhagwat                                                                                  


First Session                                                                              1000-1200

How to draw better whiteboard sketches for software architectures

Matthew Skelton                                                                               45 min


Have you ever looked at a whiteboard sketch and thought “What are all these squiggles?!” This session is for people who want to communicate more clearly using whiteboard sketches for software architecture, systems architecture, data flow, etc. Using some simple principles (and a sprinkling of psychology) you will learn some practical techniques for making better whiteboard sketches. Your new sketches will be memorable for people and help to get across your points more clearly.


Matthew is a software delivery consultant based in Leeds, UK. He is Head of Consulting at Conflux, where he specialises in applying Continuous Delivery and operability techniques for software in manufacturing, ecommerce, and online services, including cloud, IoT, and embedded software. He also helps organisations to design and optimise their teams for effective software delivery using Team Topologies.



Secure Code Development in Practice

Tamara Lopez, Helen Sharp                                       75 min


How do developers encounter security on the job? In this two-part session, attendees will be prompted to think about what security is and why it is important to developers. Through guided exercises, participants will consider what comprises security for different kinds of systems, and the consequences of security breaches. We will finish with a discussion that relates the approach used in parts one and two to stories taken from the group about encounters with security. This is not a technical security session but one focused on reflection about attendees' own attitudes and behaviour in development practice around security. The aim is to help attendees learn from each other about how to improve secure coding practice. This workshop has been developed as a part of research that is examining the role motivation plays in the production of secure code and how practitioners can initiate and sustain a secure software culture.


Tamara Lopez is a Research Associate in the School of Computing and Communications at The Open University. She conducts empirical research using qualitative methods to examine software development practice.

Helen Sharp is Professor of Software Engineering at The Open University. She has been investigating the human and social aspects of software practice for over 15 years. She is currently focusing on agile software development and its relationship with user-centred design, globally-distributed teams and cultural influence.


Lunch                                                                                              1200-1300


Second Session                                                                             1300-1500


Bringing DevOps to Enterprise organisations

Michaela Kurkiewicz                                                                       60 min


Michaela Kurkiewicz offers an insight into journey of Co-Op over the last 2 years as it began its digital transformation. She’ll discuss the challenges encountered for operational and service management teams trying to support developers wanting to move to continuous delivery, balanced against the ways of working in large enterprises. She’ll be talking about:

  • Creating platform patterns to improve the journey of progressing alphas to betas, and through to supported live services
  • Creating the capability to deploy often, whilst retaining stability
  • How the role of service management is evolving, and how to adapt Service management practices into a devOps environment.


Michaela is a principal service manager at the Co-Op. She has spent the last two years working in the digital team to implement and run their first cloud-based infrastructure as code services, and has continued to build the patterns and support models to support alphas through to production ready services. Most recently Michaela has focussed on bringing devOps and agile ways of working to life within the Co-op, navigating the complexities of new tools, techniques and practices in a traditionally on premise, waterfall enterprise IT environment



Become a Fantastic Facilitator

Tracey Walker                                                                                  60 min


This session explores facilitation – a skill that is invaluable for those who need to lead retrospectives, team ideation sessions, brainstorm workshops etc. The talk will include tried and tested facilitation techniques: e.g. how to ask the right questions, observing body language, managing difficult people and using active listening. There will also be tips on how to lead group discussions in work teams without fear or anxiety.


Tracey has worked for several years in the Market Research industry specialising in moderating focus groups, facilitating client workshops and conducting in-depth interviews.  She encourages non-researchers to understand the dynamics of working with groups to help increase confidence when communicating in meetings, retrospectives and workshops.



Tea                                                                                                    1500-1515


Third Session                                                                                   1515-1630


The Virtuous Technologist

John Nolan                                                                                        75 min


How ought we to act? How might we flourish and live well, contributing positively to society? Why is it that Technologists struggle with answering these most basic Ethical questions? Why is it that there is no coherent or largely adopted approach? Should we abandon all hope of ever finding an Ethical approach to Technology, or is there a different approach that might provide us some possibilities? This session is aimed at educating the audience about a pre-Enlightenment approach to Ethics based on the ideas involving Virtues. A facilitated discussion, this session will give a taste of a longer SPA conference session that combined presentation and group work and will provide tools and techniques that can be used by individuals and teams to examine and develop their Ethical approach - the Virtues for a Technologist and how might we learn and develop these Virtues


With over 30 years of experience at the forefront of technology, John’s career has been about changing the cutting edge into the bleeding edge: applying the big ideas and making them practical. From technologies such as objects, distributed computing and smart-dust through to process innovations like change management and agile software delivery, he has always taken a hands-on, "let's make it work" approach - delivering in diverse domains - finance, advertising, engineering, transportation, publishing, media and telecoms. He is a SPA veteran and chaired the 2005 conference.                                                    



Conclusion by Chair                                                                 1630-1640

Amit Bhagwat


BCS mini SPA 2018
Date and time
Monday 26 November, 9:30am - 4:40pm
St George’s Centre
60 Great George Street
This event is sold out