The first all-online Software Practice Advancement showcase event.

Agenda and speakers

(all times are in UTC/GMT = CET -1hr) – Session leaders will be based in UTC and CET time zones

  • Session 1 - (24 March 2021 12:30 - 14:30 UTC)
    • Welcome & Introduction by the Chair
    • How cognitive biases and ranking can foster an ineffective architecture & design and how to address this) by
      Kenny Baas-Schwegler & Evelyn Van Kelle
  • Session 2 - (24 March 2021 19:00 - 20:30 UTC)
    • Machine Learning with Apache Spark by Akmal Chaudhri
  • Session 3 - (25 March 2021 12:30 - 14:30 UTC)
    • Developers and Privacy by Johan Peeters
    • Dealing with Disempowerment by Mark Dalgarno
  • Session 4 - (25 March 2021 19:00 - 20:30 UTC)
    • Making Security Easy with the Agile App Security Game by Charles Weir & Lucy Hunt


The Software Practice Advancement Specialist Group of 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 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 entirely online for the first time, showcases five such nuggets. The event will benefit a broad audience - software practitioners, professionals working with them, clients/consumers of software practice, students and academics. A few 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 focussed on smaller audience. 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. As in previous years, it is also our intention to record sessions from this event and make some of these available to an even wider audience online.


Wednesday 24 March

12:30 - 12:40: Welcome
12:40 - 13:00: Chair’s Introduction, Amit Bhagwat

13:00 - 14:30: How cognitive biases and ranking can foster an ineffective architecture and design and how to address this

The power of collaborative modelling comes from having a diverse group of people who, together, have a lot of wisdom and knowledge. You would expect that all this knowledge will be put to use, co-creating, and to design a model. In reality, we don’t actually listen to all the available input and perspectives due to cognitive biases and ranking. Because not everything that needs to be said has been said, we will end up with sub-optimal models and architecture. Even worse, people don’t feel part of the solution and don’t commit to it. Good architecture and design need all the insights and perception. If we are not aware, cognitive biases and ranking kills those insights and wisdom and kills the effectiveness of your models!

Join us in this session where we will interactively explore how we can improve our facilitation skills and focus on neuro-inclusiveness with Lewis Deep Democracy (LDD). By having a Deep Democratic discussions together on what biases are at play during liberating structures workshops, and how ranking will effect a visual collaborative modelling session like EventStorming and User Story Mapping, you will gain first-hand experience about LDD. With this experience, we will explain how we embedded LDD in our design processes.

We will let you leave with the knowledge on how to observe sabotage behaviour, battle oppression, and to create safety in exploring alternative perceptions. We will show you how you can really let the group say what needs to be said and take a collective autocratic decision in designing your software models.

19:00 - 20:30: Machine Learning with Apache Spark

This workshop covers the fundamentals of Apache Spark, the most popular big data processing engine. In this workshop, you will learn how to ingest data with Spark, analyse the Spark UI, and gain a better understanding of distributed computing.

You will also use scikit-learn, which is one of the most popular open-source machine learning libraries among data science practitioners. This workshop will walk through what machine learning is, the different types of machine learning, and how to build a simple machine learning model. This workshop focuses on the techniques of applying and evaluating machine learning methods, rather than the statistical concepts behind them. You will be using COVID-19 data released by the New York Times.

Who should attend: Anyone is welcome to join. Some prior basic Python understanding will help.

What you will need: Bring your own computer and create a free Databricks Community Edition (CE) account. CE can be created from Please ensure that you select the free CE and not the Databricks trial edition.

Thursday 25 March

12:30 - 13:15: Developers and Privacy

Many developers do not know what needs to be done to comply with privacy regulations. So they abdicate responsibility to lawyers and tool vendors, resulting in applications and services riddled with legal gobbledygook and annoying widgets that increase, rather than limit, personal data exposure.
For all their failings, EU privacy regulations are steps in the right direction, but all too easy to ignore. As developers, we should step up to the plate and build systems in the spirit of the GDPR and ePrivacy directive (the cookie law). It is not so difficult to do the right thing

13:15 - 14:30: Dealing with Disempowerment

We know that people who are empowered are more creative, more productive and more satisfied with their work and so produce better results for their organisations. So why is there so much disempowerment in the workplace? In this workshop we’ll share our experiences of disempowerment, invent even more ways to disempower our teams and colleagues and discuss how we might identify the signs of disempowerment when it’s happening to others.

We’ll then work together to figure out what could be done differently to move from a disempowered organisation to an empowered one. Participants will take away - a better understanding of empowerment, insights into what disempowerment looks like, a better understanding of the causes of disempowerment and options for tackling disempowerment. We might cover some tough topics that are very personal in this session but participants are free to decide how much they share of their own experiences.

19:00 - 20:30: Making Security Easy with the Agile App Security Game

Are you confused by security? Petrified by privacy? Worried by risks? Or do you work with developers who are? Rise about the fear, uncertainty and doubt sometimes spread by security specialists and learn how easy it is, by joining us to play a game with other SPA participants online.

In the tradition of SPA, you’ll be doing the work. You’ll work in groups, discussing as Product Managers what software security to implement in a banking app. It’s fun, and you’ll learn from it. Better still, this game forms a first step in Developer Security Essentials, a short set of structured workshops that any facilitator can learn to deliver to software developers. We’ll be working in teams and using game boards, so come with your video on, with a browser available.

About the speakers

Kenny Baas-Schwegler

A lot of knowledge is lost when designing and building software — lost because of hand-overs in a telephone game, confusing communication by not having a shared language, discussing complexity without visualisation and by not leveraging the full potential and wisdom of the diversity of the people. That lost knowledge while creating software impacts the sustainability, quality and value of the software product.

Kenny Baas-Schwegler is a socio-technical architect. He blends IT approaches like Domain-Driven Design and Continuous Delivery and facilitates change through using visual collaboration practices, the Cynefin framework and Deep Democracy. Kenny empowers and collaboratively enables organisations, teams and groups of people in designing and building sustainable quality software products.

One of Kenny's core principles is sharing knowledge. He does that by writing a blog on his website and helping curate the Leanpub book visual collaboration tool. Besides writing, he also shares experience in the Domain-Driven Design community as an organiser of Virtual Domain-Driven Design ( and Domain Driven Design Nederland. He enjoys being a public speaker by giving talks and hands-on workshops at conferences and meetups.

Evelyn Van Kelle

Evelyn van Kelle is a strategic software delivery consultant, with experience in coaching, advising and guiding organisations and teams in designing socio-technical systems. Her Master’s degree in social sciences brings new and valuable perspectives when it comes to optimizing both delivery- and team processes.
Being a firm believer of context shaping meaning, she is focused on understanding company- and team culture before anything else. Finding the actual problem to solve and adding business value are starting points in her work. Evelyn is convinced that we need a shared sense of reality including shared values, goals and language in order to perform best as a team. She is curious, driven and pragmatic. “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection” describes her line of reasoning

Akmal Chaudhri

Akmal helps to build global developer communities and raise awareness of technology through presentations and technical writing. He has over 25 years’ experience in IT and has previously held roles as a developer, consultant, product strategist, evangelist, technical writer and technical trainer with several Blue Chip companies and Big Data startups.

He has regularly presented at many international conferences and served on the program committees for a number of major conferences and workshops. He has published widely and edited or co-edited 10 books. He holds a BSc (1st Class Hons.) in Computing and Information Systems, MSc in Business Systems Analysis and Design and a PhD in Computer Science. He is a Member of the British Computer Society (MBCS) and a Chartered IT Professional (CITP).

Johan Peeters

Johan is an independent security architect and part-time educator.​

Mark Dalgarno

I work for Software Acumen a consultancy and events company. I'm also involved in Joylab a boutique consultancy focussed on early-stage idea development and prototyping for digital services. I mainly do agile coaching and delivery management - up to Head of Software / CTO level.

For the past 5 years I've been part of the UK Government's transformation to agile, user-centred delivery for services. I've consulted for the Government Digital Service and various government departments and am a Digital Service Standard Assessor for Agile Delivery and contributor to the UK Government Service Manual. I also organise a bunch of agile, user experience and service design conferences in the UK and run a few meet-up groups. Supported by my brilliant Software Acumen team. I've been involved in SPA in one way or another since 2005. For me it's the canonical practitioner conference

Charles Weir

Charles is a Researcher at Security Lancaster, within Lancaster University, UK. He is passionate about improving the security skills of teams of professional software developers, and has devoted five years to developing tools to help consultants achieve that. Previously he set up the mobile application development company, Penrillian, and ran it successfully for 15 years, employing up to thirty people and with a total turnover well over £20M. Charles also helped introduce object-oriented and agile methods to the UK, and was technical lead for the world’s first smartphone.

Lucy Hunt

Lucy is an IT consultant, software engineer and business analyst with over 20 years in industry and two years as an IT volunteer with VSO Nepal. In 2018 she completed her MSc in Cyber Security at Lancaster University, and is now in the third year of a PhD researching whistleblowing in software engineering.

Our events are for adults aged 16 years and over.

This event is brought to you by: BCS Software Practice Advancement (SPA) specialist group

Webinar: Mini-SPA Conference 2021
Date and time
Wednesday 24 March, 12:30pm - Thursday 25 March, 8:30pm
This event is sold out