Sustainable Digital Delivery - What Works? - Leeds Digital Festival 2019

As part of Leeds Digital Festival 2019, Conflux hosted the “Sustainable Digital Delivery” event - half a day of talks from local industry experts and community leaders. The topics for the day ranged from the engineering culture, MVP to open API - there was something for everyone. Also, the attendees had an opportunity to discuss the topics further with the speakers after the talks.


Matthew Skelton of Conflux opened the event by defining "Sustainable" , "Digital" and "Delivery" and what it all means together:

Introduction and welcome by Matthew Skelton (Conflux)

Key Points:

  • "Sustainable" - avoiding human burn out, making sure teams are not affected by how we build software and the way we build software enables the ongoing evolution of the software

  • “Digital” :

    • 1) Rapidly-developed services accessed via personal compute device

    • 2) Rich telemetry for existing processes provided via software and sensors

    • 3) Highly effective ways of working discovered & evolved through 1 and 2.

  • "Delivery" - software gardening, you build it, you run it, co-creation - not “throw it over the fence”

Short talks by Leeds-based experts

The rest of the day consisted of 7 short talks and a discussion afterwards. Here is a quick summary of each of them:

Tanja Lichtensteiger (Sky Betting & Gaming) - How to Build a Great Engineering Culture


Key Points:

  • Engineering culture is it is all about the people - happy engineers build better products

  • Main ingredients for good engineering culture:

    • People & teams, if you don’t get this right, you won't have a chance in hell to build great engineering culture.

    • Hire for potential, attitude and resilience - technical ability comes second

    • Ingredients for job satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, complexity

    • Psychological safety - let them be who they are at home to be at work, encourage diversity, no ego

See more about Engineering Culture by Tanja Lichtensteiger

Clem Pickering (Infinity Works) - M is for MVP (or is it?)


Key Points:

  • MVP - minimum viable product - just enough features to make the client satisfied.

  • Ideally you should move towards:

    • M - multiple, M - is for Monthly - when you come from once a year, once a month release cycle is a good change.

    • V - valuable

    • P - experiment

  • Challenge the concept of MVP - focus instead on establishing regular, iterative delivery, take the tube not the release train.

See more about MVP by Clem Pickering

Lorna Mitchell (Nexmo) - Describe your APIs with OpenAPI


Key points:

  • Decribing APIs - describe RESTfullHTTP API in a machine readable way:

    • Produce API reference documents

    • Auto-generate code SDKs

    • Use description in other developer tooling

  • Spec-First API design

    • That's what’s magic about it - it is open, there is so much that you can do about it.

See more about OpenAPI by Lorna Mitchell

Royd Brayshay (New Redo) - A little sustainability insight


Key Points:

  • Little's Law: Cycle-time = WIP/ Throughput - comes from queuing theory

    • Limiting WIP positively improves cycle time, reducing cycle times (reduce blockages) reduces IP

    • Adding capacity (throughtput) with people or process improvement benefits cycle times

  • There is a mathematically provable relationship between the work coming in, and the work leaving.

See more about Little’s Law by Royd Brayshay

Claire Garside (Foundation for Digital Creativity) - Developing diversity in the digital talent pipeline

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Claire talked about working with students who use digital skills for courses that would normally not be related to IT but nowadays need IT skills also.

  • How can being out of your conform zone can improve your skills?

  • Proven through the theory?

  • Democratising IoT

  • thingQbator

    • the practices are embedded in the course

    • Students respond to real world problems

Ben Davison (Axiologik) - Techniques for sustainable digital delivery at scale


Key Points:

  • Digital is not Agile or cool tech. Digital is paradigm shift in how we consider business and tech. It is a fundamental re-imagining and re-engineering of an organisation around customer journeys.

  • To succeed, you need to worry about three things:

    • what you are going to do

    • how you are going to do it

    • how you are going to get there

See more about techniques for sustainable digital delivery at scale by Ben Davison

Matthew Skelton (Conflux) - Sustainable software delivery through operability


Key Points:

  • 5 practical operability techniques:

    • Modern event-based logging

    • Run-book dialogue sheets

    • End-point healthchecks

    • Correlation IDs and traces

    • Lightweight User Personas for Ops

  • Address the operability early on - good logging is foundational

See more about sustainable digital delivery through operability by Matthew Skelton

See all videos on YouTube - Sustainable Digital Delivery

Overall, the day included many interesting talks that had a lot of useful information to make software delivery as painless as possible, tips and tricks on good engineering culture and how to make your software delivery sustainable. Check out individual blog posts to each talk to get more information!