Importance of Writing an Experience Report or Case Study

For the Agile India 2014 Conference, we’ve asked all the speakers who have proposed Experience Reports or Case Studies, to write a 2-5 page report summarising their¬†experience.

Here’s the guidelines we’ve given to the speakers to make sure the written report serve the intended purpose:

  • Tells clear story
  • Describes the context at the start of the story
  • Includes a synopsis of outcomes of the experience: qualitative results & quantitative results
  • Discusses specific insights you or your team gained through this experience
  • Describes successes and challenges at individual/team/org levels
  • Clear takeaway for the audience
  • (Optional) What’s the future plan as the experience continues.

What is the intended purpose of these reports anyway?

Following is the rationale for asking the report to be submitted before the conference:

  • Experience reports get 30 mins slots during the conference, while case studies get 45 mins. Clearly both these durations are not sufficient to cover the topic in detail. However increasing the duration means less number of speakers get an opportunity to share their experience and it also incurs other risks. Hence that was not an option. So as a balancing act, we want the speakers to write a 2-5 page document which captures the context of their experience, provide more finer details and hence set the platform for someone to get maximum value by attending the their presentation.
  • During the proposal selection process, we had to covert many longer duration sessions to 30-mins experience report. We asked the speakers to primarily focus on 1-3 key aspect of their experience and use their report to give the broader context and cover other details. This will ensure each presentation is impactful.
  • Since the conference has 3 parallel tracks, attendees will have to choose one session to attend. Generally, what we’ve seen is that the attendees would prefer attending a session delivered by an Industry recognised expert because they are sure of the quality of the session. However via these reports, if we can show the “trailer of the movie” if you will, we believe, we would be able to attract the right set of audience to these session. We are less concerned about the quantity of attendees, we are more interested in the quality of the attendees. And we sincerely expect that these reports will help the attendees come more prepared to these sessions.
  • While we really want to make these reports as interesting as possible for the attendees, we are also aware that not many people will read the paper before the conference. However, the few who will, will want to attend the talk to ask specific questions and get more clarity on certain concepts. Also they will help us market the presentation and encourage others to attend the talk.
  • Post the conference, attendees can point others to this report as a starting point.
  • Building a knowledge base via these reports is very important for the wider Agile community. As it allows many more people (beyond the conference) to learn. Getting people to write such reports outside the conference is relative challenging. Hence capturing this knowledge via the reports before the conference is important.

In fact, the report is as important as presenting at the conference. Hence we will be reject all proposals, which fail to submit the report on time.

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About Naresh Jain

Naresh Jain is an internationally recognized Technology & Product Development Expert. Over the last decade, he has helped streamline the product development practices at many Fortune 500 companies like Google, Amazon, HP, Siemens Medical, GE Energy, Schlumberger, EMC, CA Technologies, to name a few clients. These days, he is more focused on engineering excellence and product innovation. In a nutshell, hire him as a consultant/mentor, if your entire organization wants to move beyond the Agile and Lean mindset. Naresh is leading two tech-startups, which build tablet-based adaptive educational apps for kids, conference management software and social-media search tool. His startups are trying to figure out the secret sauce for blending gamification and social learning using the latest gadgets. Naresh founded the Agile Software community of India, a registered non-profit society to evangelize Agile, Lean and other Light-weight Software Development methods in India. Naresh is responsible for conceptualizing, creating and organizing 50+ Software conferences worldwide.