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Session + Live Q&A

Talk Like a Suit: Making a Business Case for Engineering Work

We all know the feeling. We see these scary problems in our code and architecture, we raise our concerns, leadership nods their head encouragingly, but every planning session and backlog grooming, only features show up on the list. You think, well, I guess we'll have to wait for something horrible to happen, and then finally they'll be motivated. This can be frustrating and discouraging; you want to do the right thing for the company and avoid disaster, but nobody seems to be listening.

Being able to "talk like a suit" - make a compelling business case for engineering work - is a key skill we need to learn as we grow in our career. Over the years I have learned some great strategies for doing this. I have found when I work to make a solid business case, I become even more convinced and confident that what I've been worried about is a real issue, or, sometimes, I realize that the investment needed just isn't worth it for the value it will bring.

In this talk I'll walk through some of the approaches and strategies I use to make a business case, and will walk through a few examples to help make it concrete. You should hopefully walk away with your own ideas on how you can reframe the problems you're trying to fix in business terms, and feel more confident that you can make a larger positive impact for your organization.


David Van Couvering

Senior Principal Architect @eBay

David Van Couvering has been designing, building and delivering enterprise software since he first started at Sybase in 1988, converting tests from C to COBOL. His checkered past includes architecting one of the first Java application servers at Sybase, working on a series of explosively failing...

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Tuesday Nov 2 / 02:10PM EDT (40 minutes)


Becoming a Better Developer


Developer ExperienceBusinessDevelopmentProgrammingTechnical Debt

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