Help - I'm Outclassed!

Reflections on my first EA user group event...

by Charlie Mitchell


I was a little nervous about attending this year’s London Enterprise Architect User Group. I have been a user of Enterprise Architect for about 6 months, my knowledge of UML is minimal, and I know just enough about the whole world of Enterprise Architect to know that I know almost nothing about it. I was sure that I would get nothing out of this - it was all going to be way far above my head.

The User Group began as many conferences do - coffee and mingling while we all wait impatiently for all the delegates to arrive and the first event to actually start. I had a programme of events in my hand with the talks that looked like I might be able to keep up with carefully circled and was ready to begin.

The first thing that surprised me was that I actually knew quite a lot, and that the problems I was having with Enterprise Architect weren’t all because I was new and inexperienced - they were problems that experienced users were also discussing and attempting to solve together. I knew what most of the people were talking about - admittedly I camped out in the room where people were sharing User Stories rather than the room where the serious techies were talking which was a carefully calculated decision. I was fascinated by the problems that people had attempted - and sometimes even succeeded - to solve with Enterprise Architect. Because most were problems that I could see me having to solve. There were people who had models more than 5 years old, but also people who were almost as new to the world of Enterprise Architect as me. And they all managed to find something interesting to talk about.

While the problems that they faced were different, along with the solutions, they were not so wildly different that they didn’t have plenty of interesting things to learn from one another.  I wasn’t there yet - not by a long shot - and I probably won’t be there for a while, but one day these are problems that I will probably come across and have to solve.

All I have to do now is remember the solutions.

My favourite part of the conference though was the Wish List Workshop. Getting together so many Enterprise Architect users from so many backgrounds to think critically about what they use, what they want improved and what they’d love to see added was a great way for me to find out two things. The first - that I was not alone in my various frustrations. But the Second was much more interesting - that this was the day-to-day working of professionals in my industry. They were discussing the kinds of boring things that they all just assume that each other know in order to do their jobs, and as an aspiring Business Analyst it was great just to eavesdrop in on what they were doing.

The workshop also started off a lot more cross-contamination for the rest of the day. Getting people to mingle outside their teams made everyone just that little bit more open to talking to each other generally. The afternoon sessions ended with a group sharing of “EA Tips and Tricks” which still captivated the attention of most of the delegates until the very last minute of the conference.

All together, I can’t wait until next year and I will know even more and be able to get even more out of it. Maybe I’ll even speak!

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