Business Analysis Articles

Mar 26, 2017
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There are various schools of thought about how to define terms, some arising from professional terminologists and academia. But those approaches are often relatively arcane and not well-suited to everyday business practice. Definitions with subtle IT or ‘data’ bias are an anathema to ...
There are various schools of thought about how to define terms, some arising from professional terminologists and academia. But those approaches are often relatively arcane and not...
Watching the speed by which Information Technology (I.T.) has changed over the last forty years has been amazing. Hardly a day goes by without some new twist or invention. In parti...
When asked what my secret for Business Analysis success is, I indicate fundamentals first. You can acquire skills related to Agile, the latest modeling language, and software devel...

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I have come to realize the practitioners in this industry suffer from acute myopia regarding their work. Programmers tend to believe their part of the puzzle is the most important, as do business process analysts, data base analysts, network analysts, project managers, enterprise analysts, etc.
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As of this writing, the city of Houston is still struggling with their pothole process. The point of this article is not to recommend a solution, but a path to resolution and a profound lesson learned. Not all problems are resolved by just “throwing money” at it. In fact, the lack of a budget being used is an indication of a process problem.

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This article looks at practical experiences of implementing business rules using TDM and SAP from several angles, while also raising some of the questions which I find asked most frequently and insistently in my work, such as:

  • Why do I need anything other than an existing rules engine to define and manage business rules?
  • Why would I want specialized tooling for business rules when I already have tooling for requirements gathering?
  • How does improved business rules definition help me with testing?
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In parallel with my consulting work, I teach an online course for business analysts on writing better requirements. Invariably, the most skilled participants of the course are the ones who seem less confident when submitting their assignments. “Please let me know if this is not what you expected”, or “I hope I understood the assignment correctly” are phrases I typically get from these participants, while the weaker BAs typically write “here’s my assignment for Lesson 3”, without any caveats.
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As far as the individual change is concerned, what we need to know and do –as business analysts- is “How to design the proper tactics and interventions that institutionalize the change (e.g. new ERP system, redesigned business processes, new organizational structure, new policies, etc.”) at an individual level”.

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Based on requirements, ASE decomposes a system into its sub-systems (business processes), the procedural work flow for each, and determine what programs are necessary to implement the computer procedures (software specs). To do this, we determined there were three basic types of sub-systems...
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People sometimes say that requirements are about “what” and design is about “how.” There are two problems with this simplistic demarcation.  This makes it sound as though there’s a sharp boundary between requirements and design. There’s not. In reality, the distinction between requirements and design is a fuzzy gray area, not a crisp black line. I prefer to say that requirements should emphasize “what” and design should emphasize “how.” 

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I’ve had the great pleasure of working through audits with the business I support over the last 2 years. It’s been a journey for sure and as regulators, internal audit teams and testing teams work to ensure that are processes are solid. First, let’s start with what does this word compliance mean? Compliance means conforming to a rule, such as a specification, policy, standard or law.

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In this article, we discuss three of the basic elicitation techniques used in business analysis in order to obtain the requirements for the system being designed: Interviewing, Job Shadowing and Facilitation.
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Adoption of The Decision Model (TDM) is growing and includes major corporations, such as those in the financial industry. As a result, decision models based on TDM are operating in production worldwide on behalf of critical business transactions and some with huge transaction volumes.  This means there are organizations and people with several years of TDM experience. However, there are also people and organizations interested in TDM and contemplating how to get started. This article provides insights by which business analysts can plant the seed for TDM.

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The PBD starts with examining the end-product data elements and associated business rules. The BA team then uses this information to redesign a process that produces the end-product. Special note about the team. The lead BA should remind the team members that this is a redesign effort. This is a real challenge especially for the team members who are knowledgeable with the existing process. It may be best to recruit team members with a “fresh pair of eyes.” Note that there is no doubt that the BA team will consider automation in the redesign. In this effort, the BA team should keep in mind a quote attributed to Bill Gates [3] on BPM.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. [7]

In my experience, all benefits come from redesigning or improving existing processes, not by applying automation through software. Software only facilitates the process improvement.

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2015 has kicked off and most of us are already fully entangled in the daily grind. Unlike people, projects show no sign of a ‘getting back into the swing of things’ period. The pressure keeps building as organisations are pushed to keep up with industry in order to stay competitive and profitable. So what does 2015 have in store for us? My view is that the following 4 trends can be expected to be prevalent for Business Analysts during the year.
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Rather than expecting use cases to contain all of a system’s functionality, I prefer to employ use cases to help the business analyst discover the functional requirements. That is, the use cases become a tool to reveal functionality rather than being an end requirements deliverable themselves. Users can review the use cases to validate whether a system that implemented the use cases would meet their needs. The BA can study each use case and derive the functional requirements the developer must implement to realize the use case in software. I like to store those functional requirements in a software requirements specification, although you could add them to the use case description if you prefer.

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...the fact remains, you cannot build anything of substance, be it a system or otherwise, without a methodology. The question then becomes, how to construct a methodology suitable for your company or a given project. To this end, I offer this tutorial on designing methodologies.

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There seem to be thousands of guides that will (or at least say they will) prepare you for the job interview and make you flawlessly land the job of your dreams. That’s pretty cool, but actually before you nail the job interview, first, you have to get to this stage and this proves unreachable for thousands of candidates every day. So this time, for a change, let’s focus on the 8 traps that await you on your way to the interview for your dream job.

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