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New Post 8/2/2012 4:16 PM
User is offline ibtisam.jawad
15 posts
9th Level Poster


Re: Have you wondered (about the BABOK 2.0) ...  

Not for profit doesn't mean that the board members don't get compensation from the organization's funds :) 

I don't think analyzing stuff is anything new :) People have done it for ages. Formalizing analysis is perhaps a bit more recent.

I'm making notes as I read the BABOK and will try to share the things I feel are wrong with everyone on here.

 
New Post 8/3/2012 7:58 AM
User is offline Jarett Hailes
155 posts
6th Level Poster




Re: Have you wondered (about the BABOK 2.0) ...  
Modified By Adrian M.  on 8/4/2012 5:21:21 PM)

 You bring up a lot of interesting discussion points. I think it is a worthwhile discussion to have.

In general I believe there is value in a professional organization that attempts to help better define what a specific role is and what are the general activities that are involved in performing that role. Organizations want to know when they hire someone for a specific role that there is a mutual understanding of what the role entails and the general approach that the worker will perform to achieve the tasks of the role. Many other standard roles, from accountants to lawyers to project managers to nurses to teachers, have organizations that are in place to meet this demand.

The value of a document like the BABOK is that it helps define what it means to perform business analysis activities, whether you are working formally as a Business Analyst or not. It is not meant to be highly structured; one takes the knowledge areas and applies them to a methodology, which then defines the specific processes and tasks that a Business Analyst performs to achieve their target objective. Part of the challenge with writing such a document is that it must generalize both situations and techniques, which can make it sound vague or overly complex. I agree that there is still much room for improvement with the BABOK, but for me it is a step in the right direction. I have worked with collections of individuals who interact with Business Analysts (executives, recruiters/business development staff, IT architects, etc.) and walked through the BABOK with them to help them get a better understanding of what the profession is all about. We identified many areas that did not seem necessarily appropriate or applicable in many cases, and there was a lot of confusion and questions. But by the end of the process they all had a better understanding of how to leverage Business Analysts in their organizations.

With respect to some of your specific comments:

1)     Most bodies of knowledge are developed by an organization that represents the community of practitioners, whether that authority is granted to them by a government or through simply filling the void of an absence of standards. While most organizations have an open process for soliciting and gathering feedback when developing their standards, they can be controversial or seen as incorrect by the community once published. Potential changes can be met with hostility and lead to questioning of how open the process really is. Just look at the row over the process of updating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - a very important body of knowledge that not all practitioners agree with either the current or potential revised conclusions.

2)     Decision analysis is quite commonly used in determining whether or not to proceed with physical development projects (plants, bridges, etc.). I have not seen it used in software projects but that does not mean it is not a valuable business analysis tool and it could be used in IT with the proper training and knowledge. The purpose of the BABOK is to support business analysis in all domains, not just IT. While version 2 is very rooted in IT (one of my main criticisms of the document), it did start taking the steps into general business analysis and this is one example.

3)     The BABOK development process is fairly open – they had a call out members who wanted to be part of the core team to develop version 3 back in 2010, and more recent call for writers and reviewers of version 3 this past year (opportunity closed in early June). The IIBA is a volunteer-driven organization that needs the community to participate in developing the standards. Like any professional non-profit organization there is a need for a self-sustaining business model, thus the costs of membership, certifications, etc. Certifications are a debate in of themselves but overall the cost of access to a fairly good list of resources they provide for their base membership fee is fairly minimal.

As has been mentioned many times the IIBA and the BABOK are very young in their lifecycle. I anticipate they will continue to evolve and mature as more individuals can bring their knowledge into the process of defining a collective wisdom. To me versioning the body of knowledge is a standard practice in these types of documents (see the PMBOK, the DSM for mental disorders mentioned above and any number of the accounting standards out there) and demonstrates that the documented guide to applying business analysis will continue to change over time. I think the rate of change in the BABOK will slow over time as the profession matures - the PMBOK was last updated 4 years ago and there were 4 years in between the 3rd and 4th editions.

I think it’s a great idea for you to gather your specific criticisms and share them. What’s even more productive is to get involved and share your ideas with those that are working on improving our common tools. I would recommend you look to bring your specific BABOK comments in front of the BABOK development team. I believe Kevin Brennan is heading up the development of version 3 and led the development of version 2. Contact him and share your thoughts. If you want a more group participative process, post your thoughts on the IIBA forums as well as here so IIBA staff/volunteers also get your feedback. The IIBA LinkedIn group would also be another good venue for discussion. There will also be a public review process for version 3 which I would encourage you to take part in.

I decided to join our local chapter’s board of directors for this coming year so I can do my part to help other BAs get better at what they do through education and professional development. Part of that will be taking any feedback I get on the BABOK and passing it along to the IIBA.

 
New Post 8/3/2012 5:00 PM
User is offline ibtisam.jawad
15 posts
9th Level Poster


Re: Have you wondered (about the BABOK 2.0) ...  
Modified By ibtisam.jawad  on 8/3/2012 6:03:17 PM)

Jarrett,

I greatly appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. I agree with what you are saying and understand that the BABOK is still young and in the process of development. I have reached out to the local IIBA chapter here in Vegas but have yet to hear anything from them. I will ping them again and see if I can participate. In the meantime, I will forward my questions and concerns to Kevin Brennan. I have not registered on the IIBA Forums so I will go ahead and do that as well.

I do see several logical inconsistencies with the BABOK 2.0 and am highlighting those and taking notes as I read along. I will share these with Kevin as time permits. I believe that will not be infringing any copyrights. Yes, I'm always paranoid about sharing copyrighted material. Not all of what I say will be correct or logically consistent (e.g. as you correctly pointed out about Decision Analysis) but I think it will help me and others be critical of what we believe is knowledge in our profession.

Some of my criticism has been aimed incorrectly at the BABOK. I realize that IIBA does not publish certification questions, so the ones that I find improperly stated are from other sources. I realize that I have to take the certification exam to see the actual questions firsthand. I do not care what a question is asking for. I only care whether the problem statement is self-contained and logically consistent, especially with multiple choice type questions. It is my opinion that a question with multiple answer choices (and no room for stating one's reasoning to arrive at the answer) should only have one right/best answer. That answer should be derivable through sound logic alone. Knowledge of a particular subject area or text should only serve as an aide to the familiar in the process of determining the answer. For instance, an answer choice should not be wrong just because the BABOK says so. Every choice should be logically justifiable.

Part of my concern is how you would test candidates for certification when the subject does not always have one right answer for a particular situation. Referring to BABOK's content as the right answer in situations that are open to interpretation implies that candidates' ability to recall from memory is being tested rather than their ability to think critically. This is especially true for multiple choice questions because they do not allow the test taker to explain their reasoning for arriving at a particular answer. Perhaps the certification exam should have taken place in a face-to-face meeting, where a group of IIBA's appointees present situations to the candidate. The candidates would rely on their knowledge of the profession and critical reasoning to arrive at the best possible answer. This format of examination was employed by the mathematics faculty at my College. Bachelor's candidates were interviewed by the faculty and asked to solve complex problems by relying on the knowledge gained by them through their studies. I understand that this is a much more complex, expensive and subjective exercise but it does test more than one's ability to memorize text. Perhpas the IIBA can change the examination structure and increase the participation fee. This would make the certification more exclusive as well.

Another idea that I have is to open the BABOK for peer-review outside of IIBA's membership.

 
New Post 8/3/2012 9:51 PM
User is offline Kimbo
454 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: Have you wondered (about the BABOK 2.0) ...  

I think the idea of having a panel of BAs test candidates is, in theory, a better way.  I wonder who will choose the panel members? Plus there are a lot of BAs with many years of experience e.g. me; who are not certified. That somewhat discounts your model of academically and / or professionally superior BAs testing candidates. It also introduces personalities, local prejudices and subjectivitity into the testing process.

The objectivity of a world wide standard for BAs is possibly its only significance. Removing that severely diminishes its relevance in my opinion.

An ex colleague of mine with many years of experience recently became certified. One of his comments to me was, you have to study hard and take the exam based on the fact that it is testing you on the BABOK, not on real life business analysis. This is a shame but is also probably inevitable. Like every exam I've ever taken, you have to use the terminology and the approach taught in the course material to pass the exam. Common sense means you may have to suspend common sense in order to successfully answer questions.

I personally will be interested to see your feedback when you've finished. If you do post it on the IIBA forums please post a link here. 

Kimbo 

 
New Post 8/16/2012 4:45 PM
User is offline ibtisam.jawad
15 posts
9th Level Poster


Re: Have you wondered (about the BABOK 2.0) ...  
Modified By ibtisam.jawad  on 8/16/2012 5:46:14 PM)

I apologize for the delay in posting specific examples but I've realized that it would be better if I go piecemeal.

** If any copyright holder of BABOK 2.0 does not want me to post these here, please let me know and I will remove them right away.** 

Section 2.5.4.3

1.  Definitions of "Author of requirement" and "Source of the requirement" have overlapping and ambiguous definitions. Text of BABOK 2.0 does not suggest a clear difference between source and author. No proper definition of author is provided. Instead, the BABOK states a function of the author. Perhaps the writers of BABOK  meant "Writer/Documenter" instead of "Author". Now imagine a question that asks "Who should be consulted if a requirement needs clarification? A) Author, B) Source, C) Business Analyst, D) Project Sponsor, E) Project Manager". What would you pick as the answer based on your knowledge of the BABOK 2.0?

Section 2.5.4.2

What is meant by "... the number of views of requirements that will be produced..."? What is the importance of "number of views" of requirements anyways? How would you arrive at that number when Plan[ning] Requirements Management Process? "Number of views" just seems extraneous as it serves no real function in determining what is required and how it will be documented. I would argue that a requirement should have only one view that evolves over time, if "view" means "snapshot" in the text. That single view would continue to show different informtion about the requirement as the requirement evolves over time.

Section 2.2.5.1

(9.1) The stated definition does not make sense. Acceptance and evaluation criteria for a requirement should not be limited to identifying who can accept of reject a solution. It should instead identify attributes that the solution to a particular problem or requirement must have in order for it to be considered completed e.g. software must add ten 5-digit numbers in 5 seconds or less. It may additionally identify that John Smith must sign off on this but that cannot be the only evaluation and acceptance criteria.

9.19 and 9.21 - I understand that 9.19 is relevant to Conduct[ing] Stakeholder Analysis but I do not see why 9.21 is listed as an acceptable technique. Yes, additional stakeholders can be identified based on process models but if you are conducting stakeholder analysis before understanding the actual processes in place (since it is mentioned under Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring), process modeling has no relevance. If you do not clearly understand the process, you may come up with an incorrect model and therefore, may identify wrong stakeholders or fail to identify any altogether.

Why are 9.26 and 9.33 listed as techniques for 2.2? These do not help to identify the stakeholders but actually use the stakeholders as source of information.

Section 2.2.4.3

Please explain what you mean by "Influence needed for the good of the project"? When you state "how much influence", are you asking the business analyst to quantify influence? 

Section 2.2.5

9.27 cannot really take place unless you've identified some requirements. Even if I were to use 9.27 for its stated purpose, what do you propose should be done with the knolwedge that some stakeholders indeed fall outside the scope of the solution but still interact with it in some way? 

 
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