Templates can be useful, but with many tools available to the business analyst they come with their pros and cons.
Pro: They provide structure, coverage, and time savings. Templates can be a great aid to the business analyst. They help guide more junior analysts ensuring that they capture vital information. They also assist in the education of junior analysts as they ask questions about parts of the template when they may not understand their need or purpose. This is one way that junior analysts learn the importance and need for capturing certain information.
Templates can also be valuable for the most seasoned analysts. They provide structure and act as a checklist for items that the analyst needs to remember to capture. So, it’s less likely that something will get accidentally overlooked.
Of course, templates also can create some challenges.
Con: The desire to fill out every section. One of the most common mistakes made by analysts is thinking that every section of the template must be fill out for every part of the project. The template is intended to provide a general structure, save time, and increase the likelihood of requirements coverage. But forcing information into unrelated sections just to have them fill out misses the point. Less is more. If you can express all of the necessary information and leave a few sections blank, that’s fine.
Con: Thinking the template does all of the work. A lack of in-depth Requirements Elicitation and Analysis can occur when relying on the template to do all of the work. Too often an analyst will see a template field label, fill in some information and think they are complete because the template looks full. But we must always be analysts first, not just scribes. When someone provides a “requirement” for instance, we still need to ask the probing questions. Why is this needed? What is the business rationale? What would be the cost of NOT having this requirement? What group will this requirement support? Etc.
Con: Thinking the same template is right for all projects. Templates are generalized. The more projects that a template works for, the less focused and more burdensome it tends to become for all projects. For that reason, most templates are created to effectively structure and capture information in a manner that works for maybe 80% of projects. There may be additional information that is important to capture for special types of projects. And other projects (as mentioned previously) may not use some sections of the template. It’s usually best for a very experienced analyst or two to modified and adapt the project templates at the beginning of a project to ensure that its ideal for the task at hand.
posted @ Monday, June 8, 2015 12:58 PM by Chris Adams