What sort of existing documents should Business Analysts refer to when starting on a new project?

Few analysts are brought on to a project at the very beginning.  For those that are, they will often have a hand in creating some of the important documents that other analysts should reference when they first join.

First, get your hands on the project charter.  The project charter, while high level, will provide critical information on the project such as:

Find out as much as you can about the project management processes that are being used to manage timelines, risks, communications, costs, etc.  Ideally, these processes are outlined in a formal document.  If not, be sure to talk to the project manager(s) on your project to fully understand the processes that should be followed.

The same goes for the analysis process and artifacts being used.  Understand the methods that will be used for eliciting and documenting requirements.  How will these requirements be communicated? How will they be captured and translated into functional specifications?  Being an analyst, this is something that you will be taught at some point on the project, but the sooner you learn the details of the analysis process and artifacts being used the better off you will be.

If requirements elicitation has already begun, review the existing requirements documentation.  Reviewing requirements will bring you up to speed rapidly.  Record any questions you have regarding the system requirements and get answers to them.  If a prototype has been created as a method for identifying and clarifying requirements, understand the prototype inside and out.  Take the time to understand why each screen was designed a particular way.  Was it to support a business requirement, or was it merely a design decision that could have been handled in a different way.

posted @ Friday, July 18, 2008 9:22 AM by everest