Entries for March 2008

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A good negotiation method should protect you from making a bad agreement or rejecting one that you should accept. For example, if you implement a bottom line – by establishing in advance your worst acceptable outcome, such as the lowest price you’d accept for an item you’re selling – you’re limiting your options if circumstances should change durin...
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Many of us have Quality Assurance (QA) groups in our organizations, and the natural assumption might be that these groups are responsible for the quality of our products. For a few of us, that assumption might hold true, but for most organizations, the QA group cannot be held responsible for quality because they don't actually assure quality. What ...
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Key to improving presentations is to focus on where your're audience is, not where you are, or where you want them to be. To do that, you must make a connection first. It is by making this initial connection that your "believe-ability" - your "buy-in" factor - and your "connection-ability" as a speaker are first made. Author: Tim McClintock, PMP
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"Life is a series of presentations!" I'm not the first to say that. Tony Jeary said it before I did, in his book of the same title. If life really is a series of presentations (and, as a business professional, you're going to be called on to present information) the question is, what are you presenting? What is your presentation saying? Author: ...
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Have you found yourself wondering those exact words just moments after a conversation with a co-worker? Or have you found yourself in a heated discussion because of something you've said to your spouse or loved one? Better still, your teenager gives you the "deer caught in the headlights" look when you ask where have they been so late at night? You...
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When documenting systems, quality assurance requires quality support people, especially final content editors. They are worth their weight in gold-edged certificates. If you are part of a large project that has a very large documentation aspect, learn to nurture, develop and retain a good editorial staff, and do not forget to keep everyone's skills...
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Any project that is cancelled, not completed, or fails to meet its objectives and has to be written off, is obviously a waste of organization resources and time. However, it is also not enough just to successfully execute a project to completion. A successful project that is not implemented or used because it doesn't meet the customer's or user's r...
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Over the last four decades I have met a lot of Systems Analysts in a lot of different industries. Some impressed me greatly by their knowledge of their business and the systems they designed, but I have also met a lot of duds along the way. When I think about the better ones, I consider the attributes they share which I can narrow down to three areas

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In its simplest form, a Feasibility Study represents a definition of a problem or opportunity to be studied, an analysis of the current mode of operation, a definition of requirements, an evaluation of alternatives, and an agreed upon course of action. As such, the activities for preparing a Feasibility Study are generic in nature and can be applied to any type of project, be it for systems and software development making an acquisition, or any other project.

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So you want to be a Business Analyst?  “Analyst – analyse thyself….”

This is what Business Analysts do in the real world when embarking on a new project: they analyse… 

So – as any good BA should do when undertaking a new project – analyse what are your objectives in wanting to move to a new career as a Business Analyst.
Put another way, how will you know (once you have done it) that it was a good move to make?

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Defining business requirements accurately is one of the most important success factors for technology projects.  Rather than focus on solutions that satisfy a list of requirements, we need to focus on solutions that satisfy desired business outcomes. The best way to achieve this is by performing business process modeling.  Employing a vi...
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The difference between an art and a science is subtle but significant. An art form is based on the intuitiveness of the person performing the work, something that is difficult, if not impossible, to pass on to another human being. For example, apprentices serving under an artist may try for years to emulate the master, but may never attain his level of skill and creativity. In contrast, a science is based on a governing body of concepts and principles and, as such, can be easily taught to others.

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Having been involved with the systems methodologies field for over 30 years I have been occasionally asked what percentage of time in a project should typically be devoted to a specific phase of work, for example a Phase 1 Feasibility Study, Phase 2 Systems Design, etc. Basically, the reason the person wants to know this is to use it as a means for estimating the remainder of the project. For example, if I were to say Phase 1 represents 10% of the overall project, they would simply multiply the amount of time spent in Phase 1 by ten. This is an unreliable approach for estimating which is why I usually balk at giving out such figures.

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Ideally, an agile document is just barely good enough, or just barely sufficient, for the situation at hand. Documentation is an important part of agile software development projects, but unlike traditionalists who often see documentation as a risk reduction strategy, agilists typically see documentation as a strategy which increases overall project risk and therefore strive to be as efficient as possible when it comes to documentation. Agilists write documentation when that's the best way to achieve the relevant goals, but there often proves to be better ways to achieve those goals than writing static documentation. This article summarizes common "best practices" which agilists have adopted with respect to documentation.

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Agile software development teams embrace change, accepting the idea that requirements will evolve throughout a project. Agilists understand that because requirements evolve over time that any early investment in detailed documentation will only be wasted. Instead agilists will do just enough initial requirements envisioning to identify their projec...
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