General Business Analysis

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Given the speed of change, it is really tricky to predict what trends will grow in popularity or relevance. I am sure whatever emerges will seem obvious in hindsight, even if it would have been difficult to foresee. Yet, I have always thought that making predictions has a useful place in that it creates a conversation and it creates debates. So, what follows is designed to provoke discussion, and is intended to represent ‘potential trends to watch’.

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As, more and more companies start to embrace cloud technology, it is vital that business analysts are able to identify the cloud service that is required to meet business requirements. As business analysts, we are often criticized for not getting involved in the technical side of things. However, it can be difficult to make decisions on technical side of things, if you don’t understand the language that is used in this space.
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A BA walks into an elevator, is joined by an executive, and suddenly the executive asks the BA, “So, what are you working on these days?” (Sounds like the start of a joke ...)  Most business analysts, due to their project success focus, think of requirements management when questioned about their work. So the BA responds by describing the features of a business solution that the BA is currently working. The BA seldom mentions the associated business benefits with the work (i.e. why the work is vital to the business). Unfortunately, the BA ignores the first rule of conversation: know your audience. The executive asking the question is more likely to understand and be interested in the business value provided by the work, rather than the solution features.
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There are some practices that can practically make our life much easier if we adopt them early in the project.  This fourth article of the series “ Business Analysts and Change Management - What we need to know” addresses the minimum that we - as Business Analysts - might need to know about change management, but this time at organizational level
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Gherkin is a language used to write acceptance tests. BA's use Gherkin to specify how they want the system to behave in certain scenarios...  It’s a simple language. There are 10 key words (e.g. Given, When, Then). Because it’s a simple language, it’s understandable by the business. As well as being understandable by the business, Gherkin can be understood by an automation tool called Cucumber. That means Cucumber can interpret Gherkin and use it to drive automated tests. This links BA requirements to automated tests.


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Ground rules are essential for any meeting. It may be what makes the meeting a success or failure. As a Business Analyst we are constantly organizing and facilitating meetings of various sizes to progress through the SDM (System Design Methodology) for a project. It is important that all sponsors and participants of the project understand what to expect from the upcoming meetings to be organized. Ground rules are generally discussed during the kickoff meeting, documented, and then displayed moving forward.
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Disbenefits are changes to on-going operating costs as a result of a project; they could be perceived as positive or negative. These disbenefits are included in defining the Total Cost of Ownership rather than a component of project cost, and is more of a focus for controllers due to its on-going nature rather than one time project savings and revenue.

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The point is, no amount of elegant programming can solve a system problem without someone who understands the overall system architecture, someone who understands how the business works. Attacking systems development without such orchestration, such as one program at a time, will not produce the desired results. That would be like trying to build a bridge without a set of blueprints; it would probably be disjointed and one end would likely not connect with the other in the middle. 
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While BABOK and other sources include Behavioral Characteristics as an essential underlying competency for business analysts, many analysts may have only a vague idea of how it applies to their personal work environment, or even exactly what behavioral characteristics are, so let’s define those first.... The term behavioral characteristics simply refers to an analyst’s workplace ethics and character. 

 
Detect language » English
 
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I take the approach that as Business Analysts, the line between requirements and design is an imaginary line. We need to be pragmatic (abandon purist thinking) and not be afraid to wear the design cloak, to adopt design thinking. 

 

So how do we incorporate design thinking in Business Analysis in a value-add way? Take the following thoughts into consideration when working on your next project that involves building or significantly updating a customer-centric application.


Author: Michael Roy, Business Analysis Professional / Requirements Leader

Michael is a solutions-focused Business Analysis professional with extensive experience leading change initiatives at a tactical and strategic level.

 

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I bet everyone has, at least once in their career, heard the expression:

“We don’t need any up-front analysis: I already know what I want!”

Often these words are followed by a description of a specific type of solution, often an IT system, and often a specific vendor name. Perhaps our executive stakeholder has decided they need to migrate onto the newest platform, the organization needs a new ‘mobile app’, or we need to ‘move all of our data into the cloud’. I can imagine some people will be holding their heads in their hands as they read this paragraph…

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iRise gives Business Analysts the tools they need to communicate clearly with both the business and its stakeholders.  They use working previews that can be virtually indistinguishable from the final product.  When business analysts uses iRise to elicit and document requirements: the business analyst becomes a powerful weapon to get to the right answer, ...

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The end products of requirements development for a business analytics project will be similar to those for any other project—a set of business, user, functional, and nonfunctional requirements. Process flows, use cases, and user stories can reveal that someone needs to generate analytics results, and performance requirements describe how quickly they need results, but none of these uncovers the complex knowledge required to implement the system... An effective elicitation strategy for business analysts (BAs) is to drive requirements specification based on the decisions that stakeholders need to make to achieve their business objectives.

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We hit a challenge however when we attempt to promote the value of Business Analysis to IT Management or the Business...  The reality is that simply promoting “better requirements” does not sell our value-add in terms that management from an IT or Business perspective understands... So how do we do this? Let me share five lessons learned based on my experience as a senior requirements management consultant. 

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You see, I am a business analyst (BA), and more precisely the lesser-spotted, lazy beta alpha, the evolutionary pinnacle of my profession, at the tip of the BA spear. While the work of throwing or stabbing with the spear requires an effort by the arm that wields it, I prefer the sharp bit to do the work for me. In other words, doing as little as possible apart from…well, being sharp. While the sharp bit does all the work I am able to still the get the glory and recognition of a job well done. While the spear tossers return with painful shoulders, weary and, hopefully sometimes with a degree of success.
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