Solution Assessment and Validation (BABOK KA)

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We present a requirements framework and methodology that may be different from what you are doing. Its three prominent characteristics are a framework, a new model, and visualization. The framework ensures completeness of all requirements. The new model is the Decision Model, transforming important business thinking into a tangible and manageable business requirement. The visualization simulates user scenarios, alleviating the need for abstract specifications or models.
 

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Until business analysts really begin to understand the difference between rules of the business (business rules), and choices about system design, we’ll keep falling to the same requirements and legacy traps as always. In my previous column I looked closely at the meaning of business rule. Now let’s probe the two fundamental categories of business rules: behavioral and definitional.

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Extreme Inspections are a low-cost, high-improvement way to assure specification quality, effectively teach good specification practice, and make informed decisions about the requirements specification process and its output, in any project. The method is not restricted to be used on requirements analysis related material; this article however is limited to requirements specification. It gives firsthand experience and hard data to support the above claim. Using an industry case study I conducted with one of my clients I will give information about the Extreme Inspection method - sufficient to understand what it is and why its use is almost mandatory, but not how to do it. I will also give evidence of its strengths and limitations, as well as recommendations for its use and other applications.

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The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK® 2.0) is the definitive guide to the profession of business analysis. Every business analyst can profit from it, and few analysts can afford to be without it.

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In Part 1 of  this article, I talked about the new skills and attitudes business analysts need to bring to agile development... Now it's time to talk specifics. What exactly do BAs do in agile development? How will your activities differ from those of traditional development? Let's take a look at agile business analysis from the perspective of the activities that make up requirements development and management, comparing traditional with agile analysis.
 

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If requirements management practices were songs entering a popularity contest, requirements validation would hardly be a favorite contender. It's easy to understand why: validation is usually a tedious, time consuming task, and, as with nearly every quality control activity, it is supposed to reveal defects, going against our natural desire of being right, not making mistakes, and singing in tune.

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The ubiquity of software project failures – with failure defined as projects that fundamentally failed to meet business-sponsor expectations, missed scheduled completion dates, or exceeded budget – is a pronounced theme in any number of independent research reports on custom software development. The Standish Group, for example, cited that only 31% of projects delivered 100 percent of the expected value, were on-time, and on-budget and a report from the Aberdeen Group found 90 percent of projects came in late, of which 30 percent were simply cancelled before delivery.

Analysts and users alike cite inaccurate, incomplete and mismanaged requirements as the number one reason for software project failure. The Standish Group’s annual CHAOS report indicates three of the top five reasons for project failure are related to requirements. Requirement miscommunications is also the primary factor behind the prevalence of rework, which according to industry statistics, can add up to 40 percent of the total development effort within a given software project. A 2005 survey conducted by iRise and Decipher found that almost three-quarters (73%) of organizations budget for rework, thus, in effect, planning for failure. Moreover, almost one-third set aside more than 25% in their budgets for these change orders, money that could be funneled directly into innovation rather than re-doing work that should have been com¬pleted the first time.

Ultimately, rework costs companies the ability to get to market quickly and saps competitive advantage; while companies are busy fixing applications, their competitors are busy capturing market share.

The solution to these costly, frustrating problems is the creation of accurate requirements before development even begins. By allowing the business analyst to col¬laborate with stakeholders, users, architects, user expe¬rience designers and developers early on in the development process, all parties are involved in the definition of the product and all parties know what will be built long before a single line of code is written.

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As a software architect and developer I’ve used Enterprise Architect (EA) from Sparx Systems (www.sparxsystems.com) for a number of years. In that time I’ve spent considerable time and energy trying to get our business analysts to do the same. While I’ve had some success I must admit it’s been an uphill battle. I suspect this is partly because EA is often seen as a technical person’s tool. And that’s not altogether surprising.

  • Enterprise Architect – the name itself is completely misleading. EA is not only for people with the title ‘Enterprise Architect’. It’s for the entire project team, from BA’s to Testers and even for Clients.
  • User Interface – for developers the user interface of EA is extremely familiar and intuitive. It looks like a lot of the tools they use already. For non-technical users more familiar with tools like Microsoft Office it is somewhat more intimidating.

So, if you’re a Business Analyst looking for a tool that can help you do your job more effectively then read on.

Author: Andrew Tokeley, Development Manager, Intergen Ltd
You can read Andrew's blog at:
http://andrewtokeley.net

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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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To be honest, I'm not very enamored with the term "best practice". I believe that the term "contextual practice" makes far more sense because what is a "best practice" in some situations proves to be a "worst practice" in others. Having said that, people are interested in best practices so here they are when it comes to agile requirements modeling:...
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Many traditional project teams run into trouble when they try to define all of the requirements up front, often the result of a misguided idea that developers will actually read and follow what the requirements document contains. The reality is that the requirements document is usually insufficient, regardless of how much effort goes into it, the r...
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