Tools

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There are considerable benefits from extending business process management capabilities outside the boundaries of the company, and clearly measurable value is much easier to quantify when stakeholders are outside the traditional walls of the business.

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As a result of budget constraints and limited resources, many companies, (mine included) look to automating tasks and processes to improve efficiency. And one of the easiest areas to demonstrate immediate improvement is by automating a manual process. While almost any manual process could show results by ‘simply’ being able to move documents and files electronically around the company, there is really a more important underlying requirement.

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Abraham Maslow once said “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” This article provides the project manager (PM) / business analyst (BA) a framework for categorizing business problems as a baseline for selecting a solution development life cycle (SDLC).

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A software tool for The Decision Model supports the entire life cycle of Decision Management. This includes the authoring, analysis, testing and deployment of entire decision models. Whether managed by the business – as some people consider ideal – or managed by IT or business analysts on behalf of the business – as others consider necessary – business decisions need not only a repository for storing decision models, but a range of functions to manage them effectively.

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Thousands of business analysts have turned to software visualization from as a strategy to simplify their jobs and cut through the confusion. With iRise, business analysts are empowered to quickly assemble a high-fidelity working preview of an application before development ever begins. These visualizations look and act just like the final product, creating an accurate visual model for what to build.

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In many organizations, Centers of Excellence, PMOs (Program/Project Management Office) and PQA (Process & Quality Assurance) teams use a variety of manual techniques to vet documentation that are time consuming and manual; leaving room for unintentional mistakes, missed steps and delays in catching errors with regards to governance and best practices. In the spirit of delivering the project on time and under budget, many times these quality review processes are rushed and reduced to cursory checks. Like ensuring documents exist with the right naming convention, rather than reviewing the internal contents of documents and ensuring the contents are of high quality.

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Almost every business analyst uses diagramming software in their arsenal of analysis tools. According to BABOK 2.0, an analyst’s traditional purpose in using diagramming tools is to “support the rapid drawing and documentation of a model, typically by providing a set of templates for a particular notation which are used to develop diagrams based on it.” Diagrams not only make requirements clearer to stakeholders through modeling, they help clarify an analyst’s thinking on a project through the process of their very creation.

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I'm hearing the word "value" a lot lately. This is partly because the economic downturn has us looking to get the most for our money. But that's not all. More and more managers, business analysts, programmers and testers are talking to me about value. They are concerned that their products provide value for their end users. Many of them express a kind of process or tool fatigue. They are tired of being told that using a particular process or toolset is the key to their success. To them, value is a more important concept.

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In this final paper of the series we look at decision making techniques – how to select the best idea from the many we’ve come up with – and how to justify our recommendation to our client, manager and peers.
 

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Given the economic downturn, "cheaper, better, faster" seems to be a universal mantra in business. To stay competitive, organizations must continually strive to be more agile and develop higher-quality solutions more quickly-despite obstacles such as geographically distributed teams, limited budgets and resources, quick delivery times, language barriers and government regulations. These challenges require teams to consider new ways of doing business so they can be more responsive to frequent business changes.

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When the first flowcharts were applied to manufacturing processes, they followed the flow of a single part through its manufacture.  They displayed, in sequence, the steps it took to make the part and they made sense.  They were easy to visualize, easy to follow, easy to work with, and they resulted in millions of dollars worth of productivity gain. 

This same concept was applied to information process charting in the 1940’s.  However, rather than following a single flow, multi-flow process charts were used.  They showed all of the records in a business process in order to make clear the exchange of information between records.  Once again the effort generated millions of dollars worth of productivity gain.

 
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When your users are physicians and nurses, they don't have time to sit in meetings explaining what they want out of an application or to wade through documents validating requirements. Patient care is their number one priority.

To get over that obstacle, the development team at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center relies on a simulation tool. Using iRise's visualization tool, physicians and nurses can see what the application will look like based on requirements given and quickly change or validate those requirements.
Those applications are part of an electronic medical record (EMR) system that the cancer center has been working on for the past three years, after they could not find a packaged application that met the hospital's unique needs. Sherry Preston, manager of EMR support and development at the center, called the project a work in progress that will continue to evolve.

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In this article, I describe one very effective collaborative technique -- the Wall of Wonder (WoW) -- that helps software teams produce the kind of detailed, sharply defined requirements that effectively guide development. As an "emergent" deliverable, requirements evolve through exploration and examination using representative forms such as low-fidelity models and prototypes. A collaborative approach allows business and IT specialists to explore their requirements through these means, while accommodating the necessary fluidity of the requirements process.

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While working on a Business Architecture effort several years ago, I collaborated on developing a new internal standard for business process and business capability description. From my perspective, a business capability is the required function or desired service that a business unit performs and the business process is the set of methods employed to realize the business capability. Business capabilities and business processes can be described as current or future state. Their description can also be scaled for strategic or tactical objectives.

This article will present an approach for documenting and aligning business capabilities, business processes, and functional requirements by integrating two distinct tools that leverage robust repositories and object metadata.

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Every career has a set of skills that one needs to do their job, and a set of tools to carry out the various tasks required to display their skills. Same is the case for the analyst involved in security assessment... I have chosen the all mighty checklist as my tool of choice for this article.

 

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