Tools

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Every area of practice in IT has a set of specific “tools” that supports the standard work of technology professionals. Data Analysis is the capture of data requirements, development of models that reflect those requirements and creation of design to store the data. You can accomplish this with a pencil, paper, and the right skill-set. But it can be done much more quickly and consistently if the process is automated.

There are hundreds of individual software tools and tool-suites that support different facets of data analysis.

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Industry experts agree -- the success of any software development project depends directly on the definition of complete, high-quality, accurate requirements. Today's business analyst (BA) takes a lead role in defining those requirements. BAs are responsible for eliciting, analyzing, communicating, and validating requirements for a huge variety of business processes and information systems.

Since the activities of a BA are so critical to a timely, cost-effective, successful software project, it is important to equip the modern BA with a toolset that supports and accelerates all requirements definition activities, as well as provides the BA with practical guidance and resources to support this rapidly evolving role.

This toolset, known as a Business Analyst Workbench, allows analysts to do the following:

  • Gather and record stakeholder needs from a variety of sources
  • Interpret and analyze this information to produce a set of solution requirements
  • Collaborate with stakeholders to validate the requirements
  • Communicate the agreed-upon requirements to those who need to design, build, and test the solution

A Business Analyst Workbench can dramatically increase the accuracy and efficiency of both requirements definition and test definition. But what should you look for when evaluating a potential workbench?

A full-featured Business Analyst Workbench should satisfy four main criteria:

  • Support for multiple requirements approaches
  • Support for all phases of the requirements definition lifecycle
  • Intelligent integration with other application lifecycle management (ALM) tools
  • Inherent change management of requirements

Author: Tony Higgins

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Requirements gathering resources and best practices were found lacking at Fortune 500 companies, a recent study from Voke Inc. found. But if business analysts are equipped with the right tools and enough resources, businesses stand to benefit greatly.

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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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I have been very fortunate to see a lot of this history first hand. I have observed changes not just in terms of systems and computers, but also how the trade press has evolved and the profession in general. It has been an interesting ride.

Throughout all of this, there have been some very intelligent people who have impacted the industry, there have also been quite a few charlatans, but there has only been a handful of true geniuses, one of which was Robert W. Beamer who passed away just a couple of years ago. Bob was the father of ASCII code, without which we wouldn't have the computers of today, the Internet, the billions of dollars owned by Bill Gates, or this document.

I always find it amusing when I tell a young person in this industry that I worked with punch cards and plastic templates years ago. Its kind of the same dumbfounded look I get from my kids when I tell them we used to watch black and white television with three channels, no remote control, and station signoffs at midnight. It has been my observation that our younger workers do not have a sense of history; this is particularly apparent in the systems world. If they do not have an appreciation of whence we came, I doubt they will have an appreciation of where we should be going. Consequently, I have assembled the following chronology of events in the hopes this will provide some insight as to how the systems industry has evolved to its current state.

I'm sure I could turn this into a lengthy dissertation but, instead, I will try to be brief and to the point. Further, the following will have little concern for academic developments but rather how systems have been implemented in practice in the corporate world.

Author: Tim Bryce

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Analysts report poor requirements management accounts for as much as 71 percent of software project failures. The main cause is the gap between (a) what the business team wants and how it communicates this, and (b) what IT understands and delivers. No matter how good a project development environment is, if the requirements captured in the first p...
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