Structured Systems Analysis (DFDs, ERDs, etc.)

Jan 21, 2024
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In the intricate world of business analysis, understanding the complex interactions between various economic agents is crucial for making informed decisions. One tool that plays a pivotal role in comprehending these interactions is the Circular Flow Diagram or CFD. Originating from the field of economics, this visual representation has found its way into the toolkit of business analysts, offering a holistic view of how money, goods, and services circulate within a vertical industry or within an organization. In this article, we delve into the essence of the Circular Flow Diagram and explore its applications in the realm of business and systems analysis.

Apr 23, 2023
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Effective documentation is essential for successful business analysis, as it ensures that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the goals, requirements, and processes. In addition, it helps identify potential risks and issues early on, so they can be addressed before they become major issues. It also allows  tracking changes and decisions over time. There are many kinds of documents business analysts create and maintain, including functional and non-functional requirement documents, release notes, design documents, feature overviews, process flow documents, etc.

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A picture is worth a thousand words. Charts offer visualization and help to understand and comprehend things that would be more painful and time consuming to understand by reading free text. Diagrams help us design systems and processes, organize our screens, while facilitating a common understanding of the big picture. They help us make visible the invisible.

Αs a BA you can exploit a big variety of diagrams to help you communicate better and more accurate information concerning the requirements and the solution. Diagrams leverages the effective use of visuals and modeling techniques in helping organizations and individuals work from the 30,000 foot view down to the level of detail that is needed by those who are actually going to perform the process activities. Moreover a diagram can serve as a single point of truth navigating what should be done and saving time from questions deriving from ambiguous point may found in a text.

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There’s always more than one design solution for a software problem and seldom a single best solution. The first design approach you conceive won’t be the best option. As one experienced designer explained it:

You haven’t done your design job if you haven’t thought of at least three solutions, discarded all of them because they weren’t good enough, and then combined the best parts of all of them into a superior fourth solution. Sometimes, after considering three options, you realize that you don’t really understand the problem.

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It is true that a structural element of the conceptual framework of the BABOK knowledge areas is tailoring. The philosophy that a specific sequential approach does not fit in all circumstances is clear across all the knowledge areas and techniques presented. A business analyst has to critically filter and pick up the most useful techniques and approaches given the specific circumstances.

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A diagram is a 2-dimensional representation of a story, which shows elements and their relationships on a single canvas. An element is shown on a single diagram. (To show the same element information on a 2 diagrams, the element is duplicated.) When the properties of a diagram element are changed, the change is reflected only on that diagram.

A model is a 3-dimensional representation of a collection of related stories, which captures diagram elements as model components. A component includes all element properties and relationships between different elements on all diagrams. A single model component can be shown as elements on several diagrams. A change to the properties of a diagram element or model component is reflected on every diagram where that component is displayed.

A model does not necessarily need to include any diagrams. Diagramming is the most common method for creating and maintaining model components, but the diagrams can be deleted without changing the model.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a diagram converts those words into a story. A model organizes those stories into a book.

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Project Scope. We will see how scope statements, when making reference to business functionality, lead directly to High-Level requirements.  Gathering requirements for a business information system is most often done within the context of a project. Approval of a project includes its sponsors signing off on its scope. The scope for a business information system project is typically defined in functional terms. Items in scope make reference to (or should make reference to) business functions, processes and/or activities that are to be delivered.

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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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In the real world, good decision modeling is always a balance between science and art. The science is systematic decomposition of a structure (of data or logic) into a set of smaller structures based on the definitions of successive normal forms. The art, on the other hand, is a general decomposition into a set of smaller structures based on factors not related to detecting and correcting normalization errors.

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This article describes the Entity Relationship Diagram that allows you to document the structure of a database in terms of persistent entities and the relationships between them.  The Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD) provides a way of graphically representing the logical relationships between entities in order to create a database schema to persist those entities.

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A data flow diagram (commonly abbreviated to DFD) shows what information is needed within a process, where it is stored, and how it moves through a system to accomplish an objective. As its name implies, a data flow diagram depicts the flow of data within a system.

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 The Data Flow Diagram (DFD) provides a graphical representation of the flow of data through a system. It shows logically what information is exchanged by our system processes and external interfaces or data stores, but it does not explicitly show when or in what sequence the information is exchanged.

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This article is all about putting your systems analysis into context; literally and metaphorically. It’s all about drawing and interpreting the not-quite-UML Context Diagram that is sometimes referred to as the System Context Diagram.

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In I.T., are we really spending too much time on "maintenance"?  Within any systems development organization, there are but three types of work effort: new systems development, maintenance, and modification/improvements. A mature development organization will spend approximately 5% of its time on new development, 10% on maintenance, and 85% of its time on modification/improvements.

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Context diagrams are instrumental in unearthing unknown requirements during the discovery phase, both by forcing an analyst to think through the context (thus the moniker context diagram) of a project methodically and by enabling stakeholders to do so as well.

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