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It is no surprise that organizations spend over $15B annually on business intelligence and data mining technologies. But despite this focus on infrastructure technologies, there is little emphasis on the art of analysis.

Analysts are being asked to assimilate increasing amounts of data into meaningful information that can be acted upon quickly. This is a daunting task as the volume of data that comes into play is staggering and crippling to most analytic tools. This article discusses three innovations in data analysis that empower analysts to explore expansive data sets and gain actionable intelligence.

 

 

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It is no secret that our record of complex project performance is rife with failed and significantly challenged projects. This is true for virtually all types of projects. Examples abound – we offer just a few.

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With business analysis projects, as with all endeavors, you have to know where you are going before you can chart your course to get there. In other words, before you can decide whether to take a train, bus, or plane, what time of day you will travel, and what you will carry, you have to decide where you are going.

So it is with requirements. Before you can chart how you are going to implement a solution, everyone involved in the development effort must agree on why you need it to start with and that it is the very best solution available. Business requirements are fundamental to any development effort because they define where you are going by articulating the business problem and its solution—why it is needed and how to measure its success.

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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 a previous column, we looked at how Decision Models improved an actual project. Below, we explore why the Decision Model is the next logical (and simple) advance in process modeling and business rules. We do so by addressing five questions. How does the Decision Model improve a business process model? Where did the business rules go? Why did the business process model become simpler? How does the Decision Model transform a business? Finally, why should business analysts upgrade from a traditional business rules approach to Decision Modeling?

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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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Business rules should be externalized from processes and established as a separate resource. Rule Independence permits direct management of the business rules, so they can evolve at their own natural pace rather than that of the software release cycle. Other benefits include better process models, and much closer tie-in to the business side (a.k.a. business alignment). Business rules put your company on the road to true agility.

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It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the elegant and relatively simple view of SOA has become bloated with a bewildering array of methodologies and products, leading to confusion and bafflement by many of its proponents and potential converts.

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In a series of conversations, Kevin Brennan and I discussed the new role of the business analyst and what the future holds for people who build careers in this field. To structure our conversation, we articulated a central idea or axiom and then defined four key propositions that flow from that axiom. Presented below are that axiom and our thoughts related to the four key propositions.

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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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In agile projects, you deliver the product in a series of successive and sensibly staged releases. Each release represents the culmination of a series of requirements decisions... One of your biggest challenges is ongoing-how to group and sequence requirements for optimal delivery. Let's take a look at adapting requirements workshops to meet that challenge.

 

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Whether you’ve never heard of business rules or you are a business rules guru, you need to understand that business rules need to be a first-class citizen of the requirements world. In this interview, Ronald G. Ross, recognized as the “father of business rules,” shares his wisdom on business rules and what every business analyst needs to know about decisioning and business rules.
 

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I have been in the business analysis profession for many years and the one thing I have constantly had to challenge myself on is leading without really leading, or what I call leading from the side. As a business analyst, many times we are not in a position of authority yet we have to have significant leadership skills to be successful.

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Last month's column introduced a missing model for business analysts. The Decision Model is a normalized rigorous model for business logic like the Relational Model is for data. "Business logic is simply a set of business rules represented as atomic elements of conditions leading to conclusions. As such, business logic represents business thinking about the way important business decisions are made."

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The purpose of this article is to assist the business analyst engaged in the elicitation of stakeholder requirements. The key to any successful elicitation is asking the right questions whether it be in interviews or a facilitation session. Although the right questions are dependent on the solution scope, there are generic questions that the business analyst can use to start the elicitation regardless of the solution scope. The author begins the article using a mind map to capture keywords of generic questions and then provides a list of generic questions drawn from that map of which specific solution scope questions can be added by the business analyst.

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