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One of the issues high on the agenda of many CIOs is to align IT efforts with the company’s strategic goals. But how you do trace a line of code back to the strategic goal that caused it to be written? If we’re able to do this then, and only then, can it be said that IT is aligned with the business strategy. 

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Over my last two articles, I have laid a foundation for a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) as the enterprise architecture of the globally integrated enterprise and focused on how to define and establish the business side of the enterprise through a well defined business architecture . Before diving into the IT side of the enterprise, this articl...
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In the past I have discussed the need to manage data (and all information resources) as a valuable resource; something to be shared and reused in order to eliminate redundancy and promote system integration.  Now, our attention turns to how data should be defined.  Well defined data elements are needed in order to properly design the logical data base as well as developing a suitable physical implementation.

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The subject of current systems analysis is usually greeted with dismay or disdain by systems departments. There are many reasons for this. In many installations, the support of current systems takes more than 85% of the systems department's time, and the departments are more than ready to get on with new systems development and bury the old, non-working systems as quickly as possible. In cases where systems do not require a lot of maintenance, the systems department may find that the current systems are not giving management the kind of information it needs for effective decision making; these current systems become likely candidates for replacement.

However, there are some very legitimate reasons for documenting existing systems...

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"As I discussed my May article for Modern Analyst, there's a lot of hype about the role of requirements in agile projects. Many people think you don’t “do” requirements on an agile project. Hogwash. Indeed, agile projects use requirements—but just enough requirements at just the right time."

In this article Ellen covers a number of agile requirements topics including:

  • Agile requirements need to be understood in context of the product, release, and iteration
  • Balancing Business and Technical Value
  • The Product Workshop
  • Release Workshops
  • Iteration Workshops
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A colleague of mine asked me recently what makes a good Business Analyst, and this stumped me for a while. I had a rare opportunity to go trout fly-fishing recently and as the fishing was slow I was able to contemplate this question. You will gather from this that the question had worried me as I seldom think about work stuff when I am fly-fishing. 

So what does make a good Business Analyst? 

I decided to go back to basics; if I want to know what makes a good Analyst then I need to ask what do we, as Business Analysts, do? If I could understand that, then I can start to understand what makes one Analyst better than another.  

I asked around in business analysis circles for an on line description of what we do. Although I got a few different answers, I found I got the most consensuses with “a Business Analyst elicits, documents, and communicates business requirements”. But what does that mean?

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That unfamiliar voice at the table was an IT Security Analyst, facing a common challenge in the modern day business, getting the project implemented, while ensuring the right security controls are in place.

Where a Business Analyst typically looks at requirements for a project to meet the objectives of the business, or a Systems Analyst looks at the needs of the technology to enable the business to meet the objective, a Security Analyst has too look at the dream.  The “dream” encompasses “we would like to make money” to “we are opening up this firewall port” and everything in-between.

The overall goal of the Security Analyst is finding and mitigating risk to the business, the businesses assets, and the technology infrastructure both current and future. We need to take in an insane amount of factors in about a project and calculate threats, vulnerabilities, and the likelihood of exploitation of these. Mix it in with a little gut feelings based on experience, and inform the business that what they want to do may introduce or magnify risk to their organization.

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One of the biggest challenges in any system design effort is to produce a viable system design that is well thought-out with all of the pieces and parts working harmoniously together. If something is forgotten, regardless of its seeming insignificance, it will undoubtedly cause costly problems later on. The task, therefore, is to produce a design that is demonstratively correct.

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Tony Bear says the BPM-folks are from Venus and the WS-folks from Mars. That exactly summarizes a big division in the BPM industry that might not be obvious. The term BPM-folks refers to the people that focus on process modelling. Their starting point is the analysis of procedures that describe how people and systems work together in an organisati...
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In a nutshell, the concept of "stepwise refinement" is to take an object and move it from a general perspective to a precise level of detail. Architects have used such an approach for years, as have engineers building products. But to do so, they realized they cannot simply go from the general to the specific in one felled swoop, but instead, in increments (steps). The number of steps needed to decompose an object into sufficient detail is ultimately based on the inherent nature of the object. To illustrate, for architects designing a building, the typical steps include:

  1. Develop artist rendering (to consider viability).
  2. Design foundation and superstructure.
  3. Design Floor plans.
  4. Design electrical and plumbing diagrams.

Author: Tim Bryce

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“The biggest risk to your company is not being able to change fast enough… Business Rules are the answer.” …Ron Ross

I am a great appreciator of Mr. Ross. He has written extensively on the topic of Business Rules, offers excellent training on the subject, and is the keynote speaker at each year’s International Business Rules Forum. I would like to start my own article on Business Rules with an ‘icebreaker’ he used on a seminar I attended.

Consider the sport of American Football. Some aspects of the game are very stable, some less so, and some not necessarily stable at all.

Author: David Wright

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Most line-of-business execs, project managers and software developers who have worked on application development teams can attest to the importance of good business analysts. In many instances, in fact, today's business analyst can affect the outcome (good or bad) of a software project. "When business analysts aren't able to carry their weight, it...
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Software security remains a hot topic. Everyone from grandmothers to Fortune 500 companies has heard the stories of identity theft, data loss, and general mayhem caused by viruses and attackers on the Internet. In the first quarter of 2008 alone, 1,474 different software vulnerabilities were reported with only 64 of them having posted solutions. Th...
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The short answer: "Because it requires work."

The long answer: People tend to resist gazing into the crystal ball and prefer to react to life as it passes them by. Some people believe planning in today's ever changing world is a waste of time, that you must be more "agile" and accommodate changes as they occur. As anyone who has designed and built anything of substance knows, this is utterly ridiculous. We would not have the many great skyscrapers, bridges, dams, highways, ships, planes, and other sophisticated equipment without the efforts of architects and engineers. Without such planning, our country would look essentially no different than how the pioneers first discovered the continent. Although we must certainly be flexible in our plans, and we will inevitably make some mistakes along the way, little progress would be made if we did not try to plan a course of action and control our destiny.

People often take planning for granted, that someone else will be making plans for us, such as government officials, our corporate management, or even the elders of our families. Consequently we become rather lax about looking into the future. Nor is there any encouragement by anyone to plan our affairs, such as a tax break. Whereas other countries offer incentives to save money for the future, such as Japan, America does not. Therefore, planning is a rather personal activity; we either see the virtue in doing so or we do not.

Author: Tim Bryce

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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.

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