Business Analysis Articles

Jun 26, 2022
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I’ve written this article to provide an overview of AWS (Amazon Web Services) for Business Analysts. The cloud (in particular AWS) is now a part of many projects. If you’ve been in meetings where people have mentioned: ‘EC2’, ‘ELB’, ‘AZs’ and though...
I’ve written this article to provide an overview of AWS (Amazon Web Services) for Business Analysts. The cloud (in particular AWS) is now a part of many projects. If you&r...
This article discusses record types supporting the concepts product, customer, sale, and location. The names given to these records varies depending on the line(s) of business an o...
There are many other valuable requirements activities besides these six. However, these practices greatly increase your chances of building a solution that achieves the desired bus...

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First of all, any operating system or solution contains two types of requirements: functional and non-functional. The solution works as a clock, which requires each gear within the solution to be properly functioning. Based on the theory of constraints, any process throughput can only be improved when the constraint or bottleneck is resolved.

Therefore, no matter how fast the train can run and how many passengers it can carry in one trip (the functional requirements), as long as the NFRs are not met, the performance of the solution (subway system) can only be as good as the non-functional requirements.

Second, if NFRs are not considered during the business analysis process, it is very likely they were not part of the criteria for solution evaluation. Without consideration of NFRs, the proposed solution may not be evaluated accurately. What was thought to be the best solution may not be a suitable solution at all.

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Has society become so unimaginative in the products, services, organisations and societies that we choose to create? Have we started giving up on ‘inspiration’ and ‘excitement’ as values with the way in which we create schools, workplaces and organizational cultures? My personal belief is that Business Analysts are ideally and uniquely positioned by make an incredible and positive difference in the world.

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After some research, I was taken back with so many machine learning applications already in use: weather forecasting, medical diagnoses, law enforcement, and self-driving vehicles. Also, I did not realized that it was the advancements of big data and faster computing that allowed the break-thru of AI in our daily lives. Most of us, I believe, think that artificial intelligence is still science fiction. Not so! We as business analysts need to pursue AI education and recognize the many business opportunities opening up to all of us.

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Perhaps you’ve seen a sign at an auto repair shop that asked, “What do you want: good, fast, or cheap? Pick two.” While humorous, the sign is also wise: it acknowledges the reality of trade-offs. You generally cannot optimize every desired outcome of a given situation.  The notion of such a “triple constraint” or “iron triangle” appears throughout project management. The problem is that I have seen numerous representations of the triangle with various parameters on the triangle’s vertices—size, cost, time, or scope—and various assumptions made about what is being held constant, such as quality or functionality. I’ve also seen diagrams that show four project dimensions. So, in my view, the traditional “triple constraint” is wrong, although the concept of constraints and trade-offs is certainly valid.

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It’s important for business analysts to recognize that there is a significant amount of non-technical (i.e. business) detail associated with a system interface capability. The interface is either importing data that’s needed and available in electronic format from another system, or exporting data in electronic format when it’s needed by some other system or organization. The data is either needed in real time or can be processed as a batch job.

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It’s more important than ever for software organizations to build a healthy engineering culture. Healthy cultures rally developers around common goals: shipping high-quality work, continuously improving, and having fun in the process. Your culture is key to recruiting and retaining the talent you need to ship exceptional customer experiences.

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Step one is get knowledge, step two: redesign for effectiveness then, lastly, step three, pull in IT. It is to start from a base of knowing what IT can do to support a more effective design, the costs of development drop to tens of thousands and everything developed gets used – an amazing feat in IT development. And the benefits delivered by the IT system are significant: Real-time visibility of the work, accurate information about demand and activity times, costs and materials employed.
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Corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&A) continue as a critical means for enterprises to meet strategic objectives such as growing market share or acquiring new capabilities. However, rate of successful outcomes has not grown at the same pace as the number or M&As themselves. In this post, Dr. Coghill argues the case for using enterprise architecture to provide increased visibility and clarity around M&A objectives to support improved outcomes. 

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Learning about mental models and how to apply them to their work is one of the best investments for business analysts interested in achieving the level of deep thinking that leads to better outcomes for their projects and organizations.  There is incredible power in using inversion at the outset of a project to imagine ourselves in a future where the solution has not only been delivered, but is in the hands of end-users to get their job done. Rather than simply going through the typical project phases in forward motion, we can then look backward and gain additional perspective into what might go wrong so that preventive steps can be taken to avoid those bad outcomes.

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Several years ago I was looking for examples using the generalization / specialization technique with use cases. They are not easier to find. And they are typically limited to a use case diagram like the two below. This article provides examples of both the diagrams and the scenarios for a future gas station business.

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Have you heard of agile business analyst? Does this even make sense? Agile is to move quickly. How can a business analyst move quickly when (s)he is loaded with effort of understanding the scope, collecting, analyzing, and defining requirements, convincing and negotiating with stakeholders, make a technical team understand the requirements and ensure delivery as committed?
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In Part 1 of this series John Seddon argued that Agile, as practiced, is bereft of knowledge, hence its ubiquitous failure. Here he argues that ‘get knowledge’ is the starting-place for effective change.

Part 2: Knowledge: the prerequisite for profound change

It may seem heretical to suggest that we make change without knowledge, but, as Deming pointed out, experience is not equivalent to knowledge; you can spend 20 years in an organisation without knowing how to change it for the better. Leaders, clients and stakeholders describe requirements or problems to solve on the basis of their current world view, governed by information from their current control systems, but what if their world view is flawed? What if there are bigger and different problems to solve?

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Five S can be applied in any work environment and prepares a work area for a follow-on Lean process improvement effort. In this case, 5S prepares my garage for Lean process improvement in doing home activities like automobile maintenance, appliance repair, and hobbies like gardening and woodworking. But, remember the preparation benefit is only realized if 5S is sustained. As I said I am the worst (ugly) in keeping the “new world order” in my garage.

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The intention of these viewpoints is to make it easier to see and understand the real business problem. This article focuses on the fourth viewpoint, the Future-How, which looks at the solution to the business problem. It does this by assessing alternatives, and then choosing the best solution to that real business problem.
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For business analysts working in an environment where there is a gap between SMEs and the delivery of an IT-based solution for business needs, requirements are documented to bridge that gap. You are reading this because you are a business analyst responsible for documenting detailed requirements and, in the case of this article, business needs involving one or more user interfaces (UIs) or reports.

The objective of this article is to answer the question, “How much detail is necessary?” Spoiler alert – quite a bit. This is to avoid, as much as possible, a BA having to go back to a SME when designers or developers have business-level questions about a UI or report. Or worse – designers or developers not asking questions. Instead, making assumptions about what the business needs and proceeding to deliver the solution based on those assumptions.

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