Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo

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 Your work experience is a lens that can help you make sense of the BABOK. Every practitioners journey of reading the BABOK is different; however, there are common themes and patterns that one needs to pay attention to and learn from.

In this AuthorCast, I am pleased to present a repeat guest, Jarrett Hailes, to enlighten us about how practitioners can extend their knowledge of the BABOK. We use the lens of his recently published book – Pocket Guide for Business Analysis Based on BABOK – to deep dive and understand the challenges and benefits of applying the BABOK. There are many more concepts that we delve into that can expand your horizons and help you see the BABOK in a new light.

Here is the episode:

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Why is Enterprise Analysis not the first knowledge area in the BABOK?

This is one of the most frequent questions I get from students attending the CBAP-CCBA prep courses. This is one of those concepts where the light bulb needs to go off if you have to place it correctly. We discuss this and a lot more about arguably the most controversial chapter in the BABOK.

In this podcast, we deep dive into Enterprise Analysis. It was a lot of fun to discuss this topic with Steve Downer, who is very enthused about this topic. I also got an opportunity to learn a few new things from his wide spectrum of experience.

Here is enterprise analysis (and much more) coming to life from the futuristic Steve Downer:

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Can BABOK help your improve your business analysis practice? 

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Time and again, I have witnessed (and know first hand) that having knowledge about performing certain tasks can be useful. In this episode of I present an interview with Jarett Hailes on his certification journey and how it helped him improve his practice.
 In one of the previous BA interviews, Margaret Marco insisted that BAs should go independent after getting their CBAP, Jarett takes this notion further and elaborates on how getting certified can specifically help you. Listen to his inspiring journey of how BABOK changed his approach to analysis and helped him effectively implement business analysis best practices. 
Here is the interview:

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  To Function or Non-to-Function? 

We all know the golden triangle of software requirements:
Business Requirements -> Stakeholder Requirements -> Functional Requirements.
Ensuring that the right business requirements are elicited and analyzed ensures that you are solving the right business need. Stakeholder requirements ensure that the stakeholder needs are identified and trace back to the business requirements. And finally, the Functional requirements bring forward the functionality that is expected of the glorious future state system. 
 
What about Non-Functional requirements? (I am not a big fan of the way they are referred to as) 
 
Why do they not get the limelight they deserve? How does one go about approaching them correctly? How do you ensure that you’ve asked all the right questions that help you elicit the pertinent Non-Functional requirements? 
 
In this episode of the AuthorCast, I am pleased to present Roxanne Miller a self-proclaimed requirements freak. Her extensive background in software development, training and consulting lead her to author one of the most sought after books on Non-Functional requirements – ‘The Quest for Software Requirements”. In this podcast we deep dive into some of the problems that plague the BA community when it comes to the specification and modeling of the Non-Functional requirements. 

Here is the episode:

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 Wait a minute, did I just say that there is a template called “BA Approach”?
 
Chances are that you may already be involved in contributing to defining business analysis approach one way or another – without knowing it, now is the time to discover it! 
 
Like some of the tasks in the BABOK don’t directly align with what you do or it maybe called differently. One classical example is conducting a “Requirements gathering sessions” vs. what the BABOK refers to it as “Conducting Elicitation Session”… btw, I have a big issue with the word “gathering”, we will leave this one for another post another day!
 
So, back to “Business Analysis Approach” and understanding how you can perform it in your projects effectively. 
 
In this post, you will learn and understand what defining a BA approach really means and also learn how to use the BA Approach template.

First Principles – What is Business Analysis Approach?

Let me illustrate with an example. Imagine John and Mary are getting married. If this is a “Change” that needs to planned, a lot of things have to be done until the day of exchanging the vows. And imagine Julia is getting hired as an event planner responsible to organize and plan their wedding. She would have to:  
  • Clearly understand what values are dear to John and Mary as a couple
  • What kind of wedding they wish to have (low-key, high-profile, destination, etc.)
  • What kind of wedding invitations need to be printed
  • The complete guest list and detailed profiles of their family members and close relatives 
  • A VIP guest list 
  • Food preferences, menu choices, etc.
etc…. you can imagine other important components. 
 
If Julia was a BA in her previous life (and regrets switching to being an event planner), her approach to planning wedding will include:  
  • A checklist of tasks that need to be performed to make the wedding successful (checklists for different aspects)
  • A list of stakeholders that need to be invited or  consulted.
  • Deliverables and milestones to be achieved all along (sample wedding card, cake prototype, menu sampling, booking and tour of the convention centre, photography and videography, etc.) 
 
If you notice, she has externalized her intentions, ideas and work on paper. This helps her to do her job better, and calms the nerves of the couple-to-be. 
 
As a Business Analyst (especially if you are a seasoned professional), doing this at the beginning of your analysis can help you immensely perform your job better.

BA Approach In BABOK 

The first knowledge area in BABOK – Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring – elaborates on BA Approach (BABOK 2.1).  Here is a definition from BABOK (V2): 
 
“Business analysis approaches describe the overall process that will be followed to perform business analysis work on a given initiative, how and when tasks will be performed, the techniques that will be used, and the deliverables that should be produced.”

Three Secrets to a Great Start 

  1. Understand the problem and organizational context - understanding  the business problem being solved or looked into is an important first step. Your approach to build a software would be different from the one to outsource or improve a process. Is the organization process heavy and mature or is a start-up filled with instragramers who will post the product backlog on Facebook. 
  2. What type of project is it? – closely related to understanding the problem, take a step back and understand what kind of project is being undertaken. Is this an in-house software development for a mission critical business application or a COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) product for a not so critical department. 
  3. Introspect and seek help right away if needed – do you have experience in working on a project like this before? If you do, don’t let your past experience cloud fresh possibilities. If you don’t have experience either in working on a similar project or using the current methodology, seek help from another BA / Requirements Manager or a Centre of Excellence if the organization has one. You don’t want to do 12 months of work and then appear foolish at the cost of appearing a fool for the first 12 hours.  

The BA Approach Template – Key Components

  1. Approach for BA Work – this section should describe at a high level what approach is being followed to perform business analysis. What crucial elements need to be part of approach. Providing an overview of the business problem, goals and objectives is useful. 
    1. Techniques, Deliverables, and Timeline is a key component here:
      -       Create a list of techniques such as process modeling, use cases, document analysis, requirements workshops, and interface analysis.
      -       Produce a high-level business requirements document and a detailed stakeholder and solution requirements document.
      -       Establish a high-level timeline of abstraction showing key business analysis milestones leading up to requirements sign off.
  2. Timing of BA Work - is the BA work going to be done in the beginning or performed iteratively all through the project. 
  3. Formality / Level of Details - depending on the organizational context a formal approach maybe adopted. If there are requirements standards that need to be followed, this needs to be detailed here. 
  4. Requirements Prioritization Approach - how will the requirements be prioritized and the key stakeholders involved in the requirements prioritization process.
  5. Tools for BA Work - if there are any requirements management tools or repositories used, this needs to be detailed out here.
  6. Project Complexity - this could be an assessment of how complex the project is based on the number of impacted areas and the criticality of the change from the organizational perspective.
  7. Approach to Scope and Change Management - how will the changes to scope and requirements be handled, if a high level process or flow chart needs to be built, you could define it here.
  8. Approach to Sign-off - what modality and approach will be followed to get concurrence and sign-off for requirements.
  9. Approach to Communication - how will the communication occur, the medium and frequency used.

Business Analysis Approach Template – Download for FREE

[Coming soon] 
 
We are putting together a great list of FREE templates for the BA community. The BA Approach template will be part of this and you will be able to download a FREE template soon.

Your Thoughts Please

Have you used a BA approach template or creating something analogous before you started analysis? What name does this template or activity have in your organization?
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