Business Analysis

Thumbnail image for Seven Deadly BA Templates Sins

Seven Deadly BA Templates Sins

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo2

Are you a business analyst who is jaded with the statistics of how poor requirements are #1 cause of failure in projects? 
 
And to your utter delight this theory and statistics repeats every year. 
 
According one of the many statistics the #1 cause of failure of projects is due to requirements… In one particular CIO analysis for example, the number was as high as 37%.
 
So, specifically the top cause of project failure is due to: 
 
Requirements: Unclear, lack of agreement, lack of priority, contradictory, ambiguous, imprecise.
 
In this post, I am not proposing that having the right BA templates  will help an analyst communicate requirements clearly and solve this problem and elevate us to the sainthood of project and business success. However, you’ll see factors and practices that trace back to some of these elements that causes project failures. 

Click to continue

 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?
Thumbnail image for Top 10 of 2013 – The Best of 2013

Top 10 of 2013 – The Best of 2013

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo

When I started TheBACoach podcast in June of 2011, my only hope was to get 10 regular monthly listeners. To my utter surprise, I didn’t expect a colossal vacuum to exist in this space. Fast forward two and half years, we are averaging about 3,000 monthly downloads of the podcast.

We also reached a major milestone this year when we crossed 100,000 downloads … with an average length of 40 minutes that’s =

4,000,000 minutes of listening time!

The feeling is awesome when I get emails and tweets from total strangers that it has helped them to become better analysts. This is probably one of the best gifts I could give back to the BA community and I am completely humbled by the response. No harm in building good karma I guess.

In this post, I wanted to share what was popular in 2013 that you’ve read, shared and marked as useful information. I will be sharing top 5 blog posts and podcasts that were most read and listened to respectively in 2013.

Top 5 Blog Posts of 2013

The top 5 posts of 2013 are:

5 ->; How to Create a Go-To Set of BA Templates  

4 ->; Seven Audiobooks Every BA Must Listen to and How to Get One for FREE

3 ->; Five Ways to Make BABOK an Irresistible Read

2 ->; The 11th Powerful Lesson from Life of Pi

and the most popular article of 2013 is:

1 ->;10 Powerful Business Analyst Lessons from Life of Pi (Ranked #1 on BATimes.com)

 

Top 5 Podcasts of 2013

5 ->; BABOK V3 and More – BOK Talk Kevin Brennan

This episode contained useful info about the BABOK V3 and when it is coming and such. Also, being a continuation of introduction to the BABOK episode (at number 3, below), this episode helped answer a few most commonly asked questions about BABOK.

4 ->; From Getting things done to Ready for Anything, AuthorCast with David Allen

It was a dream come true to interview David Allen. Interviewing him was a great experience. Having applied and revered his work, it was insightful to hear the story behind the book that inspired the most effective productivity system (GTD®) in the world.

3 ->; Using Project Patterns and More, BA Interviews with Jonathan Babcock

Jonathan always brings out unique perspectives to help the practitioners. His blog practicalanalyst.com has helped numerous BAs around the globe. In this episode he shared some valuable tips on using project patterns, with practical tips on how to track and use them.

2- >; Conducting Effective Requirements Workshop, AuthorCast with Ellen Gottesdiener

Ellen was once again at her best behind the mic, bringing forward useful and practical advice to help BAs conduct effect requirements workshops. Her extensive experience in facilitation, and coaching added to the educational value of this podcast.

And the most listened to podcast of 2013 is … for the second time in a row!

1 – >; 10ish Things I wish I knew Before I became a BA, AuthorCast with Howard Podeswa

This is gotta be one of the best podcast episodes a BA can listen to. I have listened to this 3 to 4 times myself. As they say “Hindsight is always 20/20″, this episode can provide some very powerful lessons for every practicing and aspiring business analyst. If you haven’t yet, go right ahead and do so (like, right now. :)

Which among these and others were your favorite episodes in 2013?

Please use the comment space below to provide your input, feedback and comments.

Professional development is the lifeblood of any analysts career advancement. We encounter many opportunities to hone our craft through webinars, podcasts and training sessions.

What if you could get onto a time machine of professional development, where you will get the best of all the learning worlds in one place? 

What if you could network and rub shoulders with the industry thought leaders and get the advice that will help you with the next challenge at work?

An industry conference is one such platform and the go to conference for business analysts in North America is the Building Business Capability Conference.

As you maybe aware that we entered into a partnership with Rising Media to produce a few educational podcasts to the BA community. The focus of these podcasts will be to showcase the previews of the keynotes planned for BBC 2013.

If you have listened to how I interview our guests, you maybe aware of the information stretch that I ensure to make it an educational and usable podcast. :)

Roger’s Episode on Process Centric Approach

In Roger’s episode below we discuss his keynote on “Building business capability using processes”. We also discuss the world of process analysis and its importance to business analysis. One key takeaway from his podcast would be his suggestions and tips for how business analysts can become better at process analysis.

Here is the link with the show notes and links mentioned in the show:

Process centric approach to business capability

Marty’s High Octane Episode on Making Good Business Decisions Under Pressure

One of the gripping angles in Marty’s episode below is how he uses the metaphor of land mines to explore the traps of communication and leadership. His story of how he came up with the land mines series is fascinating. We all wish that we know ahead of time what pitfalls we may be involved with. In this episode, he shares some tips and pointers on how you can effectively navigate some of the land mines.

Here is the link with the show notes and links mentioned in the show:

Communication and Leadership Land mines – How to make good business decisions under pressure

Attend BBC at Discounted Price

Our partnership with the BBC also includes a 15% discount for the tickets to the conference. You have simply use the coupon code THEBACOACH to get this discount when you checkout from the link below.

http://www.buildingbusinesscapability.com/registration
We will be present at the conference and you can visit our stall. If you’ve been a long time listener of the podcast, it would be great to see you in person and hear about your feedback and comments.

So, please don’t pass this amazing learning opportunity.

See you at the conference!

Please use the comment space below if you have any questions or comments.

Thumbnail image for Top 12 BA Podcasts of 2012

Top 12 BA Podcasts of 2012

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo2

When I started TheBACoach podcast in June of 2011, my only hope was to get 10 regular monthly listeners. To my utter surprise, I didn’t expect a colossal vacuum to exist in this space. Fast forward one year, we are averaging about 2,500 monthly downloads of the podcast.

We also reached a major milestone this year (in September) when we crossed 50,000 downloads … with an average length of 40 minutes that’s =

2,000,000 minutes of listening time!

The feeling is awesome when I get emails and tweets from total strangers that it has helped them to become better analysts. This is probably one of the best gifts I could give back to the BA community and I am completely humbled by the response. No harm in building good karma I guess.

So, how did we track these stats? The premium hosting service we use for the podcast, provides detailed stats episode-wise. There are stats associated with location based downloads, that allows us to conduct the CBAP/CCBA boot camps in the cities where we are heard most (The recent CBAP Boot Camp in London, is a great example of this).

Top 12 of 2012

So, let us do the count down for the top 12, starting from number 12.

12 ->; Who Can Become BA? with Laura Brandenburg

A great episode on finding out if you have the skill set and knowledge to become a BA. A must listen if you are on the fringes of becoming a BA. This seemed to be an ongoing question in the community. Laura helped provide a solid context and information to help the transitioning professionals.

11 ->; Never Stop Learning- BA Interview with Paula Bell

An inspiring episodes. Filled with helpful tips on overcoming challenges surrounding office politics. Her biggest message to the BAs was to never stop learning – and no wonder it is in top 12.

10 ->; From Chemistry to Computers – AuthorCast with Karl Wiegers

Being a big fan of Karl’s work and having studied it as part of my engineering curriculum, it was a great experience to interview him. A great and inspiring story about Karl and his inspiration for writing books.

9 ->; How to Manage BAs – Community Cast with Jennifer Doyle

Jenni did a great job in sharing some very useful tips to manage BAs. This was a great listen for BAs too, since they could always reverse engineer what their manager would expect and perform better. She also shared traits of effect BAs and how to spot them while interviewing them.

8 ->; BABOK V3 and More – BOK Talk Kevin Brennan

This episode contained useful info about the BABOK V3 and when it is coming and such. Also, being a continuation of introduction to the BABOK episode (at number 3, below), this episode helped answer a few most commonly asked questions about BABOK.

7 ->; Go Independent after CBAP – BA Interviews with Margaret Marco

This was a well received episode about honing your skills as a BA, how to approach the CBAP mindset and why you should look into going independent after getting your CBAP certification.

6 ->; From Getting things done to Ready for Anything, AuthorCast with David Allen

It was a dream come true to interview David Allen. Interviewing him was a great experience. Having applied and revered his work, it was insightful to hear the story behind the book that inspired the most effective productivity system (GTD®) in the world.

5 ->; Take Charge of and Care About what you do, BA Interview with DavidMorris

David brought forth valuable lessons from his consulting experience. Tips on coming up to speed really quick in a project, and caring about your career were really well received and appreciated by the community.

4 ->; Using Project Patterns and More, BA Interviews with Jonathan Babcock

Jonathan always brings out unique perspectives to help the practitioners. His blog practicalanalyst.com has helped numerous BAs around the globe. In this episode he shared some valuable tips on using project patterns, with practical tips on how to track and use them.

3 ->; Introduction to BABOK® , BOKTalk with Kevin Brennan

With so much confusion around what the BABOK really is, especially within the BA community (forget outside), this episode did the trick to help. We dived into the history of BABOK and also discussed the writing and review process. This is one of the first podcasts we advise attendees to listen to in our CBAP / CCBA online prep courses and CBAP prep boot camps.

2- >; Conducting Effective Requirements Workshop, AuthorCast with Ellen Gottesdiener

Ellen was once again at her best behind the mic, bringing forward useful and practical advice to help BAs conduct effect requirements workshops. Her extensive experience in facilitation, and coaching added to the educational value of this podcast.

And the most listened to podcast of 2012 is …

1 – >; 10ish Things I wish I knew Before I became a BA, AuthorCast with Howard Podeswa

This is gotta be one of the best podcast episodes a BA can listen to. I have listened to this 3 to 4 times myself. As they say “Hindsight is always 20/20″, this episode can provide some very powerful lessons for every practicing and aspiring business analyst. If you haven’t yet, go right ahead and do so (like, right now. :)

Notable mentions

These two episodes missed the top 12 by a whisker:

Sometimes Leave Some Silence, BA Interview with Jonathan Nituch

Come to Work Happy, BA Interview with Craig-Fox

Which among these and others were your favorite episodes in 2012?

Please use the comment space below to provide your input, feedback and comments.

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