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Lean-Agile Bath Remodel Project
The purpose of this article is to cite an example of using Lean-Agile project management for a small home construction project – a bathroom remodel. The remodeling firm unknowingly uses a Lean-Agile project approach that was the result of lessons learned over years of experience. In fact, when I questioned the remodeling firm about Lean-Agile, the firm’s response was “What is that?” Regardless of what you call it, the firm uses their construction approach because it works.
Business Analyst vs Data Analyst
Somebody inquired to me in one of the professional networking site if I can suggest what the difference between a Business analyst and data analyst is. This is a dilemma that is common in the minds of numerous professionals who are new to Business analysis or intending to get into this space. As the name proposes a first hand analysis by any layman will state that the business analyst role includes analysis from a business perspective, though the data analyst role deals with primarily analyzing data.
Why Defining the Business Need is Critical
In order for any project or initiative to be successful, an agreed upon business need must be determined. This need may present itself as a problem or an opportunity. Business Analysts must be able to guide the business in articulating which of these is the catalyst for the initiative prior to starting any BA work. Projects without a clearly defined business need get drawn out due to issues such as increased stakeholder conflict, poorly defined requirements, and excessive rework. So, to save you some pain and effort, below are some reasons why defining the business need is a critical starting point for any organizational change.
Doctor BA Answers an Old Question: how the BA profession came into being
I wanted to get to the bottom of things once and for all. We had been having several discussions about the birth of business analysis and how the profession of business analyst came into being. There were no business analysts, at least as currently incarnated, in Data Processing when I started a long time ago, and a look into the history of business analysis might be interesting. So I went sought out Doctor BA who has been around a lot longer than I.
Business jargon….in a nutshell
With this article, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you, by mentioning some of these jargon-based pearls of wisdom here. You need to realize that in order for you to make some headway in the corporate world, you’ll need to get some skin in the game, stop being an armchair general and put your head on a block instead.
Let's explore Business Analysts' Toolbox
Chaos! Stress! Everyday mess! Isn’t this an everyday situation for a business analyst? If not, either you’ve job satisfaction or you’re not being introduced to the real world of business analysis. A person might possess great skills, however, (s)he might not be able to utilize skills without the right mix of tools and environment. A toolbox enables a person to implement the skills in the most efficient way. Possessing necessary tools is just the one part of it. Another is the knowledge to utilize the right tools at the right time to cater the solution and ensure timely committed delivery. What are these tools? How do we map the usage of tools to the given circumstance? How can we efficiently utilize the tool? Does it depend on the solution or the approach?
Delivering Success When Replacing a Software System
A replacement project replaces an existing software system with a new custom-built system, a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) system, or a hybrid of those. There are some challenges that most replacement projects share, including stuffing in unnecessary functionality, degrading the organization’s operational performance, users refusing to adopt the new system, and having such a large project that it never deploys. Focusing requirements practices on addressing these issues directly can increase the likelihood of a system replacement that delivers the desired value and is accepted by the users.
8 Ways Data Preparation Software can Boost Excel Productivity
The most time-consuming process of doing analysis in Excel is data cleansing which can be extremely slow and laborious. However, it is very important because the cost of a mistake caused by incomplete information, discrepancies and outliers, can cause serious faults in your analysis that could significantly impact business outcomes. With the purpose-built data preparation software, you can eliminate the pain of data cleaning and improve your data quality. This article shares eight key ways you can significantly boost your productivity with Excel using purpose-built data preparation software...
Non-Functional Requirements: Scalability
Non-functional Requirements capture conditions that do not directly relate to the behaviour or functionality of the solution, but rather describe environmental conditions under which the solution must remain effective or qualities that the systems must have. They are also known as quality or supplementary requirements. These can include requirements related to capacity, speed, security, availability and the information architecture and presentation of the user interface.
Why Problems and Opportunities are NOT the same for projects
Most professionals in project management understand that in order to successfully approach a project, the problem statement must be clearly defined. The problem is that many practitioners treat problems and opportunities interchangeably when developing Business Cases and Project Charters. Understanding the difference between problems and opportunities is critical to selecting the optimal approach any project. 
Who is a Business Analyst?
In a large firm, a business analyst (BA) organization makes an effort to identify, analyze and provide a solution to the above questions. A BA organization is a prime pillar in optimizing resources to provide maximum value out of it to the business. A BA organization consists of business analysts in various roles like Product Manager, Program Manager, Project Manager, Business Analyst, Business Systems Analyst, Business Systems Consultant, Business Process Analyst etc.  The prime objective is to analyze business to maximize value addition. To understand more about the BA organization, it is important to understand what is business analysis
Does it make sense to talk about “enterprise analysis” or “strategy analysis” in the context of business analysis?
A benefit that I see of moving away from terms like enterprise analysis and strategy analysis is that removing this division between “flavors” of business analysis helps us see more clearly how BA activities can add value at all levels of the organization. Whether we’re making project portfolio recommendations or specifying a tiny software feature, the purpose is the same: help stakeholders clarify the real business need and determine the best solution to address it.
Let’s Talk IT Project Failure: What Causes Requirements Volatility?
Scope change and frequent requirement modifications impact projects execution. Unpredicted changes that occur outside project planning are all encompassed by the concept of volatility. Lack and insufficient predictability of change creates volatile dynamics that impact execution and project’s deliverables. Endeavours with objectives to find and develop solutions suffer most from volatility, a phenomenon that directly correlate to the volatility degree. Although little control can be exercised on volatility, some instances can be managed or averted. However, the level of uncertainty exerts great influence on the overall volatility of the project.
Craftsmanship: The Meaning of Life
Quality and service used to be considered paramount in this country. If it wasn't just right, you were expected to do it over again until you got it right. We cared about what we produced because it was a reflection of our personal character and integrity. But somewhere along the line we lost our way and craftsmanship has fallen by the wayside. Why? Probably because we no longer care.
One giant leap: From a Business Analyst in the Public Sector to IT Consultant
This post describes my transition from working as a BA in a large, public sector organisation to an IT consultancy, the challenges I faced and some helpful tips if you find your BA career at a bit of a crossroads.  Are you, or have you been in a situation where you feel that your career as a BA is a bit ‘on hold’? 
Make your work visible
When speaking to a business analyst on a busy project, I am often told that ‘at the end of a working day, I feel like I have achieved nothing’. Even, though we may feel like that but when looking back on the day you will see that you have probably carried out invisible work. Invisible work is a concept that is frowned upon within the agile world but it is something that we are all guilty of doing. In this post, we look at what the key blockers, which can slow your workflow and why working in visually will help you overcome these blockers. By making your work visible you can reduce the amount of time you waste in a day and be able to do things that you like to do.
Chicken or Egg: Certification or Experience, the never ending dilemma
I want to pursue a career in the Business Analysis field. I am very excited about it, and keen to pursue further. But, I am in a different role and I don’t have prior experience in BA field. How do I switch over to BA role? All the BA jobs require prior experience. How do I make the transition? Will any certification help me for the transition? How do I solve this? All the certifications have prior experience eligibility criteria. I am in a fix–what should I do to make my dream true? Can anyone help?” Does this sound like you?
An Introduction to Design Sprints
Naturally, us Business Analysts are facilitators, whether we're running workshops or holding stakeholder meetings, we're always the ones engaging with people. And it should really be no different for the running of a Design Sprint; use your best facilitating skills to lead the Design Sprint and make it a really good week for everyone involved! In addition to hosting over the five days, you should consider yourself responsible for reporting on the outcomes of the week to stakeholders, this will include making a decision on what to suggest taking forward as an idea and what should simply be forgotten about.
Analyzing with Job Task Instructions
The success of process improvement projects is greatly influenced by good planning for gathering requirements or user stories. Part of the planning is identifying which of the analysis techniques will be effective for the elicitation of business needs with stakeholders. One objective for these techniques is to enhance project team collaboration by establishing a common understanding of the business process, thus providing a knowledge basis for developing changes. This article explores using job task instructions as an analysis technique for supporting project team collaboration by providing a platform to keep team members informed with the decisions on workplace changes.
Doctor BA Answers Email Questions
It looked like it would be a while before I would get to see Doctor BA I was on assignment in Singapore and Doctor BA was somewhere in the Alps. So as not to lose touch with him, I asked him some of the questions I received using email. Doctor BA didn’t use Twitter which he said was “for the birds”. I didn’t want to argue the point.
Kanban vs. Scrum
Efficient and smooth workflow practices are believed to be accomplished through Agile methodologies with an emphasis on flexibility and rigor to optimize utilization of resources. Two popular implementations of Agile are Scrum and Kanban. In would be fitting to compare and analyze these processes, in an attempt to understand the dynamics behind their respective methodologies.
Top 3 Activities for a Business Analyst in a Discovery phase
In at the deep end So, you’ve just heard you’re going to be the Business Analyst on an Agile team that’s going in to a Discovery and it’s your first one.  For my first Discovery, it was daunting let me tell you. I already knew quite a few tools and techniques a BA should use during the lifecycle of a project, but what ones do I use that are particular to a Discovery phase? For this blog, I interviewed other Business Analysts, Scrum Masters, Product Owners and Developers to get their view on what the role of the BA is in Discovery and I will use their opinions (along with mine) to provide what I think are the top 3 tasks a BA should carry out. Time is of the essence You may be thinking, ‘surely you just apply the right tool or technique for the situation?’ Good question and I would say this is true. However. Unlike a traditional project where the BA would investigate, analyse and document literally everything, in Agile, Discovery phases are given quite a short amount of time before moving to Alpha and this is where as a BA (along with the rest of the team), you need to use your time wisely as you just won’t have the time to do all those ‘traditional’ BA activities. Now, there is a process to follow in that you can’t start to create a backlog until you know what the user and business needs are, and you can’t find out those needs until you identify your users and stakeholders. So, this is where we’ll start. Stakeholders: Don’t just identify, analyse The top activity the other roles identified as a key role of the BA was to understand and define the problem. However, before we get to that stage, we need to identify our stakeholders and users. And perhaps more importantly, understand the stakeholder’s interest and their influence in your project. For me, this is a critical exercise that I don’t feel is given the importance it should at the start of a project. They either get done and are left static throughout the project or not done at all. While the BA might lead on this activity, it’s most definitely an exercise the whole team need to be part of. My tip here is to put a stakeholder interest/influence matrix on the team wall (hopefully you have one, if not, get some whiteboards!) and give yourself and the team a couple of hours for the session. There are plenty of templates online you can use or if not, just draw it on some flipchart. Give the team around 10-15 minutes to identify who they think are stakeholders and begin to plot them on the matrix.  There may be some conflict where these people sit on the matrix but as long as you agree on who are the highly influential or clearly fit in to a category, the borderline ones you can leave for now. In terms of analysis and potential time constraints you have, don’t go in to any particular detail and spend time creating stakeholder wheels or stakeholder management plans, the interest/influence grid is sufficient. In addition, use the matrix to create your communication strategy to define what methods you will use to show progress of the Discovery to stakeholders and how often you will communicate with them. For identifying users, this will be something the User Researcher will lead on as they will be interviewing them but you as the BA should be involved in those sessions. After all, if you are going to be writing the user stories based on their needs, you need to get this first hand. You will also pick up good interview techniques from the UR. Framing the problem to define scope Ok, so we now have a list of stakeholders and users and it’s time to start engaging them. Before you start looking at things like defining ‘as is’ processes, pain points and setting up interviews with stakeholders to get this information, you need to have an understanding of what the actual problem is the team has been put together to fix. You may have been given a mandate as to what the issues are but until you engage the people ‘at the coal face’, they are just perceived issues. The quickest way to get to the root causes is to get those key stakeholders in a workshop and identify the following: ·      Why are we doing this work? ·      Who are our users, clients and stakeholders? ·      What outcomes might users get from this? ·      What outcomes might the organisation get from this? ·      What are our key metrics? Now, a lot of information will come out of this session and I see the key role of the BA is to deconstruct all these thoughts and views and turn it into something meaningful……like a problem and a product vision statement. These statements are short and provide an overview of the vision, problems and methods the team will use to address them. It should be no more than a few sentences which is a difficult task and one I suggest should be collaborated and created with the rest of the team. Once you are all happy with it, you need to share it with the stakeholders. Not to get agreement or for endless reviews, but to ensure everyone is on board with what the team are trying to achieve. As some (maybe most) stakeholders may not be aware what a problem and vision statement is, you may have to spend some time explaining its purpose to them. Point out it’s not a personal view, but a collective interpretation of perceived issues that need addressing. The backlog As with defining scope, starting a backlog of user stories is not solely the responsibility of the Business Analyst but is something the team are responsible for and should contribute to. That said, the BA does play a critical role in the creation of a backlog. And that is to ensure that what goes in to it is of an acceptable standard. After all, rubbish in, rubbish out right? I’ve seen this so many times whether it be on a new product or one that has progressed in to Alpha and Beta where the backlog has become a bit of a dumping ground for every idea, whim or ‘wouldn’t it be good if’ thought. For a start, everything in the backlog should either be related to a user need or part of the product roadmap. If it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be there. If someone does have an idea worth further exploration, put it on the user research/UX hypothesis board so they can establish whether there is an actual need for it. Before you start creating a backlog, get the team together to agree ground rules. I suggest you hold a user story writing workshop with the team where you can begin outlining the backlog. This ensures the team are involved from the start and you can agree principles with them to stay clear of the ‘bloated backlog’. Who might I be working with in a Discovery team? Discovery teams can be made up of several roles, most commonly; a Product Owner, User Researcher, Business Analyst(s), Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and a Scrum Master/Delivery Manager I’ve worked on Discoveries where a Scrum Master/Delivery Manager wasn’t part of the initial team and I found the focus and cohesion of the team became lost at times due to a lack of discipline in setting and achieving targets (i.e. sprint planning).  When time is the key factor, the team needs to stay focused on its goals which I think the Scrum Master brings. You’ll start to get the impression now that the Business Analyst is not really ‘solely’ responsible for the outputs of a Discovery but is involved in all of them. One of the people I interviewed for this blog explained his view of the role of the BA in a great way. He said they are ‘decoders’. By this he meant they translate all the information gathered (and there will be a lot of it) in to outputs that not only the team understand, but any stakeholders. I believe this is the primary role of the BA however in an Agile Discovery, you should be able to evaluate what you are doing is of value and that you’re not just ‘going through the motions’ because of pre-defined duties of the Business Analyst. I hope this has been helpful and that if you are asked to join a Discovery team, you are equipped to get engaged in those top key deliverables to make the Discovery a success.  Author: Nick Stowers,  Business Analyst As a BA for nearly 5 years now, I’ve come to realise the role of the BA is still misunderstood in business and I hope to provide readers with insights how a BA brings value to organisations that are using an Agile framework to deliver their products and services.  I want to inspire current and future Business Analysts that they are the cornerstone of project teams to deliver products and services that are focused on the user and bring creativity, innovation and value to people.
Why you need Lean Business Analysis (LBA) for more successful products and services
Customers are demanding better service and they know they can get it and BAs have a duty to provide it through Lean Business Analysis (LBA). Not because customers see better service from a business’s competitors. But because they get it from all the other companies they interact with in their daily lives as consumers of Uber and Apple and Amazon and Netlfix and many more. They don’t care that one company is a bank and Uber’s an app.
Doctor BA and Making Decisions as a Business Analyst
I understand that the business analyst does not have the authority to make decisions about the project or the product, but the business analyst does make decisions. What are the decisions that a business analyst has to make throughout the solution life cycle?
Top 10 CBAP Certification Myths and common questions
CBAP certification is undoubtedly the most coveted designation globally among the Business analysts. Even though work experience is one of the requirements of CBAP® as a prerequisite, the CBAP® examination needs you to have excellent practical knowledge of the business analysis concepts and the ability to relate BABOK® knowledge to practical scenarios/cases.

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