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Six Estimation Safety Tips
Estimation is a chronically thorny issue for software practitioners. Most people need to prepare estimates for the work they do, but in our industry we don’t do a great job of estimation. In this article I offer six safety tips to keep in mind as you prepare estimates for your project and for your individual work... These six safety tips might not help you create estimates that all of your customers, managers, and coworkers will dance to, but at least they will help you and your team hear the same music.
Requirements Gathering meets Accessibility Needs
The ethics behind accessibility is possibly not something you have considered before. I think many would categorise an accessibility tool as something that; ‘makes life easier’, for a disabled user. However, what we should be taking into account when designing new digital platforms is how to make sure that every single user has the same experience. This is actually a very key point as we are not even specifically talking about disabilities here. Have you considered mobile users vs web? IOS vs Windows? Online vs Offline? These are all possible different users of your system and all deserve the same experience. It may well be that a lot of these points are non-functional requirements that come later in the development, but if you make sure you are considering them at the start, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort in the future.
Managing Data-Specific Business Needs Using a Data Dictionary
The previous article in this series discussed ensuring that high-level requirements (HLRs), within the context of an IT-based project, were properly high level. The remainder of articles in the series will look at detail requirements and the need for them to be sufficiently detailed. The objective of this article is to demonstrate how a data dictionary (DD) can be used as a tool for capturing the appropriate level of detail representing data-specific business needs.
Trips-R-You Web-based Flight Booking Case Study v1.0 - Requirements & Data Dictionary
The purpose of the Trips-R-You Flight Booking Case Study is to provide an integrated, end-to-end set of requirement examples. In IIBA® BABOK® V3 terminology, end-to-end means from Business Requirements to Stakeholder Requirements to Solution and Transition Requirements. This case study, and associated artefacts, use the more traditional business terms Goals, High-level Requirements (HLRs), and Detail Requirements. Only functional requirements are addressed, and only within the context of a project chartered to deliver an IT-based solution.
Build Requirements Around Real Journeys
Let us look at it from a different angle now and derive the requirements out of the customer journeys.  It is impossible to introduce a change... if the change is big and you try to implement it in one go.  This is the reason we tend to break any solution into smaller components. Each solution component should be small and independent enough to be changed individually in a controlled manner. So that eventually we will compose a new experience out of them. Pretty much like using a set of Lego blocks.
Domain Expertise and the Business Analyst: How Vital Is It?
The question of how essential domain expertise is to a business analyst is a recurring debate in the BA community. One school of thought maintains that domain knowledge is not critical. A skilled BA, the thinking goes, can walk into nearly any project situation and do an effective job of exploring requirements, relying on previous experience and a rich tool kit of requirements techniques. The counterargument avers that an analyst who has deep subject matter knowledge can be far more effective than a more general practitioner. I have experienced both situations, from inside a company as a regular employee and from the outside as a consultant. This article offers some thoughts about when domain knowledge is valuable, when it’s essential, when it’s not necessary, and when it can actually pose a risk.
Second-Order Thinking (Mental Models for Business Analysts, Part I)
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.
Experience Driven Development: Design for real people
For the business, it means they not only need to understand the problem the customers are trying to solve - they need to understand that problem in a context and design a full end-to-end experience of solving it. Some people call this process “human-centered design”, some - just using common sense when designing stuff. 
Promises, Promises: Negotiating Achievable Commitments
Successful projects—and successful relationships—are based on realistic commitments, not on fantasies and empty promises. This article, adapted from the book Practical Project Initiation, presents several ways to improve your ability to make, and keep, achievable commitments... Unfulfilled promises ultimately lead to unhappy people and unsuccessful projects. Strive to build a realistic commitment ethic in your team—and in yourself.
What happens when the BA and UX worlds collide?
Are you a Business Analyst (BA) wondering what User Experience (UX) Design is all about and how your involvement in a design project is likely to impact your usual role? If so, I’ve also been pondering the same question for some time.
Be the bird in your projects to become a better BA
The reason why top performing business analysts tend to be so effective in complex projects, even when their domain knowledge is limited, is because of their ability to see things from a higher angle and with more nuanced colors.
Requirements Review Challenges
If someone said you could only perform a single quality practice on a software project, what would you choose? I’d pick peer reviews of requirements, which I believe are the highest-leverage quality practice we have available today.  In a peer review, someone other than the author of a work product examines the product for quality problems and improvement opportunities. Reviewing requirements is a powerful technique. Use them to identify ambiguous or unverifiable requirements, find requirements that aren’t sufficiently detailed yet, spot conflicts between requirements, and reveal numerous other problems.
How BAs Fit into Projects and Development
As the business analyst (BA) role continues to evolve, the responsibilities continue to expand. One of the best ways for a business analyst to add value to a project is to understand the processes involved in both the project life cycle (PLC) and the software development life cycle (SDLC). Contrary to popular belief, the two life cycles are independent of one another, however, it's best that they are aligned.
Ninety Percent Done
The fact that software projects and tasks are reported to be “90 percent done” for a long time has become something of an industry joke. (A related joke states that the first half of a software project consumes the first 90 percent of the resources, and the second half consumes the other 90 percent of the resources.) This well-intentioned but misleading status tracking makes it difficult to judge when a body of work will truly be completed so you can ship the next product release to your customers. Here are several typical causes of “90 percent done” syndrome and a few possible cures.
Top 10 Most Common Reasons People Fail the CBAP Exam
Many professionals approach us after being unsuccessful in CBAP so we thought of doing some analysis to come up with the most common reasons of failure in CBAP. There are many articles and blogs giving tips on how to pass the CBAP exam but on a first search, I didn't find any article explaining why people fail in CBAP. This will definitely help the CBAP aspirants to make sure that they don't repeat the mistakes.
Making Requirements Reusable
Reuse is an eternal grail for those who seek increased software productivity. Reusing requirements can increase productivity, improve quality, and lead to greater consistency between related systems. Reuse is not free, though. It presents its own risks, both with regard to reusing existing items and to creating items with good reuse potential. It might take more effort to create high-quality reusable requirements than to write requirements you intend to use only on the current project. In this article we describe some approaches an organization could take to maximize the reuse potential of its requirements.
Keeping High-Level Requirements High-Level
The objective of this article is to provide business analysts with guidelines for distinguishing between high-level requirements (HLRs) and detail requirements (in IIBA® BABOK® V3 terms – Stakeholder requirements and Solution requirements respectively).
Challenge Business Rules
Unfortunately, business rules often are a mystery in business. Most of time they are undocumented and worst they are a figment of someone’s imagination - no basis. However, mystery or not, we need them in eliciting stakeholder requirements in order to understand how the business obligations are kept, constraints are enforced and how decisions are made. And just like news reporters, we need to confirm the business rules with a second (hopefully authoritative and documented) source. Furthermore we need business rules to ensure a quality product and/or process through testing.
Three Modes of Business Analysis Consulting
A business analysis consultant might perform three types of roles when working with clients: expert, pair-of-hands, and collaborator. Each of these represents a different kind of interaction and a different source of satisfaction for the consultant. This article, adapted from my book Successful Business Analysis Consulting: Strategies and Tips for Going It Alone, describes these three modes of consulting engagements, which apply both to independent consultants and to internal consultants who work in large organizations.
Boosting Your Confidence as a Business Analyst
The ability to build and exude self-confidence can contribute to success in many areas of our lives from personal to professional. Unfortunately, many business analysts who are beginners or experienced but new to an organization are not provided with the tools and recourses to be confident in their ability to add value to their organization. As a BA, self-confidence facilitates the ability to build relationships, gain respect, and influence others. Below are some of the most effective tactics that I have taken throughout my career to bolster my confidence as a business analyst. Once I became confident in myself, I started noticing that other people’s confidence in my abilities increased as well. Hopefully, these tips will help you recognize your true potential and the value you bring as a business analyst.
The Digital BA Series: 5 Killer Questions Types For Digital Transformation
To be effective, we BAs need to learn as much as we can about the digital world—about the world of digital transformation and what it means for the organization. We need to immerse ourselves in research and journal articles and think of how to make sense of it for our organizations. We need to think of digital projects from both the data scientist and business perspectives. And we can do that. After all, we’re BAs and that’s what we do best.
Creating a Culture That Respects Requirements
Culture clashes frequently arise when teams are working on requirements. There are those who recognize the many risks associated with trying to develop software based on minimal or telepathically communicated requirements. Then there are those who think requirements are unnecessary. It can be tough to gain business-side cooperation on projects like legacy-system replacement if users see this as unrelated to their own business problems and not worth their time. Understanding why people resist participating in requirements development is the first step to being able to address it.
4 Things To Consider Before Hiring A Business Analyst For Your Project
I like to compare a business analyst to an architect. While the architect asks questions about design, budget, and personal preferences of a person who wants to build a house; similarly, the business analyst interacts with business owners to know and understand their needs.   A business analyst also produces requirements which clearly state the needs of a business and ensures that those align with its business processes, just as an architect would draw up plans and have an agreement with the owner before reaching out to builders.
Breaking the Complex Down to Simple
Process modeling/mapping/flowing, can be an art, and science, based on the maturity of the organization, knowledge of those doing this work in the organization, and many other factors. What I have found can be challenging is identifying the actual processes to model/map/flow. The fight identification may not occur on the first attempt as this work can be quite iterative, however, there are some concepts that can help make the identification a little easier
Requirements In Context Part 3: Scope = High-Level Requirements
Project Scope. We will see how scope statements, when making reference to business functionality, lead directly to High-Level requirements.  Gathering requirements for a business information system is most often done within the context of a project. Approval of a project includes its sponsors signing off on its scope. The scope for a business information system project is typically defined in functional terms. Items in scope make reference to (or should make reference to) business functions, processes and/or activities that are to be delivered.

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