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Saturday, July 30, 2011

What is the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK)?

The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge is the sum of knowledge within the profession of Business Analysis and reflects what is considered currently accepted practice. As with other professions, the body of knowledge is defined and enhanced by the business analysis professionals who apply it. The BABOK describes Business Analysis areas of knowledge, their associated activities and tasks and the skills necessary to be effective in their execution.

The BABOK provides a basic reference for anyone interested in the profession of Business Analysis. The primary purpose of this guide is to identify the Business Analysis Knowledge Areas that are generally recognized and accepted as good practice. The Guide provides a general overview of each Knowledge Area and the list of activities and tasks associated with each.

The BABOK is intended to describe and define business analysis as a discipline, rather than define the responsibilities of a person with the job title of business analyst. Business analysis may be performed by people with job titles such as systems analyst, process analyst, project manager, product manager, developer, QA analyst, business architect, or consultant, among others.

Knowledge Areas A knowledge area groups together a related set of tasks and techniques. The Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge is not a methodology. While it defines the activities, tasks and knowledge that a business analysis professional needs to know, it does not do so from the perspective of prescribing an order or sequence.
Specifically, the knowledge areas do not define a business analysis methodology. They do define what the BA needs to know to work within any analysis process or overall so-utions development methodology. While the flow between tasks and knowledge areas may appear to follow a well-defined and progressive sequence, this structure was primarily developed for pedagogical purposes. In reality, business analysts are likely to find themselves performing tasks in all knowledge areas in rapid succession, iteratively, or, in the case of a requirements workshop, simultaneously!

Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring is the knowledge area that covers how we determine which activities are necessary to perform in order to complete a business analysis effort. It covers identification of stakeholders, selection of business analysis techniques, the process we will use to manage our requirements, and how we assess the progress of the work in order to make necessary changes. Business analysis planning is a key input to the project plan, and the project manager is responsible for organizing and coordinating business analysis activities with the needs of the rest of the project team.

Elicitation describes how we work with stakeholders to find out what their needs are and ensure that we have correctly and completely understood their needs.

Requirements Management and Communication describes how we manage con-flicts, issues and changes and ensure that stakeholders and the project team remain in agreement on the solution scope. Depending on the complexity and methodology of the project, this may require that we manage formal approvals, baseline and track different versions of requirements documents, and trace requirements from origination to implementation.

Enterprise Analysis describes how we take a business need, refine and clarify the definition of that need, and define a solution scope that can feasibly be implemented by the business. Here we will talk about problem definition and analysis, business case development, feasibility studies, and the definition of a solution scope.

Requirements Analysis describes how we progressively elaborate the solution definition in order to enable the project team to design and build a solution that will meet the needs of the business and stakeholders. In order to do that, we have to analyze the stated requirements of our stakeholders to ensure that they are correct, assess the current state of the business to identify and recommend improvements, and ultimately verify and validate the results.

Solution Assessment and Validation covers the role of business analysis once the pro-ject team is ready to propose a solution. It describes how we assess proposed solutions to determine which solution best fits the business need, identify gaps and shortcomings in solutions, and determine necessary workarounds or changes to the solution. It also describes how we assess deployed solutions to see how well they met the original need in order to enable businesses to assess the performance and effectiveness of projects.

Underlying Competencies describes the behaviors, knowledge, and other characteristics that support effective business analysis.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to be a high performing Business Analyst

Being a Business Analyst can be very tiring, you may be juggling more than one project, meeting various stakeholders, managing deadlines all while gathering requirements. There are days where you seem not getting anywhere and have the feeling that you have made no progress whatsoever and haven’t delivered anything tangible. To avoid getting in this situation being productive is very important, after all we all want to achieve more with less effort.
Over the last few years I have performed various activities to increase my productivity and I could share some of them with you.

Make use of all the spare time
There are times where you find yourself waiting in queue or traveling to work these are great time to do something useful, if you use public transport you could take reading material with you and if you drive to work, make sure you load your iPod with podcasts or other training materials.

Use the right moment
Every one of us has the favorite time of the day when we feel very energetic and creative, use those times for analysis or creative thinking.

Be efficient
We all find our self doing some work again and again, like documenting meeting minutes or drawing process diagram, make sure every time you do something new store it in a repository which you could use when you have to perform the same task again.

Now this can be hard to some people, as a BA we tend to take more tasks than what we need to, try to delegate the tasks to other team members, I recently found that I nominated someone in my team to be the scribe in the meeting it gave me more time to run the workshop and concentrate on gathering requirements.

Take breaks
It is very important to take regular short break, go for a walk or visit the kitchen, it is an excellent place to meet people and build relationship with your stakeholders and users.

Say NO
I must confess I am not very good at this but there will be times when you have so many things to do, if you take any more work you will not be able to perform well and it is best to say no in those instances.

Tidy your workspace
I know this sound obvious but you will be amazed how great and energetic you will feel when you have a tidy desk.

Involve in Social Activities
To be effective it is very important to balance work with rest, attend the social events at work, find yourself a lunch buddy or even start a book club at work.

Staying health is very important to be productive make sure you stay healthy by eating healthy food, exercising and sleep well.

Allocate fixed time for certain tasks
If you find yourself doing certain activities which take forever and before you realize you have already spend more than required time, identify those tasks and before you start them allocate certain time and stop working on it when the time elapsed, you may want to continue working on it after you have completed some other task.

Taking time off work

Make sure you regularly plan your holidays, there is nothing more energetic to take a day off every now and then from the work environment and do something you are interested it, that way when you come back to work you are more focused and rested.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Change Control Board (CCB)

I am sure you have come across this term many times so let us explore what it mean, a Change Control Board (CCB) is a group of people (or committee) whose main responsibility is to make decisions regarding whether or not proposed changes should be implemented. The change control board normally has project sponsor or a representative of the sponsor, product manager, project manager and BA, they may also include representative from each department/division for better visibility in the organization and to take informed decision.

The main purpose of the CCB is to ensure that proper (and agreed) process is followed for every change request; CCB will ensure that an impact analysis is performed and cost of the change is derived which will used to accept or reject the changes.

Depending upon the authority granted to the CCB they may approve the changes or have to go to steering group and/or project sponsor for approval.

CCB may also be responsible for change management and informing affected individuals/departments, if this is the case make sure you choose people who are influential as they can play a very important role in managing and communicating the changes.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be -John Wooden.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

5 Whys

5 Whys is a very important techniques a BA could use to determine the root cause of any problem faced by the organization, the critical element to this technique is to challenge the underlying assumptions business has for any given problem, this technique is very simple and works very well in a heterogeneous group setting.

There are basically three steps to conducting a 5 Whys technique:

1. Invite all the stakeholder who are aware and/or affected by the problem.
2. Write down the problem at hand, now ask the first “WHY” question to the group. Why do you think this is happening? Chances are that the group may come up with few answers. Write down all the answers below the question, make sure you do not discard any answers.
3. Now repeat the above step four more times for every answer going one level down, make sure you write the answer below the earlier answer.

This technique does not mandate you to ask the question 5 times, but it is generally believed that it usually takes about 5 levels to get to the root cause of the problem, you may ask less question or more depending upon the problem. Make sure that the current assumptions are challenged and the group does not stop at the symptoms, remember the goal is to find the root cause of the problem so in theory stop asking why only when the group cannot answer any further. Document all the answers in plain English (business language), avoid any technical jargons. As a BA (and moderator) in the meeting make sure that the purpose of the meeting is to learn and improve and not to blame and vent out.

Some of the advantages of this technique are
- Easy to understand by business and technical people alike
- No need of any special tool

Always remember if you do not ask the right question you will never get the right answer. I will leave you with a very interesting and relavant quote.

“Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.” - African proverb