10 Reasons why Projects Fail

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

10 reasons why projects fail 1. Lack of user (Stakeholder) input 2. Incomplete requirements or specifications 3. Changing requirements and specifications (not being able to handle them) 4. Lack of executive support 5. Technology incompetence (gaps) 6. Lack of resources 7. Unrealistic expectations 8. Unclear objectives 9. Using the wrong methodology 10. Not being on […]

Affinity Diagram

By | Business AnalysisTechniquesTemplates and Documentation

Affinity Diagram An affinity diagram is a tool used to organize ideas and data. Business Analysts commonly use this tool to allow large numbers of ideas to be sorted into groups for review and analysis. The affinity diagram can help BAs define issues related to a problem or opportunity. Start with Posting a Topic or […]

Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring – Tasks and Artifacts

By | Business AnalysisTechniquesTemplates and Documentation

Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring – Tasks and Artifacts Here is a simple table for figuring out what tasks and artifacts/deliverables might be required from the Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring phase.  This table could be used as part of your BA project checklist. Task Artifact Plan business Analysis Approach Business Analysis Approach Conduct Stakeholder Analysis […]

Requirements Package: Top 50+ list

By | RequirementsTemplates and Documentation

Requirements Package: Top 50+ list Have you ever been asked to produce a Requirements Package and wanted to know what to put in it? Here is a list of items that can be used when creating a Requirements Package: Appendix Approvals and sign-offs Approved Abbreviations and Acronyms Assumptions Attributes Business information Requirements Business Process Requirements […]

Interaction Skills

By | Business AnalysisSkills

Interaction Skills Interaction skills are very important to a Business Analyst. As a Business Analyst, our interaction skills should support us when working with any number of stakeholders, and allow us to work as part of a team or as an individual to help reach critical decisions. While most of our BA work typically involves […]

Think Agile in a Traditional World

By | AgileBusiness AnalysisTechniques

Think Agile in a Traditional World As a certified Agile Practitioner, I want to help my clients make the best decisions at the best value. Agile has many advantages over traditional methodologies. However, many large organizations are stuck with waterfall or Traditional plan-driven methodologies, either because it was the way things were always done, it […]

The Transparent BA

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

The Transparent BA Do you ever ask yourself the following questions? “What now?” “Should I let my manager know what I am doing or just finish my work and then ask if I did it correctly?” “Why should I let someone know what I am doing?” You should not always assume people know what you […]

Action Plan for the Business Analyst – Action Items

By | Business AnalysisRequirementsTechniquesTemplates and Documentation

Action Plan for the Business Analyst – Action Items Separate the categories or requirements in requirements templates. Include assumptions and constraints in requirements documents. Have peers check to determine if the requirements are high quality and complete in breadth. Create a defect checklist for all templates that lists common requirements errors. Document all requirements-related terms, […]

Action Plan for the Business Analyst – Analysis Activities

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

Action Plan for the Business Analyst – Analysis Activities Specific analysis activities include the following: Context diagramming to ensure that the scope of the change initiative and the boundaries of the project are fully understood by all stakeholders Studying requirements feasibility to determine whether the requirement is viable technically, operationally, and economically Trading off requirements to determine […]

Build vs. Buy: Seven Steps for Analyzing your Project Solutions

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

Build vs. Buy: Seven Steps for Analyzing your Project Solutions Build or buy? This is a question that Business Analysts (BA) must ask when determining what will meet the needs of the project or organization. Should a new business solution be built from scratch or can a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product be used? There are […]

When you assume…

By | Techniques

When you assume… Most of us have been told at some point in our lives that we should not assume things because it makes an ass out of u and me. Being a Business Analyst is one profession where making assumptions is actually a good thing. Assumptions help identify factors that you use to plan activities. Assumptions can be considered […]

Throwaway Prototype

By | RequirementsTechniquesTemplates and Documentation

Throwaway Prototype A throwaway prototype sounds pretty much what it is – you create a “prototype” and when you are done with it you throw it away. For example, you and a co-worker go to lunch and you come up with a great idea for a new product. As you discuss the idea you start […]

Three Simple Questions

By | Business Analysis

Three Simple Questions There are three simple questions that you can ask when you are starting a new project. These questions will help you prepare for the elicitation process and can also help you validate existing requirements. If you can answer these three questions successfully then you have a foundation for a successful project. What […]

Work Product vs. Deliverable

By | Business AnalysisTemplates and Documentation

Work Product vs. Deliverable What is the difference between a work product and a deliverable? A work product is a report, diagram, or collection of documents used by the business analyst during the requirements development process. A work product may or may not become a deliverable. A work product can be used to share information […]

What is Scope?

By | Business AnalysisScope

What is Scope? Most business analysts have created documents that contained a section called “Scope”. The scope is very important and can often be misused. The scope simply refers to the work that is required to fix a problem or solve an opportunity. I.e., create a process, project, solution, etc. Are there different kinds of […]

Approved by the Client

By | Business AnalysisTechniquesTemplates and Documentation

BA Quick Tip Approved by the client When working with client requirements, a quick and easy tip for requirements elicitation is to ask the client what they want, record it in a written form, get the client to read what you wrote, and ask them to approve (or update if required) and sign off on […]

How to Successfully Complete a Project

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

How to Successfully Complete a Project Sometimes it might seem that you are spinning your wheels and getting nowhere on a project. The following list may seem simple but these techniques can actually help you accomplish just about any project. Determine the reason for doing it. Placing a need on a project will help reach […]

Steps to Becoming a Great Business Analyst

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

Steps to Becoming a Great Business Analyst While writing a presentation on “tips for becoming a better BA”, I came up with a list of topics that could be used to help anyone improve just about anything they do. Quick Guide: 15 Steps to becoming a great BA (or anything else) 1. Love what you […]

What does the Project Charter consist of?

By | Business AnalysisTemplates and Documentation

What does the Project Charter consist of? Have you ever been asked what items make up a project charter? The project charter generally consists of the following six items: 1. Objectives 2. Scope of the project 3. Constraints 4. Risks and Issues 5. Assumptions 6. Stakeholders Project Charter

Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM)

By | Business AnalysisTemplates and Documentation

Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) A Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a tool used to identify and track requirements throughout a project lifecycle. An RTM can be part of the Business Requirements Document (BRD) or its own separate document. It can be represented in the form of a table, diagram, or written text and is often used with […]

Checklists are important

By | Business AnalysisTemplates and Documentation

Checklists are important It is important to create a great set of checklists. One checklist that I created will allow a team to check off high-level activities throughout the life cycle of a project. Here is a sample list of activities for a project. You can customize your own checklists as needed. 1.0 Study Phase […]

Communication Plan

By | Business AnalysisTemplates and Documentation

Communication Plan A communication plan is a written document that describes the objectives you want to accomplish and to whom and how your objectives will be communicated. Communications can include written, verbal, and electronic interaction with your stakeholders. When creating a communication plan a BA can always use the 5W1H method. The communication plan should […]

Creating a Business Requirements Document

By | Business AnalysisTemplates and Documentation

Creating a Business Requirements Document One of the most important documents that a Business Analyst can create is the Business Requirements Document (BRD). The BRD is a key deliverable in defining a project’s requirements. If your company does not have its own BRD template, you can use the following example to design your own BRD. […]

BRD – Template 1

By | Business AnalysisTemplates and Documentation

BRD Template Business Requirements Documents (BRD) may be the key to many successful projects but there isn’t a one size fits all approach to BRDs. You should be able to select a BRD that is right for the size of your project. Smaller projects with fewer requirements and shorter timelines can use a BRD that […]

5 Questions to ask when selecting or customizing a deliverable

By | Business AnalysisTechniquesTemplates and Documentation

5 Questions to ask when selecting or customizing a deliverable When working on a project do you follow a standard set of deliverables for every project or do you create and customize deliverables based on the size, scope, budget, or schedule? If you are responsible for customizing your deliverables here are five questions that you […]

By | Business AnalysisTemplates and Documentation

Creating Project Documentation Creating project documentation is not just about filling in the gaps on the project templates. Often BAs have to complete a variety of project deliverables and reports. A BA should have a good process in their toolkit for creating project documentation. Here are three techniques that can help: Plan, Do, Check, Act […]

Is Agile right for you?

By | AgileBusiness AnalysisMethodologies

Is Agile Right for you? The “it” thing in the IT-BA world right now seems to be an interest in using Agile methodology. People hear that being Agile means you are faster, cheaper, and create less documentation. While this may be true for some projects you should find out if Agile is right for you […]

Product Backlog vs. Sprint Backlog

By | AgileBusiness Analysis

Product Backlog vs. Sprint Backlog If you are new to the Agile world or just want to incorporate new ideas into your traditional ways of working you can create two deliverables to help track your requirements. Two that I use for both Agile and waterfall projects are the product and sprint backlogs. Product Backlog A […]

Agile: Scrum – 5×5 Things

By | AgileBusiness Analysis

SCRUM – a few things to know Overview The Scrum Team presents the “Done” features to the Product Owner and stakeholders (Prototype of what has been completed). Functionality not “done” is not presented. Only show what has been completed for the current sprint. Feedback generated by stakeholders is recorded. The Product Backlog is updated and […]

Asking Questions

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

Asking Questions Asking questions is a very important technique for any Business Analyst. Asking the right question will give you the information that you require and often help you elicit information that you didn’t even know you needed. If you are looking for requirements for a software product or a business process remember the five […]

Elicitation Tasks and Techniques

By | Techniques

Elicitation Tasks and Techniques Elicitation tasks and techniques are very important for a business analyst. Knowing the different tasks and techniques used can make the difference between a junior and a senior business analyst. Here you will find descriptions of many of the tasks, techniques, and outputs for requirements elicitation based on the BABOK. Requirements […]

Problem Solving Techniques

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

Problem Solving Techniques Here is a list of 10 problem-solving techniques to help any Business Analyst elicit and gather requirements. Rephrase the problem Expose and challenge assumptions Gather the facts Chunk up (Group together) Chunk down (Breakdown) Make it engaging Reverse the problem Find multiple perspectives Use effective language constraints Draw a diagram

Problem Solving Techniques: Reverse the problem

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

Problem Solving Techniques: Reverse the problem One problem-solving technique is to reverse the problem that you are trying to solve. Switch the current solution of looking for positive answers and then identify as many ways that a problem can fail. Example #1: Your company wants to create a user-friendly GUI. Name the ways that the […]

SWOT Analysis

By | Business Analysis

SWOT Analysis SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in an issue, idea, product, project, or opportunity. SWOT involves defining the problem/opportunity and identifying the internal and external factors both positive and negative to help achieve an objective. Strengths: Internal characteristics that give it an […]

MoSCow Method

By | Business AnalysisRequirementsTechniques

MoSCow Method The MoSCoW Method is a prioritization technique used in business analysis and software development to reach a common understanding with stakeholders on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement. The capital letters in MoSCoW stand for: • M – MUST have this requirement. • S – SHOULD have this requirement if at all possible. • C – COULD […]

7 Techniques for Creating Project Estimates 

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

7 Techniques for Creating Project Estimates  How do you create project and task estimates? Do you use old data to help plan for current or future projects? Do you elicit feedback from co-workers? Do you use formulas or guestimates to help you create your schedules? Here are 7 techniques to help a BA create estimates: […]

The Daily Stand-Up

By | Agile

The Daily Stand-Up A stand-up meeting is a simple communication tool where members stand up as a group and discuss the status of a project. There are a number of names for this meeting (e.g., standup, scrum, huddle) but the concept is the same. The meeting should not exceed 15 minutes. Everyone in the group […]

Root Cause Analysis

By | Business AnalysisTechniques

Root Cause Analysis Root cause analysis is determining the real or root cause of an issue for a product or process that you or your company may face. There are a number of tools and techniques that a Business Analyst can use to help determine the root cause of an issue. Describe the issue or […]

This is how we do IT

By | Techniques

This is how we do IT knowing different techniques will help you complete your work faster and help produce better quality.  Here are a few popular techniques that everyone should be familiar with. Acceptance and Evaluation Criteria Definition Benchmarking Brainstorming and Elicitation sessions Business Rules Analysis Data Dictionary and Glossary Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) Data […]

The Purpose of the SDLC

By | Business AnalysisRequirements

The Purpose of the SDLC Depending on what industry you work in the SDLC may stand for Software Development Life Cycle, Systems Development Life Cycle, or one of many variations on the name. What most Business Analysts can agree on is that the SDLC is a structured, standardized set of processes for developing and maintaining […]

The systems development Life cycle (SDLC)

By | Business Analysis

The systems development Life cycle (SDLC) is a structured process of creating or altering business solutions, including methodologies that people use to develop these systems and include a set of processes for developing and maintaining business solutions throughout the development life cycle. There are many approaches to the SDLC that include traditional and agile methodologies. […]

Methodologies – The Waterfall Model

By | Business AnalysisMethodologies

Methodologies – The Waterfall Model The main characteristic of the Waterfall model is a sequential progression through the different stages of a project from initiation to the delivery phase. The waterfall model does have its limitations and because of this, there have been many spinoff models created over the years. The Waterfall model consists of […]

Waterfall Model

By | Business AnalysisMethodologies

Waterfall model The waterfall model is the most common methodology to use in large organizations, but it is not always the best. The waterfall model works best for small projects that are straightforward, have a predictable outcome, are independent, and have low risk. Each phase is completed in a linear sequential development. If work is […]

Methodologies – The Spiral Model

By | Business AnalysisMethodologies

Methodologies – The Spiral Model The Spiral model is a risk-oriented life cycle model that breaks down the development process into smaller phases. The objective of each phase is not only to address one or more of the major project risks, but also to focus and deliver on the high-level requirements first, and then, those […]

Methodologies – Evolutionary Prototyping

By | Business AnalysisMethodologies

Methodologies – Evolutionary Prototyping Evolutionary Prototyping or Rapid Prototyping is an SDLC model used when developers face undefined or rapidly changing requirements. Business Analysts tasked with documenting the requirements can find themselves frequently updating the project documentation and will have to stay focused and be in continual communication with developers to keep the documentation current […]

Methodologies and the SDLC

By | Business AnalysisMethodologies

Methodologies and the SDLC But that is how we did it at my last company! The methodology that you use is what determines how and when you do things.  It is the foundation and framework for all your SDLC activities.  Generally, methodologies are classified as plan-driven or change-driven.  Plan-driven methodologies are used when you know […]

Good requirements should be…

By | Requirements

Feasible: The requirements must be technically, economically, and operationally possible. Necessary: The requirements must represent the real needs of the organization. Prioritized: The requirements must be ranked according to the value of the function or feature to the organization. Unambiguous: The requirements must be clear so that they will be interpreted consistently across stakeholder groups. […]

15 Questions to ask yourself when writing requirements

By | Business AnalysisRequirements

Often writing requirements can be stressful if you do not know what you or the client is expecting. I have put together a list of questions that I like to ask myself while creating a Business Requirements Document (BRD): Is this a business, user, function, non-functional, or another type of requirement? Does the requirement meet […]

Different Requirement Types

By | Business AnalysisRequirements

Most Business Analysts are familiar with functional and non-functional requirements, but some organizations like to be more specific when it comes to defining requirement types. Here is a list of different types of requirements that you may not be familiar with. BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS Business requirements identify the strategic, tactical, and operational needs along with the […]

Functional vs. non-functional requirements

By | Requirements

Functional Requirements Are things the system must do Describe user-required behavior Are also called behavioral requirements Can be documented in text, graphical, or matrix formats Non-Functional Requirements Are things that the solution must have Constrain or modify the solution behavior, design, or function Are also called supplemental requirements Can be in text or matrix formats