The Community Blog for Business Analysts

Fareed R
Fareed R

How To Effectively Use Observation in Projects

Internships can provide some great learning opportunities. I was lucky enough to learn one of the best lessons on the first day of the very first internship of mine. My mentor at the time asked that, for the first 4 weeks, I invest time in every aspect of his business to learn how everything functions. I thought he was insane yet it was one of the best lessons a college freshman could learn – by observing.

When it comes to projects, Stakeholders usually find it hard to explain what their job is or what the requirements are. So by observing and asking questions one can find out a lot more like the flow and sequence of the activities. Observing can happen passively (by quietly watching) or actively (by engaging with the stakeholder through the entire process).

The best way of capturing the activities, steps and decisions is by using a process flowchart or activity diagrams, also known as lane diagrams. Process modeling is a visual representation or the activities and swim lane diagrams shows these activities and captures the people who perform them. Each person has their own lane so it shows how the work is passed from one person to another.

When my 4 weeks were complete I fully understood how the organizational groups and processes fit into one another. How everything got together and how the products were developed, manufactured, configured and shipped.

Here is what I recently learned through observations in the designing requirement phase of a project.

  • Firstly define the best conceptual design while staying within the project scope and fulfill the business’ and users’ needs.
  • Review each step and find out what is working, what they want to keep and what they want to remove or what needs to change.
  • Start planning once you have all the information.

I am very grateful to my mentor for the internship experience and that, as a professional, I can now understand the value of watching people and processes in action.

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This entry was published on Mar 20, 2015 / Fareed R. Posted in Activity Diagram, Business Rules, Project Management, Business Analysis, Leadership & Management, Roles and Responsibilities. Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.

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