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The job ain't finished until the paperwork is done!

I started my career as the administrator in a project management department.  The first fact drilled into my head was that “the job ain’t finished until the paperwork is done’.  To emphasize this fact, this rule was printed and put up on the wall with a picture of a toilet paper roll.  It worked.  I know you can see the picture in your head.

Many times I hated the person who invented filing.  It must have been one of the most boring duties ever.  In those days, every piece of paper had to be punched and the holes had to be reinforced with little round stickers before filing.  Dreadful, I tell you, dreadful.

Today, it’s so much easier.  Enterprise Content Management (ECM) makes it so much easier to keep all the important documents together.  Retrieval has become so much easier with index and search functionalities.

Which brings me to my reason for writing this blog today.  With all the modern ECM technology at hand, why on earth are there still organisations that don’t document a single thing?  I am once again in that weird place where I have to analyse a business system and there is nothing documented anywhere.  Business rules are in different people’s heads and to get them all out is a daunting task.  People forget things you know – it’s human.  The more I try to understand the current business process, the more I am confused.  Every user has a different process in his / her head.  Some users do things without knowing why they do it.  Other users think it should be done differently, but can’t give a reason why.  And then the classic one – the user that can tell you that the current system doesn’t work well, but he cannot give you one indication of what he needs for it to work well.

Oh the joy of being a Business Analyst!

Challenges like this one is rewarding.  I know, I have been here before.  It’s the greatest feeling of satisfaction when it all starts to finally make sense.  The more you work on the new design, the more satisfying it gets.  And the day the new system rolls out is like the birth of a new baby in the family.  Sheer joy!

But, the job ain’t finished until the paperwork is done.  As Business Analysts, we have to leave behind more than just a new system that works.  We have to leave behind a fully documented system.  We cannot repeat the sins of the past and leave a system behind without the necessary documentation stored somewhere.  At least if the next BA comes, there will be something to start working with.

Hilda Steyn
Business Analyst, Pretoria, South Africa

This entry was published on Jun 10, 2012 / hildasteyn. Posted in Elicitation (BABOK KA). Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.
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