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New Post 11/14/2008 9:55 AM
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User is offline imvvirgo
3 posts
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Data Flow Diagrams! 

Hello everyone

I am a young BA and just joined BCBS on one of its projects (project brief - they want an external dental company to take care of its dental claims processing). The project is already been in works for about 2 years now with no success. For some reason they expect me to get done with it in next 3months. My PM has arranged my first meeting so that I can ask 'intelligent questions' which would help me make my first - Data Flow Diagram ever. Please let me know what all do I need to know already (before meeting) and what all I need to ask(in meeting) to not look stupid and make most of the meeting. Also any suggestions on whom with- to arrange my next meetings with to proceed to project completion?

Any kind of suggestion or word of encouragement is appreciated!

Thanks

Worried BA

 
New Post 11/15/2008 2:19 PM
User is offline David Wright
141 posts
www.iag.biz
7th Level Poster




Re: Data Flow Diagrams! 

It is indeed about asking the right questions, so let me start:

1) What is BCBS? (curious mostly)

2) Who are you meeting with?

3) Why are you doing a Data Flow Diagram?

4) Is there any rationale behind the 3 month estimate? Are you supposed to be finished your work in 3 months? Or is that the whole project?

5) Does your PM have a Project Plan covering the tasks to be carried out in the three months?

6) Is there anyone else on the project? Is there anyone who will take what you deliver and produce something? e.g. you document requirements which a developer uses to do a design?

Tha'ts enough to start...

 imvvirgo wrote

Hello everyone

I am a young BA and just joined BCBS on one of its projects (project brief - they want an external dental company to take care of its dental claims processing). The project is already been in works for about 2 years now with no success. For some reason they expect me to get done with it in next 3months. My PM has arranged my first meeting so that I can ask 'intelligent questions' which would help me make my first - Data Flow Diagram ever. Please let me know what all do I need to know already (before meeting) and what all I need to ask(in meeting) to not look stupid and make most of the meeting. Also any suggestions on whom with- to arrange my next meetings with to proceed to project completion?

Any kind of suggestion or word of encouragement is appreciated!

Thanks

Worried BA


David Wright
 
New Post 11/15/2008 3:13 PM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Re: Data Flow Diagrams! 

Imvvirgo,

Firstly, from the way you describe it you seem to be thrown in with little or no preparation and you know that it is not right, and it is not rational. So they are behaving irrationally. You say "For some reason they expect me to get done with it in next 3 months. My PM has arranged my first meeting so that I can ask 'intelligent questions'" - here is your first question: what reason do THEY have to think you can 'get it done in the next 3 months"? What is THEIR justification?

Besides, when they say "get it done" have they defined "it"? If not, that is your next question: What is 'it' exactly?

If they have defined 'it' what is the justification for the definition of 'it' and who came  up with it (because that person is probably the person who thinks they are doing Business Analysis on this project - so why not get them to ask the "intellignet questions" etc).

And like Dave has said, why 3 months? Say you take 4 - what would happen?

If I was put in this situation I would raise the issue on the issue register that I have not been prepared enough and the risk that goes with it is the project will fail because of that issue. The PM owns and manages the risk and issue register so let him sort it out. Your recommondation would be to let you work out what needs to be done and then give him an estimate of how much effort is involved - not the other way round.

I know you are a young BA but are you experienced? If you are, just treat it as a new project which will take as long as it takes and start asking what the SMART objectives are, use those to drive out the functional requirements and resultant process and data requirements etc.

If on the other hand you are not experienced, you have just started with this company and have no real idea of who they are, what is happenning and what you should do I would suggest that you let them know that right now.

Bottom line: the best way not to look stupid is to explain to them (before the meeting if you can or at the meeting if you can't) these very real and material concerns. No rational person is going to think you are stupid for explaining that you have been given an impossible task!

Good luck!

Guy

 
New Post 11/15/2008 6:01 PM
User is offline KJ
243 posts
6th Level Poster


Re: Data Flow Diagrams! 

Worried,

This sounds like one of those good case studies one gets because it requires interventions at so many levels.

First, speak to the PM and get a 'proper project brief', ask him or her the 'intelligent questions'. Get some clear objectives. If the objectives are unclear and the expectations are unrealistic "walk away" there is no shame in that!

Second, once you have a clear understanding of what is required of you then evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself questions like, "Can i do it?", "what help do I need to do it". Again if you feel that you cant do it and no help is forthcoming, walk-away! A good BA can say "NO!"

The reason for my two cautions is I've seen too many BAs get "hurt" on the job: nervous breakdown, stress related illnesses and heart attack. Yep, BAs are human afterall - they're not just a resource on a Gantt Chart

Furthermore, If the project has been going for two years and they want to send in a young BA now presumably to capture requirements and record workflow, I'd say they're tackling the problem in the wrong way.

Evaluate your options carefully and look after yourself!

warm regards,

K

 

 

 
New Post 11/17/2008 5:40 AM
User is offline Tony Markos
493 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: Data Flow Diagrams! 

Hi:

Sounds like management realizes that they have a big integration problem.    

You want to as soon as possible identify scope (i.e. the extent of the system).   A context diagram is a speciall data flow diagram for identifying scope.  It shows the system as one big circle with inputs from and outputs to external entities (other systems, people, etc.)   The problem with creating a context diagram first-thing is that someone has to already have the "big picture".   And no one ever does.   So, what I typically do is create some rough-cut lower level diagrams and then summarize them up into a context diagram. 

So, first thing, focus on data flow inputs to and outputs from the system, high-level functionality, and - especially - the data flows between functions.   This is not an easy task.  People (SME,s end-users - and even most BA's) like to get into the details way to soon.   Letting this happen can really derail your efforts.  Your job is to steer them away from the lower-level stuff, especailly the implementation details, and guide them towards discussing DATA FLOWS at as high of a level as possible.    Make you diagrams as simple to read as possible.  Your first iterations will probably be a mess.   But, "pretty them up" , and then get back with the users and  walikthrough, walkthrough, walkthrough.

Tony

 
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