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New Post 11/2/2009 12:49 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Re: How to improve BA skills? 

K,

Thanks for that.

At the risk of coming across as an (even more) grumpy old man though your last 2 paragraphs seem to contradict the first.

And neither do the last 2 paragraphs offer any evidence other than opinion and an example (and there are counter examples out there a-plenty which doesn't help). I appreciate that in your experience some of the better BAs have liberal arts degrees but is that the majority? And is there a causal relationhip or are we in the realm of saying that some of the better BAs have no dress sense and that we should select BAs on their inability to dress stylishly?

And also the scale by which business analysts are assessed as "better" or "best" is still not defined. Of course, I accept this is difficult given we BAs as a profession have yet to agree on a definition of what a BA actually is!

I guess my real problem is not what you are saying but the underlying fashion prevalant at the moment of having various 'qualifiers' for becoming a BA such as BA Diplomas and Certificates and the idea that a degree could be a qualifier too. We aren't really a profession in the architect/doctor sense (for a variety of reasons I could drone on about at length) and the fact is that anyone should be able to be called a business analyst if they are in the role of applying logic in order to produce a rigorous set of requirements. And the fact also is that in the real world that is just what happens!

If that premise is true, then various attributes become desirable - nothing more - but at the end of the day (and selection process and project) it is the case as stated in that standard treatise for BAs the film "Batman Begins": a BA is defined by what they do not what they think or what qualifications they hold...

Guy

 
New Post 11/2/2009 7:01 AM
User is offline Tony Markos
493 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: How to improve BA skills? 

Jess:

Look at what the experts currently do.  Not at what they say, but at what they actually do.  Actions speak louder than words!  

Look at the BABOK 2.0.  It was created by people who lay claim to establishing a gobal certification standard on best practices for BAs.  Notice how the BABOK 2.0 is organized around input\process\output diagrams.  The BABOK 2.0 is essentially a functional spec on how to  create a functional spec.    And data flow diagrams are integrated input\process\output diagrams.

So data flow diagrams, while they have been around ahile, are still the best technique for functional analysis on more complex systems.

Tony

 
New Post 11/2/2009 7:50 AM
User is offline Veena
5 posts
10th Level Poster


Re: How to improve BA skills? 

Thanks! I appreciate all the comments and suggestions from everyone.

 
New Post 11/2/2009 10:23 AM
User is offline Tony Markos
493 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: How to improve BA skills? 

K:

Yes BPMN diagrams enable capture of INPUTS and OUTPUTS.  Unfortunately, they put INPUTS and OUTPUTS and flow of control and sequencing and the kitchen sink all on the same diagram.   The result, especially for larger scale efforts, is diagrams that soon get so complex that the analyst can not tell where his/her mistakes are.  I have seen this happen in the real world more than once.

The creators of data flow diiagrams where well aware of this problem.  That is a primary reason why on dfds the inputs and outputs (typically data flows, but can be flow of material or tooling, etc) are seperate from flow of control, etc: the inputs and outputs are on the high- level diagrams and flow of control, etc. are on the lowest level diagrams.  Principle:   If the BA wants to successfully diagram anything, he/she must not try to diagram everything - at least not initially.  The need is, to the degree possible, start out by focusing just on the higher level stuff and to postpone the detail until the appropriate time.

Another reason why the flow of data is on seperate high- level diagrams with dfds is that systems, especially at higher levels of abstraction, are, as Yourdon (DeMarco?) used to say, very asychcronous.  This means that many tasks can be happening at the same time or happening in any order - prohibiting the analyst from documenting them via sequencing/flow of control, exept at the low level.  The creators of the BABOK 2.0 realized such.  That is why the second paragraph of Section 1.4 in the BABOK contains the sentence "Tasks maybe performed in any order as long as the sequence inputs are avialable."  They were wise enough to realize the asychronous nature of systems (in this case the system being the set of interrelated tasks that a BA performs) - and to use data-flow-diagram-like input/process/output diagrams.

FYI:   While the BABOK 2.0 employs input/process/output diagrams, it does not utilize integrated input/process/output diagrams (i.e., data flow diagrams).   This puts the task of integrating the diagrams within the BABOK 2.0 onto the reader - making the document very difficult from which to get a systematic understanding of its content.

Tony

 
New Post 11/3/2009 7:29 PM
User is offline KJ
243 posts
6th Level Poster


Re: How to improve BA skills? 
Modified By KJ  on 11/4/2009 2:32:59 AM)

 

Guy,
 
Are you saying that university education or any education for that matter is not needed to be an analyst; rather you’d prefer analysts to be logical and by this I “infer” that their deliverables (requirements etc) are truthful: reflecting the needs of the user?
 
When we use deductive logic, we infer that for a truthful premise the conclusion is always truthful. Therefore the conclusion does not add anything extra that is not already in the premise. Some consulting firms do well in this domain as they “rewrite” the customer’s solution. And, customers often lament the fact that the use of deductive logic does not tell them anything new (eg. a new approach). It is just a rehash of what is already known.
 
When using inferential logic, we infer that for a truthful premise the conclusion may contain new information, which could be wrong (not truthful). Some consulting firms using inferential logic may have difficulty “selling” their conclusions, because not every customer has the ability or inclination to accept the conclusion. Prototyping is a method to reduce the risk.
 
As human beings we use these logical processes every day. So which of these logical approaches do you propose analysts should use? Or do you propose that while analysts are logical in their approaches to problem definition and solution, all is well, irrespective of the analyst’s qualifications or “qualifier”?
 
I believe an analyst needs to learn his/her skills. Stating that one needs to be merely logical to be an analyst has merit; but we live in a society which expects a certain qualifier that indicates that you have some domain specific knowledge (eg. BSc (Psychology) or Diploma (Boilermaker) or CBAP). So if you tell me that you have an MA in Ecology, I assume that you have mastered a certain level of critical thinking, and I don’t have to tell you much about Systems Thinking.. However, I think it is still prudent to test whether your knowledge of the domain is commensurate with the specified qualifier. How people attain these qualifiers is a totally different matter and perhaps a discussion we could have later.
 
warm regards,
K
 
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