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New Post 12/9/2009 5:21 AM
User is offline bernard
18 posts
9th Level Poster

Lets Create a Task! 

Hi all

As you will know from previous posts the BA's in my company are facing a tough challenge of proving their worth and showing the PM's what it is that a BA can provide in a project.

There has been a great suggestion in a previous post for a task, however, the head of department was scared by it. It needs to be shorter and not as tough!

So I had an idea that as a forum we create a short task that we can all use.

My idea so far is that I divide the room in to groups and set them the task of creating a process map and requirements for my cooked breakfast. I will already have written up my requirements for a breakfast - ie vegetarian and not fried. Coffee, white with 1 sugar after the food has finished. So it's a variation on the swing diagram!

What I'm hoping to see is that all groups will go off without asking the customer (ie me) what I want. I want to see that the food is cooked in stages and I also expect to see people say "I've always done it like that".....

I expect the BA's will have the requirements for each stage documented in detail.....I hope!

I'm trying to keep it to something simple and not work related.

Any other suggestions or additions?

New Post 12/9/2009 5:42 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
5th Level Poster

Re: Lets Create a Task! 


your task sounds fun and my sort of breakfast (except there is no fruit juice...).

However, given that what you are trying to achieve (I think?) is to show by example that what BAs do is involved and tough, then to make it easier "because the head of dept was scared by it" is to make the task easy to do by PMs who will then have more 'evidence' that what BAs do is not so hard - strengthening the argument that BAs are not needed!

Of course if they can't even do that simple model then you will be in an axcellent position to say "and you think that was hard: when working on real projects..." - but you are running the risk of making it too easy and so shooting yourself in the proverbial foot.

By the way, the head of WHICH dept is scared? If it is the head of the dept that includes PMs then my point about not making it unrealistically easy is stregthened...


New Post 12/9/2009 5:55 AM
User is offline bernard
18 posts
9th Level Poster

Re: Lets Create a Task! 

Guy I totally agree with you. And that was the first thing I said when the head of department said he was scared of it. I explained that part of a BA role is to take a load of jumbled info, with no clear route and somehow come out with a valid solution that the BA can then explain (written or verbally) back to the business. I also think he felt the hour was too long as a task!

I too am worried that in simplifying the task it will lose it's strength.

That's why I thought I'd open this forum topic to see if as a community we could come up with something together that is shirt but has a big impact demonstrating the strength of a BA in a BA role rather than a PM in a BA role.

....and yes, it was the head of the project managers that was scared!

New Post 12/9/2009 6:31 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
5th Level Poster

Re: Lets Create a Task! 

Bernard, I worry about the integrity of the person 'scared' by the BA exercise...isn't that admission enough from them that BAs do a hard job? You are obviously aware of the way the card are being stacked and I admire your tenacity.

Having said that, there is another exercise I have used called which is similar to your breakfast idea but you have to option of making it more and more complicated: You divide in to groups as for the breakfasst exercise and the scenario they have to process model is

Bernard’s Great Coffee House is a Starbucks styled coffee house but with waiters who take orders for those who don’t want to queue at the counter.
The process a waiter is meant to follow is
-Wait until they observe a customer who appears to want serving.
-Take the customer order.
-Give the order to counter staff who make the coffee.
-Collect the order from the counter staff and give to the customer.
-When any customer leaves they pay at the counter, and the waiter should clear and clean the table.
There are variations at almost every stage: the customer can change or cancel their order for example.

Draw a process model for processes the waiter should follow.
Make sure you identify all the events in scope.
Make sure you name the process steps as Verb+Noun.
The coffee shop owner is available to answer any scope or requirements questions.
If you need to make any assumptions document them.
Time: 30 minutes.
Deliverable: flipchart model.

You - as the coffee shop owner - can introduce as many complications as you like (a customer just leaves the shop after ordering without telling the waiter,or when the order is delivered, the customer changes their mind about the order, the waiter should when taking the order suggest today's specials, etc etc etc - its up to you how complex you make it).

Common mistakes:
a flow chart is drawn rather than a process model that can handle all these events.
The process for fullfilling the order is modelled (which is out of scope as we are only interested in the waiter).
My favourite: the process is drawn such that the waiter gives the order to the counter staff and then does nothing else until the order is ready! Perhaps they could be taking other orders??

For this reason the models are best drawn using an event driven process model like BPMN for example.

If the groups are up for it, then it is more fun to have groups present back another group's process model as an awful lot is in people's heads and not in the model (usually). This demonstrates how important rigorous models are.


New Post 12/10/2009 12:03 PM
User is offline bernard
18 posts
9th Level Poster

Re: Lets Create a Task! 

Guy, that is a great exercise! I'll try that one and see the you have any examples of the completed diagram that are correct?....

We did a task to demonstrate the effectiveness of SCRUM that the head enjoyed:

4 teams to represent 4 project lifecycles:

1> a team that creates a plan upfront and does not deviate from this plan and does it step by step. (waterfall)

2> a team that can do a short plan, do a bit of work, then stop, re-evaluate and change plan if needed (agile)

3> a team that works in different areas but can change plan (agile, but working remotely)

4> a team not allowed to plan, just do it.

The task is to use objects in the room to build a bridge that will hold a toy car. Points are given for height of bridge, multiplied by length of bridge. The task master set out a load of kit on the table and the group is given 15 minutes to plan - but must not do any work on building.

The task then begins and bridge building takes place.

The groups have 30 minutes to complete it then another 15 minutes to reflect.

Half way through an additional requirement is added - the bridge must survive a storm (hairdryer).

......the trick is that "anything" in the room can be used. We were in the board room so I suggested to use the table! We won.....and I was in the "not allowed to plan" team so it stuffed up the point of the exercise a bit!


I think your coffee shop example is a great one!

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