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New Post 11/10/2008 4:08 PM
User is offline LacksDiscipline
2 posts
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First BA type role - advice needed 
Hello all,

First off, I'd just like to say this forum is a great resource for beginner BAs like myself. I've found all the advice given to be very useful, and I'd like to thank all the contributors who take the time to answer questions (even if they're not my own, the advice given immensely informative).

A bit about myself: I aspire to be a(n IT) Business Analyst. I'm currently doing a Bachelor of Information Technology, which will hopefully give me the required skills to pursue this career, and have recently accepted an internship related to the field. My questions relate to this internship. I'm keen to impress, as this assignment is the first of what I hope will be many similar work assignments. Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.

The project of which I will be a part is a database/knowledge consolidation project, at a local charity organisation. As is so often the case (I'm told) this organisation has a large number of disparate databases/spreadsheets which house important internal and external information. The lack of a centrelised database has resulted in sub-optimal customer relationship management, among other things, and it has been decided that something needs to be done about it. My role in this project is to identify all standalone databases/documents/speadsheets/etc which house relevant information, and to identify the users and purpose. Ultimately, I'd also like to be in the position to advise the organisation regarding possible solutions.

Keeping in mind that this is my first experience in such a role (I'm 21), do you have any advice on how I should go about it? I have a rough idea of what I'd like to do before I begin, such as gaining a better understanding of the organisation, its departments, the services it provides, etc. However, beyond that, I'm a little lost. Obviously I'll need to talk to the end-users to find all the aforementioned information.

This is my plan:

1. Develop a holistic understanding of the organisation, its purpose, goals, etc
2. Identify and understand the role of all departments, and what information they require
3. Identify key personnel of each department
4. Engage in dialog with each department to locate database/spreadsheets they use and,
5. Understand why and how they use the information

I am likely going to use this thread throughout my placement, as more specific questions arise. In the meantime (I start on the 1st of Dec), does anyone have any general advice for me? Am I missing anything important in my plan?

Thank you in advance.

Lambros.
 
New Post 11/13/2008 9:19 PM
User is offline Chris Adams
323 posts
5th Level Poster






Re: First BA type role - advice needed 

You seem like your on the right track.  I would caution that you don't need to know everything about every aspect of the organization to accomplish the goals of the project.  It sounds like you primarily will need to focus on data and reports.  Of course, if the organization is small having some knowledge of the organizations goals and purpose and an understanding of the roles of each department won't hurt.

But to come back to your main focus, consolidating multiple databaes, here are a few pointers:

  1. Always start with requirements.  In this case, your requirements will be the reports that the company needs to generate.  Talk to the various groups who run reports against the data.  This may be as simple as manipluation of data in spreadsheets.  Or they may geneerate reports directly from the database using some software like Business Objects.  Either way, your first step is to identify all existing reports.
  2. Next identfiy new requirements.  Their current system is obviously falling short.   They said that they currently have sub-optimal customer relationship management. So you should sit with the various people who need to generate reports and find out what new reports they feel they could use.
  3. Next you will want to analyze the current state of the existing databases and data.  An ERD diagram for each may make sense. 
  4. Once you have modeled the AS-IS state of there disparate databases, you will need to model the TO-BE or future state of the consolidated data base.  While doing this consider the new data that you want to add to support new reporting.   
  5. Once the TO-BE state is modeled you will have to develop a plan for migrating data from each of the old databases to the new database.  Consider what you will do if you have repeated data across existing databases that conflicts. 

Hopefully, this will help  get you started.  I tried to keep it high level here.  I'm sure you will have other questions as you dig in. 


Chris Adams
Core Member – ModernAnalyst.com
LinkedIn Profile
 
New Post 11/15/2008 2:44 PM
User is offline LacksDiscipline
2 posts
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Re: First BA type role - advice needed 
cadams5,

Thanks for the pointers. I feel quite comfortable with most of the points you brought up, though I realise the potential difficulty in them all. I'v never done requirements elicitation out in the real world, so I have yet to face the challenges associated with it, which I hear so much about. It will definitely be a learning experience for me. Hopefully I'll be able to do a good job.

You've given me something to think about before I start. Thank you.
 
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