Tips for Business Analysts: Using Personas


Have you noticed the examples of requirements elicitation on my blog? In one case, I had a bit of a contest, using a game to elicit information. You can see this technique by looking in the category Online Game on the blog. Then I had a survey to elicit information. You can see that survey by looking in the category Survey on the blog. Today I am going to use the information from the survey to show you another technique you might use when developing requirements. That technique is writing Personas (or Personae for you Latin fans).

You write a Persona when you want to understand your customers better. This Persona is a story you will tell about a typical (but not real) customer. The Persona is a composite story about your typical customers, made very lifelike.

In looking over my survey, I find that 75% of you who responded are working Business Analysts. You are looking for a wide variety of information, but typically in shorter forms such as tips and examples, rather than classes. You are typically alone in front of your computer when looking for information, and could be anywhere at any time of the day or night. You are looking for an online, interactive, multimedia experience. So let’s take that information and develop some Personas.

I started off by imaging a relatively young person with some work experience who is really comfortable with the computer and internet, and who readily goes online to find information at any time a question arises. Now I imagine some real people and write their stories.

Karen Carmichael is 27 years old. She graduated from a U.S. college with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Information Systems. She has worked as a Business Analyst for a large bank in Chicago, Illinois for the 5 years since graduation on a wide variety of software projects. Karen is single and loves sports. She is a member of her company’s softball team in the summer, and an avid football and basketball fan in the fall and winter.

Karen feels that she received a fine education in college, but working on real projects for a major corporation is quite different from her school projects. She has many peers at her bank that she can talk with, but often situations arise that are not easy to resolve.

Karen is quite comfortable with a computer and searching for information on the internet. She really likes to be able to open up a search engine and find the answer to any question right away. The problem with search engines is that she often gets a lot of unrelated information in response to her queries. Karen has a number of sites bookmarked on her computer for her favorite sports teams. She wants to create a similar set of bookmarks for sites that have information for Business Analysts. When she has a question, she can just open a web browser and select a couple of those sites to find the information she needs.

Raj Reddy is 32 years old. He graduated from a prestigious Engineering College in India with a B.S. in Computer Science, and worked as a programmer in India for 3 years. He then came to the US and completed an MBA with the goal of managing software projects. He has been working as a Project Manager for a major health insurance organization in San Francisco, California for the last 5 years, taking on roles of increasing responsibility. Raj is married and his wife is in India. He wants to return to India to join his wife and family, and to bring what he has learned about software development to some of the smaller companies in his home state.

Raj plans to be a consultant and carry a computer with a wireless card everywhere he works. He wants to be able to quickly find information on the internet to help him in his job. This will include information about Business Analysis, because he often finds that the roles of Project Manager and Business Analyst overlap, so he needs to know how to do both jobs.

When he is not as busy with work, Raj likes to continually learn new things. It is hard for him to sign up for classes, because he may not be available for every class meeting. So having the classes online in a self-study format is a great solution. He wants to be able to study the material whenever he has time, and does not want to have a deadline for when he has to complete the class. Raj is a friendly guy, and fears he will miss the daily interactions with people at work. He is looking for an online community that he can access any time he is online to chat with other Business Analysts.

Now it is your turn.

Post a comment and let me know - does either profile seem like you? Which one and why?

Try writing one or more personas about your customers so that the people and their needs are more real to you.

Author: Geri Schneider Winters

Article used with permission from Wyyzzk, Inc.’s Resources for Business Analysts site at This website of reports and tips contains information to help you succeed as a Business Analyst in IT.

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Dave Ayiku posted on Friday, December 2, 2016 9:22 AM
Thanks for this article.

From a BA perspective, it is a challenge working with the various tools. Add in the fact that results are expected immediately and it becomes impossible to manage.
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