Data Analysis & Modeling

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Like all professions, business analysis has its golden rules – rules that are fundamental to the design of successful business systems. They might seem like common sense but it’s surprising how often we forget them and get ourselves into hot water.

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When ModernAnalyst asked me to propose an article for their issue on Enterprise Architecture, I thought about the question framework developed by John Zachman, that provides the basic building blocks of that practice.  The primary function of a Business Analyst is to ask questions that uncover requirements then to document those requirements so they may be developed into a useful, useable system.

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Business Analysts rely on input from a subject matter expert (SME) to help complete scoping and requirements documents. This simple truth is the reason ModernAnalyst has asked me to share an overview of the Data Management Association Body of Knowledge (DAMA-DMBOK). The purpose of the article is not to teach you data management, but to provide you with a general understanding of building blocks of the practice. It will describe the breadth of subjects that data management professionals may be able to address.

The BABOK includes data modeling in order for a BA to document data requirements; this overlaps with the skills a data management professional needs to do data development. It is an obvious point of collaboration. When we examine all of the facets in data management, you may find other opportunities for leverage.

If you can recognize requirements that indicate impacts to the data environment early in your project, you can draw on other resources more effectively. I have provided some sample ‘red flags’ to illustrate requirements that might benefit from collaboration with a data management professional.

I suggest you develop your own list with the data management professionals at your organization; it will become helpful tool for you to know when to include them.

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Information is ever more critical to the success of organisations and information professionals should be hot property. But as information discovery begins to be perceived as automated, the power base is shifting to those who can analyse information that is ever more devoid of structure.

The business analyst, once an IT/business hybrid role, is evolving to fill this gap and this role looks set to overlap and overtake the traditional information professional role.

Richard Beveridge, director of library services at Tribal Group, says: “In my opinion a business analyst is not a seeker and discoverer of information, it is a person that actually does something with it. Information professionals would go off for information on someone’s behalf, but now organisations need people who are able to seek information and do something with it. If information professionals don’t evolve they will be under threat from business analysts.”

He adds: “Now you have to be able to make a contribution to the bottom line and that has to be measurable. I am stunned by the number of people in the library service who say, ‘I didn’t join to sell things.’”

Author: Tracey Caldwell

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Also called abstract or business modelling, essential modelling can be an extremely valuable tool for the business analyst. Instead of modelling how things are done (the current system), or how they might be done (a proposed system), we model what is done, or what might be done. For example the purpose of a Customer Service Department is to provide customers with a level of service they expect (or the company defines). Things like call centres and customer relationship management systems are the how of customer service.

This switch in thinking is not always easy as we have to ignore the very practical matters of procedures, methods, people, technology etc. The more involved we are in the system that we are looking at, the more difficult it may be to look at things conceptually. We have to look at what business objective we are trying to achieve. The business analyst who can do this - and explain it to clients and management - becomes a most valuable asset to the business.

Author: Derrick Brown

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Many people on our Business Analysis workshop ask why we use dataflow diagrams (DFDs). Why not Use Case…or even BPMN? After all DFDs have been around for 20 years, surely the world has moved on?

Well, has it? The primary purpose of a business analyst is to communicate – to stakeholders and to solution providers – and when it comes to communication we all know that pictures (diagrams) are much more effective and less ambiguous than words. Remember the phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words". The question is – which type of diagram best suits our needs? In this article, written by IRM's Training Services Manager Jan Kusiak, we’ll look at using diagrams for stakeholder communications.

Author: Jan Kusiak

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Every area of practice in IT has a set of specific “tools” that supports the standard work of technology professionals. Data Analysis is the capture of data requirements, development of models that reflect those requirements and creation of design to store the data. You can accomplish this with a pencil, paper, and the right skill-set. But it can be done much more quickly and consistently if the process is automated.

There are hundreds of individual software tools and tool-suites that support different facets of data analysis.

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In the past I have discussed the need to manage data (and all information resources) as a valuable resource; something to be shared and reused in order to eliminate redundancy and promote system integration.  Now, our attention turns to how data should be defined.  Well defined data elements are needed in order to properly design the logical data base as well as developing a suitable physical implementation.

Author: Tim Bryce

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“The biggest risk to your company is not being able to change fast enough… Business Rules are the answer.” …Ron Ross

I am a great appreciator of Mr. Ross. He has written extensively on the topic of Business Rules, offers excellent training on the subject, and is the keynote speaker at each year’s International Business Rules Forum. I would like to start my own article on Business Rules with an ‘icebreaker’ he used on a seminar I attended.

Consider the sport of American Football. Some aspects of the game are very stable, some less so, and some not necessarily stable at all.

Author: David Wright

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Several software projects are over budgeted or have to face failures during operations. One big reason of this is Software Company develops wrong software due to wrong interpretation of requirements. Requirements engineering is one of the well known discipline within Software engineering which deals with this problem. RE is the process of eliciti...
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Describes the difference between a data dictionary and an implicit data dictionary and why an implicit data dictionary (or no data dictionary at all) may spell trouble for your project. Can data dictionaries be used with UML Use Cases or an XP methodology? Author: Conrad Weisert
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When it comes to providing reliable, flexible and efficient object persistence for software systems, today's designers and architects are faced with many choices. From the technological perspective, the choice is usually between pure Object-Oriented, Object-Relational hybrids, pure Relational and custom solutions based on open or proprietary file f...
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