General Business Analysis

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Context diagrams are instrumental in unearthing unknown requirements during the discovery phase, both by forcing an analyst to think through the context (thus the moniker context diagram) of a project methodically and by enabling stakeholders to do so as well.

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If you can dream up ways to save your company money by developing new systems and better ways of working then the job of business analyst might be for you.  It's a job that currently has a skills shortage in the IT world, and that - says recruitment consultant Tom Derbyshire - means strong job candidates can call the shots.
 

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Today the term Business Analyst is synonymous with a career in the IT industry but the most successful and valuable analysts are those who understand the 'business' rather than those who understand IT. So what exactly is a Business Analyst? What is the Business Analyst’s role? What is the best background for this job? What skill set is required? What type of person is the best fit? What training is required and available?

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For business analysts, understanding decision logic from the perspective of business people is key. For that you need business rules. But when can a rule be considered a business rule, and when not? This article presents five pragmatic tests for knowing when you have identified a true business rule.

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Business Analysts are required to contribute to a project in a number of ways: primarily by identifying the needs of the target community; building the Communications Plan; defining use case models; and Business Requirements document. In order to do their job effectively a large element of a BA’s time must be spent understanding and managing stakeholders in the project... From a CIO’s viewpoint the skills they look for in a good Business Analyst include an aspect of stakeholder management and an ability to find a path through the likely problem zones.

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Job sharing is growing in popularity across almost all corporate job sectors.  It also offers employers a viable option for balancing heavy workloads and retaining talent. Even if all of an organization's employees are full-time, should a project balloons unexpectedly and a business analyst become overloaded, the option to project-share would enable an employer to tag a less-stressed analyst to jump in and share the load.

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This year, organizations will be picking themselves up and dusting themselves off, becoming more savvy, agile and proactive. Business analysts are well positioned to help organizations meet the challenges of putting their houses back in order by helping to answer the question: “How and where do we create efficiencies that will help mitigate the sting of another possible economic downturn?”

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With business analysis projects, as with all endeavors, you have to know where you are going before you can chart your course to get there. In other words, before you can decide whether to take a train, bus, or plane, what time of day you will travel, and what you will carry, you have to decide where you are going.

So it is with requirements. Before you can chart how you are going to implement a solution, everyone involved in the development effort must agree on why you need it to start with and that it is the very best solution available. Business requirements are fundamental to any development effort because they define where you are going by articulating the business problem and its solution—why it is needed and how to measure its success.

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In a series of conversations, Kevin Brennan and I discussed the new role of the business analyst and what the future holds for people who build careers in this field. To structure our conversation, we articulated a central idea or axiom and then defined four key propositions that flow from that axiom. Presented below are that axiom and our thoughts related to the four key propositions.

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In this final paper of the series we look at decision making techniques – how to select the best idea from the many we’ve come up with – and how to justify our recommendation to our client, manager and peers.
 

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There has been much talk about the expansion of BA responsibilities, with business analysts being expected, in many organizations, not only to elicit and manage requirements, but also to perform project management, risk assessment, budgeting and other activities involved in delivering software solutions. As organizations become more environmentally conscious, yet another dimension is added to the BA work...

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As a business analyst, you are a problem solver. You are skilled at tailoring an approach to a business situation with different kinds of models.  However, until now, you are missing one. Worthy of its own model, there is an important dimension left behind.  It lies buried, capable of wreaking havoc.

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With evolving economic and technological needs, career moves are practically universal in today's job market. Some of these career moves are actually leaps, such as an accountant transitioning to become a nurse, but others are much closer jumps, such a technical writer or documentation specialist moving into the often similar business analyst's role.

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The title of "Business Analyst" is one of the fastest growing in the IT industry. In fact, the United States Department of Labor projected a 29% increase in computer systems analyst employment by 2016. There are many resources available that explain what a business analyst is, often in terms of comparing the responsibilities of an analyst to those of other team members we're more familiar with, like project managers, software testers, and systems architects.

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A long time ago, before Business Analysts existed, it was believed that people in the business would be able to define their own requirements.  When a business department wanted to have a new piece of software, they would go to the IT department and the developers would ask them what they wanted. The business people would express this as best they could by writing down lists of things and having meetings to explain them, and then the IT department would build or buy whatever they seemed to want.
 

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