General Business Analysis

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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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Systems work is not as hard as you might think. However, we have a tendency in this business to complicate things by changing the vocabulary of systems work and introducing convoluted concepts and techniques, all of which makes it difficult to produce systems in a consistent manner. Consequently, there is a tendency to reinvent the wheel with each systems development project. I believe I owe it to my predecessors and the industry overall to describe basic systems theory, so that people can find the common ground needed to communicate and work. Fortunately, there are only four easy, yet important, concepts to grasp which I will try to define as succinctly as possible.

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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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It's a sad topic, but it is reality. When a world wide pandemic, like the current swine flu hits, business suffers.  Obvious economic issues come to mind, but what often slips the mind is what affects us even more. The interruption of normal business processes.
 

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