General Business Analysis

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Software applications, cars, kiosks, and many other products must communicate important information to users. These feedback messages most commonly contain information about errors; warnings or alerts; and task progress, completion, or confirmation . Feedback from a product is most effective when it exhibits these seven characteristics...

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The Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA) is a progressive initiative by IIBA that allows aspiring business analysts to demonstrate their understanding of business analysis fundamentals, despite not having practical business analyst experience. Unlike the higher-level IIBA certifications, the ECBA does not require professional experience to sit for the exam, which opens opportunities for aspiring BAs. When combined with the right set of skills and activities, the ECBA can make one’s resume significantly more marketable to employers looking to hire entry-level BAs. While experience remains a key factor in landing a BA role, having the ECBA on your resume is an effective way to bolster your credibility when your experience is minimal. Here is my recommended strategy for passing the ECBA exam on the first attempt.

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This article first provides a reference for defining small businesses. It then, focuses on two aspects of business analysis for a small business: Strategic Planning and Requirements Management. I use a graphic note-taking technique called Mind-Mapping to set the BA context for this article and then pursue the above questions for small businesses.

I am sure we have all heard the cliché, “size matters.” So let’s start with why does size matter for business. 

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Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a profound difference. Sometimes they can be so blindingly obvious that we cannot see them. And the biggest impediment to progress can be between our own ears.

In this article I will describe ‘attentive listening’. We will cover how to do it, why it works and when to do it. At all times we will bear in mind the Agile manifesto commitment to maximizing the amount of work not done – not done by us, by the teams we work with and by the stakeholder!

Listening is a cornerstone skill of business analysis. If an analyst is to be of any value then they must be alert to clues in the environment. What thoughts, frustrations and opportunities are there? Understanding what is said, is an absolutely fundamental part of any analysis in order to produce useful insight or alignment.

So, you listen already? Sure you do, yet what are you listening to? The whole of what the speaker has to say? Are you giving them a chance to finish their thoughts?

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You might think that Spider-Man is a fictitional superhero living only in coming books or on the big screen.  You might be right!  But what if? What if Spider-Man is out there trying to decided where to move next, where to take his crime-fighting super-skills? Well, Sean Smith, a business analyst, wondered just that.

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Business people call remote meetings virtual or on-line sessions, or simply conference calls. For many years we have been utilizing this form of communications to save time and money. Due to the global virus pandemic, remote meetings are now not just convenient, but a necessity for maintaining social distancing. Fortunately we have technology that assists us in managing these remote sessions to not only hear the stakeholders, but see them as well. However, remote stakeholder interviewing and meetings have their additional challenges beyond face-to-face encounters. Regardless of the technology used, we need to be keenly aware of these additional negative risks and pursue mitigations.

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It is strange how something that is supposed to be simple is actually so complex.  Something that is supposed to be a matter of linear career progression can actually end up in a state of a continuous loop, with no way of terminating such a loop.  A point of stagnation and frustration. This is a quandary facing many intermediate business analysts. They do not know how to shift gears and move one notch up and be senior business analysts - who play a strategic role in helping their business stakeholders bring their strategies to life through the right initiatives.

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The majority of IT business analysts spend their careers in “reactive mode”. They are assigned to tasks like define the requirements for a new partner loyalty program, create user stories for an enhancement to a billing system, and go about delivering their artifacts.

Data-inspired analysts are those analysts who make a conscious decision to “go upstream” and find data to help their organizations identify the areas of value creation with the highest return on investment before jumping into “solution mode”.

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When I began training to be a BA, I never dreamt that I would need to be a salesperson too, in fact, I'm glad I hadn't realized that as it may have deterred me from, what is for me, the most suitable and fulfilling career that I could have wished for.

The answer is simply this: the ability to sell. The better you are at selling, the more senior you are likely to become, and this is true across the whole business, it doesn’t just apply to Business Analysts.

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As much as we like to think we are now in a dynamic and agile world, most delivery initiatives are still some shades of agile and all shades of waterfall. These initiatives could have adopted an agile outlook and naming convention, but the businesses they support are often still predominantly waterfall – going from one clearly defined task to another until realizing value. Think for example, order to cash, just in time logistics etc.

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With the surge of coronavirus, the word “Supply Chain “ continuously pops up into the news headlines.  So what is supply chain and how/why is it an area of knowledge each business analyst must master.   One of the biggest misconceptions about supply chain is people think supply chain = logistics or transportation.

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Many of us have been impacted in some form or another whether you or a loved one have been impacted by the illness, are experiencing changes in the work environment, impacted by cancelled or postponed events, impacted by the empty shelves at the grocery stores, or getting countless e-mails from companies regarding this pandemic. While it's important to be mindful and take extra precautions, try not to panic. Remaining centered is key to moving forward during times such as this. While some organizations have shutdown, sending employees home for an extended vacation, other organizations are remaining functional but are mandating employees to work from home. If your organization falls in the latter category, here are some tips to help you remain effective in your business analysis activities amid the coronavirus. 
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The COVID-19 crisis is reshaping businesses and livelihoods, and seasoned and new BAs alike have an unparalleled opportunity to put their analytical skills to great use. Whether you are still employed, or has been laid off or furloughed, now--while we navigate the pandemic crisis—is a good time to demonstrate the value of business analysis and the contributions you can bring to your current or future employer. Here are three examples of how you can accomplish that.


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As the pandemic continues to upend life around the world, data, big and small, takes a central role in mobilizing the right efforts to prevent a much greater calamity. And as people and organizations face unprecedented hardships, business analysts, data scientists, and data analysts are going to be integral to the solution. We have the skills that the world is counting on to arm our leaders with the best possible information as they are tasked with making immediate choices, allocating resources, and anticipating the next obstacles to overcome.

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Visual analysis models provide a powerful set of tools that let business analysts depict system information at various levels of abstraction. These models serve as an aid to understanding, as well as an aid to communicating. Alas, I fear that modeling is somewhat of a neglected practice. I believe modeling is an essential skill every BA should master. Here’s why.

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