Requirements Analysis (BABOK KA)

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As a software architect and developer I’ve used Enterprise Architect (EA) from Sparx Systems (www.sparxsystems.com) for a number of years. In that time I’ve spent considerable time and energy trying to get our business analysts to do the same. While I’ve had some success I must admit it’s been an uphill battle. I suspect this is partly because EA is often seen as a technical person’s tool. And that’s not altogether surprising.

  • Enterprise Architect – the name itself is completely misleading. EA is not only for people with the title ‘Enterprise Architect’. It’s for the entire project team, from BA’s to Testers and even for Clients.
  • User Interface – for developers the user interface of EA is extremely familiar and intuitive. It looks like a lot of the tools they use already. For non-technical users more familiar with tools like Microsoft Office it is somewhat more intimidating.

So, if you’re a Business Analyst looking for a tool that can help you do your job more effectively then read on.

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The latest progression in software development methods is the agile approach. Its growing popularity proves how effective it is. But two extreme—and even dangerous—views have arisen about agile development. One is that you don’t do requirements at all when you’re working on an agile project. The other is that you don’t need good requirements practices.

In truth, agile development processes are based on good practices. Most of them are not new but are being reconfigured, along with good product development, engineering, and project management practices. In my work with agile teams, I’ve noticed a number of key practices

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A lot of IT folks and or BA’s believe that if you create the requirements without the business, and then review the requirements with the business for confirmation, you can save a lot of time.

After all, creating requirements collaboratively just takes too long, and the business doesn't know what they want, anyways. In addition, we (IT or BA) know the system better than the business, so it just makes sense for us to create the requirements, and then let the business say yes or no.

Let’s see this concept in practice in the “Requirements for My New Car”: a fable.

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Defining business requirements accurately is one of the most important success factors for technology projects.  Rather than focus on solutions that satisfy a list of requirements, we need to focus on solutions that satisfy desired business outcomes. The best way to achieve this is by performing business process modeling.  Employing a vi...
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To be honest, I'm not very enamored with the term "best practice". I believe that the term "contextual practice" makes far more sense because what is a "best practice" in some situations proves to be a "worst practice" in others. Having said that, people are interested in best practices so here they are when it comes to agile requirements modeling:...
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Many traditional project teams run into trouble when they try to define all of the requirements up front, often the result of a misguided idea that developers will actually read and follow what the requirements document contains. The reality is that the requirements document is usually insufficient, regardless of how much effort goes into it, the r...
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There are three basic reasons why you might need to model a business: to re-engineer a business, to improve a business process and to automate a business process. Nevertheless, another reason may be very useful for analyst of software systems and their customers – to understand and automatically generate functional requirements to the system. ...
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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.

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Outsourcing differs from other development because there is bound to be a contractual relationship, probably a geographic distance, a different sense of loyalty, language misunderstandings, cultural differences, reluctance to speak up to the client – and many other associated problems. Good requirements are always a problem, but outsourcing increas...
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IAG Consulting’s new Business Analysis Benchmark makes one thing clear: almost 70 percent of companies surveyed set themselves up for both failure and significantly higher cost in their use of poor requirements practices. That failure came at a significant cost: the average $3 million project cost companies using poor requirements practices an aver...
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THE ANALYST (aka, Systems Analyst, Systems Engineer, Systems Architect, Business Analyst) - requires specifications about the end-User's information requirements in order to design a system solution.  This is normally based on a definition of the user's business actions and/or decisions to be supported.  Following the system design, the Analyst produces the specifications required by the Programmer and DBA to fulfill their part of the puzzle.  From this perspective, the Analyst is the translator between the end-User and the Programmers and DBAs.

Each party has his own unique perspective of the puzzle and, as such, requires different "specifications."  To compound the problem though, the role of the Analyst sharply diminished over the years, leaving it to the Programmers to try and determine what the end-User needs, a skill they are typically not trained or suited for. 

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The main benefit of today’s Agile development methodologies such as Scrum or XP is the promise of delivering more in a shorter period of time and the value derived from having the flexibility to adjust your course mid-way through a development effort. But does this type of approach allow for requirements management? Is RM necessary given the shorte...
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Many studies have shown that requirements errors are very costly. By one estimate (in an article by Donald Firesmith for the Software Engineering Institute), requirements errors cost US businesses more than $30 billion per year and often result in failed or abandoned projects and damaged careers. The common wisdom is to find and fix requirements er...
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Requirements Risk management could be a useful approach to requirements analysis, and lead to better requirements management.

High level the idea goes like this:

Risk management is an important part of project management
Requirements management is also a critical part of the puzzle
Should we be running a requirements risk management process on our projects?
The purpose of this article is to introduce the topic of Requirements risk into the Requirements Management discussion. Feedback and commentary is welcome and can be provided at ModernAnalyst.com

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Requirements Simulation is a technique used to visually define and model business, user and technical requirements. The value proposition of most tools in the marketplace today is to bridge the communication gap between business and IT by empowering the Business Analyst to completely, and clearly define application requirements. Since specialized ...
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