Leadership & Management

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Complex Project Management (CPM) is the “next new thing” in our quest to achieve stronger project performance. Successful projects not only deliver on time, on budget, and with the full scope of features and functions. In addition, they deliver the expected benefits in terms of contributions to the bottom line of businesses. And projects today are complex, very complex. Our conventional project management tools and techniques alone are not adequate to successfully manage highly complex projects.

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If you've ever been a manager or above in a corporation, you've probably been exposed to the concept of Succession Planning. The basic idea is that all managers should have some idea of who is willing and able to step into your shoes once you are promoted into a new position or change your career focus... It is something that I think is often overlooked within our profession as BAs do not generally manage people, projects or teams. However, we do manage requirements, which like people, projects and teams, generally do not go away just because we move on in our careers. Succession planning is just as important for BAs as it is for managers.
 

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It is no secret that our record of complex project performance is rife with failed and significantly challenged projects. This is true for virtually all types of projects. Examples abound – we offer just a few.

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I'm hearing the word "value" a lot lately. This is partly because the economic downturn has us looking to get the most for our money. But that's not all. More and more managers, business analysts, programmers and testers are talking to me about value. They are concerned that their products provide value for their end users. Many of them express a kind of process or tool fatigue. They are tired of being told that using a particular process or toolset is the key to their success. To them, value is a more important concept.

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I have been in the business analysis profession for many years and the one thing I have constantly had to challenge myself on is leading without really leading, or what I call leading from the side. As a business analyst, many times we are not in a position of authority yet we have to have significant leadership skills to be successful.

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I've never been comfortable with the concept of "Man Hours," not that it's a gender issue, but rather it implies ignorance of how time is used in the work place and fumbles away some simple management concepts needed to run any business, namely accountability and commitment. Actually, I thought the "Man Hour" concept disappeared with the passing of the 20th century, but it appears to be making a comeback.

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Much of the current buzz about SOA has been focussed on the technology (inevitably Web Services) or the importance of reusability. However the real value of SOA is in the improvement to processes and ways of working that reflect the alignment of an organisation with its customers and suppliers.  The approach we favour is one that begins by aligning the business and technical understanding of the concepts of SOA, from both the business process and technical architecture perspective.
 

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A couple of months ago, I was driving along a well-traveled road here in town when my headlights fell upon a large pool of standing water. The little boy in me still loves splashing in puddles, whether on foot or in my car. I smiled at the thought of creating a huge spray. Unfortunately, the harmless puddle of standing water was actually a large pothole. What I thought was going to be a fun splash turned into a blown tire and bent rim. As business analysts, we encounter these water-filled potholes all too often.

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Understanding why BA CoPs fail is an essential part of strategic planning. If you can identify the gaps in your own organization, you will be in a much better position to put a plan in place to "Mind the Gap."  This article will look at 10 common reasons why BA CoPs fail.
 

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Part 1 of this series examined the components a Business Analysis Community of Practice should optimally include. This article sets out the first four steps that must be taken in order to establish a successful BA CoP.

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Wyeth CIO Jeffrey Keisling explains how working with the business on IT staffing helps promote IT-business alignment.  He also outlines the two areas of hiring focus: business analysis and business process.

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As budgets tighten and organizations continue trying to achieve return on investment faster, cheaper and with better results, they are trying to create and evolve their overall enterprise architecture.

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If it is allocating your internal resources, making a new hire, or bringing in a consultant; what is the best process to match the right business analyst to the right project? For organizations that truly value the role of the business analyst this is one of the most frequently pondered questions.

Companies that want to have the right people in the right roles need to address four main stages; defining the BA’s roles in the project, attracting the best talent, matching the BA to the project and finally, making the selection and continuing to support.

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It has been just over a year since I published my book, and that makes it easier for me to measure what has happened since then.

I have spent this year visiting many companies and discussing their business analysis function. In some cases, I have performed an assessment on the business analysts as well as the business analysis function within many large Corporates.

It has now got to the point where I could document the findings before I start the investigation. The reason for this is that the problems are the same. From articles and discussions from other countries it appears the problems are similar the world over. These are the problems I encounter most often:

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Not many people-including business analysts themselves-are able to agree upon a standard job description, typical skill sets, proper training methods or a well-defined career path for the business analyst position. Yet almost everyone who's ever toiled away on an 18-month software development project can agree on the importance of the business analyst role to project success.

So while everyone agrees that good business analysts are extremely valuable, and that cultivating business analyst talent is essential for effective IT operations, a new Forrester Research report says that businesses need to do more. To really take advantage of everything that business analysts have to offer, there needs to be an answer to a career conundrum that many business analysts face: What's next?

In the June 2008 report, "The Business-Oriented Business Analyst," Forrester's Andy Salunga offers several potential paths to future business leadership for business-oriented business analysts.

First it needs to be noted that Forrester categorizes business analysts (BAs) into three roles: business-oriented BAs, who focus on a particular function, such as HR, finance or supply chain; IT-oriented BAs, who report into IT; and business technology BAs, who possess a blend of broad business experience and operational know-how as well as a high degree of tech know-how. However, the analysis and discussion of business analyst career path seems just as applicable to all other BAs and those who are interested in becoming one.

Author: Thomas Wailgum , CIO

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