Leadership & Management

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Successful projects—and successful relationships—are based on realistic commitments, not on fantasies and empty promises. This article, adapted from the book Practical Project Initiation, presents several ways to improve your ability to make, and keep, achievable commitments... Unfulfilled promises ultimately lead to unhappy people and unsuccessful projects. Strive to build a realistic commitment ethic in your team—and in yourself.

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The fact that software projects and tasks are reported to be “90 percent done” for a long time has become something of an industry joke. (A related joke states that the first half of a software project consumes the first 90 percent of the resources, and the second half consumes the other 90 percent of the resources.) This well-intentioned but misleading status tracking makes it difficult to judge when a body of work will truly be completed so you can ship the next product release to your customers. Here are several typical causes of “90 percent done” syndrome and a few possible cures.

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The ability to build and exude self-confidence can contribute to success in many areas of our lives from personal to professional. Unfortunately, many business analysts who are beginners or experienced but new to an organization are not provided with the tools and recourses to be confident in their ability to add value to their organization. As a BA, self-confidence facilitates the ability to build relationships, gain respect, and influence others. Below are some of the most effective tactics that I have taken throughout my career to bolster my confidence as a business analyst. Once I became confident in myself, I started noticing that other people’s confidence in my abilities increased as well. Hopefully, these tips will help you recognize your true potential and the value you bring as a business analyst.
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In recent years, agile software development has been the classic example of this pursuit of magic solutions, so I’ll use that as an example here. Over the years, though, people have leapt onto the bandwagons of numerous new software approaches. They all have merits, they all have limitations, and they all need to be applied to appropriate problems.
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Our job is to be trusted advisors and one area where we can establish trust is to help our stakeholders understand language that might be confusing to them. In order words, we can establish trust by translating technical complexity into business language. We BAs have always done this. We take customer requirements and translate them into something the technical folks can understand…and vice versa.  But what about translating in the digital world? We still need to translate, but it’s different. It’s more complex. 

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The design of major systems need not be a complicated process couched in a cryptic vocabulary using seemingly esoteric techniques. While the state of the art in programming has undergone considerable changes over the last half century, little progress has been made in the area of systems which has stagnated due to the lack of standards and the heavy emphasis on programming.
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Nonetheless, it's a new year, and time to go back to work. January is when we reset the statistics, brace for a new year, and try to prove ourselves once again. Some people have trouble getting back into the swing of work after the holidays; they've probably slept too much, partied too much, and ate way too much, which explains the five-to-eight pounds they've put on. This is why dieting and temperance are among the top New Year's resolutions. Regardless, they are having trouble focusing on their work.

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For almost 10 years we have enjoyed reflecting on what’s happened the previous year and making predictions for the upcoming year in the realms of Business Analysis, Project Management, and Agile. Some of the recent trends we have discussed: The digital BA, Lean business cases, BAs and PMs in a Dev Ops environment, BAs and PMs in the gig economy, etc.  Here are five industry trends that we have chosen for 2019:...

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One of my former business analysts on the team asked me this question recently; ‘I am really over being a BA. How do I move into strategy?’ I got to the realization that she was associating ‘strategy’ with a job title which consists of certain tasks.  In my view, it appears as if for some business analysts, before becoming strategic, they have to be given a title ‘Strategic Business Analyst’. This I believe is the mystery that surrounds ‘strategy’ and ‘strategic thinking’, making it appear as a destination to reach, at some point.

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The relationship between a business analyst and the stakeholders is one of the fundamentals to the journey of delivery. If the relationship is dysfunctional, the process of delivering the solution will be negatively impacted... Each one of us is blessed with a different personality that makes us unique. In the case of business analysts, personality plays an important role, thus making it a key to survival. Business analysts are adaptive survivors. It is imperative that every impacted stakeholder is engaged and collaborating. It's fundamental to a robust requirements analysis process. Having mentioned the need to bond with your stakeholders, let’s see what skills are needed to be a successful business analyst.

 

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Quality and service used to be considered paramount in this country. If it wasn't just right, you were expected to do it over again until you got it right. We cared about what we produced because it was a reflection of our personal character and integrity. But somewhere along the line we lost our way and craftsmanship has fallen by the wayside. Why? Probably because we no longer care.
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Success and failure are difficult to define and measure since they may mean different things to different people. An assumption that success can be quantified seldom holds true in the face of an ever-changing yardstick used to measure success. What might be considered to be a successful attribute today can be rendered unsuccessful under the influence of dynamic and multi-dimensional constraints.  A project is primarily implemented to target a predefined outcome, and it is imperative to measure the output in order to determine the benefit derived through the project. However, benefits realized do not necessarily add up to success. Project ‘success’ is different than ‘benefits realization’.

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One of the key aspects to be considered before implementation of Agile methodologies is the degree of agility suitable for the organization. Due consideration should be given to the ‘current state’ before we create a proposal for the ‘future state’ of agility desired. Neglecting this aspect may invalidate the very purpose behind the endeavor.  Degree of agility refers to the relative ability of an organization to adapt to the lightweight methodologies in conjunction with an assessment of current state process maturity.

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Since 2009 we have enjoyed reflecting on what’s happened the previous year on projects and making predictions for the upcoming year. Here are some of the recent trends we have discussed: agile successes and challenges, recognize the importance of roles that help maximize value, Scaling Agile, Certification trends in business analysis, etc...

Here are the seven industry trends that we have chosen for 2018.

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In his classic book Flawless Consulting, Peter Block described three types of roles that consultants might take on: expert, pair-of-hands, and collaborator. Each of these represents a different kind of interaction when working with clients and a different source of satisfaction for the consultant. Business analysts can engage with clients in the same three modes. This article describes some of my experiences with these three modes of consulting engagements.

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