Leadership & Management

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If a business analyst is to step up to the task of becoming a credible project team leader, she must have an understanding of how teams work and the dynamics of team development. Team leaders cultivate specialized skills that are used to build and maintain high-performing teams and spur creativity and innovation. Traditional managers and technical leads cannot necessarily become effective team leaders without the appropriate mindset, training, and coaching.

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As trusted advisors, business analysts must never forget the value of collaborating with stakeholders at all levels of an organization. The world of Agile has demonstrated this very point and is doing so with great positive impact and effect on the bottom line of many projects. When initiatives and projects are not collaborative, there is always a failing point within the stakeholder community.

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As businesses acknowledge the value of business analysis – the result of the absolute necessity to drive business results through projects – they are struggling to figure out three things:

  1. What are the characteristics of their current BA workforce, and how capable does their BA team need to be?

  2. What is needed to build a mature BA Practice?

  3. How are we going to get there?

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Of the four articles in the series, this particular article is the most sensitive. If not practiced with caution, trying to influence someone or a situation could have a devastating impact. Therefore, this article comes with a disclaimer: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
 

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Teams that are geographically distributed and primarily work virtually face many challenges. One of them is sharing knowledge. I am part of an organization which has a team in Denmark responsible for development of the platform we support, while a team in India is responsible for the maintenance.

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Now that you’re prepared to work with executives, I’m sorry to inform you that the tough stuff is about to begin. While preparation and understanding are crucial elements, and speaking executive language further deepens our conversations, the real meat on the dog bone is taking the next step and beginning to develop your relationship and establishing yourself as a trusted advisor.
 

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Business value is a new indicator for project success. Huh? You may be wondering what ever happened to the good ole scope, schedule, and budget. They are still there and measured, but what the 2012 trends have been pointing to is that a project completed within scope, schedule, and budget and not be successful.

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In this four part series, I will give you the confidence and motivation you need to make a difference; a difference that will allow you to “Bark with the Big Dogs.” What I’m about to share is tried, tested and true. There are no gimmicks. Before you read on, ask yourself this: “Am I willing to try something different?”

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I was recently working with a client who said that the life of a BA in his organization is complicated, primarily because very few people really understand what Business Analysts (BAs) do. I have felt for a very long time that perhaps our most compelling challenge is to change the organizational view of our role as primarily “requirements collectors” and to help stakeholders see the true value that business analysis brings to the enterprise.

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December ought to be a month of celebrations, but for managers it often isn’t. In many companies this is the time for the yearly performance appraisals. When top management is not trusting employees, and employees are not trusting top management, the middle manager is usually caught between a rock and a hard place. But they don’t have to be.

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Leadership is like genius, it is one of those concepts that is recognizable when you observe it in action, but is otherwise somewhat difficult to define. And creative leadership is even harder to define because we haven’t been focusing on it in the context of business, unless we are talking about new product development. But creativity and innovation in the business world is not just about product innovation. 

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... it became clear to me that it was time to revisit the core role a business analyst fulfills in an organization. In my experience thus far, well over 75% of the business analysts I know report through the IT side of their organization. Of the 25% that report through the business side, most have a primary responsibility that is outside of the typical business analysis role.

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I was asked my opinion about whether I’d want project managers to focus on processes first or tools first. Without hesitation, my response was “I don’t really care whether project managers focus on process or tools first,as long as they don’t get in the way of our doing good business analysis!”

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The Agile Extension to the BABOK® describes “business analysis areas of knowledge, their associated activities and tasks, and the skills necessary to be effective in their execution within the framework of agile software development”.  Below are 3 misconceptions that, in my opinion, the current draft of the Agile Extension is helping perpetuate.
 

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In many organizations, culture and conventional wisdom make it difficult for the BA to break out of mostly tactical roles within projects. However, in many ways, the future competitiveness of your organization (and consequently of your future employment) depends on it! So don’t blink or you will miss out on the best BA opportunity of your career.

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