Leadership & Management

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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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In a nutshell, a methodology represents a series of steps in a project specifying Who is to perform What, When, Where, Why, and How (aka, "5W+H"), from start to finish. Perhaps the best way to think of a methodology is as a roadmap or an assembly line where a product is developed over a series of work stations.

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I’m pleased to continue to uphold: the unveiling of this year’s top 10 business analysis trends. This year business analysts (BAs) will need not only the balanced portfolio of technical and business skills they have been perfecting, but also a more comprehensive perspective in order to meet the challenging business environment of 2012.

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Creating a BA Center of Excellence (BA COE) is a proven method for effectively reaching these goals with a BA team. In addition to improving BA performance in the traditional fields of elicitation and drafting, they aid in improving the other ‘soft’ skills that are becoming increasingly mandatory for a BA to possess.

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Lean techniques use a process-oriented approach. In non-industrial organizations however, the process is invisible. In order to apply Lean techniques successfully in this environment, the visibility of processes has to be significantly increased. Employees have to learn to look at their organization from a process viewpoint. Furthermore, it is important that the method is applied to all layers of the organization.

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Instead of taking for granted that either you find a flavor of agile that will fit the needs of your organization, or you must completely dismiss the use of agile methods, a much more valuable approach is to determine, for each individual project, which agile concepts should be embraced or not.

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To remain competitive, it is more important than ever for an organization’s leadership team to use business analysis (BA) practices to execute strategies through innovative solutions. Over the years, business analysis has been rapidly developing as a profession and as a core business practice in many organizations; however, all too often business analysis is still in its foundational stages.

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Your new system just went live and the project, that replaced a critical legacy system, is coming to a close. Business analysts gathered requirements and worked closely with users and developers, but did you capture all of the requirements?

 

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