Leadership & Management

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Great teams, like all great organizations, are those that make a distinctive impact and deliver superior performance over a long period of time. For a project, performance is typically measured in terms of on time, under budget, with full scope of features, meeting quality specifications, and delivering the business benefit that was expected. Project teams do not need to be big to be great...big does not equal great. But all too often contemporary project teams are too large, too dispersed, too diverse, and just plain too complex to manage using typical project management techniques alone. So how can we be successful when a project demands complex teams? Success in the 21st century demands that we acquire new competencies to form, manage, and use large, diverse teams as a competitive advantage.

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The purpose of companies creating Business Analyst positions is to improve IT quality and efficiency while reducing project failures. When I first started as an Analyst, coming previously from the position of Software QA and having an education in technical writing (think documentation), I thought I was the perfect mix for the position. I quickly learned that having a job where I prove my worth through project success can be stressful.

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The Business Architecture has slowly emerged as a new and creative way to deliver value to enterprises that have undertaken this strategic initiative... However, many are rightly questioning the necessity of the Business Architecture, while trying to understand its purpose and realize its value. After all, most enterprises do not have a formal Business Architecture and many do not have plans to develop one.

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 This article considers the unique complexities of large, long-duration, high-cost projects that pose challenges to project success, and offers both old and new management strategies to handle the complexities... The complexities of large projects require that particular attention be directed to planning the project, developing and delivering the solution, selecting team members, and sustaining a high-performing team over the long haul.

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Through development and beyond we hope not to have show stoppers, anticipate builds and releases on time, expect teams to portray efficiency, want our customers to be happy, and hope that boss coming to work and singing melody. Sounds like a perfect five-course scrum, isn’t it?

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If you ask Business Analysts what they think about ‘Agile’, you’re likely to get a mixed bag of answers... With so many different ideas on what Agile is and how Agile impacts the Business Analysis profession, we decided to talk with leading experts in the Agile field and get their opinions on the subject.

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Business Analysts are required to contribute to a project in a number of ways: primarily by identifying the needs of the target community; building the Communications Plan; defining use case models; and Business Requirements document. In order to do their job effectively a large element of a BA’s time must be spent understanding and managing stakeholders in the project... From a CIO’s viewpoint the skills they look for in a good Business Analyst include an aspect of stakeholder management and an ability to find a path through the likely problem zones.

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Managers who supervise business analysts, particularly in large companies, frequently struggle with creating a competency model for BAs. What are the key elements to consider? How to structure the various BA levels and titles? How to make sure that the competency model truly reflects business needs? Even if it requires a certain level of effort to be developed, a competency model offers a number of benefit to organizations...

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Job sharing is growing in popularity across almost all corporate job sectors.  It also offers employers a viable option for balancing heavy workloads and retaining talent. Even if all of an organization's employees are full-time, should a project balloons unexpectedly and a business analyst become overloaded, the option to project-share would enable an employer to tag a less-stressed analyst to jump in and share the load.

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This year, organizations will be picking themselves up and dusting themselves off, becoming more savvy, agile and proactive. Business analysts are well positioned to help organizations meet the challenges of putting their houses back in order by helping to answer the question: “How and where do we create efficiencies that will help mitigate the sting of another possible economic downturn?”

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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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