Leadership & Management

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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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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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