Agile Methods

Jan 29, 2023
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This thought recently popped into my mind when someone asked me what template to follow when writing a user story. Perhaps you have encountered or asked this question before. As a Business Analyst, I want to use a template to write a user story, so that, my team will understand the requirements.  Do formats and templates really matter?

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I hope the above two examples give you an idea about how different the projects use agile principles based on the nature of the project. And I believe this would give you some tips if want to adjust the existing agile practice in your project too. So, the BA’s who have not worked in agile projects before, now you know how the real world agile projects are….

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If you surf the internet for ‘agile project methodology”, you may get lots of web pages explaining a similar set of activities which are /should be followed in Agile projects.  Unless you have working experience in an agile project environment, you may imagine what a well-defined and smooth process the agile projects have!! 

What if you have really worked on an agile project, would you have the same perspective? Especially if you are a Business Analyst or an Iteration Manager…. ? Those BA’s and IM’s… I know what your answer is and the long explanation about your agile project experience is.. I can imagine even your annoyed faces …

Oct 02, 2022
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The objective of this article is to help business analysts capture functional requirements for an information system as User Stories. It discusses four levels of story. The first two levels represent business context. Levels three and four involve functional detail needed by developers and testers to deliver stories at those levels.

Aug 07, 2022
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What is Use Case?

Use case represents requirement in the form of user interactions with the system. Use case is always written with a specific user goal in mind. Each use case must contain an actor and verb. For example, ‘online buyer’ is an actor and ‘add item to cart’ is a verb.

A use case diagram represents the scope of all the features of the solution. It follows Unified Modelling Language™ notation. Use case diagram comprises of several use cases that make the system altogether.

What is User Story?

User story is a business analysis artifact that is also user or persona driven. It describes the business need in the form of an ability user (or system) wants in the solution. It also must state why the ability is required and what the benefits of that ability are. It does not have any mandatory format though

User story is part of the (product/project) backlog. The backlog in turn contains user stories/tasks (requirements) in a linear fashion. Backlog is usually prioritized from high to low, additionally with a ranking when priorities are the same. When it is prioritized by business value of the tasks/stories in it, it is called managed backlog. In many projects, user stories are also represented visually as a user story map, which is a structured visualization of a backlog. User story map is a map of user stories that are transposed from a linear backlog, onto a visual working board.

Each of this concept is a detailed topic in itself. For the context of this article, I will limit it only at the introductory level. Let's now look into differences and similarities between user stories and use cases.

Mar 06, 2022
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Agile project management describes an iterative approach that targets project management in a given setup. Usually, Agile project management focuses on subdividing large projects into smaller and more manageable tasks. These tasks are completed in some sort of short iterations that cover the entire project life cycle. 

If your team takes advantage of agile methodology, it will have higher chances of finishing the work faster, optimizing the workflow, and adapting to ever-changing project requirements. 

Agile project management enables your team to re-evaluate every single task it is undertaking. The Agile project management also lets the team members adjust in increments to keep up with the shifting customer landscape.

Feb 06, 2022
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One of the most empowering aspects of the agile mindset is that fact that agile teams are generally self-organized verses the traditional command and control protocols of traditional project management. While there are several benefits to self-organizing teams, it can lead to failure if the team misses some key planning aspects during team formation. Agile chartering is key to executing successful agile initiatives. In general, agile charters consist of the project charter and a team charter. The project charter defines the project vision and objectives, while the team charter establishes how the team will work together and how they can incorporate agile values as the team collaborates. A team charter is especially critical when organizations are new to the process of incorporating agile frameworks into the organization as it will facilitate knowledge transfer and identify key learning opportunities. With that said, here are some key reasons agile teams need team charters.

Dec 12, 2021
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In my experience while working for different companies, I have seen that some organisations are learning to be agile while some pretend to be agile and others are not agile at all. While we are not here to talk about the last category (assuming they have a very good reason for not wanting to go agile), I would like to put down some challenges for organisations who are on their journey to becoming agile and for those who think they are agile but are possibly not. In this article, I am going to talk about my understanding of the plausible reasons why some organisations struggle to make it.

Nov 28, 2021
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Is there something called as Agile BA or DevOps BA? Or is there a dedicated role such as ‘BA in DevOps’? How are Agile and DevOps related? How does BA role change or goes through metamorphosis, when it comes to DevOps?

One day, I got a corporate training enquiry and that is when I heard the term ‘Agile BA’ for the first time. At that time, I had already worked on Agile projects yet nobody had referred to my role particularly as Agile BA. A thought came to my mind, what if there was a job post saying “looking for a ‘Waterfall BA’?” I even heard once: “With DevOps there is hardly any role a need for BA or PM”.

Oct 10, 2021
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One of the biggest challenges now facing business analysts is this: how do we successfully engage with stakeholders, elicit requirements, and have productive workshops and meetings, without actually meeting in person? The tried-and-tested methods of getting together in a collaborative space, using sticky notes and whiteboards, and bribing attendees with baked goods, are no longer quite so straightforward in a world where some or all of the stakeholders are on the far end of an internet connection.

There are several factors to consider when moving out of the purely physical realm as a business analyst.

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How do we know when a user story is “done“? Can we say that the user story is done when it is coded and all acceptance tests for it are passed? Business representatives may say yes, but they do not know all the peculiarities of software development. So, such criteria as quality are not fully visible to them.

Or let’s have a look at another situation: a new feature that changed the business process was developed and tested according to the best software practices, but users struggle to use this feature because they are not sure about the changes this feature brings. Maybe a proper user manual or user training is needed in this case?

In this article, a simple, but very powerful technique which is called Definition of Done (DoD) is explained.

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My experience taught me that the Scrum process framework is not the complete story. Scrum does not identify roles for the business analyst, system architect, tester, UI designer or deployment engineers. Instead, the work normally performed by these roles is performed by the development team or the product owner. It is possible that the Scrum development team includes people with all of these skills, but the problem is that all the development team work is performed within a sprint cycle. The only activity that Scrum identifies outside a sprint cycle is maintenance of a product backlog (and even then it is not documented as an activity in the Scrum framework).

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Ever wondered how to write foolproof acceptance criteria? Or even wondered what a business analyst can do to ensure that requirements are testable? Acceptance criteria define the minimum requirements the solution must meet. A business analyst plays a key role in defining the tests around it. The acceptance tests can be at various levels of requirements detail. Starting from high-level requirements to detailed requirements. Let’s take a look at common challenges involved in this part of the world, along with a few ideas to overcome those.

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A business event is something that happens, and when it happens it causes a pre-planned response by the business, or as we shall call it here, “the work”. One category of business events are the things that happen inside an adjacent system. The work is made aware that the business event has happened because each happening produces a flow of data to the work. A business event is a significant happening – it is not just a mouse click. It is often a request for a service that your business provides, and the outcome is the provision of the service or product.

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Writing functional specifications as a business analyst (BA) in an agile ecosystem is a challenge of a different kind. You no longer have the luxury of time (unlike bigger waterfall projects). You no longer can be sure with a specification version as the final document (because of the iterative philosophy). You are not sure how comprehensive the functional specification should be (Agile manifesto: working software over comprehensive documentation).

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