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THE ANALYST (aka, Systems Analyst, Systems Engineer, Systems Architect, Business Analyst) - requires specifications about the end-User's information requirements in order to design a system solution.  This is normally based on a definition of the user's business actions and/or decisions to be supported.  Following the system design, the Analyst produces the specifications required by the Programmer and DBA to fulfill their part of the puzzle.  From this perspective, the Analyst is the translator between the end-User and the Programmers and DBAs.

Each party has his own unique perspective of the puzzle and, as such, requires different "specifications."  To compound the problem though, the role of the Analyst sharply diminished over the years, leaving it to the Programmers to try and determine what the end-User needs, a skill they are typically not trained or suited for. 

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To communicate or not to communicate? There is no question. As individuals and as organizations, we are constantly communicating — whether intentionally or unintentionally. The real question becomes whether we choose to effectively communicate or risk the high cost of miscommunication. The cost of miscommunication can take many forms, including but...
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In this issue of the IIBA Newsletter: The Annoyance of Bad Terminology by Kevin Brennan, CBAP Among the many challenges of developing the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge™ (BABOK™) is figuring out what to do when we realize that the business analysis community, or worse yet, parts of the community, have widely adopted unclear terminology. The ...
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I have been very fortunate to see a lot of this history first hand. I have observed changes not just in terms of systems and computers, but also how the trade press has evolved and the profession in general. It has been an interesting ride.

Throughout all of this, there have been some very intelligent people who have impacted the industry, there have also been quite a few charlatans, but there has only been a handful of true geniuses, one of which was Robert W. Beamer who passed away just a couple of years ago. Bob was the father of ASCII code, without which we wouldn't have the computers of today, the Internet, the billions of dollars owned by Bill Gates, or this document.

I always find it amusing when I tell a young person in this industry that I worked with punch cards and plastic templates years ago. Its kind of the same dumbfounded look I get from my kids when I tell them we used to watch black and white television with three channels, no remote control, and station signoffs at midnight. It has been my observation that our younger workers do not have a sense of history; this is particularly apparent in the systems world. If they do not have an appreciation of whence we came, I doubt they will have an appreciation of where we should be going. Consequently, I have assembled the following chronology of events in the hopes this will provide some insight as to how the systems industry has evolved to its current state.

I'm sure I could turn this into a lengthy dissertation but, instead, I will try to be brief and to the point. Further, the following will have little concern for academic developments but rather how systems have been implemented in practice in the corporate world.

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Recently I wrote a paper on the general state of craftsmanship which was geared more for public consumption as opposed to any specific industry. To my way of thinking, craftsmanship is a universal concept that touches all industries, regardless if they are product or service related.  This resulted in a flurry of e-mails to me questioning how it pertains to specific types of work, including Business Systems Analysis (BSA) which, of course, is applicable but I question whether we have truly realized craftsmanship in this field.

From the outset, let me say unequivocally that business systems analysis is not a new concept and has been with us for a long time, actually predating the modern computer era of the 20th century.  Prior to this, companies had formal "Systems & Procedures" departments with analysts focusing on streamlining business processes and primarily using paper and manual procedures.  As tabulating and other office equipment emerged, they were responsible for their integration into the business.  But as computers were introduced, a new function was devised that greatly impacted the future of analysts, namely programmers. 

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Analysts report poor requirements management accounts for as much as 71 percent of software project failures. The main cause is the gap between (a) what the business team wants and how it communicates this, and (b) what IT understands and delivers. No matter how good a project development environment is, if the requirements captured in the first p...
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Before we go further, let's examine what exactly we mean by the term "craftsmanship":

"The practice and pursuit of excellence in building/delivering superior work products by workers."

This implies craftsmanship is a universally applicable concept for any field of endeavor, be it producing a product or delivering a service. Basically, it is a commitment to excellence which is most definitely not the same as quality. Quality simply relates to the absence of errors or defects in the finished product or service. In other words, finished goods operate according to their specifications (customers get precisely what they ordered). Although quality is certainly an element of craftsmanship, the emphasis on "superior work products" means the worker wants to go beyond the status quo and is constantly looking for new and imaginative ways to produce superior results. This suggests the craftsman is personally involved with the work products and treats them as an extension of his/her life.

Craftsmanship can be found in either the overall work process or a section of it.

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Business analysts often end up in this role by accident, as their careers evolve. They are perhaps called on to work jointly with the business or computer department, and end up linking the two. Two major sources of BA professionals can therefore be considered: the computer world (e.g. architects, developers) and the business world.

What is the best background for becoming a business analyst? The debate is still ongoing in the community. Both have their qualities and their faults—computer people have a tendency to anticipate the solution while mangers sometimes lack the knowledge to interact with IT.

I believe that good business analysts are above all specialists in business analysis. They have backgrounds in both disciplines and act as a bridge between the two worlds.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities for systems analysts will increase at an above-average pace through 2014, as organizations continue to build and implement increasingly complex technologies. If you've been wondering whether you'd be happy in the role of systems analyst, take a look at the following list. If you see...
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The main benefit of today’s Agile development methodologies such as Scrum or XP is the promise of delivering more in a shorter period of time and the value derived from having the flexibility to adjust your course mid-way through a development effort. But does this type of approach allow for requirements management? Is RM necessary given the shorte...
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Many studies have shown that requirements errors are very costly. By one estimate (in an article by Donald Firesmith for the Software Engineering Institute), requirements errors cost US businesses more than $30 billion per year and often result in failed or abandoned projects and damaged careers. The common wisdom is to find and fix requirements er...
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Structure diagrams in general Structure diagrams show the static structure of the system being modeled. focusing on the elements of a system, irrespective of time. Static structure is conveyed by showing the types and their instances in the system. Besides showing system types and their instances, structure diagrams also show at least some of the ...
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U.S. News and World Report published their list of Best Careers for 2008 - and Usability/User Experience Professional is one of the listed professions.  This is a business analysis related discipline with many business analysts also playing the role of UI designer. "Usability specialists make sure that products, especially technical on...
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 The US News and World Report published their list of best careers for 2008 and Systems Analyst was one of the professions in the list. "The Ace Widget Co. has an ancient computer system. It'd like to upgrade to an Oracle-based operation with wireless capabilities, so employees can access the system with their BlackBerrys. The systems ...
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Many organizations are scratching their collective heads over how to build and mature a business analysis center of excellence (COE). Where do we start? What does a business analysis COE look like? Who owns it? How does it evolve? This article, an excerpt from ESI’s white paper of the same name, outlines the standard operating practices necessary f...
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