Tuesday, 05 December 2017 07:21

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Collaboration!

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Collaboration is one of the most difficult actions we complete in the Business Analysis world.

Working with stakeholders can sometimes feel like a grueling task after weeks of meetings leading up to requirement approvals from stakeholders. I have discussed this topic in previous article I've written, but today I'd like to discuss collaboration among other Business Analysts when working on a project that involves multiple authors or writers of the same set of requirements.

In my experience as a business analyst the majority of the work I have completed involves a single business analyst assigned to a project, however, there are some projects that I have worked on that are just too large for a single business analyst to be involved and there are often 2-3 other business analysts working together to meet the project goals. This process can just as complicated as working with other stakeholders on a project. Opinions are many and voiced often. Temperatures run high at times. In the end, strong collaboration surpasses these complications and the end goal is achieved.

Below are some methods or techniques that I have followed over the years to help guide this process:

Plan, Do, Review, and Improve

The four phases of this technique – used to coordinate and publish complete and consistent requirements – are detailed below.

  Phase  Description
   1    Plan  The architect or group of authors plan the work to be done once the high-level requirements (HLRs) have been defined.
Planning includes the following:
  • Determining and agreeing upon the HLRs for the project.
  • Assigning HLRs or sections to the various requirement authors.
  • Determining the structure in which to write the requirements.
  • Determining a timetable to complete the various sections of the requirements.
   2    Do  The authors create all functional requirements that lie within the HLRs or sections assigned to them.
   3    Review The requirement authors review each other's work. They read through the requirements as if the subject matter were new, asking open-ended questions such as "How does this functional requirement connect to the scope?" and "Why is this requirement important to the scope of the project?"
   4    Improve Consider and implement the suggestions and comments received from the other requirement authors. Requirements should be improved through editing content, grammar, and requirement structure.
Note: The Architect will be accountable for ensuring updates are made accordingly.

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Requirements Workshops

Requirement Workshops can be very effective for gathering requirements. They are more structured than brainstorming sessions, and participants collaborate to document requirements. A workshop is an effective technique when there is more than one analyst working on gathering and documenting requirements through facilitation and documentation.

Through these sessions both business unit and development subject matter experts (SMEs) collaborate to define and review the business requirements for a system. This allows the two parties to resolve any differences of opinion regarding the design.

More information on Requirement Workshops may be found within the IIBA BABOK V3.0 Guide.

Architect

The architect of a project is responsible for the Requirements Architecture as a whole. He or she will own the role of owner of the requirements.
Responsibilities include:

  • Determine completeness of the requirements.
  • Determine consistency of the requirements.
  • Determine the requirements align with the scope of the project.
  • Determine the structure of the requirements adhere to the guidelines that your company has set for requirements writing and documenting.
  • Coordinate with the other requirements authors.

Additional Techniques

Additional techniques for collaborative writing can be found in a number of ways:

  • Printed and online publications specializing in Business Analysis.
  • Online academic or scholarly articles from leading business universities.
  • Industry leading conferences such as ones through the IIBA.
  • Industry leading webinars from sources such as the IIBA and Bob the BA.
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Tom McIntire

Tom is a Systems Business Analyst with Jackson National Life. He has over 10 years of experience working in the field of Business Analytics primarily in Waterfall Methodology and a hybrid of Waterfall/Agile. He contributes to the Business Analytics community through blogs, articles, and training opportunities.

He has as strong background in education and social sciences through Central Michigan University where he obtained his B.S. in Social Sciences. He also has received his MBA through Chadron State College.

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