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Author: LN Mishra

LN Mishra (LN) CBAP, CBDA, AAC, CCA Helping BAs to Improve Their Careers: Guided 1000+ BAs to be IIBA® Certified World’s 1st BA to hold all 6 IIBA certifications Practicing BA for 25+ years, Acclaimed Author, Versatile Trainer and Consultant Co-founder and COO @ Adaptive US I have 25+ years of professional experience in agile software development, requirements analysis, business analysis, IT GRC, and management consulting. I currently play the role of business analysis thought leader and product owner, SuXeed, Adaptive’s flagship learning solution. He has been part of multiple large system developments, In-country Value System for PDO Oman and the Color Data Management System for AkzoNobel. I was also involved in multiple large ERP implementation projects and was involved in one of the world’s largest change management programs in PricewaterhouseCoopers, for a large utility agency. I have conducted 300+ workshops in business analysis, requirements management, agile, software project management, Six Sigma, CMM, ISO 9001, and ISO 27001. I have guided 30+ six sigma projects in iGate, MACH, and Akzo Nobel. I hold Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) from IIM Ahmedabad and BE (Honors) in Electronics.

Best of BATimes: 16 Business Analysis Principles

A principle can be defined as an underlying fundamental law or concept. Therefore, Business Analysis principles are the basic rules that should be followed to manage changes successfully.

The Business Analysis Book of Knowledge (BABOK) does not currently contain an official list of principles for successful change initiatives. However, IIBA’s Agile Analysis Guide provides 7 principles which are:

  1. See the whole.
  2. Think as a customer.
  3. Analyze to determine what is valuable.
  4. Get real using examples.
  5. Understand what is doable.
  6. Stimulate collaboration and continuous improvement.
  7. Avoid waste.

 

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Here are 16 Business Analysis Principles we are proposing:
  1. Set clear and objective goals and outcomes – A change without clear objectives is bound to fail.
  2. Engage stakeholders continuously – Stakeholder needs are the reason for the change. Stakeholders must work together throughout the project.
  3. Include all relevant stakeholders – Successful change management requires all key stakeholders to be included in the change initiative.
  4. Think holistically – Changes affect people, processes, and technology and are essential for successful change.
  5. Adapt vigorously – Welcome change for competitive advantage.
  6. Deliver iteratively – Better outcomes frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  7. Encourage change adoption – Motivate stakeholders to change for the better.
  8. Communicate frequently – The most efficient and effective communication is face-to-face conversation.
  9. Measure continually – Better outcomes are the primary measure of progress.
  10. Work sustainably – Stakeholders should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  11. Pursue excellence – Continuous attention to excellence in business analysis skills, processes, and tools.
  12. Avoid waste – Art of maximizing the number of requirements not done–is essential.
  13. Reflect regularly – Stakeholders reflect on how to become more effective, then change behavior accordingly.
  14. Organize dynamically – Best solutions emerge from self-organizing teams.
  15. Manage risks proactively – Identify, analyze, and mitigate risks
  16. Define roles and responsibilities – Set clear expectations from all key stakeholders.

 

I sincerely believe having a set of guiding principles for a profession is extremely valuable. Do comment about any other key principle we should include in the principles.

Important Techniques for CBAP Certification Examination

This again is a very frequent question that we receive from our CBAP participants. BABoK V3 has 50 techniques and obviously, all techniques would not be of equal importance for all three certifications. Some techniques are more important to junior business analysts and some techniques are used more by the Senior Business Analysts.

In this article, we are going to categorize the techniques into three categories based on their complexity levels. Low complexity techniques are more useful for ECBA aspirants. Medium and high complex ones are more important for CBAP examination aspirants. High complexity techniques would require CBAP practitioners more time and effort to understand and be comfortable with.

You must be wondering how did we come up with this list?

It’s primarily based on inputs from many of our past CBAP participants regarding what kind of techniques challenged them more during the CBAP certification examination. Secondly, most business analysts start their careers as requirements analysts and as part of requirement analysis work, they use some techniques more extensively than others. Techniques that typically belong to strategy analysis planning and solution evaluation are the techniques where usually many have a lesser comfort level and obviously, they need to pay more attention to those techniques. Three specific areas that we would advise CBAP participants to pay attention are the techniques related to Financial Analysis, Decision Analysis, and UML.

Here are a few blogs and videos that we published which will help CBAP aspirants:

Estimation

https://www.adaptiveus.com/business-analysis-estimation-technique/

Metrics and KPI

https://www.adaptiveus.com/business-analysis-world-indicators/

Data and Concept model

https://www.adaptiveus.com/concept-model-vs-data-model/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdvgaxqTkmE&feature=youtu.be

Process analysis

https://www.adaptiveus.com/process-modeling-vs-process-analysis/

Business model canvas

https://www.adaptiveus.com/balanced-scorecard-vs-business-model-canvas/

Non-functional requirements

https://www.adaptiveus.com/blog/non-functional-requirements

 

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Stakeholder list, map, and personas

Here is a summary of important techniques for CBAP certification:

Author: L N Mishra, Co-Founder, Adaptive US

 

L N Mishra co-founded Adaptive US, a business analysis skill development organization, working with professionals from 80+ countries in skyrocketing their BA career and staying ahead of the game. He has helped 5000+ BA professionals to achieve better salary and role in their BA career. He is the ONLY trainer who holds all 7 certifications from IIBA (ECBA, CCBA, CBAP, CCA, AAC, CBDA, and CPOA).

LN has authored 12 best-selling books on business analysis. He is also a Versatile trainer, coach and speaker on all IIBA Certifications.

Grab a copy of best-selling eBook –  FREE 50 CBAP Exam Mock Questions Plus Comprehensive CBAP Exam Information utilized by 1000s of BA professionals to ace their IIBA exam.

 

LN is also a member of IIBA Question Setting Committee, mentored 100+ global clients and 3000+ Bas. He has 24+ years of working experience as a Business Analyst and conducted 1000+ workshops in business analysis, requirements engineering and agile, project management, requirements engineering and different BA Skilled webinars.

Please write to LN if your thoughts are in sync with his or if they spark a thought in you.

50 Most Dangerous Words for Business Analysts

As business analysts, it’s our primary responsibility to bring clarity to requirements communication. Unfortunately, many words spoken by our stakeholders can be ambiguous. Not understanding these words in their proper context or without adequate information can lead to situations where different stakeholders can have a different understanding of the same word.

One of my very favorite words is Manage. Manage can mean anything under the sun to anyone. For example, managing a schedule to me means creating a schedule, viewing schedule, updating schedule, deleting schedule, importing schedule, exporting schedule, reporting on schedule, and alerting schedule delays. For the developer in my team, managing a schedule could simply mean creating a schedule, viewing the schedule, updating the schedule, and deleting the schedule (The four fundamental operations on data).

Discussing the ambiguous terms with stakeholders will give them the idea that something is also missing from their end. They can do some more research to find how exactly they want the system to behave rather than giving information that is at a higher level. In this blog, I am writing down the top 50 ambiguous words I came across as a business analyst. I want all my business analyst friends to contribute to this list so that we can comprehensively list the ambiguous words.

Any time any of our stakeholders use these words, we would know that there is some ambiguity involved. It’s not that the ambiguity is always bad, but it must be clarified before something goes for designing and development. So till the time we are far away from that, it’s ok, but as we come closer to the design and development phase, we must find the real concrete information so that the development team can design the solution as per the stakeholder requirements.

 

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Rank The word What makes it dangerous
50 Most appropriate Who decides what’s most appropriate?
49 As soon as possible In the next 5 seconds?
48 In future By EoD Tomorrow?
47 ETC Missing details
46 TBD When?
45 Usually Where is the unusual stuff?
44 Generally Non-precise
43 Normally Non-precise
42 To the greatest extent Who decides the extent?
41 Properly Non-precise
40 Where practicable Conditions not specified
39 Supported Passive voice, Actor unknown
38 Handled Passive voice, Actor unknown
37 Processed Passive voice, Actor unknown
36 Rejected Passive voice, Actor unknown
35 Always Assumed certainty which does not exist
34 Never Assumed certainty which does not exist
33 All Assumed certainty which does not exist
32 None Assumed certainty which does not exist
31 Every Assumed certainty which does not exist
30 Earliest Non-precise
29 Latest Non-precise
28 Highest Non-precise
27 Fastest Non-precise
26 Flexible Non-precise
25 Modular Non-precise
24 Efficient Non-precise
23 Adequate Non-precise
22 Minimum required Minimum shall be achieved
21 Minimum acceptable Minimum shall be achieved
20 Better Non-precise
19 Higher Non-precise
18 Faster Non-precise
17 Less Non-precise
16 Slower Non-precise
15 Infrequent Non-precise
14 To the extent specified Non-precise
13 To the extent required Non-precise
12 Very high Non-precise
11 Very low Non-precise
10 Fantastic What is Fantastic?
9 Multiple currencies Which currencies?
8 Multiple languages Which languages?
7 Multiple browsers Which browsers? Even for the same browser, which versions?
6 Robust Non-precise
5 Sturdy Non-precise
4 User-friendly Non-precise
3 Great performance How do you determine that?
2 User All users or specific types of users?
1 Manage Possibly the most dangerous verb – Can mean anything under the sun

What other words would you like to add to the above list?

Sixteen Business Analysis Principles

A principle can be defined as an underlying fundamental law or concept. Therefore, Business Analysis principles are the basic rules that should be followed to manage changes successfully.

The Business Analysis Book of Knowledge (BABOK) does not currently contain an official list of principles for successful change initiatives. However, IIBA’s Agile Analysis Guide provides 7 principles which are:

  1. See the whole.
  2. Think as a customer.
  3. Analyze to determine what is valuable.
  4. Get real using examples.
  5. Understand what is doable.
  6. Stimulate collaboration and continuous improvement.
  7. Avoid waste.

 


Advertisement

Here are 16 Business Analysis Principles we are proposing:
  1. Set clear and objective goals and outcomes – A change without clear objectives is bound to fail.
  2. Engage stakeholders continuously – Stakeholder needs are the reason for the change. Stakeholders must work together throughout the project.
  3. Include all relevant stakeholders – Successful change management requires all key stakeholders to be included in the change initiative.
  4. Think holistically – Changes affect people, processes, and technology and are essential for successful change.
  5. Adapt vigorously – Welcome change for competitive advantage.
  6. Deliver iteratively – Better outcomes frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  7. Encourage change adoption – Motivate stakeholders to change for the better.
  8. Communicate frequently – The most efficient and effective communication is face-to-face conversation.
  9. Measure continually – Better outcomes are the primary measure of progress.
  10. Work sustainably – Stakeholders should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  11. Pursue excellence – Continuous attention to excellence in business analysis skills, processes, and tools.
  12. Avoid waste – Art of maximizing the number of requirements not done–is essential.
  13. Reflect regularly – Stakeholders reflect on how to become more effective, then change behavior accordingly.
  14. Organize dynamically – Best solutions emerge from self-organizing teams.
  15. Manage risks proactively – Identify, analyze, and mitigate risks
  16. Define roles and responsibilities – Set clear expectations from all key stakeholders.

I sincerely believe having a set of guiding principles for a profession is extremely valuable. Do comment about any other key principle we should include in the principles.

Business analysis canvas – The ultimate enterprise architecture

Business analysis is a fascinating subject.

As business analysts, we need to understand enterprises very well. However, when we look at different frameworks available for business analysis, they seem to be somewhat limited in their scope. Some of them are good in strategic thinking (like SWOT), some of them are good in tactical thinking (Business model canvas, SIPOC, VSM etc.), but there are no frameworks which give us an idea which covers both strategy and tactical aspects.

Business analysis canvas is an attempt to fulfill this need. In this, we are going to start with strategy and go down to the operational level.

Essentially it has 10 core elements and each core element, of course, has sub-elements which we need to understand. Here, we shall go through one by one: 

1. Vision / Goal / Objectives
2. External environment
3. Internal environment
4. Strategies
5. Customer management
6. Cost management
7. Stakeholder management
8. Product and services management
9. Risk management
10. Resources

1. Vision / Goal / Objectives

(Financial, Customer, People, Societal, Environmental, Process)
Vision / goal / objectives are essential for any organization to have long-term sustainable growth. Without a vision, it may be difficult for an enterprise to maintain focus. Organizations that do not develop a proper vision or goal usually underperform in the long term.
The organization can set goals and objectives with respect to various aspects such as financial, customer, people, societal, environmental, process etc.

2. External environment

(Competition, Customer, Macroeconomic environment, Regulation, Technology)
The second key element that business analysts must pay attention to is what is happening in the external environment. All businesses operate within an economic environment, which is changing constantly.
Environment essentially comprises of factors like competitors, customers, macroeconomic factors, regulation, and technology.This offers tremendous opportunity, as well as posing threats to the organization. So business analysts must figure out what is happening in the external environment, and how can the organization take benefit of the changes in the environment, or protect itself from the threats arising from the external environment.

3. Internal environment

(Culture, Structure, Products, Capabilities)
After external environment, the next element that business analysts must pay close attention to is the internal environment of the organization. Some the key factors that we look for in an internal environment are the culture of the organization, structure of the organization, the products that the organization has, services it provides, capabilities it has. If the internal environment becomes weak for an organization, it will also lead to the downfall of the organization. Organizations those do not develop capabilities continually or stop innovating or their culture becomes toxic, will for sure lead to organization’s failure.


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4. Strategies

(Innovation, Cost leadership, Quality, Focus, Customer intimacy)
Based on the organizational vision, goal, objectives, understanding of the external and internal environments, the organization must develop suitable strategies to be successful in the marketplace. Common strategies that most organizations follow are innovation, cost, leadership, quality, focus, and customer intimacy. There can be multiple strategies playing together in the organization.
However, the organization must figure out what strategy works well for the given size and maturity of the organization and act accordingly. Strategy affects organizational operations as well as sets the direction for the organization. One must be very careful in choosing strategy but at the same time, not get paranoid regarding it. This is because the strategies may work or may not, and one must figure out and adjust the organization strategy as it moves forward in the organizational journey.

5. Customer management

(Segments, value propositions)
Though customers are stakeholders as well, we must differentiate them as they are the most valuable stakeholder in the organization. Customers are the only source of revenue for any organization and understanding customer needs is extremely vital for any organization to be successful. The organization should identify the different kinds of segments and then develop propositions of the right value, which will attract potential customers to the organization. At the same time, the organization also must understand profitability aspects for each of the customer segments and figure out a way to serve each customer segment profitably.

6. Cost management

(Structure, Optimization)
If costs are not managed well in an organization, it will lead to a drop in the profitability and finally leading to shutdown of the organization. As business analysts, we should understand the different elements of the cost structure, and which elements of the structure can be optimized for organizational benefit. At the same time, one must be careful that the lowest cost is not necessarily the optimized cost because the lowest cost could compromise on the product or service quality. This, in turn, would affect organization’s customer satisfaction and ability to earn revenue from its customers.

7. Stakeholder management

(Identification, Analysis, Engagement)
Business analysts need to understand stakeholders for the organization, initiative or project as everything that business analysts do must add value to the stakeholders. Effective stakeholder management is essential for the success of any change. Stakeholders could be internal or external to the organization.
Key steps that we would follow for stakeholder management would be to identify stakeholders, analyze stakeholders for the criticality and contribution. Of course, business analysts must engage with stakeholders to reap benefits from the initiative.

8. Product and services management

(Portfolio, Contribution, Improvement, Processes)
Next element that we business analysts need to understand is product and services of the organization. Most organizations offer multiple products and services. It is essential for the organizations to understand the portfolio that they would like to maintain, contributions coming from different product and service lines, what kind of improvements or innovations are possible in existing products and services, and to develop new products and services, and bring about improvements to the processes carried out in the organizations.

9. Risk management

(Identification, Analysis, Mitigation)
Any organization has multiple risks from different sources including external and internal sources. Organizations must be cognizant of the sources of risks that it faces and develop suitable mitigations for managing business risks. Some activities can put the organization at a serious loss (even leading to the closure of the organization). All of us know the story of Enron and Arthur Andersen when they violated government regulations and finally leading to the closure of both these organizations. Not understanding risks coming from technological or demographic changes of customers can lead to companies going bankrupt because their products no longer have demand in the marketplace.

10. Resource management

(People, Financial, Technological, Physical)
The last element we discuss is resource management. Resources are essential for delivering any product and services to customers. Different kinds of resources that the organization must develop, maintain, and improve include people resources, financial resources, technological resources, and physical resources.

Nature of resources that an organization should possess is changing dramatically over the time. For many services organization in the olden days, having physical assets was very helpful. Today, in certain segments, it’s probably better not to have physical assets, but rather have digital assets. Physical assets require a significant amount of money to be maintained. In future, organizations will develop more and more digital assets as maintaining digital assets cost less, and can earn revenue across the globe, whereas physical resources mostly earn revenue from a specific geography.