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Author: Manish Goyal

Are Business Analysis Documents Becoming the Dumping Ground?

Few of the areas within the business analysis context are least understood and as a result the business analysis document becomes a dumping ground of the project content and activities.

Do these questions ring a bell?

  1. Can we avoid the BA documents to be a dumping ground or catch all for the project activities?
  2. Are the stakeholders trying to prescribe “detail tasks” instead of focusing on their actual needs?
  3. Does your stakeholder team get upset when you refuse to record un-related information in the BA documents?
  4. How do we make sure that un-related things are really those un-related things and it needs a bigger and better house?

As Business Analysts, you need to be cautious about the information which needs to be captured. You should be able to decide/comment on content of the document. The suggestions below may help you decide in the future should the above questions arise.

Few areas which are least understood and could be improved are listed below:

  1. Assumptions: Make sure you have a clear understanding of each of the topics of the document. For ex. If there is an Assumption section then to make sure that the assumptions are minimal and purely related to the requirement analysis activities instead of the project activities. Also the exact meaning of Assumption is “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof”. If your statement clears this test then it is considered as an assumption.
  2. Functional Specification: In the name of functional specification, sometimes the stakeholders are tempted to provide step-by-step and task-by-task description so that the information is not taken out of context. Make sure that the specifications do not contain step-by-step information. For ex: Do this once you have done this.

  3. Business Rules: These are policy statements which do not change over the period of time. It only changes when business changes the way they are doing business.

  4. Business Metrics: Be cautious about the business metrics as it should not include project metrics. Rather it should capture the metrics which would be impacted because of the new/updated business needs.

  5. Repeating: Sometimes the stakeholders become overcautious and they would like to state the same thing in different words in different parts of the document. Make sure that you communicate and emphasize the importance of information overloading.

These were some of the areas which I thought need to be watched carefully while you are dealing with different stakeholders. I am sure there will be several different areas like the above where the business analysts need to be cautious about the content. The idea over here was to provocate thoughts in your mind on this topic. 

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.