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Monday, 06 April 2015 10:00

BA-elzebubs Glossary Four - The 'B's

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My brilliant readers know this piece of fun. Get credit in my next blog by offering more “B”s (and “C’s”) in the comments at bottom.

BA: See Business Analysis or Business Analyst.

Baseline: 1. A method of slowing progress to fit communal bandwidth; for example, the monthly rhythm of a change control board. 2. A clear, consistent, concise definition of feasible requirements suitable for: a) ruining with last minute executive confusion and “demand” deliverables; or b) for improving with carefully considered change management.

BB: Profession following BA.

BC: See BB.

Benchmark: 1. The mark made on the bench by project teams that watch what others do, similar in value and concept to the “hashmark”. 2. Solution speed comparison tests, as in “Wow, Amazon’s on-line store put us out of business in less than 10 years.”

Benefit: 1. Value that a solution might provide if implemented successfully; 2. The source of stakeholder fear of a solution. Example: “Digital blueprints mean that we don’t have to drive all over the county fetching and delivering blueprints, but driving around is more fun than actually supervising sewer work, on-site, most of the day.”

Best Practice: NOT what you are doing. Believe it. Diagnose it. Now change it. Repeat. Now you’re getting it – oops, not quite! Keep trying.

Beta Test: Formal term describing a solution that is not ready for commercial release, but is released to a limited number of users who help by giving feedback to the developers. Apple modernized this practice by releasing to all users while dropping the “beta” designation and using the word “free” instead. Microsoft is fighting back by moving to alpha releases but continuing to charge money, giving the illusion of product maturity.

Bit: 1. An information technology word never to be discussed with a business stakeholder. 2. A canned response to common stakeholder concerns. Example: “When the stakeholder objected to the process model, the BA bit them in the ear and the stakeholder dropped the objection”.

Box: A polite word for those in an organization who write the checks for “change consultants”. They do this for their own protection. Example: “He wanted Org X to get out of the box, so he hired the change consultant, but it turned out that he WAS the box, so he fired the change consultant!”

BPMN: 1. A notation for modeling a business process domain for stakeholders who can’t pretend to read but have no trouble pretending to understand a picture. 2. An alternative to sticking with text rendered so large that it can be confused with a picture. See PowerPoint discussion by Edward Tufte.

Brief: A highly compensated, highly expensive way of communicating. The most successful executives are brief in their communications (“of course this will be everything you want”) and in their tenures (“good luck, it was nice working at you”).

BS: Business Synthesis. What did YOU think?

Bug: A critical yet unexpected system feature from a developer. These (widely misunderstood) features help ensure that the developer’s software gets tested thoroughly once it is already released. Testing before release is optional – see “Baseline”).

Business: None of yours, hopeful elicitor :).

Business Analysis: The precursor to Business Synthesis.

Business Analyst: Anyone precursing Business Synthesis.

Business, Monkey: 1. The illegal trade in endangered primates. 2. Any decision made in the “C” suite without any sense of the impact on end users.

Business Requirement: 1. As commonly practiced by business executives, a business requirement is any requirement promoted by a “business” person in the organization, suiting the “business ego” needs of that stakeholder, in direct contradiction to BABOK. Example: “When this is over, we will still be a Microsoft shop, won’t we”? * 2. As defined by the BABOK, a business requirement describes the needs of the organization as a whole, and not groups of stakeholders within it. Example: “When this project is initiated, existing systems must continue to operate without additional downtime, as measured by existing availability reports.”

Business Rules: 1. Code buried deep where no businessperson can find it, known only to programmers, who can’t explain it. 2. Arbitrary wants that are un-code-able, as they cannot be explained. Example: “The system should automatically pick the best employee for promotion.” 3. Actual policies that govern transactions and entity relations of great value. These policies are typically kept out of code so they can be modified on the fly by spontaneous human judgment. Example: “No insurance company should carry more than 33% of all liability” is easily modified to add the phrase “unless the insurance company is run by people who assure us that all is OK and besides they are our friends.”

Button: The solution to everything. Examples: “Can’t we just add a button”? or “Can’t the system just push the button for us”?

Enjoy! And give BA-elzebub (not me!) some “C’s” below (Cache, Cynicism, Customer, Cost-Benefit, Critical-Path more) should your Cranium Crave Creative Comprehensibility by Chuckling Colleagues :)

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Marcos Ferrer

Marcos Ferrer, CBAP has over 20 years experience in the practice of business analysis and the application of Information Technology for process improvement. Following graduation in 1983 from the University of Chicago, Mr. Ferrer joined IBM in Chicago, where he worked on requirements and systems implementations in diverse industries. His recent projects include working requirements for the Veteran's Administration, introducing BA practices at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, and creating bowling industry models for NRG Bowl LLC. In November 2006, Marcos Ferrer is one of the first CBAPs certified by the IIBA. He has served as an elected member of the DC-Metro chapter of the IIBA, most recently as President, and assisted in the writing of the BOK 2.0 test.

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