Tuesday, 01 June 2010 07:41

The Earth may be Flat, But at least the Project is Round

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Careful now - can't give any names, or particulars -since the following can't possibly be a true story, I present it as humor, which it might be J.  Names and details have been changed to protect the innocent - if you recognize yourself, it must not be you. You wouldn't do this. No one would!

Just before last Christmas, BA 007 got a call from a body shop called "Carrion Solutions, LLC"), based in North Kakalaki.  They really liked his resume, and the 20-minute phone interview that day, and wanted him to interview with their client (which we will call "Vermin International, Inc.") immediately.

Sanity prevailed (for the moment), and the interview was postponed until January 4th, with the caveat that the job might start shortly afterward.  The interview took place on January 4th, was grueling, yet satisfying. Vermin agreed with a best practices approach involving prototyping and use case modeling with as-is and to-be context diagramming, along with iterated validation with stakeholders and IT.

The Earth, it seemed, was round, at least on this project team.  After working with many Flat-Earthers these last few years, 007 was looking at a chance for a quantum of BA bliss!

As it happened, the job started two days later, with a bang. It turned out that 30 Minions had done a report on Vermin's client, The Better Man's Beneficent AdmonishNation.  As usual, the report was far from flattering, and the heat was on for quality requirements for rapid implementation - lot's of money, lot's of management attention, rapid decision making, plenty of stakeholder involvement. Goodness!

The project kickoff meeting at the BBBA was a hit. The client approved the best practice approach.  Sensing urgency, 007 had an as-is diagram ready the same week, ready for review and initial validation with the client (BBBA).

Vermin management refused to allow the diagram to be reviewed with BBBA, without explanation (remember, 007 works for Carrion, which contracts with Vermin, which contracts with BBBA).  During subsequent attempts by 007 to share and discuss the as-is with Vermin and/or BBBA, Vermin repeatedly cancels the meeting, simply doesn't show up at the meeting, or uses the entire meeting to present other topics.

Now BBBA wants the diagram (Duh, you think?), and after a couple of weeks, Vermin agrees to let them have it, but no validation meeting is allowed. (There were two meetings allowed with 007, both of which the BBBA liked, felt were extremely productive, and resulted in mucho validationo).

The above process was then repeated for several weeks with other best practices such as clarity of scope (Vermin's response to any discussion of scope) use case modeling (completely ignored by Vermin), and Business Process TO BE (Vermin already had a solution based on BileNet?).

After two months of this, 007 was in a jam. His originally identified goal of specifying as many as 40 use cases was shot, with a new goal of specifying 10-15 of the most important/complex use cases, as revealed by the use case model, which Vermin still refused to allow to be reviewed or validated by BBBA.

At this point, 007 used a brilliant tactic - the daily scrum!  After a couple of weeks of "socializing" the increasing urgency of proceeding with the use cases, 007 shared with the team that the lack of regular validation sessions with BBBA had finally become a hindrance to completing the requirements by the deadline, and that assistance from Vermin, and time with BBBA, was needed to proceed.  The offer of use case review was especially timely because the GUI team was begging for some kind of requirements "taxonomy." They had long lists of GUI requirements that were, of course, out of context, and would benefit from a use case "taxonomy".

The response?   007 was told to "Shut Up", and that his "Round Earth" theories couldn't help their "Flat Earth" requirements.

So shut up he did, turned in his drawings of the solar system, and left the project, but he advises his gentle readers to keep an eye on 30 Minions, just in case.

Have fun, and be sure to let me have your comments.

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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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