Tag: Leadership

BATimes_Jan11_2023

Bad Bosses for BA’s

Our relationship with our manager has a massive impact on our work, health and happiness. What makes a good leader for BAs and what can we learn from bad bosses?

 

Project Managers

PMs are often attracted to their role because they are skilled at delivery. It is very difficult to balance the competing demands of meeting delivery milestones with nurturing and developing individual team members. Having the combined roles of line-manager and delivery-manager puts project managers in an unenviable position, and if the performance evaluation of the PM is primarily concerned with project delivery, it is clear which role will take precedence.

Some of the worst examples of PMs managing BAs include:

  • Treating the BA as deputy PM
  • Assuming the BA wants to become a PM
  • ‘Hoarding’ the BA on their project, despite requests to expand horizons and develop
  • Vetoing analysis tools and techniques the BA wants to apply
  • Preventing the BA from speaking/presenting to senior stakeholders, reducing the visibility of the BA and unintentionally (or intentionally) taking credit.

 

If the person doing these things is also your line manager – how can you address the behaviours or find appropriate support?

 

Learning points

Where a BA is line managed by their PM, there needs to be recognition that there are two different relationships at play. The ‘best’ outcome for the project (BA assigned 100% of the time, forever) is unlikely to be the best outcome for the individual BA. PMs will sometimes have to put the needs of the individual above the project, or risk losing them from the organization entirely.

BAs may want to partition meetings or request separate ‘line management catch-ups’ which have more emphasis on personal development and wellbeing and less on project delivery.

The PM/BA relationship works best when they are a professional partnership. The roles have different skills and approaches, but are working towards the same delivery goals. This can be severely compromised if the PM is the only ‘boss’ for the BA.

 

Product Specialists

Product managers and product owners sometimes find themselves managing BAs. They may also want to ‘hold on to’ their BA indefinitely. They often value product knowledge over the BA skillset and expect BAs to become subject matter experts. If the only training and development opportunities they can imagine for the BA is ‘more product knowledge’, then BAs are not getting the support and encouragement they need from their boss. They may not understand the breadth of the BA role and skill set, and subsequently only allow the BA to operate in a very narrow role with a constrained set of tools, techniques and relationships.

 

Learning points

Refer to job descriptions to keep both BA and boss focused on the wide remit of the role, not narrow product knowledge. The BA should build strong relationships with business stakeholders and relevant teams, so they have easy access to business knowledge, but don’t become the keeper of this knowledge. Encouraging regular discussion of succession planning and rotation and re-assignment normalises the idea that a BA will not stay with a particular product for the long term, and what we are providing is a business analysis skills-based service, not a product knowledge-based service.

 

The Absent Executive

Whilst it may be appealing on paper for a BA to report directly into a CIO or other senior executive, it comes at a price. It can be very difficult to get their time, leading to an inattentive and shallow line management relationship. The BA is often faced with the choice of a distant relationship, with irregular catch-ups and never knowing if something more important may overwrite one-to-one time OR attempting to become the right-hand-man of the exec, picking up a range of problems and projects, but is subject to rapidly changing priorities. Neither of these are particularly appealing situations and neither provides considerate and consistent line management support for the BA.

 

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Learning Points

Reporting into a senior executive requires a high level of autonomy and independence. Some BAs enjoy working in this way so this can work well. However, everyone deserves to have a positive and supportive relationship with their boss and not see themselves as the lowest priority item on a very long to-do list. Investing in other meaningful relationships with more accessible colleagues may help to address the gap if a management void occurs. This could include a mentor, coach or trusted and supportive peer. Developing the community of business analysts helps to provide support and direction if there is an absence of management.

 

General Manager

There has been a rise in the belief that ‘a good manager can manage anything’. The problem is, this is not actually true and multiple studies spanning many sectors find that:

  • A manager who has skills and experience of a function leads to a higher performing function
  • People whose boss has skills in their discipline are happier and are better at their jobs!

 

A manager who does not understand or value business analysis is the worst possible boss for a BA.

 

Learning Points

BAs can help managers to understand the role and remit of business analysts and can champion the application of repeatable, rigorous analysis to aid decision making, understand customers, avoid risks, identify opportunities and improve services. It is always worth investing the effort to raise the profile and highlight the impact of good business analysis.

 

Organizations with sufficient numbers of BAs (5+) should be investing in a BA leadership role such as:

  • Head of Business Analysis
  • BA Manager
  • BA Team leader
  • BA Chapter lead
  • Head of profession for business analysis

 

Having individual BAs reporting to a range of roles and scattered throughout the organization does not allow the consistent application of business analysis, the opportunity to continuously improve or appropriate development and support of BAs.

Successful BA leaders are skilled and experienced in business analysis. They understand how to recruit and develop BAs and enable appropriate utilization and retention of BAs, saving the organization time, effort and money.

 

Conclusion

While there will be many examples of successful line management relationships from all of these roles, it is important to recognise the potential pitfalls and how they can be addressed. Not everyone is cut out to be a manager of people. Having a boss who cares about us as an individual, is interested in providing support and offering development and values the contribution we make should be the minimum we expect from our line managers.

Having a bad boss is bad for your health and career, so if you can’t change you manager, change your manager.

 

Further reading
Are you Losing BAs? C Lovelock, February 2022
BATimes_Dec1_2022

The Beautiful Game as a Modern, Event-Driven Business Process Structure

The Beautiful Game

Whether you call it football or soccer, “the Beautiful Game” as it is widely known, has simple rules of play. But playing soccer is another matter. It is a highly dynamic, agile process. In the flow of a single match, an eleven-player professional team can make more than 500 passes and there can be dozens of game stoppages.

In the eyes of process analysts, quality improvement professionals, and business analysts, who still rely on the more than 100 years-old, strictly procedural notions of a process and on flowcharting notations that were also invented in the last century, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to perceive and model something like playing soccer as a sequential process.

The Modern Business Process Modeling Solution

The most effective business processes are not only structurally sound and efficient but also highly dynamic and agile.  A high-quality business process structure today is one that has been conceived, structured, and can be readily configured as a network of specialized, collaborating, event-driven, and outcome-oriented services, not just as a sequential procedure.

If a business analyst, process analyst, quality analyst, or manager adopts that modern business process paradigm and a modeling notation that is aligned with how today’s business relationships and processes work, then perceiving and modeling something as dynamic and agile as the beautiful game as a process, IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE, BUT ELEGANT.

Universal Business Process Definition[1]

The Universal Business Process Definition is not constrained to a strictly procedural notion of a process. It is an event and outcome-oriented business process paradigm. The Universal Business Process Definition’s four common-sense rules define all processes, workflows, and activities, regardless of a process’s scale, the overarching project methodology, the model’s required degree of abstraction, the modeling participants, and the organizations and the technologies that will implement the process or workflow.

The Universal Business Process Definition, and the Business Process Normalization technique are defined in the Universal Process Modeling Procedure (UPMP), published by ProcessModelingAdvisor.com.

Business Process Modeling and Notation[2]

Business Process Modeling and Notation (BPMN) is a graphical notation for illustrating modern business process elements.  It overcomes the limitations of the last century’s procedural flowcharting and process mapping notations.

BPMN was defined by the Business Process Modeling Initiative (BPMI) and is maintained by the Object Modeling Group (OMG). BPMI states that the goal of BPMN is:

“To provide a notation that is readily understandable by all business users.”

BPMN is the best-suited notation for illustrating modern business process and workflow structures. It includes sequential flowcharting elements, but BPMN also includes symbols for illustrating concepts that are relevant to today’s dynamically collaborating systems and business processes. Namely, events and messaging.

 

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The Beautiful Game as an Example

We don’t need process models about playing soccer. We’d rather be playing or spectating. But we’ve all observed enough about playing soccer to use it as a commonly understood example.  Playing soccer happens to be similar to how modern-day business processes and operating relationships work. Let’s use soccer to demonstrate how to apply a modern business process modeling paradigm and modeling notation to discover and illustrate a sound, modern business process structure.

Event-Driven Business Process Flow

A contextually and structurally sound model of the Play Soccer process can be discovered by answering the Universal Basic Business Process Flow Elicitation Agenda[3] and the Universal Event and Outcome-Oriented Business Process Flow Elicitation Agenda[4], found in The Universal Process Modeling Procedure.

This basic, event and outcome-oriented (non-procedural) BPMN process flow diagram communicates the normal, dynamic flow of Play Soccer as a set of collaborating, specialized activities.

The Play Soccer process is initiated by a kick-off at center field. It is comprised of 4 activities: Tend Goal, Defend, Play Midfield, Play Striker. Activities are performed by the players of two teams. The expected outcome of Play Soccer is that a match has been played to its allotted time limit, according to its rules.

A free kick from center starts a match.  Once the match starts all players in their assigned positions maneuver freely, whether they possess the ball or not.  The expected succession of the keeper’s, defenders’, midfielders’, and strikers’ activities is determined dynamically, by the players, while the match is played, by receiving or intercepting passes, stopping shots, and by making passes or taking shots.

The player with the ball will pass the ball to any one of up to 10 other teammates or take a shot; Either the intended teammate will receive a pass, or an opposing player will intercept a pass or stop a shot, to possess the ball. Any player that possessed the ball will then maneuver (according to their assigned position level and their own skill) and then pass the ball to any one of up to 10 other teammates or take a shot. This succession of activities continues, until a stoppage in play.

The success of the expected outcome (pass made or shot taken) of one Play Soccer activity will determine the initiating event (pass received/intercepted or shot stopped) of another Play Soccer activity. The actual flow of a game is determined dynamically, by the players who are assigned to perform Play Soccer’s activities.

This basic, event and outcome-oriented process view of Play Soccer is contextually and structurally sound, but still basic. It is upon this solid, defining structure that one can elicit, add and communicate logical details that are relevant to how the Play Soccer process will “flow” and, that this model’s readers likely expect to see. What about conditional activities, like throw-ins, corner kicks, penalty kicks, substitutions, fouls, out-of-bounds, injuries), and delays (like injury time-outs, and half-time)?

 

Logically Refined Business Process Flow

The logical details about the periodic conditions, activities, and delays in the execution of the Play Soccer process can be straightforwardly discovered by asking and answering simple agendas that are defined in The Universal Process Modeling Procedure[5]. This refined BPMN process flow diagram communicates the conditional activities and delays that are expected to periodically occur throughout the dynamic flow of Play Soccer.

The BPMN process diagram shows that game events, not a sequential procedure determine what and when certain activities are performed in the Play Soccer process.

Even with all those refinements made, the contextually accurate and sound basic structure of the Play Soccer process, that we previously established, has not changed. These refinements can be graphically included or excluded, without any rework of the basic contextual meaning or basic diagrammatic structure of Play Soccer.

Activity dependencies are contextually accurate, without depicting a sequential procedure and sequential flows. Dynamic, alternate activities, paths, and timings throughout the process are accounted for in the model. Undue model complexity, and the analyst’s time that would have been spent on it, has been avoided. Process navigation decisions, and alternate flow paths are in fact modelled, but need not be explicitly illustrated as sequence flows.

Conclusion

The Beautiful Game serves us as a beautiful example of a process that is a set of dynamically collaborating sets of specialized services. It is not a sequential procedure.  Modern business processes are not just sequential procedures either.

The Universal Process Modeling Procedure, with its Universal Business Process Definition and elicitation agendas, provides a modern process modeling paradigm, capable of event-driven as well as sequential business process elicitation and modeling. BPMN is a modern process modeling notation, that includes the graphical elements to represent business event-driven, not just sequential process flows.

With these tools in-hand, process analysts, quality improvement professionals, and business analysts, are capable of eliciting, perceiving, normalizing, defining and graphically illustrating structurally sound, modern business process structures.

Copyright 2022, Edmund Metera

[1] Universal Process Modeling Procedure – The Practical Guide to High-Quality Business Process Models Using BPMN (Metera, 2018, 2022) www.ProcessModelingAdvisor.com
[2] Object Modeling Group, www.OMG.org
[3] Universal Process Modeling Procedure, Step 3 – Define Basic Business Process Flow (Metera, 2018, 2022)
[4] Universal Process Modeling Procedure, How to Specify Event/Outcome Oriented Business Process Flow (Metera, 2018, 2022)
[5] Universal Process Modeling Procedure, Step 5 – Refine Business Process Flow(s) (Metera, 2018, 2022)
BATimes_Nov16_2022

Recruitment Metrics for BA Teams

Being involved in BA recruitment is a big responsibility. It’s hard to recruit right now, and it’s easy to blame the competitive market and skills shortage. It’s tempting to leave measurement and metrics to HR teams, but there are a number of key concepts all those involved in BA recruitment need to understand.

 

Time To Fill

From the point we become aware that a new or replacement BA role is needed, a clock starts ticking. Whether someone has handed in their notice, or a new project has emerged, we now have a gap that needs to be filled. It is so important to understand our average time to fill (TTF) for each role on the BA career path, as this aids decision making, including the use of short term resources such as consultants, contractors and secondments.

Typically more senior roles take longer to fill, because the talent pool is smaller and the demand greater. Having internal talent pipelines reduces the TTF and creates internal progression routes and clear BA career pathways. Ensuring these are in place improves knowledge retention, employee loyalty and morale and serves as an attraction factor for BAs outside the organization.

TTF includes internal processes of gaining agreement and approvals, getting a role posted and engaging with recruiters. This is often a hidden time over-head, and usually an area where organizations can speed up their recruitment.

 

Time To Hire

This marks the time between making a role available for applications and having someone in post. It includes the interview process and the notice period of the candidate.

Recruiting managers often put pressure on candidates to try to reduce their notice period. This is unfair, when it is the only period of time in the whole process which is outside of the recruiting organizations’ control. If we want people in faster, we should look to improve our own processes! Sometimes organizations exclude notice periods from their time to hire metric, to stay focused on the elements within their control.

Knowing the average time to hire helps us keep stakeholders informed, and contributes to better planning and onboarding.

 

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Conversion

At each stage of our recruitment process people drop out or are ruled out. This can be visualized as a recruitment funnel. Understanding the conversion rates between different steps in the process allow us to answer question such as:

  • How many applications do we typically need to find one appointable BA? [conversion rate from application to accepted offer].
  • How many candidates accept our offer? [conversion rate from interview to accepted offer].
  • What can we do to improve our conversion rates? (Faster processes? Better marketing of roles? Better communication with applicants?…)

 

If we understand where in the process we are losing people, and really consider the candidate experience, we increase the chances of a successful recruitment outcome, and save both time and money. Different organizations have different levels of formality, and may include more or less interview rounds and steps in the process. However formal or informal, it is valuable to understand the key conversion rates.

 

Attrition/Turnover

This is the rate which we lose BAs from the team over a given period. Not all attrition is bad, we need to support people to move to new and appropriate roles, and we need to allow BAs with new ideas and different experiences to join the team. Generally an attrition rate of less than 10% is considered healthy for team stability and business continuity.

Retention is the opposite measurement to attrition. This is the percentage of the team that stay during a given period. Focusing on ‘increasing retention’ is a more positive framing of the issues than ‘reducing attrition’. Recruitment is expensive, the cost of replacing BAs is far more than the cost of investing in appropriate initiatives which retain talented BAs in the organization. By asking and listening to what individual team members want from their role and employer we can increase retention rates (money will be a key factor, but not the only one!).

 

Tenure

This means understanding how long people stay with us and can be considered  at different levels:

  • Average length of time in each role/grade within the BA structure
  • How long people stay within the BA team
  • Total amount of time spent within the organization.

 

This is helpful to understand the rates of progression within the team. If we have entry level/development roles within the team, how long before people typically progress to a practitioner role? It allows trends and patterns to be explored. If we find people either stay less than 1 year or more than 10 years, what insights can be gained? What does that tell us about our recruitment and retention processes?

With further analysis we can understand the push and pull factors which keep BAs within the team or encourage them to look elsewhere. It also allows us to consider what internal development routes we offer into related professional disciplines.

 

Conclusion

In this competitive market, with increased demand for business analysis skills and the ‘great resignation’ making people consider their options, BA teams need to fully understand our own processes and look for improvements. A greater focus is needed on recruitment and retention, and we can no longer rely on ‘recruiting as we always’ have to make great appointments and grow our teams.

 

Further reading
Are you Losing BAs? C Lovelock, February 2022
Job Crafting for BAs C Lovelock, July 2021
BATimes_OCT26_2022

The Better Meeting Manifesto – Stop Having Terrible Meetings!

Terrible meetings are an unfortunate feature of modern working life.  It doesn’t have to be this way: read on to find out how you can take a stand and achieve better meetings for all!

 

Encountering a terrible meeting in the wild

Most of us have suffered through a terrible meeting.  You know the scenario.  A group has assembled in an airless meeting room in response to a calendar invitation.  The AV equipment is faulty, so the unlucky person with the controls has spent the past 10 minutes trying to connect to the remote attendees.  Everyone else is making small talk or discussing the previous meeting.  When the equipment finally cooperates, you all realise that the meeting organiser isn’t in attendance.  Undeterred, you check the meeting invitation – only to find it unhelpfully blank.  The group makes a valiant attempt to progress things; however, you can only get so far with the main person missing.  The meeting finishes early; the group sighs and agrees to reconvene another day.

 

Then there is the alternative, more insidious variant.  At first glance, things begin well: the meeting logistics are on point, the right people are in the room, and you received the outline ahead of time.  Yet once the meeting starts, issues soon become apparent.  There are too many items for discussion.  Due to aggressive timeboxing, there is little scope for more than brief comments regarding each.  People grow increasingly frustrated with the lack of opportunity for input, the schedule drifts, the meeting overruns and several agenda items are never reached.  The group makes little progress; the attendees are sentenced to a re-match to address the same material the following week.

 

Regrettably, these experiences are far from rare.  Is it little wonder, then, that we sometimes find it hard to get our stakeholders to make time in their diaries for yet another meeting?

 

Trojan horse meetings: a false solution

To combat meeting aversion, some session organizers resort to subterfuge.  One such ploy is the classic Trojan horse maneuver: book meetings into the calendar under the guise of something more palatable.  Often, the decoy is a workshop.  For example, a document sign-off meeting might be billed as a ‘requirement sign-off workshop’, even though the session is less about facilitated qualitative review and more about sitting around a table together to agree that the ensuing work can proceed.  A stakeholder interview to elicit information about a particular aspect of their role might appear in the calendar as a ‘process workshop’.  A team meeting might become a ‘team workshop’, and so on.

 

Superficially, this tactic can bear fruit – at least in the short term.  So why do people feel more positive about workshops over meetings?

 

  • Meeting fatigue

The first reason is novelty, pure and simple.  People want respite from busy calendars booked up with tedious and unproductive meetings.  Workshops are attractive because they generally feature interactive activities instead of the usual dry discourse.  Even the mere hint of this variety can suffice to lure stakeholders into believing they are in for a welcome change.

 

  • Productivity by association

A workshop is a facilitated intervention that seeks constructive input from all attendees to achieve a defined output.  In positioning their meeting as a workshop, the organiser aims to appropriate the qualities of focused, engaged participation and demonstrable productivity from the workshop format and confer them upon their meeting session.

 

Unfortunately, the aspiration of engagement and productivity will only get you so far.  Without good facilitation, a meeting will still be terrible no matter how you dress it up.  Worse: a bad ‘workshop-but-actually-a-meeting’ experience might harm your work by putting stakeholders off attending workshops in the future.

 

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Another way

Rather than deflecting attention from the problem, it’s time to take a long, hard stare at the meetings in our lives.  Faced with a wilderness of terrible meetings, how can we act to change things for the better, no matter which end of the calendar invitation we are on?

 

  1. Make meetings pointy

All meetings should have a clearly defined purpose and intended outcome.  No point?  No meeting.


As the organizer:

If you are responsible for setting up a meeting but cannot answer the questions ‘Why are we meeting?’ and ‘What should we have achieved by the end of the meeting?’, this is a sign that you should reconsider.  Is a meeting necessary, or might there be another way to work with your stakeholders (e.g. using your organisation’s preferred collaboration tool)?  Don’t be afraid to postpone or cancel a meeting if circumstances change.

 

As an attendee:

Your time is as valuable as anyone else’s.  Invitations are not obligations.  If you receive a vague meeting invitation, contact the organizer and politely ask them to clarify the meeting’s purpose.  A helpful sentence to use is ‘Please could you confirm what will be covered in this meeting so that I can prepare?’ – it helps you sound engaged while also acting as a prompt for the organizer to step up their game.

 

  1. Energize and engage

Meetings can’t always be fun, but don’t make them any more painful than they have to be.  Start with the intended outcome and take active responsibility for getting there.

 

As the organizer:

A great tip from BA guru Angela Wick is to ‘verb-noun’ your meeting titles to set the intention for the session outcome: instead of ‘Requirements Review Meeting’, try ‘Finalise Requirements for Procurement’.  It instantly puts your attendees into a more active mode of thinking which will carry into the meeting itself.  Set a clear schedule with realistic timings and manage the session actively to keep things on track.  Don’t let people doze off: check in frequently with all attendees (particularly those attending remotely) to ensure that everyone feels involved and has the opportunity to provide input, even if it’s just a quick thumbs-up/thumbs-down vote.

 

As an attendee:

It might not be your meeting, but you are part of it – and its success or failure.  Help things go smoothly by doing any necessary pre-work ahead of time and coming to the meeting prepared.  Be fully present and listen actively – nobody wants to recap points made five minutes ago because you were not paying attention.  Consider whether your comments contribute usefully to the intended outcome before speaking.  Where you can, support the facilitator.  For example, can you help by relaying remote attendees’ comments to the room?

  1. Master your meeting modes

Following the recent pandemic, many of us continue to work flexibly between the office and home; meetings now frequently mix face-to-face and remote attendance.  These ‘hybrid’ sessions can be tricky to get right, but it’s not impossible.  With a bit of planning, you can be a meeting mode superstar.

 

As the organiser:

Meet your stakeholders where they are.  If people are uncomfortable with coming into an office space, forcing an in-person meeting will result in no-shows.  Save face-to-face for the times you truly need it and focus on providing a good experience online for everything else.  Be aware that attendees may decide to group up and attend online from the same room, so give specific instructions if your planned activities require each person to have separate access to a computer.  Design for online: take full advantage of the synchronous and asynchronous collaboration tools available through the applications at your disposal.  Get equipment warmed up in plenty of time, ready to get going when the meeting starts.  And whatever you do: don’t apologise or make excuses!  You’re about to lead a fantastic online session, after all.

 

As an attendee:

If you are attending in person, don’t forget to acknowledge and address any people attending remotely.  As a remote attendee, be mindful of your audio input.  Use a quality headset with a good microphone if you work in a shared office environment – and be prepared to mute yourself when you aren’t speaking to minimise disruption.  Nothing is worse than hearing background noise or someone thundering away at their keyboard.

 

What tips and tricks have you found to tackle the tyranny of terrible meetings?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

BATimes_July28_2022

Think “Re-use” When Writing Requirements

When working on a project or product development initiative, the focus is usually on getting the product ‘over the line’ within a defined timescale. There can be immense pressure to create requirements artifacts quickly, creating just enough to communicate the key business needs to developers and other stakeholders.

This is completely understandable, but it can lead to somewhat of a ‘groundhog day’ like scenario where requirements that are very similar (or even the same) are written multiple times by multiple teams. When the pressure is on, there is less opportunity to think about re-use. Yet requirements re-use, when executed well, can save time in the long run.

 

Dispelling Myths: “Re-use” doesn’t have to mean copying & pasting

One common misconception is that because no two projects or products are exactly the same, there is no way that any requirements can be reused. However, re-use doesn’t have to mean literally copying & pasting—sometimes it can mean that a set of requirements are used as a starting point to build from.

Imagine that you write a set of non-functional requirements for a customer-facing web application. If, in the future, another team elsewhere in the organization needs a web app, then surely the NFRs that you’ve written would be a useful inspiration? The requirements might only be 80% similar, but the existing artifact means that there’s no need to start from a blank page.  Of course, this doesn’t remove the need to ask the right questions and engage the right stakeholders, but having an existing document to build from can save time.

In fact, there can be a benefit in having a “standard” set of NFRs for particular types of systems. Many organizations have their information security policies defined, their brand guidelines defined and so forth. Why not bring all of these policies together, adding other types of NFR, to create a corporate standard?  This will likely vary by context, but certain patterns will be relevant for particular situations. Clearly, building or maintaining an internal application is likely to attract different types of requirements to one that is exposed to the outside world.  This is just one example.

 

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High level artifacts

It is also worth keeping high level artifacts that show the broad scope of what a particular system or product does. Context diagrams typically show the adjacent systems/actors that are relevant for a particular work area, and the high level data flow.  One day, someone is going to want to replace a key IT system… having an up-to-date context model would provide a massive head start. The same is true of business process models. If a new process is implemented, this is an opportunity to identify a process owner. The process owner is typically responsible for keeping the process model up-to-date. Imagine having a central repository with all (or even some) of the organization’s processes stored. This cuts down the effort of ‘as is’ modeling. (I say ‘cuts down’ and not ‘eliminates’, because it’s usually still necessary to see how people are actually undertaking the work, which may or may not be exactly as it is documented!)

 

Teams and Individuals

Another way artifacts can be reused is as examples or exemplars. When a new BA joins the team, they will often need guidance over ‘how we do requirements here’. Of course, experienced practitioners will bring their own views, but it is useful to have an expectation of what ‘good’ looks like. Too often organizations simply have templates or written standards. These are useful, but alone they are rarely enough… templates or standards with examples are far more useful. This doesn’t just apply to written documents, it can apply to models and requirements stored in repositories too.

These examples can also be used when a BA needs to show a stakeholder examples of business analysis work. Imagine trying to convince a skeptical stakeholder to engage with the BA team. Having a successful case study to show them, along with some fragments of requirements artefacts, prototypes and a working solution to show them might just help set the context. Stakeholder testimonials from the project will help even more.

 

But There’s No Time!

I know, I know, at this point you’re probably thinking “we’d love to do that, but there’s no time!”. I get it, deadlines are harsh and nobody wants to work even longer hours. There might not be time within the project, but there might be time afterwards or during natural periods of downtime if you are lucky enough to have some of those. Taking time to spruce up requirements artifacts, putting them somewhere central, and cataloging them so they can be found will save time in the long run. It is a short term effort for long term gain.

If you are a BA manager, you might consider building in an ‘air gap’ between project assignments for individual BAs to wrap-up their work and consider re-use (amongst other things). In many ways, this is building a sustained repository of knowledge for the whole team… and isn’t that an effort worth pursuing?