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Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Business Analysts and BA Jobs

Artificial Intelligence is no longer a buzzword, and it has been making waves in the tech industry. We are experiencing AI in our day-to-day life in the form of chatbots, Voice assistants in serving customers’ requests, forecasting market trends, detecting possible future ailments, and much more. In recent years, businesses have begun adopting AI to improve their operations and gain a competitive edge. But what does this mean for business analysts and BA jobs? With the rise of AI, will Business Analysts become obsolete, or will it create new opportunities? Let’s dive into how artificial intelligence affects business analysis and explore what the future holds for those in this field.

If you are a business analyst, you need to be skilled to leverage these technologies as an added advantage to your capabilities to deliver continued value to your organization.

So, are you geared to make the most of it or see it as a threat, or are apprehensive of losing your job to AI?

AI is your new superpower

As a business analyst, you have access to a wealth of data to help you make better decisions for your company. But what if you could tap into the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to supercharge your decision-making process?

With AI-powered business analytics tools, you can get insights that would otherwise be hidden in your data. For example, you can use predictive analytics to identify trends and patterns in your data and then use those insights to make better decisions about where to invest your resources.

AI can also help you automate repetitive tasks so that you can focus on more strategic work. For example, you can use natural language processing (NLP) to automatically generate reports from unstructured data sources like social media or customer feedback surveys. Using these opportunities helps us converse with customers about new possibilities.

In short, AI is your superpower when it comes to making better decisions for your business. So why not put AI to work for you?

 

Use AI to have more control over your time and use it more efficiently –

Let AI do all your routine, monotonous/repetitive jobs that free up more time and energy for Business Analysts.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used to automate low-level tasks, freeing time and energy for Business Analysts. This allows Business Analysts to focus on more strategic tasks, such as identifying new opportunities, analyzing data, and improving processes. As AI continues to evolve, it is expected that even more mundane tasks will be automated, further freeing up time for Business Analysts to add value to their organizations. Let the easy and monotonous tasks be taken up by AI, leaving the complex and the more challenging tasks to humans. Having said that, it requires us to grow and sharpen our skills.

 

BAs add significant value to the organization with their cognitive abilities

BAs add significant value to the organization in many ways that AI can’t take up.

They:

  • Perform a pivotal role in bridging the gap between business and IT.
  • Help/collaborate with stakeholders in prioritizing the requirements, helping them refine the requirements, and eliciting them using various techniques.
  • Influence/assist stakeholders in moving towards the unified project goal by communicating effectively.
  • They understand the business domain and processes and translate them into technical requirements.
  • They often apply out of the box solution approaches to solve business problems where a straightforward solution may not be available.

All these skills are essential for the success of any project or organization but cannot be replaced by AI.

Here is a detailed analysis of skills/tasks that currently are not possible to be taken up by AI.

 

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Problem-solving

BAs help in Problem-solving – For impediments faced in the process or by the team:

Artificial intelligence has altered the role of business analysts and BA jobs. In the past, BAs were responsible for gathering requirements and documenting them. However, with the advent of AI, business analysts now need to be able to solve problems that may arise during the process or by the team.

This is where AI can be beneficial. With its ability to identify patterns and correlations, AI can help business analysts understand why specific problems are occurring and how they can be solved. Additionally, AI can also help BAs predict future problems that may arise and recommend solutions accordingly. As a result, BAs are now able to provide more value to their organizations by helping to solve complex problems.

 

Out of box thinking

Organizations are under constant pressure to do more with less. As a result, they need their employees to be creative and come up with innovative solutions to problems. This is where out-of-the-box thinking comes in.

Business analysts are in a unique position to help with this. They are trained to think critically and creatively, and they have the analytical skills to back up their ideas. BAs can help organizations see problems from different perspectives and come up with new solutions that they may not have considered before.

AI is only going to increase the demand for out-of-the-box thinking. As AI capabilities continue to grow, businesses will need employees who can think outside the box to keep up. BAs who can provide this critical thinking will be in high demand.

 

Critical decision making

BAs help in coming up with the best possible solution from the various alternatives.

BAs help organizations to make sense of all the data they collect and to use it to make better decisions. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), BAs can now do even more to improve decision-making. AI can help BAs to identify patterns and correlations that they might not be able to see with their human eyes. AI can also help to automate some of the tedious tasks that BAs have to do, such as gathering data from multiple sources. This frees up the BA’s time so that they can focus on more strategic tasks.

AI is also helping BAs to come up with better solutions from the various alternatives available. With AI, BAs can test out different scenarios and see which one is most likely to succeed. This helps organizations to make better decisions and to avoid costly mistakes.

Overall, AI is having a positive impact on the job of the BA. With AI, BAs are able to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

 

Stakeholder collaboration –

BAs play a critical role in validating and prioritizing needs.

In any business, it is essential to have a good understanding of what your stakeholders want and need from you. This can be difficult to do without the help of a business analyst. Business analysts are experts in stakeholder collaboration. They can help you validate and prioritize the needs of your stakeholders. This is important because it ensures that you are meeting the needs of your stakeholders and that your business is able to run smoothly.

 

Bridging the gap between tech and users

As the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to grow in businesses around the world, the role of the business analyst (BA) is evolving. BAs are uniquely positioned to help bridge the gap between technical teams and users, and workshops are one way they can do this.

Workshops help BAs understand the needs of users and translate them into requirements for technical teams. They also help technical teams understand the capabilities of AI and how it can be used to solve business problems. By facilitating communication between these two groups, BAs can ensure that AI is deployed effectively and efficiently.

What’s more, as AI becomes more complex, the need for BAs who can navigate its increasingly murky waters will only grow. With their deep understanding of both business and technology, BAs are essential partners in helping organizations realize the full potential of AI.

 

Data analysis –

Deriving intelligent insights from the data to facilitate business decisions.

A Business Analyst (BA) is responsible for analyzing an organization or business domain and documenting its business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology. They also help in data analysis and derive intelligent insights from the data to facilitate business decisions. Data analysts use statistical techniques to examine data and draw conclusions from it. They help businesses to make better decisions by taking into account a wide range of factors, including cost, time, resources, risk, and objectives. The role of a BA has become even more critical in recent years as organizations strive to become more data-driven in their decision-making.

With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), there is ample opportunity for BAs to leverage AI technologies to improve their efficiency and effectiveness in data analysis. AI can help BAs to automate repetitive tasks such as data collection and cleansing so that they can focus on more strategic tasks such as identifying trends and patterns in data. AI-powered tools can also help BAs to make better recommendations by providing them with real-time insights based on large volumes of data.

In order to take advantage of these opportunities, BAs need to upskill themselves in AI technologies. There are many online courses and resources available that can help BAs get started with learning about AI.

 

Ethical and responsible use of confidential customer information

As business analysts, we are constantly working with confidential customer information. It is our responsibility to use this information ethically and responsibly.

Here are some ways that we can do this:

  • Be transparent about how we will use the customer information.
  • Get explicit consent from the customer before using their data.
  • Keep the customer information secure and protect it from unauthorized access.
  • Only use the customer information for the purpose it was collected for.
  • Dispose of the customer information securely when we no longer need it.By following these guidelines, we can ensure that we are using confidential customer information in an ethical and responsible manner.

To sum it up, keep your skills chiseled, use your cognitive skills to deliver value, keep your learning on, and leverage technology to keep you in demand.

Does Your Personality Define Your Business Analyst Approach?

We all have personality; it is what comprises us as individuals and human beings to present ourselves in our personal and professional lives. Whether our personas experience duality separated by self-promoted boundaries, or the personalities of work and life are balanced as one big personality. But when you reach down into this core sense of self, a philosophical question came to mind when originating this piece: does our personalities define our business analyst approach? It is notwithstanding that I have little to no current, existing or previous knowledge in the realm of psychology, but it is worth chewing on the thought for a minute to examine it from a philosophical perspective. This core question begets more questions:

– If personality does affect the BA approach…then how?
– Is it the way we approach traditional standards or is it the manner of how we execute?
– How do we relate to our stakeholders to elicit requirements, validate them, overcome objections, and comprise the entire business analysis plan?

The unseen correlation between two independent variables became almost dependent immediately upon further self-analysis: personality does define our business analysis approach, right? Generally, speaking, I argue the point that it does. Genuinely think about how you interact with your stakeholders, how you go about performing your day-to-day, and even long-term, duties as a business analyst. Are those not influenced in which your persona, professional, personal, or combined, is presented when doing so?

 

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For example, an extroverted personality with a deep mindfulness to detail would take the time to build the relationship with their stakeholders and those working on a project with them, but in significant detail to ensure nothing is missed. While this can be both beneficial and negative, this is an oversimplified example, of course and does not encapsulate every personality type; and yet it sufficiently illustrates the point made. Think of yourself and how you collaborate with stakeholders: what type of persona are you showing up as?

Applying that personality, however you summarize, influences the approach you have to business analysis. Do you go “by the book” and like to stick to the facts and in a Waterfall methodology? Or do you prefer to have projects take on fluidity and a more Agile perspective? It all boils down to personality…and you, as a business analyst, take the reins to own it. Neither personality nor approach is perfect but understanding this about us as professional individuals working with myriad backgrounds in our line of work, will only tap into our potential.

We may never know the extent of that potential, as there may not be enough time nor resources to perform the adequate studies over multiple fields related to understanding this eccentric analysis. But we can penultimately, begin to understand that in which we personify ourselves as human beings, personifies how we operates in the field of business analysis, and beyond.

Delivering Analysis: Working With the System

Business analysis is an evolving profession characterized by change. However, not all businesses embrace evolution and change in the same way. This can result in business and delivery practices constraining the use of newer, more agile approaches to business analysis. This article presents some ideas and techniques to help business analysts identify, understand, and work with constraining business practices.

 

The Challenge

You may have heard the serenity prayer. It goes something like this:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

The origins of the serenity prayer date back to the 1930s and 1940’s. It is one of the most well-known and quoted prayers in the Christian world, with versions adorning posters, fridge magnets and trinkets across the globe. And while the prayer predates the business analysis profession by decades, the sentiment of the prayer is relevant for many analysts – even those of us who aren’t religious.

Business analysis is a profession of change. Indeed, the IIBA defines business analysis as the “practice of enabling change” in an enterprise. Whether it be learning a new technique or method, or applying skills to a new business domain, business analysts are encouraged to constantly experiment, learn and adapt. We are often looking for opportunities to apply new skills or techniques, or engage with enterprises that are using newer, more agile delivery methods. This constant exposure to change can make business analysts very comfortable with change.

It can therefore be frustrating when we find ourselves in environments where prevailing business practices prevent us from delivering analysis in the way we would like. Outdated systems, over-zealous governance, rigid templates and document heavy processes can constrain our ability to used more modern, agile delivery methods and techniques. And inflicting change on stakeholders using outdated delivery practices can seem like a double standard! Yet, working against such practices and processes can cause even more problems, resulting in business resistance, conflicts with stakeholders, delays, and even failure to deliver.

 

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Identifying Constraining Business Practices

Business analysts need to fully understand the business context in which they are delivering change. This includes understanding the business and delivery practices being used to define, design and implement change, and how they impact business analysis. Early identification of constraining business and delivery practices gives business analysts an opportunity to find ways of working with them – rather than against them.

There are several common business analysis techniques that can be used to help identify and understand restrictive business and delivery practices. For example:

  • SWOT Analysis – A SWOT analysis can be used to help identify business practices that may impede or constrain business analysis activities (in other words, are a threat to the delivery of good analysis), identify opportunities to improve business practices, and identifying any strengths/weaknesses that may help/hinder delivery given the constraints.
  • Process Analysis and Modelling – Understanding when and how analysis activities will engage with constraining business practices can support the creation of efficient business analysis plans that meets all delivery requirements.
  • Stakeholder Analysis – Remember the saying It’s who you know – not what you know? This is too often true – particularly when it comes to governance and approvals processes. Understanding who the influential stakeholders are and engaging them early can often alleviate and even remove constraints.
  • Root Cause Analysis – There is usually a reason why things are done the way they are, although it may not always be obvious. Uncovering that underlying reason for a given business practice can help analysts a) identify areas for improvement, or b) accept it for what it is.

 

Conclusion

Understanding business and delivery practices that constrain business analysis can help analysts:

  • Identify and champion opportunities for business improvement
  • Identify ways of working with or within existing business practices that may better support analysis, or
  • Accept and work with prevailing business practices as efficiently as possible.

To paraphrase the serenity prayer – accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and understand the difference!

 

Anna Rajander, Dec 2022
Resources:
  1. Serenity Prayer – Wikipedia, accessed Dec 2022.
  2. A Guide to the Business Analysis Book of Knowledge (BaBOK) v3, IIBA, 2015.

‘Twas the Night before Implementation

‘Twas the night before implementation and all through the warehouse

not a program was working, not even a browse.

The programmers hung by their screens in such despair,

with hopes that soon, a miracle would be there.

The users were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of working systems danced in their heads.

When out in the snow there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew in a flash,

tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

And what to my wondering eyes would appear,

but a Senior Business Analyst with a six-pack of beer.

His resume glowed with experience so dear,

I knew in a moment; the miracle was here!

 

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More rapid than the programmers could consume, his requirements they came,

and he shouted and clamored and called them all by name:

“Now Update! Now Inquiry!

Now, Create and Delete!

On Batch Job! On Interface!

On, Closing and Functions Complete!

To this programmer! and to that programmer!

Now code away! Code away!

Code away all!”

He was dressed in a tux, from his head to his foot,

and his clothes were bright, all glowing and afoot.

His eyes—how they shined! Fingers nimble and lean,

from weeks and weeks in front of the screen.

His cute little mouth was drawn up in a smile,

and his hair, every strand in place as he worked a mile.

He stopped only to take a swig of his beer,

as the work ahead circled in the atmosphere.

He worked so fast, and smiled aware of his self,

and I looked upon his work with dismay, in spite of myself.

A wink of his eye and a twitch of his head,

soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to work in great affair,

turning out specs and models with such flair!

And laying his finger upon the “Enter” key,

and giving a wink, the system came to life to a tee!

The updates updated, the deletes deleted,

the inquires inquired and the functions completed!

The testers tested each whistle, and tested each bell

with nary an abend, all had gone well!

The system was finished, the tests were concluded,

the users’ last changes were even included.

And the client exclaimed with a snarl and taunted,

“That’s not what I asked for, but exactly what I wanted!”

                                                         –Aaron Whittenberger

Introduction to the Jack Method: Trees and Stories

This is the farmer sowing his corn,
That …

That …
That lay in the house that Jack built.
An English nursery rhyme

A jack is a connector that installs on the surface of a bulkhead or enclosure.

 

The Jack method comprises techniques and concepts for comprehensive root cause analysis, scope modelling and requirements management. It is underpinned by the following principles:

  • ‘Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential’ (Agile)
  • ‘Assume variability; preserve options’ (SAFe)
  • ‘Divergent and convergent thinking’ (Design Thinking).

The core techniques –Jack Trees and Jack Stories – are presented in this article.

The analysis is based on the Case study ‘The Good Kitchen’ where Danish government was concerned that Denmark’s seniors in assisted living facilities or residential care units had poor nutrition (https://thisisdesignthinking.net/2016/05/the-good-kitchen/).

Jack Trees

Intro:

Jack Trees are the key element of the Jack method. It allows to perform analysis in ambiguous environments with limited access to subject matter experts. Promoting identification of unexpressed assertions, it creates a traceable structure of requirements ranging from solution-agnostic business needs through to detailed specifications. Jack Trees are a perfect tool to make conversations with stakeholders productive, and to enable confirmation what’s in scope and what’s out.

Theory:

A Jack Tree is a hierarchical list of statements that follow a specific format:

  • Each statement delivers an unambiguous (and therefore short) message
  • A statement contains an action and an object
  • Statements in the hierarchy relate to each other as ‘one to many’
  • The statement of the higher level is called an ‘objective’, of the lower – an ‘option’
  • Statements are formulated in a way that options address the objective
  • The highest statement in the hierarchy usually corresponds to a Business Need, the lowest statements are usually acceptance criteria or specification items
  • Each statement can serve as an objective or an option depending on the depth of analysis.

To shorten the definition, a Jack Tree is a hierarchical list of action statements where each objective has at least two solutions.

To create statements, the Semantic Analysis and Minimum Meaningful Message techniques can be used (it will be described in a separate article).

Mathematically, a Jack Tree is a Directed rooted N-ary tree. Hence, specific properties such as terminology, relationship cardinality, isomorphism, calculus, etc. are inherited and can be applied to the Jack Tree.

Example of a Jack Tree branch may look like:

  • Improve quality of food
    • Increase meal nutrition
      • Add supplements
      • Increase meal size.

Algorithm:

The Jack Tree is all about alternatives. Each statement is to be challenged for an existence of a concurrent option. Alternatives are being identified and grouped under objectives, and objectives are reviewed to be matched, renamed or split, until the desired outcomes are achieved.

The ideal Jack Tree represents a logical flow of statements explaining how different levels of objectives can be addressed by a number of options. Every option is unique even if it looks the same – where there are identical or similar option statements, they still relate to different objectives providing a different context. It is also important to mention that it is never the only variant possible for the Jack Tree, as the analysis view can be changed based on new findings or analysis focus.

The short algorithm of a Jack Tree creation is as follows:

  • Create a semantically refined statement (action + object)
  • (↓ ‘look down’) Treating it as an objective, devise at least two solution options to address it
    • Where nothing comes to mind, try using the ‘Do nothing’ option
  • (↑ ‘look up’) Treating it as an option, devise an objective the option can be addressed by it
  • Refine wording where needed – it promotes solution-agnostic formulation
  • Continue moving up or down the Jack Tree, adding branches, objectives and options till the desired analysis granularity is reached
  • Consider the Jack Tree completed when requirements are detailed enough.

Once the Jack Tree is created, all options need to be reconfirmed with appropriate stakeholders. Talking through the options will evoke highly valuable insights on what the current and future states are, along with confirming the scope.

It is imperative to note that knowing what’s in scope is as important as knowing what’s out of scope. The Jack Tree technique gives a perfect indication of that.

Additionally, it is practical to use a ‘Do nothing’ option as an alternative where applicable. However, ‘Do nothing’ is an option that also requires an action, and should be equipped with associated acceptance criteria or specification, e.g. ‘Continue spending $1,234 monthly on support’. This allows for more careful scope considerations.

Application:

Building a Jack Tree can be started from a requirement of any level, looking up (confirming or generating possible objectives) and down (decomposing solution options to the desired level of granularity). It doesn’t matter how the requirement is obtained – through elicitation or formulation. In our case the possible initial requirement can be:

  • Increase meal nutrition.

It is quite easy to identify immediate solutions for the requirement – this is how our brain usually works. So let’s go with:

  • Increase meal nutrition
    • Add supplements
    • Increase meal size
    • Increase calories.

All second-level options satisfy the requirement by answering the question ‘What do I need to do in order to <objective>?’, e.g. ‘In order to ‘Increase meal nutrition’, I need to ‘Add supplements’.

Now let’s look up and check the correctness of the objective for every specified option: ‘If I <option>, would it <objective>?’, e.g. ‘If I ‘Increase meal size’, would it ‘Increase meal nutrition’? We can see that the objective and the options correlate perfectly.

Note that any of the options at this level can be broken down further (e.g. ‘Add supplements’ can at least be broken down into ‘Add vitamins’ and ‘Add minerals’).

Now, let’s test the ‘Increase meal nutrition’ statement as an option that has an objective. What purpose can this solution serve? What alternative would this solution have? Do all devised solutions correspond to the objective?

Please note that the most obvious answer ‘Improve health’ brings too broad spectre of solution alternatives:

  • Improve health
    • Increase meal nutrition
    • Visit a health resort
    • Do physical training.

It’s a signal that additional iterations are required to clarify and narrow down the Jack Tree branch.

After multiple iterations of the algorithm, a Jack Tree similar to the one below can be created:

  • Improve quality of life for seniors
    • Improve dining experience
      • Satisfy dining habits
        • Have dinner alone
        • Have dinner in a company
      • Improve quality of food
        • Increase meal nutrition
          • Add supplements
          • Increase meal size
          • Increase calories
        • Change food type
        • Change quality of ingredients
      • Make meal appealing
        • Improve meal taste
          • Change cooking method
            • Sear food
            • Steam food
          • Use spices
        • Improve meal appearance
          • Use separate boxes
          • Use pre-arranged meals
        • Improve range of dishes
          • Construct custom meals
          • Collect pre-orders
          • Introduce menu
          • Have multiple options cooked
        • Change food type
          • Change food consistency
          • Satisfy diet restrictions
            • Vegetarian
            • Gluten-free
            • Fasting
          • Improve food preparation process

Note that the analysis organically revealed true business needs confirmed by the actual Use Case, e.g. attention to cultural, reputational and behavioral aspects, and changing the cooking practices.

Unlike the costly and lengthy group effort during ‘The Good Kitchen’ initiative, the above analysis could be done by just one analyst within a day or two. This is where the real power of the Jack method resides.

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Pros & cons:

A Jack Tree has commonalities with different techniques and concepts, but it has a number of advantages that are unique:

  • Identifies true business needs
  • Promotes solution-agnostic view
  • Establishes full traceability
  • Allows to operate with insufficient data
  • Provides a holistic Product view
  • Visualizes the scope not done
  • Clearly communicates the solution context
  • Promotes clarification of stated requirements
  • Allows for staged prioritization
  • Allows for effort estimation on different paths
  • Gives awareness of the entire backlog
  • Identifies gaps in analysis
  • Allows for algorithmic processing.

Once understood and adopted, the Jack Tree technique doesn’t provide any immediate downsides. Every challenge that occurs during the analysis, essentially improves the holistic understanding of the product, which is always beneficial.

Jack Stories

Intro:

A Jack Tree provides perfect input for traditional User Stories, and also promotes a specific story format – Jack Story, the technique that is part of the Jack method.

Theory:

The traditional format of the User Story is:

As a <Role>
I want to <Option>
So that I can <Objective>

As a Business Owner,
I want to Add supplements
So that I can Increase meal nutrition

When the role is insignificant or vague (which is often true for system-related requirements), an Enabler story format can be used:

IN order to <Objective>
WE need <Option>.

IN order to Increase meal nutrition
WE need to Add supplements.

A Jack Tree can immediately generate numerous conventional User Stories/Enablers, joining together Options and Objectives. Several stories may have the same ‘So that I can’ part, emphasizing different options for implementation that satisfy the same objective. This often happens ‘in the middle’ of the branches where options are being actively explored but haven’t got to the specification level yet.

However, the brevity of Jack Tree formulation may adversely affect the level of context provided. To alleviate this, a Jack Story can be used.

A Jack Story is a format of the requirement that traces an option to all its objectives up to a desired level. To build a Jack Story, a minimal Jack Tree branch needs to be created. Once the Jack Tree is available, the traditional formats of stories can be converted:

As a Business Owner,
I want to Add Supplements
So that I can Increase meal nutrition
So that I can Improve quality of food
So that I can Improve dining experience
So that I can Improve quality of life for seniors.

The same exercise can be done for the Enabler format.

A Jack Story gives a lot of additional context and indicates the way the logical considerations have been put into analysis.

Generally, the notion that a User Story is a Jack Story indicates that:

  • There exists a hierarchical list of options (Jack Tree)
  • Each statement in the story has been considered for an alternative
  • The story purpose is understood and is traceable back to the highest known element in the hierarchy (up to a Business Need).

It is not hard to notice that the Jack story format application for traditional stories is clunky and doesn’t sound natural, especially for longer constructions, or when the user focus is changed.

A new format of the story-like requirements format is therefore proposed. Analyzing the semantic structure of a solution option in the Jack Tree, we can see that it is represented by an Object and an Action. Breaking down the first option, and leaving objectives as is, the format of the Jack Story is:

This is the <Object> I want to <action on> (Option)
To <Objective 1>
To <Objective 2>
….
To <Business need>

This is the supplements I want to Add
To Increase meal nutrition
To Improve quality of food
To Improve dining experience
To Improve quality of life for seniors.

The Jack Story is the most natural and accurate representation of the Jack Tree requirements.

Empirically, when working on user stories organized in Epics, on average just 2-4 levels of requirements hierarchy are sufficient to provide enough context in the Jack Story. This makes Jack Stories more readable, concise and referable.

Pros & cons:

Jack Stories are a representation of the Jack Tree, and inherently obtain many advantages:

  • Fully compliant with INVEST criteria:
    • (I)ndependent – each option in the Jack Tree is an alternative that can be developed independently
    • (N)egotiatable – Jack Tree provides a variety of alternatives that can be selected on their own or broken down further until satisfiable
    • (V)aluable – each option in the Jack Tree has a reason to exist, therefore the value is well defined
    • (E)stimateable – looking up and down the Jack Tree gives a perfect idea of what an option comprises, thus making it easy to estimate
    • (S)mall – Jack Story formulation is dependent on the scale of view, and can be as small as needed for the development iteration
    • (T)estable – because Jack Stories are intrinsically short, Acceptance Criteria are an integral part of it.
  • Solution-agnostic at the high level, very descriptive at the detailed level
  • Short and concise, it fits easily on a story card and is easy to communicate
  • Naturally traceable
  • Unique and helps to keep the scope from creeping
  • Translates requirements easily from Waterfall to Agile
  • Promotes categorisation and critical thinking.

Along with the pros, there are some cons:

  • Requires creation of the Jack Tree
  • May need additional description and/or Acceptance Criteria
  • Not widely accepted hence requires explanation.

Jack Method

 

Jack Stories/Trees are powerful techniques for solution options analysis, especially when access to stakeholders is limited. To excel the method additional original concepts and techniques can be useful:

  • Semantic analysis
  • Minimum Meaningful Message
  • Traffic Lights (Semaphore).

The method makes scope better defined, requirements more structured, and prioritisation easier, contributing to the value of Business Analysis.