Tag: Training

BATimes_Nov17_2022

Important Techniques for CBAP Certification Examination

This again is a very frequent question that we receive from our CBAP participants. BABoK V3 has 50 techniques and obviously, all techniques would not be of equal importance for all three certifications. Some techniques are more important to junior business analysts and some techniques are used more by the Senior Business Analysts.

In this article, we are going to categorize the techniques into three categories based on their complexity levels. Low complexity techniques are more useful for ECBA aspirants. Medium and high complex ones are more important for CBAP examination aspirants. High complexity techniques would require CBAP practitioners more time and effort to understand and be comfortable with.

You must be wondering how did we come up with this list?

It’s primarily based on inputs from many of our past CBAP participants regarding what kind of techniques challenged them more during the CBAP certification examination. Secondly, most business analysts start their careers as requirements analysts and as part of requirement analysis work, they use some techniques more extensively than others. Techniques that typically belong to strategy analysis planning and solution evaluation are the techniques where usually many have a lesser comfort level and obviously, they need to pay more attention to those techniques. Three specific areas that we would advise CBAP participants to pay attention are the techniques related to Financial Analysis, Decision Analysis, and UML.

Here are a few blogs and videos that we published which will help CBAP aspirants:

Estimation

https://www.adaptiveus.com/business-analysis-estimation-technique/

Metrics and KPI

https://www.adaptiveus.com/business-analysis-world-indicators/

Data and Concept model

https://www.adaptiveus.com/concept-model-vs-data-model/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdvgaxqTkmE&feature=youtu.be

Process analysis

https://www.adaptiveus.com/process-modeling-vs-process-analysis/

Business model canvas

https://www.adaptiveus.com/balanced-scorecard-vs-business-model-canvas/

Non-functional requirements

https://www.adaptiveus.com/blog/non-functional-requirements

 

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Stakeholder list, map, and personas

Here is a summary of important techniques for CBAP certification:

Author: L N Mishra, Co-Founder, Adaptive US

 

L N Mishra co-founded Adaptive US, a business analysis skill development organization, working with professionals from 80+ countries in skyrocketing their BA career and staying ahead of the game. He has helped 5000+ BA professionals to achieve better salary and role in their BA career. He is the ONLY trainer who holds all 7 certifications from IIBA (ECBA, CCBA, CBAP, CCA, AAC, CBDA, and CPOA).

LN has authored 12 best-selling books on business analysis. He is also a Versatile trainer, coach and speaker on all IIBA Certifications.

Grab a copy of best-selling eBook –  FREE 50 CBAP Exam Mock Questions Plus Comprehensive CBAP Exam Information utilized by 1000s of BA professionals to ace their IIBA exam.

 

LN is also a member of IIBA Question Setting Committee, mentored 100+ global clients and 3000+ Bas. He has 24+ years of working experience as a Business Analyst and conducted 1000+ workshops in business analysis, requirements engineering and agile, project management, requirements engineering and different BA Skilled webinars.

Please write to LN if your thoughts are in sync with his or if they spark a thought in you.

BATimes_OCT12_2022

How Does Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA(r)-AAC) Fit?

Agile is here to stay!

 

Being a capable business analyst in an agile environment is no longer a specialization. Every competent BA must be comfortable working in an agile environment, and that should be reflected in the certifications offered by the IIBA.

 

Version 3 of the Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) was released in 2015. This version identified agile analysis as one of five sample perspectives that “provide focus to tasks and techniques specific to the context of the initiative”. Other perspectives included business intelligence, information technology, business architecture, and business process management. The expressed intent was that these perspectives represented common views of business analysis, and that they should be applied as appropriate in any project context to provide ways to approach business analysis work.

 

At the time, there were ongoing “debates” in the community regarding the need for or value derived from including business analysts on agile teams. Indeed, the identification of roles in the Scrum Guide: scrum master, product owner, developer, motivated many (misguided?) teams to specifically reject the notion of business analysts as necessary or desirable members of a Scrum team. This premise became common throughout the industry.

 

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Parenthetically, I have always found it interesting that no one seemed to question the inclusion of testers as a specialized role on Scrum teams.

 

Why overlook business analysts? The question could generate an article unto itself.

 

As agile methods became more widely accepted, it was clear the business analysis domain needed to address this oversight. The IIBA partnered with the Agile Alliance to create and release version 2 of the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide in 2017. The Extension was intended to demonstrate the need for business analysis in an agile context and to clarify the application of solid business analysis, independent of project context or development paradigm. The Guide “demonstrates how an Agile mindset can be applied to all domains and how any BABOK® Guide task can be performed in an agile context”[i].

 

In 2018, the IIBA introduced the Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA®-AAC). This was the first of their “specialty” certifications, expanding on the core certifications: Entry Certificate in Business AnalysisTM (ECBATM), Certification of Competency in Business AnalysisTM (CCBA®), Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®). The certification was designed to be methodology-agnostic, focusing on the business analysis principles necessary to support iterative, adaptive development, independent of the domain. Some new techniques were introduced, but by and large, the focus was on how good business analysis practices described in the BABOK® should be applied in an agile context.

 

No one should argue that doing business analysis in an agile, change-driven context is the same as traditional, plan-driven analysis. The differences, however, focus largely on the timing and the level of detail in the application of standard BA practices. The same practices generally apply regardless of the team’s development approach.

 

Fast forward several years, and the agile paradigm is dominant in the software industry. Many organizations are extending, transitioning, or having transitioned to agile frameworks and methodologies. At the same time, those frameworks, methodologies, and teams have recognized that business analysis is not antithetical to agility. Indeed, business analysts or those project team members having strong business analysis capabilities are now seen as vital to successful initiatives.

 

Where does that leave the AAC? As of August 2022, the IIBA Certification Registry lists 1,474 registered holders of the IIBA®-AAC. This may not represent the entire total, as holders can choose to exclude their names from the directory. Compared with the other core and specialty certifications the numbers tell an interesting story:

  • ECBATM – 7,359
  • CCBA® – 2,743
  • CBAP® – 16,331
  • IIBA®-CBDA (Business Data Analytics Certification) – 338
  • IIBA®-CCA (Cybersecurity Analysis Certification) – 253
  • IIBA®-CPOA (Product Ownership Analysis Certification) – 634

 

Clearly, the core certifications are more popular than the specialty certifications. This is particularly true of CBAP®, which has been around for a longer time, requires verifiable work experience, and has more recognition in the marketplace. There is more interest in AAC than any of the other specializations, but that may be a result of the length of time AAC has been available in comparison to the other specialty certs.

 

What I find most interesting, however, is the integration of agile principles with the other specialty certifications. The IIBA emphasizes that the specialty certifications, particularly CBDA and CPOA, which is really an Agile certification, include the application of agile techniques along with an expectation of the application of techniques and practices from the BABOK®.

 

People preparing for certifications have a duty to understand more than just “what’s in the book”. To be an effective BA, the practitioner needs to be able to apply techniques and practices from any perspective that will support the initiative. In providing training for aspiring BAs and certification candidates, I often refer to information not only from the BABOK®, but also from the Agile Extension and a variety of other agile frameworks and methodologies.

 

Going forward, I can easily see the AAC being rolled into the core certifications, particularly at the ECBATM level. While that would eliminate one outlet for my services (AAC certification courses), I think it would ultimately serve the domain and result in better BAs.

[i] IIBA and Agile Alliance Release Version 2 of The Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide (https://www.agilealliance.org/the-alliance/news-press/iiba-and-agile-alliance-release-version-2-of-the-agile-extension-to-the-babok-guide/#:~:text=The%20Agile%20Extension%20to%20the%20BABOK%C2%AE%20Guide%20will,be%20available%20for%20enterprise%20licensing%20in%20September%202017)

 

BATimes_July20_2022

Books To Bank On For Your Business: Five Top Reads For Avid Business Analysts

In the fast-paced world of business analysis, you live and learn from minute to minute. Keeping up with cutting-edge industry developments can be a Herculean task for even the most dedicated of business professionals.

So, when it comes to studying, ensure that you are expending your time wisely on quality learning from the best. Here to broaden your knowledge base, expand your vocabulary, and share insider experience, we have collated a small but perfectly formed reading list to equip anybody from post-graduate all the way up to leadership levels with the information needed to succeed. Rather than wasting your time wading your way through reams of useless information to garner a few insightful gems of wisdom when you could already be one step ahead in applying your newfound knowledge to your latest project, use our guide to the top five reads of the moment to help you cut straight to the chase.

 

1: ‘How To Lead In Product Management: Practices To Align Stakeholders, Guide Development Teams, And Create Value Together’ By Roman Pichle

Author of no less than four books and creator of his own blog alongside an educational product management podcast, Roman Pichler is your go-to consultant when it comes to leading in product management. Within the pages of Roman’s latest offering, you’ll find out how to guide your team successfully and to foster positive relationships with your stakeholders. While technical skills and knowledge of your industry are vital elements of leadership, Pichler lends his wisdom on the more nuanced aspects of the interpersonal relationships that must be cultivated as a good leader. This includes invaluable advice on building trust with your team, creating common goals, resolving challenging situations and maintaining your own wellbeing in this high-stakes environment.

 

2: ‘Seven Steps To Mastering Business Analysis (Business Analysis Professional Development)’ By Jamie Champagne

Written by Jamie Champagne, the first ever Hawaiian to become a Certified Business Analysis Professional, this book is a simple yet thorough guide to the complex world of business analysis. An insightful read for beginners and experts alike, Jamie uses her font of experience as founder of her own successful company, Champagne Collaborations, to provide seven clearly structured steps to business success. Champagne generously provides explanations of all key terms and concepts, alongside proven techniques that are coupled with real-life examples for ease of learning. A great resource for those studying for exams in the field, or for anybody looking to understand and  increase the value of their work or to broaden their professional horizon.

 

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3: ‘Agile And Business Analysis’ By Debra Paul And Lynda Girvan

With 55 years of experience in the industry between the two of them, the brains behind Assist Knowledge Development Debra Paul and Linda Girvan have applied their expertise to an in-depth exploration into the use of Agile as an approach in business in this book. Paul and Girvan delve into what Agile means as a business analysis methodology, outlining their thoughts on it’s role in all of the most important aspects of business such as the understanding of customer requirements, the engagement of key stakeholders in the company or product, and the accurate measurement of how successfully the company is achieving its targets in relation to these.

 

4: ‘Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices For Teams, Programs, And The Enterprise’ By Dean Leffingwell

With 30 years of experience in the software industry, Dean Leffingwell is an absolute authority in his field. Leffingwell generously shares his experience as the founding CEO of Requisite, Inc., and as Vice President of IBM’s Rational Software in a revolutionary compilation of his recommended best practices. No matter what your company structure of developmental process in the Agile business environment, Leffingwell has likely devised a business model to suit it. His application of the latest in Agile methodology, combined with his expertise in traditional management practices and lean product development creates an all-encompassing bible for anybody interested in getting the best from their business in terms of software requirements.

 

5: ‘Mastering The Requirements Process: Getting Requirements Right’ By Suzanne Robertson And James Robertson

Suzanne and James Robertson’s goal in writing this definitive guide to the requirements process was to teach business analysts how to identify requirements accurately, therefore ensuring an efficient and successful development process free from time and resource-wasting hiccups. Such has been the success of this detailed volume that it is now in it’s third edition, with constantly updated strategies that include information on how to apply it’s lessons to both traditional and to Agile business models. In this latest publication, the Robertsons have provided additional information on the Volere Knowledge Model and Requirements Process, the Brown Cow Model, as well as further chapters on specification templates, formality guides and story cards.

You can find more information about the writer at UKWritingsAcademized and State Of Writing

BATimes_June27_2022

Doing Better Brainstorming: A Business Analyst’s Guide

Instead of a “go with the flow” approach to brainstorming sessions, arm yourself and your team with brainstorming best practices guaranteed to give you results. Business analysts must learn to be intentional in their brainstorming to generate worthwhile, actionable ideas consistently.

Here’s how to lead more productive brainstorming sessions.

 

Take Care of the Logistics

First, you must take care of the brainstorming session logistics. Sometimes, spontaneous brainstorming sessions are necessary, but they should be few and far between. Instead, you should walk into most of your meetings with a plan.

Determine how long your session is going to last and where you’re going to hold it. Decide who is going to attend. Name your notetaker, facilitator, and timekeeper. Create an agenda or outline to distribute. And be sure everyone has access to and knows how to use the tech tools you’ll be using.

Also, come to every session with a clear purpose.

 

Come to Every Session With a Purpose

One of the worst things you can do in a brainstorming session is go into it without a clear goal or objective. Instead of developing solutions to problems or tangible ideas, you’ll have a lot of random conversation that ultimately goes nowhere.

Every time your team comes together to brainstorm, there should be a straightforward goal you’re trying to achieve. For example, are you trying to solve a problem? Do you want to determine the next steps at a project’s checkpoint? Are you there to mull over a new direction?

Make your purpose clear to the team, and let that purpose lead your brainstorming session.

Consider the Personalities in Attendance

It’s also wise to consider the personalities of the people you’ve invited to the brainstorming session. How you approach brainstorming with a group of extroverts will be different than how you facilitate brainstorming with a mixed crowd or one made up of reserved individuals.

Equally important is your personality and how you can use your strengths to facilitate a successful session. For instance, let’s say you’re introverted. Introverts are typically laid back and quiet, but can absolutely still be successful team leaders. So, play to your strengths.

Write your main speaking points down on paper so you don’t forget them. Use your exceptional listening skills to absorb everything thrown out in your session. Find opportunities to connect with people one-on-one and empower them.

 

Encourage Everyone to Participate

Considering everyone’s personality is also a good idea because you can make the brainstorming session more welcoming for each person when you know how they operate. And that, in turn, furthers your effort to encourage everyone to participate.

Set ground rules for brainstorming. It should be a no-judgment zone. Welcome every idea regardless of how crazy or out of the box it may seem. Allow everyone to express their creativity and experiences.

Moreover, everyone should have an opportunity to share. When someone starts dominating the conversation, politely interrupt them and ask others to contribute. You could even use a timer to ensure each person has equal time to express themselves.

 

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Experiment With Tried-and-True Brainstorming Methods

Experimenting with different brainstorming methods can get the creative juices flowing for your team too. There are many tried and true brainstorming strategies to sift through until you find one or a combination that works for the individuals in your session.

Mind-mapping is one brainstorming method to try. You start with a main idea and generate sub-topics surrounding that central subject. Then, you come up with smaller ideas around those sub-topics. Finally, connect your ideas with lines, and you’ve got a mind map.

It’s an incredibly flexible brainstorming technique that allows for a surplus of creativity and idea generation in your session.

Here are a few other brainstorming methods to try:

  • Modified design sprint
  • Brainwriting
  • Stepladder technique
  • Round-robin brainstorming
  • Rapid ideation
  • 5 whys analysis

Leave Each Session With an Action Plan

Many people deem brainstorming sessions ineffective because nothing comes out of them. In other words, teams are leaving meetings without an action plan. So, all of the ideas generated in these sessions live out the rest of their days in a file on your computer instead of in the real world.

Each idea or solution your team voted to move forward with in your brainstorming session should be accompanied by an action plan. You, your notetaker, or facilitator can take the lead on creating this action plan.

Document next steps and assign someone to each step. Put a deadline on each step and when you want the action plan completed in its entirety. And don’t forget to follow up on each action plan to ensure it gets done.

 

Conclusion

Business analysts need brainstorming to excel in their roles. If your sessions have been less than productive so far, use the tips above to elevate them and come out with real results.

PMTimes_May13_2022

You Made The Decision To Pursue CBAP Certification, Now What?

I have been a Business Analyst for more than a decade and have recently decided to go for it! It being the IIBA CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) certification. As any BA would do, the moment I decided to go for it, I immediately went into information gathering mode! I l researched and gathered as much information as I could find. I signed up for several IIBA webinars and LinkedIn learning modules pertaining to the CBAP certification. Here are the top ten tips I took away from my research:

  1. Use the business analysis skills you currently possess to develop your CBAP certification roadmap or project plan!
    • Layout the tasks and actions you must complete. Such as: complete and submit your application, read the BABOK and/or Core Standards, collect your references, decide if you prefer self-study or a paid training program, plan for the 35 hours of professional development, etc.
    • Define a timeline with target dates. I feel like this is a personal preference item. You want to set yourself up for success while ensuring you do not extend the timeline out too far. For myself, I set a 6-month timeline. I expect to take the exam at no more than 6 months from the time I officially started the process. I felt that a longer duration of time would either welcome procrastination or give too much time for me to tart second guessing my readiness.
    • Organize and prioritize the required tasks and actions. For example, ensure the most time intensive activities fit into the timeline you have defined for yourself. What activities are expected to take the longest? The study of the BABOK? The 35 hours of professional development?
    • I have heard and read, multiple times, ‘do not wait to start capturing your work experience.’ It takes time to record 7500 hours of business analysis experience. It is a tedious task that doesn’t feel so bad if it is done is smaller increments at a time.

 

2. There are so many resources available. Many of which can be applied to the required professional development hours (WIN-WIN).

    • If you are a member of IIBA, there are many IIBA chapters that offer IIBA certification study groups. Tip: These count toward professional development hours
    • There are several free webinars, recorded and live, that offer insight into how best to prep for the certification. Tip: Many of these webinars count toward professional development hours
    • There are a vast variety of articles that cover key things to know before going into the exam. Little golden nuggets of useful insights and tips for success!
    • Again, if you are an IIBA member, there are several IIBA endorsed providers that offer professional training programs to guide you through the learning process and prepare you for certification.

 

3. Much to my delight, every resource I tapped into provided consistent information.

    • I don’t know about you but when I find consistent info from search to search and source to source, I feel better about the validity of the information! I am more inclined to trust it as truth and feel confident that I can rely on it to support my decision-making process.

 

4. Do not assume your years of experience as a Business Analyst negates the need to study the BABOK in preparation for the exam!!!!

    • I rank this my number 1 learning as I searched for information! We Business Analysts tend not to make assumptions when engaging in the activity of business analysis, however, this message was pressed in every study session, webinar and article I read which to me meant it is a common mistake made by seasoned professionals. A mistake I could have easily made if I had not sought out information and looked for guidance on how best to approach the CBAP certification process.
    • As BA’s we exercise our business analysis skills and apply business analysis tools daily, however, we do not use the BABOK vernacular or think about how the work we do fits into the six knowledge areas defined in the BABOK. Hence the importance of reading the BABOK to gain a thorough understanding of the six knowledge areas.
    • Reading a nearly 500-page book cover to cover is a bit much. Some will advise that you read the BABOK multiple times to prep for the certification. Sone will advise you scan the BABOK and focus on the Core Standards (a condensed version of the BABOK). I say this is another area that is completely personal, based on the individuals learning style. I struggled with determine my approach to this activity for a bit!

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5. Spend a good portion of your study time and effort ensuring you have a thorough understanding of the requirements analysis and design definition knowledge area.

    • This knowledge area makes up about 30% of the CBAP exam. I cannot confirm this statistic myself, however, I can say this statistic has been referenced/shared in a number of the sources I have tapped into. Given this, I have assigned more weight to this key knowledge area to ensure I understand the elements involved in the requirements analysis and design definition knowledge area.

 

6. Know the 50 BABOK techniques.

    • Yes! There are 50. The best piece of advice I have heard on this item is to think about the techniques in practical terms within the context of the six knowledge areas. This is not to say a technique cannot be applicable to multiple knowledge areas, this is simply a way to connect the technique to activities that you an associate to the six knowledge areas for purpose of understanding the techniques in a practical manner. For Example:
      • It is common to use techniques such as brainstorming, focus groups, and workshops in elicitation and collaboration
      • It is common in requirements analysis and design definition to use concept modeling, decision modeling, user stories and use cases.
      • Solution Evaluation may involve root-cause analysis and vendor assessments

 

  1. Memorize the Financial Calculations and Formula in the BABOK
    • The last time I had to memorize formula was probably an accounting class or statistics class in college! I happen to use calculations in my current business analysis role but none that are in the BABOK. Memorizing formula was not something I expected to encounter as I prep for CBAP certification.
    • An example of a formula you may need to know is the formula to calculate ROI (return on investment). Total Benefits -Cost of the Investment/Cost of the Investment.
    • Another formula example would be the calculation of Net Present Value. Present Value- Cost of Investment.
    • In addition to memorizing the calculations and formula, you must be able to interpret the results of the calculations and utilize those results to answer textual questions.

 

  1. Utilize mock exams and practice tests!!
    • Going back to the decision to read the BABOK cover to cover or not. I chose to take a few mock exams to see how I fared. I did this to assess how exam ready I was before determining if reading the BABOK cover to cover was necessary.
    • Mock tests are GREAT! Here’s why:
      • They are timed, same as the CBAP exam. Hence, you experience the same stress you will experience when taking the actual exam. You will get a feel for how long you may need for the simple multiple-choice questions and/or the case based and scenario-based questions.
      • You gain insight on how complex the scenario or case-based questions are. You learn how best to break them down for purpose of selecting the best answer
      • You see how memorizing key concepts, vocabulary, terms, and techniques is not enough. You must be able to apply the concepts, the techniques, and the knowledge to scenarios from a real-world perspective. Essentially demonstrate an in depth understanding of not only the material covered in the BABOK but how to apply that knowledge to your business analysis activities.

 

  1. Optimal approach to the Case-Based and Scenario-Based Questions
    • Case-based questions are intense! They are multi paragraph scenarios. Followed by multiple questions about the case scenario.
      • The very first mock exam I took, I scored at about 50%. Eye opening results If I had not already read that an individual going into the exam blind, assuming they have the knowledge to ace the exam based on their years of business analysis work are likely to score in the 50% range. (I confirmed that statistic!).
    • This golden nugget of information was a game changer for me!!! I attended a webinar; in this webinar the host advised, the best approach to the case-based questions is to read the question and answers first, followed by the last paragraph of the scenario.
      • I took my next practice exam. I jumped closer to a 70% accuracy rate. Why do I believe this approach improved my results? I started with the end in mind. I knew what I was looking for because I had the question and potential answers in mind before I started looking for the information that would lead me to the correct answer. And I saved time by not reading and rereading the scenario. Again, GAME CHANGER!!!!

 

10. Last but certainly not least. There is no time like the present!!

  • If you are thinking about pursuing CBAP certification jump in and go for it!
  • never know if you never try!
  • Skilling Up is more important than ever!

I am currently on my journey to CBAP certification. It is equally exciting and nerve-racking! I hope you find this information as useful as I have!