How to select the best technique to get the message across

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When we say “business analysis”, most of the time we hear “documenting requirements”, or, more recently, “user stories”. Capturing requirements — in documents or user story format — is central to a business analyst’s job, but thinking only in these terms is quite limiting.

To get to an agreement of what future state should be like, we need more. Models, diagrams, storyboards, scenario matrices, decision tables and business rule sets all supplement the words and help create a coherent, structured and multi-dimensional picture of a future solution.

What’s wrong with simply writing a user story after the user story?

People vary in how they learn and absorb information. Visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic learners have different needs. …


A business analysis approach to data modelling

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Successful business analysis requires understanding of business. One of the essential tools for understanding a business is a conceptual data model. Even though conceptual models are relatively easy to understand and create, business analysts do not use them enough. This article will discuss how to use the information in a use case diagrams to create a conceptual data model.

Definition

A conceptual data model is a structured business view of the data required to support business processes, record business events, and track related performance measures.

Conceptual models establish business knowledge and name key business entities and relationships between them. They enforce consistent business terminology and identify the concepts that exist independent of any technology implementations. …


Even if it is just falafels

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Photo by Anton on Unsplash

Cooking and household chores can be a useful lighthearted analogy for project and change management. And why not — each assumes the existence of objectives, planning, requirements, and the final outcome that delivers expected value.

This story is inspired by falafels. As I’ve never attempted to cook them before, it can be compared to delivering a new product to customers. Each phase of the falafel execution reminds of typical phases in product development.

Falafels may be less complex than other products you will work on, so don’t be too critical. …


Why your resume doesn’t get picked for interviews

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Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

I have reviewed hundreds of business analyst resumes. Two minutes is usually enough to discard a resume. It can take even less time if I see a glaring mistake.

If your resume never passes the “first glance” test, your job search will be long and fruitless.

In this article, I will share with you how to avoid the discard pile. You still need to have the right skills, and you still need to practice for a job interview, but none of that will matter if your resume is unprofessional or raises doubts as to its authenticity.

Here are some common mistakes. Most of these apply to any job, and not just to business analysis profession. …


Make the investment in people and culture your priority

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Any organization that changes and evolves performs business analysis. How do you develop your business analysis function? How do you support the professional growth of practitioners who play a vital role in enabling successful change?

Here are a few questions you can start with to assess the business analysis maturity in your company:

  • Do you have a high staff turnover among business analysts?
  • Do your major projects start and finish with the same lead business analyst, or is it typical to have a few people take over from each other before the project is completed?
  • Is there a perception among business stakeholders that technology groups do not understand them? …


How long will it take? It depends…

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Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash

How long will it take you to do it?

When will you get it done?

What is the task duration?

How many times have you had to answer such questions? How often was your answer proven to be just right? And how often are you tempted to say “it depends”?

Let’s chat about why. Why “it depends”?

Here are some reflections from my typical morning. I have children and work full time, so I have to be very organized. No other choice. I have to get breakfast ready on time, and lunchboxes are a mandatory requirement. Kids need to be out by certain time as the school bus will not wait. I don’t like 9am meetings but have them almost every day. …


Every change start with WHY

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An effective change starts with knowing WHY — your strategy and business objectives.

The strategy will shape your target operating model. What does your business need to be like in five or ten years to survive and thrive? You must visualize the target state of your company, and then cast back to your current state to determine how to get there. This will define your roadmap.

Business architecture helps organizations create strategic plans and define required changes in a disciplined way. The strategy is shaped into views that can be communicated to the employees. …


… comes from inside

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Isn’t it easy giving pep talks to someone else?

“I know you have it in you.”

“But of course you can do it!”

“It will get easier.”

“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

“I know you’ve tried your best.”

But can you give the same pep talk to yourself? Can you sincerely do it when you know yourself too well? When you know what you’ve done, what you could have done, and what you didn’t do?

Not always. If you know you messed up, or have been too lazy, or gave up too early, you will sound false. These reassurances will feel trite, as if you are coming up with a lame excuse, and you know it. …


On the value of planning — for changes big and small

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Photo by Megumi Nachev on Unsplash

In my earlier article “How is baking macaroons like a software project,” I shared a rather frustrating experience of doing something without adequate preparation. This time I wanted to feel more in control and picked a recipe that has been tried and true in our family: chocolate bites. The recipe did not disappoint — we enjoyed baking together, with kids participating eagerly and with confidence.

This is just the recovery we needed after the macaroon fiasco: the satisfaction of running a well-planned project with a strong performing team.

So here I am again, finding analogies between domestic activities and project management. …


Your current employer may be your best friend

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Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

Lately, I’ve been conducting webinars for aspiring business analysts. With this uncertain job market, public interest in upskilling, reskilling and new career paths has skyrocketed.

The questions I get most frequently are:

“How do I break into the profession?”

“Where can I get my first experience?”

“How can I find time for learning new skills with my current job?”

In my webinars, I ask the participants where do they go for training and reskilling. Most name the same resources: online courses, professional social media, webinars, and articles. They do their learning after hours. Most of this after-hours reskilling is passive — reading, watching, listening, and absorbing. …

About

Yulia Kosarenko

On a quest to reduce waste and balance work, life, teaching & writing. I love pictures, models, and consult on business analysis & architecture: why-change.com.

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