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Using LEGO® as a requirements elicitation technique

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How do you have LEGO® and serious in the same sentence, well LEGO® Serious Play® is actually a method that has been around for a while. It is a powerful thinking, communication and problem solving technique that helps teams reach the core requirements; through structured play activities using the popular and playful modelling toy.
The advantage of having this as part of your arsenal as a Business analyst, is that when people come into your workshop and see legos, they subconsciously let their guard down as the thought of having some fun gets people just a bit comfortable and relaxed and that’s when the creative juices are likely to flow more easily.
I haven’t personally used this technique but definitely will be looking into opportunities to learn more about it as I can fully see the benefits in requirements elicitation.
By engaging your fingers and your brain at the same time somehow allows you to be more creative and it focuses people on explaining their thoughts through the models they have built. It focuses people on the ideas that are most important to people as the exercises are time-boxed.

The LSP really ensures that all the participants contribute to the conversation.
The approach is that a facilitator leads a group of people through a fast-paced series of building exercises in response to a few well-chosen questions focused on a problem, opportunity, or new idea. Everyone is asked to build for a few minutes and then they need to The premises is that you have all the right stakeholders in the room (including developers, business users, etc) and begin with some warm up activities to get people comfortable and talking about the key components of the system, what they expect from system and with the right key people in the room they begin to build a shared landscape of the solution.
According to Oliver Schirok in his presentation “Exploring user requirements with Lego”, the basic principles are;

• Think with your hands
• The model is your answer to the question/challenge
• Use Lego bricks as metaphors
• Listen with your eyes
• Focus on the models, not the people

What I love most about this method, is the fact that everyone is heard.

This technique really enables teams to focus on the WHO and the WHY of why we are trying to solve the problem, or pursue an opportunity. This provides the essential context of introducing a new solution.
It gets participants talking to each other as each participant can ask questions about the other’s model.

Have you used this technique or been part of the process? Share your experience; I’ll love to hear more!

 

150 Chika headshotBA Simplified can help you to discover the most critical business analyst skills – in a simplified form so you can get the edge. We are here to make becoming and excelling in business analysis as simple and easy to understand and implement.  We also help organisations to implement effective business analysis practices in delivering successful projects.

 Chika Oyinlade

 

Sign up for (occasional and non spammy) updates here www.basimplified.com
Connect with us on FB here www.facebook.com/BASimplified
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8 Confidence Tips for the Newbie Business Analyst

business analyst ba simplified woman computer stressed

Any new job will be nerve wracking – but as a newbie business analyst, it is your role to make sure you get your people on side, and quickly.  A large part of the Business Analyst role is relationship building, and first impressions make lasting impressions.

business analyst ba simplified woman computer stressed

Can you take some inspiration from these top tips by experienced BA, writing in the BA TimesRacquel Ellis:-

1. Come to the job armed with a set of tools and techniques that you can readily transform into something of value to business analyst ba simplified woman in chargeimmediately show your stakeholders that they made the right decision when they chose you for the job.

2. Be prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty.

3. Be of no reputation.

4. Complete company sponsored courses that will help you to understand more about the business.

5. Become genuinely interested in team members and their roles at all levels.

6. Know when to keep silent and start by asking questions.

7. Accept when you’re wrong.

8. Be appropriate, functional and relevant.

And I will add #9 – Get a coach. Having someone around who you can learn from will accellerate your learning curve, and make the transition so much easier – you can go from newbie Business Analyst to expert much more quickly.

You can read the article in full here.


 

150 Chika headshotBA Simplified can help you to discover the most critical business analyst skills – in a simplified form so you can get the edge. We are here to make becoming and excelling in business analysis as simple and easy to understand and implement.  We also help organisations to implement effective business analysis practices in delivering successful projects.

Let us know if you found this useful – and what you would add. We’d appreciate the feedback!

 Chika Oyinlade

 

Sign up for (occasional and non spammy) updates here www.basimplified.com
Connect with us on FB here www.facebook.com/BASimplified
Follow us on Twitter here  www.twitter.com/BASimplified

 

 

 

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3 Top Mobile Apps For Business Analysts

Young business woman standing in front of an office building business analyst basimplified

Have you ever thought you should make the most of your smart phone or tablet – especially when you have time inbetween meetings and appointments when you’re not at your desk? We’ve got the 3 top mobile apps for business analysts from Josh Maxwell who undertook some great research for BATimes recently and I just had to share.

 

From the article  10 Top Apps for the Business Analyst – we have picked out the top 3 FREE Apps to download:-

business analyst app ba simplifiedYoung business man standing in front of an office building business analyst basimplified

1. BA Glossary – This app is a great reference for definitions of BA tools, techniques, and terms. It’s helpful when you need to look up a new term quickly or if you simply want to browse and review. It features an intuitive search function that narrows the results as you type which is helpful when you don’t know exactly which word you’re looking for. Its simple layout and multitude of terms makes this app an efficient tool for any BA. Available free in the Apple App Store.

2. Polaris Office – This app allows you to view, create, and edit Microsoft Office products such as PowerPobusiness analyst polaris app ba simplified int, Excel, and Word. You can also view PDF documents. Using share capabilities, you can send documents to cloud storage services like OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. The app also syncs to multiple mobile devices. Available in Google Play and the Apple App Store.

 

business analyst camcard app ba simplified 3. CamCard – This app eliminates the need to save business cards by allowing you to categorize them in custom groups. It uses your phone’s camera to capture the card, extract the name, title, and contact information so that it can be stored in the app. It also retains the image of the card. You can also choose to export the information directly into your phone contacts. Available directly and in Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Young business woman standing in front of an office building business analyst basimplified

 

This is part of the list identified by  Josh Maxwell, Senior Business Analyst at The Cincinnati Insurance Company. He did a deep dive research article, and identified 10 apps. If you’d like to get the rest of the list – and read his article in full, click here.

 


150 Chika headshotBA Simplified can help you to discover the most critical business analyst skills – in a simplified form so you can get the edge. We are here to make becoming and excelling in business analysis as simple and easy to understand and implement.  We also help organisations to implement effective business analysis practices in delivering successful projects.

Let us know if you found this useful – and what you would add. We’d appreciate the feedback!

 Chika Oyinlade

 

Sign up for (occasional and non spammy) updates here www.basimplified.com
Connect with us on FB here www.facebook.com/BASimplified
Follow us on Twitter here  www.twitter.com/BASimplified

 

 

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12 Tips On How To Write A First Class User Story

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As a Business Analyst Coach, I often get asked how to write a user story.  In my experience,  Agile BAs can write a user story that they understand perfectly, but does not take into account the rest of the team’s different communication styles and knowledge. For example I often see user stories that are ‘tech’ heavy, and while this information must be included I usually suggest it appear as a subtask requirement instead.

It got me thinking that it would be great to have a list of what makes a first class user story.

So I looked around for some inspiration on how to write a user story with clout and clarity. I found this great article from Judith Mary Khan, where she calls for a user story with ‘qualities’ and that’s exactly what will help my Business Analysts clients.

Here are 12 Tips on How To Write A User Story With Quality

  1. A great headline reads like a story, not a puzzling technical paraphrase.user story basimplified working at desk man
  2. A description that cuts to the chase and is readable by all scrum team members.
  3. Use story notes. If this is available, capture and describe aspects and details beyond the description.
  4. Capture the tasks involved for specifying the requirements, the work of the Developers, and the criteria for QA activities. My current team makes this quick to grasp with prefixes to indicate which team member is responsible, such as ‘DEV’, ‘QA’, etc.
  5. Clear acceptance points or criteria are written so that any business analyst can walk through the deliverable and give it a yes or no to pass for acceptance, or to pick up the workflow. It should be cross-team member ready.
  6. A workflow that makes common sense and uses verbiage that can be readily understood. This workflow should be visible to all users, and permissions granted only for those who are in the appropriate role to select that workflow step.
  7. The right screen shots should be attached, but only if needed.
  8. Attachments can serve as directly related to fulfillment of the story, and become a powerful reference tool in future use when investigating the history of a feature or whatever was important to the story. Meaningful and supporting attachments can also guide the knowledge transfer when new team members join.
  9. Comments should be direct, and to the point. This is all too often overused, for comments that do not need to be captured and reread. Valuable comments are readable, complete, and understandable. Any ‘next steps’ or action items that come out of a comment need to be clearly stated.
  10. Use the story points to track, communicate, and reflect the best estimating available from the team. A lot of skill goes into good estimating and the various team members have a lot to offer. Make sure that all voices are heard, especially from QA and UAT.
  11. Use your story to facilitate prioritization. Keep the ranking within the story itself. This can then be ready to use when reviewed, reported, analyzed for metrics. The PM, and the dashboards that can be created will thank you.
  12. More… employ the elements that will make it valuable to your team and efforts. Agile allows options, and as the BA, you can facilitate it.

To read the whole article, go here.

 


150 Chika headshotBA Simplified can help you to discover the most critical business analyst skills – in a simplified form so you can get the edge. We are here to make becoming and excelling in business analysis as simple and easy to understand and implement.  We also help organisations to implement effective business analysis practices in delivering successful projects.

Let us know if you found this useful – and what you would add. We’d appreciate the feedback!

 Chika Oyinlade

 

Sign up for (occasional and non spammy) updates here www.basimplified.com
Connect with us on FB here www.facebook.com/BASimplified
Follow us on Twitter here  www.twitter.com/BASimplified

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5 Key Soft Skills for Business Analysts in IT

Businesspeople, teamwork. Group of multiethnic busy people working in an office with a black businessman as a leader of the group ba simplified business analyst

The BA Times has some great writers who can really get to the essence of what it takes to be a great Business Analyst.  If you didn’t read this article by Brad Egeland first time around, here it is again.

As an IT BA you will need to take into account the team around you and their level of expertise, their needs, and of course, the stakeholders, but what else can you pay attention to which can really help a project to move forward?

So what soft skills does a business analyst need for project success?’ It’s often the soft skills that make the difference between a successful project and one that misses the deadline.

Let’s examine what is considered to be the top 5 key soft skills of IT business analysts when working on technical project solutions with the project team and customer.

Businesspeople, teamwork. Group of multiethnic busy people working in an office with a black businessman as a leader of the group ba simplified business analyst

1. Negotiation. The art of negotiation. It’s not an easy one and it’s not for everyone. It takes confidence, connections, proactive thinking, and a solid understanding of the other party’s needs. That’s where the business analyst needs to thrive. As they are continually working through the technical side of the project with the project client – acting as a constant interface to the client and as a liaison to and interpreter for the development team as well a navigator role to the project manager captain role(yes, that is three hats on most projects), they have the best understanding of client needs vs. delivery team capabilities. That’s where negotiation comes in. They need to be able to see where new business might be negotiated with the project client as well as where project changes may need to be negotiated to combat scheduling conflicts.

2. Meeting management. As with any professional position, the business analyst will be well served to be a good meeting manager. Besides participating on regular project status meetings led by the project manager, the BA will be conducting many project meetings throughout the project engagement. These include meetings to discuss and define design and planning issues as well as functional design and project requirements with the client. They will also be conducting many team meetings with the developers as they transfer and translate ongoing customer needs and requests. Efficient and effective project meeting management will keep attendees coming and keep meetings productive.

3. Conflict resolution. Hopefully this skill isn’t needed often, but that always depends on the team and the project – and possibly the customer. The complexity of work can bring conflicts on the team. The business analyst who can work cohesively with the project team can help wade through the conflicts and help project team members realize they are working on a common project goal and keep them focused on that.

4. Listening skills. Listening skills are critical for the BA. Both in terms of dealing with the wants, needs and requests of the project client and listening to the concerns and needs of the technical project team members. Proper understanding of client processes and needs is critical to proper documentation and understanding of those always important detailed project requirements – and the BA’s listening skills are at the heart of that understanding. Requirements are the lifeblood of the project – poorly documented or understood project requirements have doomed many a project. Success is hard enough as it is – listening skills are critical for the BA to avoid this potential pitfall.

5. Communication. Finally, communication. I realize that listening is part of communication, but here I’m talking about the other side. The business analyst needs to be a master at interpreting what they hear and accurately relaying it to those with whom they are connecting. The BA is often a go-between on many aspects of the project as already discussed. If any of that critical information falls between the cracks, it can lead to nightmares, missed deadlines, re-work, and budgetary issues. And, likely, ultimately project failure and delivery of a solution that doesn’t work for the client’s end users.

young business man suit  ba simplified business analyst6. I’ll add on –understand why you need to get a coach. Having a mentor who you can talk things through with – who is not involved in your project, will keep you on track.

You can read the full article which appeared in the BA Times by Brad Egeland, here.


150 Chika headshotBA Simplified can help you to discover the most critical business analyst skills – in a simplified form so you can get the edge. We are here to make becoming and excelling in business analysis as simple and easy to understand and implement.  We also help organisations to implement effective business analysis practices in delivering successful projects.

Let us know if you found this useful – and what you would add. We’d appreciate the feedback!

 Chika Oyinlade

 

Sign up for (occasional and non spammy) updates here www.basimplified.com
Connect with us on FB here www.facebook.com/BASimplified
Follow us on Twitter here  www.twitter.com/BASimplified

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