Friday, 23 December 2011


As this blog is really a repository of information for myself and other BAs, I MUST post a link to the Smart-BA website.
"This is a site for giving away as much free stuff as possible for business analysts - things like manuals for passing BA exams, training materials, articles, templates, tips for tuning up a BA's cv and anything else that could be useful for a business analyst in the real world doing real business analysis."
I can see me reviewing a lot of this site and the related Blog

Personal Development

I have now completed 9 modules on Business Analysis via the Skillsoft online learning system.


It has got me thinking about whether or not I should go for official accreditation.  Don't really need it in my current role, no REAL benefit in gaining the accreditation but still it would prove that I have learnt the tools of the trade.

Then there is the question of which one: ISEB, CCBA or CBAP?

Not sure if I have the hours under my belt for the CBAP.  CCBA is in its infancy.  So that leaves ISEB.

I think I will need to weigh up the cost verses the benefits.  Something to look at next year.

Not very good at maintaining this am I?

Been a while since I posted here... oops!

Maybe I just haven't had anything to say.
Maybe I have just been tooooooo busy.
Maybe I only have confidential information.

Either way, it's almost the end of the year so let's sum up:

Two Thousand and Eleven (2011) was the year I stepped out of my comforting IT Development environment and into the unknown.  Ok, so it wasn't so unknown it was the same company, BUT, it was in a different arena (International Payroll), I had a new boss, my new boss was located some 4,000miles away in the States along with the development team (original development team).

Even though I was a Business Analyst within the Development department previously, I seen this move as a chance to focus on being a Business Analyst and not be drawn back into development duties. 

Well that didn't work!

Changes in priorities meant the development was now going to be run out of the UK... by my old team!  So, I was drawn back into development somewhat, with the Proof of Concept work.

Then came changes to the structure, resulting in my reporting line changing and priorities changing.

In all of that I have had a productive year, but I look forward to a more focussed year ahead, in terms of the project, my personal development and learning.

All in a days (well years) work for a Business Analyst.

Roll on 2012.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Nothing is certain but death and taxes (and changes to requirements)

The saying, 'there is nothing certain in life but death and taxes' has been used and modified over the years. 

So one more modification won't hurt... let's add on "change".  Change is inevitable.  I covered this slightly before in Requirements - The Moving Target  - "the only constant when it comes to business requirements analysis is that things keep changing"

In Adriana Beal's latest blog We are all part of the conversation, from inception to design and beyond, she mentions "No matter how good you are at identifying and documenting requirements, there will always be something left unsaid that may have a huge impact in project success."
One adaptation of the Death and Taxes phrase comes from 'Gone with the Wind', "Death, taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them"... so let's add "change" to that too!  Is there ever a convenient time for change?

Anyone else hearing the word Agile running through their heads?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Documentation OR Agile

God, it's been ages since I last posted on here!!!  Working away hard, nothing really new to post relating to this Blog.

Until today...

Project/Development methodologies can be a difficult subject; Traditional Waterfall, Agile or company specific.  You really need to know what the preferred method is, so you know what the project deliverables are (if any)!

I have been reading a few articles today to refresh myself on pros and cons, reasons for using and general updates on different methods.  The following article in the BA Times has caught my attention and I felt it was worthy of linking to.

BA Times - Business Analysis: Is it a Bottleneck in your project?

I think the title is a bit miss leading, but the article is very helpful.  Key paragraph to me (in my present project) is:
"I have seen a project work where multiple BA resources worked on the requirements and specialised in particular areas. The requirements were not completely detailed up front but the business vision was, and high level requirements were documented to a level that allowed estimation to be performed. Then as each iterative development phase started on each business area the BA responsible would verbally present his or her concept to the development team in detail, with mock screen shots or story boards, models of the process, and associated business rules. Allowing the developers and testers to see the complete picture as well as the detail is important and allowing them to ask questions and seek clarification on issues instantly speeds up the process of transferring information. If anything does change then an efficient and quick change management process is very important."
It sums up nicely what I am doing at the moment.  I have produced a high level BRD (for want of a better title - possibly a simple Requirements List is closer), I know what is required from the solution and I am awaiting a decision on methodology to be used going forward by development.  I know the methods that have been used by Dev in the past - having worked in the department for 3 years - but there has been talk of a more Agile approach being introduced. 

With high level requirements already in place, I can easily go down whichever path I need to, be it Software Requirements Specifications, Product Backlogs or, as per the article, present to the developers.
So what we want is a way of speeding up the requirements process without losing any of the detail or the communication to stakeholders that allows them to confirm the requirement and therefore deliverables are correct.
So in my experience a middle ground is important. We need to capture the business's vision in a document because it will be referenced a lot and it is an important we capture it in detail and clarity.

At the end of the day, we will be working towards a solution!  The path to the solution is important but not as important as the information being conveyed.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Taz is ready for the Yorkhill Easter Egg Run

As you can see Taz is all ready for tomorrow charity event, the Yorkhill Easter Egg Run

The Yorkhill Easter Egg Motorbike Run has been a tradition in Glasgow for over ten years, and to many bikers, is the unofficial start of the biking season. Thousands of motorbikes, trikes and quads gather every Easter Sunday to take part in a huge procession through the west end of Glasgow, culminating at Yorkhill Hospital, where they drop off Easter Eggs and donations for the sick children.

Every year thousands of bikers ride to Yorkhill Childrens Hospital, in Glasgow, on all manner of bikes (some wearing fancy dress costumes) taking Easter Eggs and Donations for the Children in the hospital.  Started in 1988 with just 200 motorcycles, the event now attracts bikers from all over the UK and upwards of 9,000 bikes (in 2009).  This year there is a restriction to only 3,000 bikes (officially) attending due to policing and health and safety reasons.

This year, on 24th April, I will be riding along with a friend for Mobile Motorcycle Services, one of the event sponsors, from Kelvin Way to Yorkhill where we will be greeted with music from Rock Radio DJs and Radio Lollipop.

With Yorkhill Children's Foundation celebrating its tenth anniversary, the aim is to top £30,000 in donations!

Not got a bike, but don't want to miss this spectacular event?  Why line the streets along the new route for 2011.  The old traditional start point of Kelvin Way being resurrected, followed by a 6.5 mile run will wind through the west end of Glasgow, up Great Western Road and down Crow Road towards Yorkhill Hospital.  Route map:

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Use Cases and User Stories

I have been reading a number of articles on the comparison between User Cases and User Stories

The conclusions I have came to are as follows:
  • User stories explain the need
  • Use cases explain the behaviours involved
Therefore, they both have their place in the documentation of requirements. User Stories for the Business User and Use Cases for the Developers.

From the Business Users perspective:
  • Without prior knowledge Use Cases are difficult to understand, and can be seen as too 'techie'.
  • User Stories are easy to read, write and understand.
From the Developers perspective:
  • User Stories do not give enough detail on what the system needs to do and how it should behave.
  • Use Cases provide more information about the interactions, prerequisites, outcomes etc.
Some from a Business Analysts perspective, should we use both!!!???

Monday, 14 February 2011

Is email dying?

An interesting post on a blog of a former employer.

RackPack Blog - iomart Hosting

It's email but not as we know it.  I would say it is more like the evolution of email rather than death.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Illustration of Business Analysis

They say that a picture paints a thousand words... I think that most Business Analysts would agree that a good process flow or use case diagram can provide a visual aid that can summerise and explain requirements more concisely than words.

This brings me to the Aotea Studios blog, this blog provides free posters and articles for business analysts and project managers.  The blog covers many areas of business analysis and project management.

I suggest you check it out.  And if you find that they don't have an illustration for an area you are looking for... ask them for it!

Monday, 24 January 2011

IIBA have introduced CCBA for intermediate BAs

The IIBA have launched the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA).

This designation is a professional certification for business analysis practitioners who want to be recognised for their expertise.  Aimed as a stepping stone to obtaining the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP), the CCBA requires 3,750 hours (or 2.5 years) business analysis experience as aposed to the 7,500 hours for the CBAP.

However, unlike the CBAP, the CCBA is only valid for 5 years.  It is expected that within this 5 year period that the CCBA recipient will have achieved the CBAP.

For more information see the following websites:

Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)
Introducing the Certification of Competency of Business Analysis — webinar recap

This has given me another added boost for my professional development.  It means I do not need to wait around 5 years before gaining a qualification/certification in my chosen profession.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

How to become a Business Analyst

I have just finished reading a great article on the ComputerWorld UK website, regarding the type of people who become BAs, the skills required, and possible future roles: How to become a Business Analyst

There are a few quotes that I have found encouraging:
"Given the pivotal nature of the role, it’s no surprise that the successful business analyst can enjoy a stellar career, and earn on a par with the project manager."
"The new prominence of the role accounts for the growing ‘professionalisation’ of the business analyst - but there’s still something of a knack to being good at this job: “I’ve seen newcomers who are naturals and senior people who struggle,” says Kevin Brennan, of the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA)."
 However, some of the more interesting quotes are around the prior roles and experience of those who become Business Analysts:
"Most people become a business analyst with very little training and so the right mindset and capabilities are all the more important."
"Understanding the language of the business users is more important for success, than any database code language"
"Increasingly, graduates are going straight into this role, primed by a business analysis degree or general business studies degree. " - "There’s no substitute to acquiring on-the-ground experience"
I would recommend anyone looking to move into the realm of Business Analysis, or those new to it to read this article.

Now I am away to find out more about the BCS’ Information Systems Examination Board (ISEB) - Business Analysis / Change courses and the related book Business Analysis 2nd Edition could be my next purchase

Saturday, 22 January 2011

T Minus One Month

With just under a month until I make the move into my new role of Multinational Business, I have regained my focus on the new role.

The past few weeks have been focussed on the transition and completion of a number of tasks and project phases, including a product demostration to the client at their London offices.  Spending the week in London allowed me the time for further reading BA related publications.

It was also good timing, as my new boss was in London - from the states - the same week.  This gave us the opportunity to meet up for dinner and get to know each other a little better and discuss the new role.

I have been back onto the ModernAnalyst website to look at software reviews etc, but I stumbled across the Salary Information page.  Unfortunately, it was all US based, but since I have already found a resource for BA Demand in Glasgow I have revisited the site to see the current trends and salary information.

Roll on mid Februray for my new role starting