Friday, April 2, 2010

IIL's free series of podcasts on Business Analysts

The International Institute for Learning (IIL) has a free series of podcasts on Business Analysts ( Some of the content will be old hat to very experienced PMs and analysts. It is organized, though and presents some good benchmarks for the business analysis function on a project.

Since my current project is a business intelligence projects, I jotted down thoughts while going through the podcasts as to where and how I might tie some of the general skills to a specific action or deliverable in this type of project.

Managing Requirement Changes

  • Static prototyping - Create an version of reports in Excel using 'hard-coded' data, or based on your current reports/cubes showing differences
  • Manage expectations of stakeholders - that they will have the time to review a prototype and provide feedback - give a set start and end date for when certain analytics are 'open' for comments
  • Traceability matrix - trace each measure back to an original request - approval

The Value of Identifying the Right Business Issue

  • Using an Ishikawa Diagram to focus on high-priority issues. In a BI project, there are often discrepancies between multiple potential sources of a given measure. Typically, there a multiple explaining causes

    1. Use an Ishikawa Diagram to root cause the discrepancy

    2. Identify contributing causes

    3. Then further research can be done to numbers - how much of the discrepancy is 'explained' by that particular cause

    4. Focus on the cause with the largest amount 'explaining' the discrepancy

    5. Take into account the payoff of time, your scope may or may not allow you to solve causes 'explaining' very small amounts of discrepancy (i.e. 1-5%)

  • 15 words or less - A technique used to encourage an issue to summarized to a concise, but complete statement (note my 15 word summary :) this will be useful in constructing data dictionaries

Requirements Process - The Key to Project Success

Role of the Business Analyst - define the "solution" - people, processes, and technologies used to solve a business issue
Liaison between IT and the business - Assign an analyst to different scope of measures
Requirements manager - an analyst can be the requirements librarian and check for consistency between requirements gathered and authored by a team of analysts