In this third article, we will discuss the operational aspects of the Business Analyst role, with methods and tools to support decision makers and teams in the visualisation, prioritisation/arbitration and implementation stages.
One of the first challenges is to visualize and define the objectives, by collecting information, highlighting the pain points and helping to express the needs, opinions and expectations of those concerned by the project (internal users, end users, etc.).
Here, the DESIGN THINKING approach could be very useful to help organizing the exchanges. This method of collective thinking for innovation, developed in 1980, provides real added value, particularly in the context of an AGILE approach.
- 5 steps
- Defining the needs of the target audience and developing stakeholders’ empathy (empathy map)
- Define a global topic
- Ideation: Finding a solution with a co-reflection workshop/brainstorming
- Prototyping: Mock-up phase (whiteboard, markers, post-it)
- Testing phase
Depending on the obtained results, the Design Thinking process can be repeated until a full co-created solution is found and perfectly matches the client's needs.
Another important phase of a project is prioritisation: this takes place at the beginning of the project, but also on a recurring basis, particularly with the AGILE approach and the creation of sprint backlogs which can evolve over the implementation process and feedbacks from key-users.
Workshops such as "Buy a Feature" make it possible to sort and prioritize the various features in a collaborative and playful way, considering all the constraints of the project (technical, human, financial, temporal).
This exercise also strengthens team cohesion because it allows a consensus to be reached between people from different Business teams. Indeed, all the trades are guided to become more objective and to think "Company" rather than "department/service".
This type of workshop is quite easy to run, and requires very little equipment: post-its and an imaginary exchange currency will do the trick!
- Prepare the workshop: list and display the features (post-it), identify the participants (stakeholders, selected clients, client representatives...).
- Determining a "fake" currency: as in a game of Monopoly, each participant has an equal budget, imposed according to the constraints of the project (global budget, or x tickets of y euros, n tickets of z euros, ...). Each feature has a price (single price, or prices weighted according to complexity, as desired).
- Purchase of features: each participant invests freely in the features that are most relevant to him.
- Sharing and deciding: all participants need to understand and consider each other's decisions, revealing their investments one by one. This allows them to express themselves and refine the collective thinking. The final investment reflects the priority.
Last point, sharing the right specifications with the teams in charge of implementation is part of the core business of the business analyst, who must find the right method and formats to express and formalise the detailed requirements, creating the relevant functional content.
Each Business Analyst has his/her preferred tools, just like the clients he/she works with. It is therefore a question of determining what is appropriate for everyone, depending also on the project context.
Nevertheless, here are some examples of requirements engineering, modelling, and UX/UI design tools:
- Office suite: Excel, Word, PowerPoint and others, which allow data analysis, synthesis and envisioning reporting, for example.
- Modeling Tools:
- MS Visio: It is part of the Microsoft Office suite but can be sold separately. It is a tool for creating GANTT/BPMN flowcharts and other technical designs, very useful for designing processes or workflows for example.
- o Free alternatives to Visio include draw.io, Pencil project, Lucidchart, ...
- UX/UI tools:
- Balsamiq: This wireframe software makes it quick and easy to design front-end mockups of applications for easy projection/review of certain analyses, thanks to a large number of UI components that can be simply integrated by click and drop actions.
- There are of course other alternative products with a similar approach.
Through its center of competence called “Digital Strategy and projects”, AINOS offers various business analysis support plans: don’t hesitate to contact us to have a talk about it, our team will be pleased to exchange with you!