COEPD

Center Of Excellence For Professional Development

Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving

Analytical Thinking is required by BA’s to analyse problems and opportunities effectively, identify which change may deliver the most value and make stakeholders understand the impact of these changes.

BA’s use analytical thinking by rapidly assimilating various types of information. They should be able to quickly choose effective and adaptable methods to learn and analyse media, audiences, problem types and environments.

It facilitates understanding of situations and other complex ideas.

It allows to identify the best ways to present information to stakeholders.

Its core competencies include

1)Creative Thinking
2)Decision Making
3) Learning
4)Problem Solving
5)Systems Thinking
6)Conceptual Thinking
7)Visual Thinking

1)Creative Thinking-

Thinking creatively and helping others also to think this way helps to generate new ideas for problem solving and opportunities.

Definition -It questions conventional approaches

2)Decision Making-

Purpose-Understand criteria involved in making decision and help others.

Definition-Involves gathering relevant information, analysing it, making comparisons and trade offs between similar and dissimilar options and identifying most desirable. They are even documented to be used as a reference in similar event or explain its rationale.

3)Learning-

Purpose-Ability to quickly absorb new and different types of information and also modify and adapt existing knowledge allows BA’s to work effectively in rapidly changing and evolving environments.

Definition-Learning is improved when learning technique is selected based on required learning outcomes.
Visual-Auditory, kinaesthetic
Most people experience faster understanding and longer retention of information when more than one learning technique is used.

Effectiveness Measures-Learning is a process for all stakeholders.

4)Problem Solving

Purpose-BA’s define and opportunities solve problems in order to ensure that real underlying root cause of a problem is understood by all stakeholders and solution options address the root cause.

Definition-Stakeholder point of view are articulated and addressed to understand any conflicts between goals and objectives of different groups of stakeholders

Effective Measures-New solution option can be evaluated effectively using the problem solving framework.

5)Systems Thinking-

Purpose Understanding how people process and technology within an organization interact allows BA’s to understand the enterprise from a holistic point of view.

Definition-These factors are not predictable from an understanding of the components alone.

Effectiveness Measures-Communicating how systems adapt to interval or external pressures and changes.

6)Conceptual Thinking-

Purpose It is applied to find ways to understand how information fits into larger picture,what is important and connect seemingly abstract information.

Definition-Linking factors not easily defined to underlying problem or opportunity models or frameworks that help stakeholders understand and facilitate themselves and others through change.

Effectiveness Measures-Drawing on past experiences to understand the situation.

7)Visual Thinking-

Purpose-Ability to communicate complex concepts and models into understandable visual representations allows BA’s to engage stakeholders and help them understand the concepts being presented.

Definition-Visual Thinking is visualizing and creating simple visual concepts graphics models, diagrams and constructs to convey and integrate non visual information.

Effectiveness Measures-Productivity increases due to increased learning, quick memory and follow through from effective visuals.


Behavioural Characteristics for Business Analysts

Behavioural Characteristics are a very important skill set for a business analyst and affect the results of his efforts.They are important because they help a business analyst gain trust and respect of stakeholders.

This can be achieved by-

a)Working ethically
b)Meeting deadlines in desired way.
c)Efficiently delivering results.
d) Being adaptable

Ethics-

a)Purpose-thinking of not just profits but the ethical implications of a solution helps in reducing exposure to risk.

b)Definition-It requires understanding and focus on fairness ,consideration and moral behaviour. Fairness does not
mean that an outcome is beneficial for a stakeholder but they understand the reasons behind it.

c) Effectiveness Measures-prompt identification and resolution of ethical dilemmas.

Personal Accountability-

a)Effectiveness measures-
a) Work effort is planned and communicated to others.
b) Meeting deadlines and replanning with sufficient reasoning and lead time.
c) Informing status of planned and unplanned work.
d) Be organized.
e) Risks and issues are identified and acted on.

Trustworthiness-

a)Purpose-it helps eliciting information around sensitive issues and help stakeholders believe that their recommendations will be evaluated properly and fairly.

b)Description-It offsets the fear of change experienced by stakeholders.
a)being dependable and diligent.
b)strong demeanor by consistent confidence.
c)predictable and reliable availability.

Organization and time management

a)Purpose-Helps work effectively and efficiently.

b)Definition-Involves ability to prioritize tasks. Storing information in efficient manner to reuse it.Differentiatimportant and unimportant information.Establishing short and long term goals, utilizing checklist and managing potential interruptions.

c)Effectiveness Measures-
a) Complete preparation for meetings, interviews and requirements workshops.

Adaptability-
Business analysts have to adjust their behavioural style and method of approach to increase their effectiveness when interacting with different stakeholders, organizations and situations.


  • a) Purpose-Business analysts their
    a) Purpose-Business analysts have to
    e!

  • Does a BA role fits into Agile/Scrum?

    While organisations are adopting Agile/Scrum as methodology roles are also getting aligned as per new frameworks. Scrum has three roles Product owner, Scrum master and Scrum team. there is nothing specifically for BA. Not sure where a BA now fits: closer to Product owner or part of scrum team.

    Also is this new change a signal for BA's to get reskilled and fit into any of the above mentioned roles as development cycle and team are becoming leaner. Now BA's may not be needed if Product owner himself is giving requirement (I hope he is writing as well)

    Yes there is definitely a role for a BA in Scrum. Scrum does not specifically state the need for testers, architects, designers, database experts either, so are they not need either? Analysis is always needed within a development team this is what BA's bring to the table, not just requirements. 


     The role the BA plays includes:
    - BA as critical friend to the Product owner. Product owner is ultimately responsible to the business but doesn't always have the skills. The BA can provide these critical analytical skills. 

    - BA as part of the development team. The development team should contain the combined skills required to deliver quality software. Including business analysis!


    - BA becomes the Product owner and is responsible to business.
    BA's still required outside Scrum teams too.



    Confirm Elicitation Results

    Elicitation techniques is used in order to receive information from stakeholder. There are various elicitation techniques which a business analyst uses like                                  

    1.       Brainstorming

    2.       Data mining

    3.       Documentation

    4.       Estimation

     Confirm Elicitation Results

           1.        Purpose

                                      The purpose of confirming elicitation results is to check whether the information gathered during an elicitation process is accurate.

     2.    Description

                               Elicited information is used to identify problems and are used to resolve the problems before the resources are committed. It helps in discovering errors, omission and conflicts.

                       The elicitation results will be compared against the resources and other elicitation technique results in consistency. While collaborating with the stake holders it  is necessary to ensure that  the inputs collected are correct and they agree with the results. If the information is not correct then the  business analyst may determine more elicitation techniques.

     3. Inputs

                  Elicitation results (unconfirmed):  They capture information in a format that is specific to the elicitation activity.

     4. Elements

                       1.    Comparig  Elicitation Results against source Information :  The  task conducted with the help of elicitation techniques can be used to reveal  the sources from where it is been derived which includes document and stake holder knowledge. The business analyst may follow up the meetings with the stake holders in order to confirm the elicitation results are independent.

     2. Comparing Elicitation results against another Elicitation results: Business analyst will compare the results collected through multiple elicitation activities in order to confirm that the information is consistent and are accurately presented. With these comparisons Business Analyst will be able to  identify variations in results and will resolve them in collaboration with the stake holder.

             There may be inconsistency in elicitation results where the business analyst  will prepare  different specifications and models in order to improve collaboration.

     5.Guidelines and Tools                

    1.      Elicitation Activity Plan : Activity plans are used as guides where it helps in knowing which alternative source and elicitation results is been used.

    2.      Existing Business Analysis Information : It helps us in confirming the results of elicitation activities or to develop additional questions in order to draw out more detailed information. 

    . 6. Techniques

                                         i.            Document Analysis: They are used to confirm the elicitation results and also give meaning for the assessments carried on by the business analyst 

                                       ii.            Interviews: It confirms the business analysis information and also confirms about the integration of the information . 

                                     iii.            Reviews: It is used to confirm the set of elicitation results. They are differentiated  based on whether the information collected is relevant. 

                                     iv.            Workshops:  It is used to conduct reviews for the drafted elicitation results and the level of formality. A pre determined agenda or script may be used through the

    Elicitation results and feedback is requested from the participant. 

    7. Stake holders

                                     i.            Domain Subject Matter Expert : People belonging to that particular domain will be having  a wide range knowledge experience and are expertise about business analysis who  help in confirming  whether the elicitation results are correct .They also help in identifying omission and conflicts. 

                                   ii.            Any stakeholder: Any stake holder can also participate in confirming the  results.


    8. Outputs:

                  Elicitation Results (Confirmed): Confirmed Elicitation Results refers to the integrated output where the business analyst and the stake holder confirm that the inputs were relevant. 

    Acceptance criteria , Business value and Complexity point in Scrum


    Acceptance criteria:

    Acceptance criteria in scrum is important because only when it is clearly defined upfront it avoids surprises at the end of the sprint and ensure high level of customer satisfaction. It has the condition that a software product must satisfy, It states pass/fail result for all the functional or nonfunctional requirements applicable at Epic , feature and story list .

    When to define acceptance criteria:

    Acceptance criteria has to be defined before implementation begins , as in such scenario we are more likely to understand user needs and expectations rather that the development reality.

    What makes good Acceptance Criteria?

    Acceptance criteria should be clear and simple without any ambiguity regarding the outcome.As acceptance criteria is referred by testers and translate them into automated test cases to run as  a part of continues integration build.

    The criteria should be independent of the implementation, and discuss WHAT to expect, and not HOW to implement the functionality.

    " Given/When/Then " format is helpful way to specify criteria

    "Given some precondition When I do some action Then I expect some result"

    When writing acceptance criteria in this format, it provides a consistent structure. Additionally, it helps testers determine when to begin and end testing for that specific work item.

    Scenario’s where in it is difficult to construct criteria using the above format people prefer Verification checklists.

     

    Business Value:

    Business value is mainly calculated to prioritize the product back log

    Business value is based on below sources:
    1. Market value :It helps us to identify which feature to develop first so that client can firstly  sell more units and secondly get higher price.
    2.Reduce Risk:To what extent will this story if completed in first instance allow us to penetrate the app/product into the market and reduce the risk of failure and helps gain competitive advantage to client.

    In product development not all the features are created equal , so prioritizing the features effectively can deliver a quality output.

    Understanding Business Value:

    Velocity is the total estimated cost (in effort or points) of the features that are 100% complete (i.e. signed off and delivered) in a Sprint or iteration.

    Each feature, or user story, listed on the Product Backlog has two Fibonacci scores. One for Size and one for Business Value. This is potentially a useful way to prioritize the Product Backlog, as a simple formula (value/size) can be used to order the backlog with the most important and valuable user stories first.

    The idea here is to put Fibonacci points for business value on every item (or User Story) on the Product Backlog, as well as the points for each feature’s size.

    The development team provides the points for size, Whereas the business value points should come from the Product Owner/Business Owner.The key thing here is that the estimated business value is relative, i.e. a feature with a business value of 2 is twice as valuable as a feature worth 1; a 5 is worth 5 times a 1, etc.

    When you have Fibonacci points for size and for business value, you could do a calculation of business value divided by size to give the feature a priority score. It’s a simple way to sort the backlog so the high value/low effort features come out at the top.

    You can also plot this on a scatter graph, which you can set up to put the high value/low effort features on the top right, and the high effort/low value features on the bottom left. But aside of prioritization, putting a business value in points against every item on the backlog allows you to calculate ‘Business Velocity‘, i.e. how much business value (in points) was delivered in each Sprint. You could plot this on a ‘burn-up chart’, showing the cumulative business value delivered over time – hopefully with an accelerating trend line.

    And you could use this graph to see whether the business value for each sprint is increasing or decreasing.

     

    Complexity Points:

    This is used to measure the effort required to implement a story.During sprint planning on the basis of user story the development team and QA team states the complexity points using Fibonacci scores as explained above.

    Effort is defined on the basis of time required and also number of lines of code to be written by the developer’s and tester’s in order to execute the story.

     The user story that has High business value and low complexity point is addressed first.