Business Analyst's Tips and Tricks

A quick fire presentation of BA tips and tricks provided by the community. It's all those little things we do and know that someone would say, 'that's cool', 'I didn't know that', 'I wish I had known that earlier'.

Whether it's a tool, app, website, product feature, template, technique, process, shortcut or anything else that saves you time and helps you Be a Better BA.

This webinar is a compilation of a series of tips, tricks, and tools for BAs that have been submitted from various BAs across the world. They target direct situations with analysis approach, gathering data, virtual meetings and so on.
Questions

Tips and Tricks Discussed:

  • “For me, the best tip I can give is the Top down analysis approach…
  • “I find that when attempting to understand how a department process is carried out, it is really helpful to first do a functional decomposition diagram.
  • “Find out who on the project team has the most influence over the team and work on forging a relationship with that person”
  • “Scheduling internal business user requirement sessions before involving vendors in requirements conversations”
  • “Interview multiple people, even beyond your SME’s, to build your understanding of the system”
  • “Get in the habit of helping others first…a good phrase is play it forward”
  • “Spend more time saying less”
  • “Get in peoples diaries early – plan ahead of time when you are going to need people and pre-warn/prime people for meetings.
  • Have a clear agenda with objectives, outcomes and time”
  • “Always have somebody to take notes when you are running a requirements elicitation session”
  • “Invest in a Livescribe Smartpen”
  • “Don’t throw away any documents with hand written marks and comments until project ends “
  • On documentation
    • Keep it simple
    • Avoid acronyms
    • phrase positively and put the benefit word first
    • Aim for a Flesch-Kincaid reading score of about 7 to 8 which is the adult’s average reading ability
    • Make each sentence short, punchy, deliberate
    • Use the process of writing documents to hone your thinking
    • Book into a Business Writing 101 course
    • Write the executive summary last. Base it on your elevator speech
    • Switch on Flesch-Kincaid - reading score in Word
  • “A completeness test approach As we reviewed the customer journey I peppered it with post-it notes representing the textual requirements listed in our draft BRD”
  • “Let’s play a politician – a simple, but powerful exercise to convince your listeners of the opposite points of view”
  • “Volere Snow Card is a great requirement template - suitable for all project and requirement types”
  • “Business Model Canvas is a great tool for capturing and understanding the very essence of a business”
  • “The Validation Board helps eliciting, verifying and validating the wide spectrum of requirements (assumption) “
  • “Use a marker to distinguish the primary actor from the secondary actor.
  • Disconnect use cases and their actors from each other to whatever extent is feasible”
  • “Use prototyping tools such as Balsamiq/Axure/ and simulation tools such as iRise Studio which reduce the time to engage with users”
  • “As a BA we have to often give presentations (more likely a power point presentation).
  • “I found the ‘Method H’ really useful when I first started collecting requirements”
  • “Business rules should be stored in a central location”
  • “Acquire a mentor to accelerate personal and professional growth”
  • “Rethink your views on specific models and recognize that some models can be repurposed for different audiences”
  • “A Business Analyst should have a good understanding of basic project management. A good textbook will do or purchase PMI’s PMBOK”
  • Excel Data Validation
  • “Studying the BABOK for either the CCBA or CBAP exam these are the two great study resources”
  • GET THE OVERALL PICTURE BEFORE DIG IN DEEP IS VERY USEFUL IN PREPARE FOR DECIDE ON TIME,SCOPE AND COST AND TO SUCCESS.
  • Excel add-in DigDB for quicker analysis of data
  • Creating layers in Visio has allowed me to create interactive architectural drawings showings changes through the lifecycles
  • Using In/Out of Scope list and referring to it regularly with clients
  • Always have a clearly stated requirement owner for each story in the project.(Michael Woods)
  • Before engaging with a new business area, mock-up an expected process flow in advance. (Paul Binding)
  • de Bono’s 6 hats for structuring problems; systems thinking & causal loop dgms for complex problems before process analysis (Jeandre Williams)
  • Remember to point User stories back to the mission statement (Mark Morris)
  • Be everybody’s friend (Colin Jones)
  • If it includes conditions and outcomes use Decision Tables (Ola Emmanuel)
  • Be honest & open (Ales Stempihar)
  • Be more conversational and let the idea come from the users (Ching Quek)
  • Job opportunities for BAs now available at site 100% dedicated to BA jobs. Register and upload your CV at www.thinkanalyst.com (Denis Davies)

Tools:

  • “I use mind maps for breaking down complex design”
  • FreeMind™ – Mind Mapping Software”
  • “I use kanbantool.com to help me organise my day to day work”
  • “Another tip for getting screen shots is using OneNote.”
  • “I am rubbish at time zones. Pete Cohen put me on to worldtimebuddy.com …and I never looked back”
  • “Prototyper helps you to create your mock ups / wire frames”
  • “Use TechSmith’s Snag it… to label the pieces of the areas that will be in the change and also depict the change to be made with an A to A, B to B, match up.”
  • “Two software tools that I find indispensable are xmind for mindmapping and agent ransack for file searching.”
  • “A trick that I have learned recently is that on office 365 and office 2013 you can actually take screenshots or clip screenshots straight into your Word document. There is even a cropping tool so you can crop your image to get exactly what you need..”
  • “Visual Use Case - Automatically creates Flow and Activity diagrams, as well as Specifications, from Use Cases”
  • I’m often out at a client’s site, or on a mobile device or at a PC that does not have any diagramming applications installed. I use www.YUML.me for quickly creating lightweight diagrams which can be saved and inserted into documents etc (Ron Healy)
  • “Balsamiq Mockups…provides the ability to quickly build wireframes to aid in the communication of what we want the screen to look like.
  • “Virtual meeting spaces – GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype (Screen share) and Lync etc are a great virtual alternative when everyone cannot be in the same location”
  • “Color Pic - A great little free app to find color codes, simply by hovering your mouse over any screen element”
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