How to Improve CRM and Tap Your Audience

By Sofia Zafeiri, Social Media Coordinator at IIL

A lot has been written and said over the past six years about the Agile methodology–from a tech methodology to the next best thing that quickly resolves challenges.

The truth, however, has different sides to it depending on how your company chooses to implement Agile. Nevertheless, surveys and stats have repeatedly shown that Agile offers specific benefits to the teams adopting it. So, Agile started expanding to more departments outside IT.

One of the key benefits of this method against the old and traditional ones is that it helps teams in a variety of ways to create and produce high-quality services that are focused on improving the customer experience.

According to a survey conducted by Econsultancy, by 2020, customer experience is expected to be more significant for companies than content marketing. Consumers’ behavior is changing rapidly, and the Internet is the leading reason for this shift.

As consumers continued researching their future purchases using reviewing apps and websites (whose growth has multiplied since 2000) they began to realize not only their purchasing power but also that:

• They were not interested in ads.
68% of Millennials trust online reviews as opposed to 34% who trust TV advertising.

• They have more trust in the opinion of their peers and influencers they follow.
53% of Millennials surveyed said that user-generated content has an influence on their purchasing decisions, compared to 44% for traditional media and 23% for banner ads. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

• They wanted companies to see them as individuals and co-creators of value rather than recipients of products.
Personalized CTAs resulted in a 42% higher conversion rate than generic CTAs.

Major changes in consumer habits happen over time and from one generation to another. Millennials struck a deafening, “Not for me,” to the market dynamic as we knew it 8 or 10 years ago. Inevitably, corporations had to play along to survive. Companies started shifting their primary focus from massively advertising their products to astutely tapping their audience.

According to Walker, even companies have 60 to 70 percent of their buying decision made before a sales representative even walks through the door. The traditional “sales pitch” will be obsolete by 2020, since buyers will do their homework.

But, how does that affect the employees of a company? Trends and markets change rapidly in a short period. Sometimes before the end of a project, the objectives and tactics need to change, as they don’t respond to any real-life challenge anymore – they are not current.

This is where Agile comes in.

The three most significant benefits of adopting Agile are:

  1. The ability to manage to changing priorities
  2. Increased team productivity
  3. Improved project visibility

Although Agile began as a method for software development, its benefits were discovered to be relevant and much needed in more departments.

To learn more stats about how and why Agile is the answer to your team challenges, watch the video below:

Find more stats about the current state of Agile and Scrum in the infographic.

 

 

To learn more about the Agile and Scrum Conference visit here.

Don’t forget to use code SOCIAL for an additional $10 discount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

  • http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/millennials-said-to-be-highly-trusting-of-user-generated-content-41276/https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/
  • http://www.cmo.com/features/articles/2013/11/20/15_Stats_Retargeting.html#gs.LFkMEfA
  • http://www.marketingcharts.com/ online/millennials-said-to-be-highly-trusting-of-user-generated-content-41276/

About the Author

Sofia Zafeiri is the Social Media Coordinator at IIL. She graduated from NYU with an Ms in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Before moving to New York City, she worked for a variety of organizations in Europe.

 

Connect on LinkedIn


Software is a Terrible Thing to Waste

By J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, GWCPM, SCPM   |   Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL

Waste. It’s such a, well, dirty word.

But that’s what’s going on in the software industry every day. In fact, software waste, or the amount of software purchased but not used, costs organizations in the U.S. alone roughly $30 billion a year.

According to the Borgen Project, this is enough money to solve world hunger. So, while Mark Andreesen famously remarked “software is eating the world,” in reality the world could eat more based on the amount of money that’s being wasted on software. Funny how things work in life.

Why? Because organizations are buying software that is either not used at all, or is used for a specific period of time, let’s say for a particular project, but then never used again. However, the organization continues to pay the “per seat” license or subscription fee to the vendor because it’s installed and available for use.

For example, when was the last time you used Visio on your laptop?

As an FYI, the titles with the most waste include (percent figures indicate amount of waste):

AttachmateExtra! Extreme (49%) and Reflection X (52%)

MicrosoftVisio Standard (52%), Project Professional (45%), and Office Professional + (7%)

AdobeAcrobat Professional (22%) and Photoshop (43%)

AutodeskAutoCAD LT (58%) and Inventor (61%)

One way to identify this unused software is to implement automated solutions as a complement to other software asset management (SAM) practices. Certainly any large IT organization with thousands of “seat licenses” spread over hundreds of software titles, such as the ones above, might consider making this type of investment.

But that’s addressing the problem after-the-fact, when the “horse is out of the barn,” so to speak. Another way to reduce software waste is to do a much better job of requirements gathering and management before purchasing such licenses or subscriptions, so you know just how many to purchase in the first place.

There are many different requirements gathering techniques and tools that can be used to collect information from large volumes of people as part of a software provisioning project. One just needs to break out of the mold of always collecting requirements in the same way that’s been done for years. One piece of advice is to make sure there is an experienced Business Analyst on your project team to help select the best way to do this. After all, that’s what they’re paid for and they can be very helpful in this regard.

If by doing a better job of requirements gathering, combined with other SAM techniques, we can cut software waste by 50%, we’d save our organizations close to $15 billion! While it would be great if management would put that back into our paychecks (or better yet, feed the world’s hungry) if all that happens is a greater investment in training or creating better products for our customers, then it’ll certainly be worth the effort.

After all, software is a terrible thing to waste!

[trx_infobox style=”regular” closeable=”no” icon=”icon-desktop”]Visit the IIL website to learn more about our Business Analysis courses, and get 10% off when you register with code: BLOG.[/trx_infobox]

LeRoy Ward
J. LeRoy Ward
is a highly respected consultant and adviser to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs. 


Business Relationship Management (BRM)

By Elaine Lincoln, Ed.D., CBAP, PMI-PBA, BRMP

Last summer I had the opportunity to attend a BRM Foundation course. I was excited to learn about this role, which is not really a new role, but a role that has in the past two years become “professionalized”, meaning by that, it has its own:

  • Professional organization devoted to Business Relationship Management practitioners: The Business Relationship Management Institute (BRMI)
  • Interactive Body of Knowledge (BRMBOK™) that describes the role, techniques used by Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) and the competencies needed to be an effective BRM

During the course I was introduced to BRM terminology, tools, and techniques aimed at providing a common language for understanding the role.

Having been a practicing Business Analyst for many years of my career, I was struck by what I perceived as a very strong similarity between the BRM role and the work I performed as a BA:

  • I could identify with the metaphors that were used to describe the BRM as a navigator, orchestrator and connector between the business and the provider organization.
  • The BRM operated as an extreme advocate of the business, but without project boundaries.
  • The basic concepts of “Business Demand”, “Provider Supply” and helping an organization to maximize business value from their investments resonated with me.

They even had a Business Relationship Maturity Model: 

  • To help organizations identify their current level of relationship maturity
  • To raise awareness that greater benefits to the organization could result with a willingness to mature the relationship between the business and the provider

This is done by moving away from an “Order Taker” mentality (a rather derogatory term for a BA!) and striving towards strategic partnership and ultimately business convergence characterized by shared goals, risks and rewards between the business and provider.

BRMI’s Business Relationship Maturity Model

Business-Relationship-Maturity-Model
Business Relationship Maturity Model (BRMM) Business Relationship Management Institute, Inc., BRM Body of Knowledge (BRMBOK™),  Business Relationship Management Institute, Inc., 2015,  Page 28. Copyright and all rights reserved. Material from this publication has been reproduced with the permission of BRMI. Find them online at www.brm.institute

What is Business Relationship Management?

There is so much material to cover, but for this first blog I thought I would focus on providing an explanation of what Business Relationship Management is for those who may be new to the concept. Like I said earlier, if you’ve worked as a Business Analyst the terminology will be familiar to you.

According to the BRMI, BRM is a role, a discipline, and an organizational capability. I’m going to focus on describing the BRM role and at the same time cover some basic BRM terminology.

The first concept to grasp is that of basic supply and demand (sounds like Economics 101, right?). In terms of supply, think about the services that are provided within an organization, for example the services provided by your Information Technology (IT) group. IT is a supply organization or a “Provider” of services to the rest of the enterprise.

The business needs (“demands”) information, and technology is the supplier of that information. The business is responsible for determining what information and capabilities they need (“demands”), and their IT partners are responsible for providing or enabling the business to leverage the best available technology.

The BRM sits at the intersection between the Service Provider and the Business Partner to ensure that the business goals are supported. But that’s only where the story begins. An effective BRM does much more than simply ensure that the business goals are supported.

An effective BRM contributes to the business leadership team by actively engaging with the business to discuss strategic direction and works to identify ways for the Provider to not only support, but to advance the business’ objectives.

By having a deep understanding of the business partners’ goals, the BRM can “stimulate, surface and shape business demand for the Provider’s products and services and ensure that the potential business value from those products and services is captured, realized, optimized and recognized” (Source: BRMI). The BRM therefore influences overall delivery and value realization for services, projects and capabilities.

Ideally, the BRM is a member of both the business and provider management teams and would typically be involved in the following:

  • Contributing to strategy and planning
  • Identifying how products/services support/advance business objectives
  • Helping the Solution Delivery team and other provider management leaders to assess what supply is necessary to meet demand
  • Partnering with provider organization to ensure supply-demand alignment
  • Monitoring business partner satisfaction
  • Facilitating continuous improvement of business partner-provider experience

Although I used the resource provider domain of Information Technology to explain the BRM role, which also happens to be the domain with which I am most familiar from my work as a BA, it is important to note that BRM concepts apply equally to other resource provider domains such as Human Resources, Finance and Legal.

Hopefully this explanation of Provider Supply and Business Demand has served to anchor your thinking around some basic BRM concepts and what the BRM role entails.

Ready to learn more? Join IIL’s Business Relationship Management Professional (BRMP®) course:

  • Online, starting August 7 and October 24
  • In Dubai, August 20-22
  • In Singapore, September 25-27
  • In New York, October 25-27 and December 6-8
  • In London, November 6-8

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 Questions? Contact us at +1-212-758-0177 or learning@iil.com.

Have a group to train? Request a free consultation.


Business Analysis Trends for 2016

By Elaine Lincoln, Ed.D., CBAP, PMI-PBA, BRMP and Steve Blais, PMP

What does the Business Analysis landscape look like for 2016?

Here’s our view on what you can expect to see:

Trend 1 – Strong Continued Demand for Business Analysts

Did you know that Business Analysis is one of the fastest growing careers today? It’s true! Canadian employers will need 171,000 business analysis related professionals by 2016 (Source: Information and Communications Technology Council, 2011). American employers will need 876,000 business analysis related professionals by 2020 (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections Program).

This can be explained by the fresh round of investment in IT by business in order to emerge from recession. Business analysts map the flow of information around the business and translate this into coherent, usable technology processes. As companies insist on seeing a real return on their investment, the business analyst – with their dual business and IT focus – will play a critical role.

Trend 2 – More Active Roles for Business Analysts in Agile Software Development Projects

The expansion of agile and pseudo-agile software development will continue in 2016, and while business analysts may not retain their title or their specific, traditionally-defined functionality when working as part of an agile software development team, make no mistake about it – business analysis is still required, even on an agile software development project. Who best to perform such work than the business analyst!

Helping to define the requirements to solve the business problem, assisting in analyzing requirements and product backlog items to produce user stories that can be implemented within a short time box, and working with developers to increase their understanding of the business problem and requirements are all examples of the kind of business analysis activities that are needed on agile software development projects.

Trend 3 – Convergence of Business Analyst and Project Management Roles

As we see an increasing demand for business analysts, we also see a combining of the business analyst role with other project team roles – specifically project managers – due largely to corporate belt-tightening, but also to a lack of understanding among management of the value that business analysts bring to their organizations. As the profile of business analysts continues to rise and management begins to appreciate the important connection between requirements management and successful projects, we hope to see less business analysis role convergence in the future.

Trend 4 – Business Analysts Will Move Toward More Back-end Activities Such As Transitioning New Systems and Processes into Production

A common complaint over the past decade has been the lack of coordination between applications development and business and operations production. The tendency of software developers to install new systems or new features and then move on to the next technical problem while end users struggle to embrace the changes introduced by the new system is still prevalent. Many organizations have established “warranty periods” after new features have been implemented in production to allow additional charges against the project to cover post-implementation issues. Typically, a business analyst has been assigned to deal with post-implementation transition issues.

Trend 5 – More Business Analysts will be involved with Production Issues, Post- implementation

In many organizations business analysts have moved from total focus on the upfront definition of requirements to a transition role working as the business representative to the operations transition team.  This helps to ensure a smooth transition between the old processes and systems and the new ones. Generally, this means that the business analyst will have to be aware of production standards and processes (such as ITIL®) and be able to work with service delivery managers and operations personnel.

Trend 6 – Business Analysts Will Find Themselves More in a Role of Advocates for the Business, Not Only with the Solution Teams, but also Among Different Business Units

The trend over the past 10 years or so has been for business analysts to work as part of the Information Technology (IT) organization. Over the past couple of years and into the foreseeable future more business analysts are working directly for a business line or business unit, or directly for product management. In this position the business analyst may spend a considerable amount of time educating, mentoring, and advising the solution team about the business problem and the business product. This requires the business analyst to have full knowledge of the product line, the products’ customer base, the competition, and the overall marketplace as well as the business, sales, marketing, and production processes inside the organization. The role of business advocate with direct accountability to the business (instead of IT) means the business analyst will need a greater understanding of the external business environment and the competitive forces impacting their industry in 2016.

Trend 7 – More Business Analysis Standards

The growing demand for business analysts is fueling a need for standards that can support the important work that business analysts perform. Two professional organizations are leading the charge in this area – The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and The Project Management Institute (PMI). In April 2015, the IIBA released A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) Version 3, a significant body of work that had been in the making for several years. The new version expands the scope of business analysis, providing essential direction and support for practitioners in areas such as agile, business intelligence, information technology, business architecture, and business process management.

In late 2015, PMI announced plans to develop a foundational standard in business analysis during 2016 to provide a definitive body of knowledge for anyone performing business analysis on projects, programs and portfolios. The decision to launch this new business analysis foundational standard – which is expected to be ready for Subject Matter Expert review in 3Q 2016 – follows the successful launch in late 2014 of their Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide. Business Analyst practitioners will have no shortage of standards to refer to for guidance and support in 2016 and beyond!

Trend 8 – More Business Analysis Certifications

With the high demand for business analysts and the growing number of standards to support business analysis practice, it’s only natural that there are increasing options for business analysis certification. The IIBA announced plans to roll out a new, four-level competency-based certification program in September 2016. The IIBA is positioning their new “real-world designed” certification framework to be the “Gold Standard certification” to support the business analysts’ lifelong career progression. Each of the four levels will have their own experience, training and application prerequisites and competency assessments, as well as exam and assessments requirements. If you’re already a CCBA® or CBAP® recipient, you’ll be grandfathered into the re-designed framework. And if you’re not, perhaps now is a good time to expedite your new year’s resolution to become certified before Sept 2016…

PMI also has a business analysis certification known as the PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® that was launched in 2014. Chances are good that they may also decide to develop a new business analysis certification following the official launch of their new business analysis foundational standard slated for release sometime during 2017, though no definitive announcement has been made at this time. Experience has shown that where there’s a professional standard, there’s generally a professional certification waiting to be unveiled…

Trend 9 – China in the Spotlight for Business Analysis 

There is no disputing the enormous impact that China has had on the global marketplace in recent years. Demand for business analysts and business analysis certification is so strong there that PMI has already translated their Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide into simplified Chinese and will begin offering their PMI-PBA certification exam in mainland China in 2016. Until now, business analysts have had limited opportunities to pursue professional certification in China, so this is a significant development. Expect other standards bodies to follow suit and offer more products and services to cater to the burgeoning Chinese marketplace in 2016.

Trend 10 – Collaboration is the Name of the Game – Implications of Strategic Partnerships on Business Analysis Practice

As the world becomes an increasingly difficult place to navigate on one’s own, organizations – like people – are forging strategic partnerships to help them survive and thrive. In August 2015 the IIBA announced strategic partnerships with four leading global organizations in order to create greater connections and engagements across the business analysis community. The purpose of these collaborations is to support the evolution of the business analysis role and impact. This will go well beyond the BA community in order to ensure integration of an industry knowledge base, thought leadership, and expanded portfolio of products and services.

The impact of such alliances will be to increase recognition as well as value for business analysis and complementary professions and their roles. This, in turn, should lead to enhanced career opportunities for business analysts in Business Relationship Management (BRM) as well as a greater need for training to learn the skills needed to advance into more senior roles.

[trx_infobox style=”regular” closeable=”no” icon=”icon-desktop”]Learn more about IIL’s Business Analysis training at www.iil.com/ba. [/trx_infobox]

Elaine Lincoln, Ed.D., CBAP, PMI-PBA, BRMP, has been a Global Practice Director at IIL for more than 9 years. She has over 25 years of Business Analysis and Project Management experience in various industries (Fine Art Auction Houses, Financial Services, Media / Entertainment, and “Big 4” Consulting).

Steve Blais, PMP, is an IIL Senior Trainer, Consultant, and Coach with over 43 years’ experience in Business Analysis, Project Management, and software development.  He is the author of Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success, published by Wiley and IIL.

 


Business Analysis Job Spheres

by Robin from thebusinessanalystjobdescription.com

For more BA Resources visit IIL.

A business analyst actively participates in all the phases of software development life cycle (SDLC) plus project management life cycle (PMLC) and the business analyst’s responsibilities varies depending upon the project requirements. In a nutshell, a business analyst has to efficiently juggle between multiple activities and refine his analysis skills simultaneously.

To help you comprehend the verticals in which the job a business analyst expands, we have created an interactive info-graphic which clearly explains the typical responsibility set of a business analyst:

 

Business Analyst Job Descr.

 

  • Business

First an analyst has to understand the viability of the project’s business case and analyze the initial requirements. Then, he has to methodically gather the requirements by organizing JAD sessions, workshops or employ other requirement elicitation techniques to get detail client requirements. Post that, comes the creation of business requirement documents (BRDs) and functional specifications.

 

  • Technical

The business analyst has to perform technical analysis by scrutinizing the technical dependencies and uncovering any technical challenges. This is followed by developing data models, Data Flow Diagrams, Data Mapping Specifications or Data Matrix. Analysts are also expected to create product’s prototype and model the requirements in form of a user interface.

 

  • Managerial

An integral part of a business analyst’s profile is to facilitate implementation of the product by liaising with the complete project team, conducting knowledge transfer session and bridging understanding gaps. This usually involves developing effective plans spread across multiple areas like Business Analysis plan, Requirement gathering plans, testing plans and other ad-hoc plans.

Additionally, they assist testing efforts by performing functional testing of the software/product and support change management by comprehending changes and controlling un-necessary changes.

 

  • Functional

An analysts performs cost benefit analysis of a project proposal by assessing the cost to be spent on the project versus the benefit expected to be attained by it. Furthermore, they suggest process improvement methods for efficient and effective organization-wide policies. Communication is a vital component of an analyst’s life and they constantly liaise with stakeholders by presentations, meetings and verbal/written communication. Besides, they also help estimate project’s cost and time by assisting in function point estimation, critical path analysis and earned value techniques.

 

To summarize, a Business Analyst is heavily involved in all phases of a project and is a major contributor in a project’s success. Being a business analyst requires the right mix of business analysis acumen, functional aptitude and the ability to liaise with all the involved stakeholders in a project.

 

Author Bio:

Robin, a PMP certified Project Manager having a profound inclination towards Business Analysis. In his spare time you can find him sharing his knowledge on his Business analysis blog. You can reach out to him at robin@thebusinessanalystjobdescription.com.


The Top 6 Business Applications for Boosting Productivity

by Rosemary Brown

Small businesses form the life source of economies like that of the UK. This can be observed from the fact that despite the deteriorating economic conditions prevailing there, small businesses continue to fuel the economy’s recovery. This isn’t just true for the United Kingdom; in fact, this is a universal fact about small businesses. It’s probably because these small ventures best understand the significance of efficiency, in the pursuit of increasing their productivity and creating value in the most innovative of ways.

In order to achieve, businesses make use of a variety of techniques, the most effective, and common among these is the use of business applications, which are featured on computers and on mobile devices, in order to increase productivity. One of the most recent researches by EE points out that almost 22% of small businesses provide business applications to their employees in order to facilitate their work. In is believed by almost 37% of small business employees that they could increase their productivity significantly, if they receive applications which were customized to the needs of their job.

Listed below are some of the software and applications which can be used by businesses to boost their productivity:

  1.     Sage One Accounts and Payroll

These are very simple and clear services for payroll and recognized by the HMRC. It is used to manage finances, payrolls, process VAT, and create invoices. The payroll is an online service which is RTI ready. Each of the services are designed and customized to the specific needs of small businesses, so that they can manage their financial process more effectively.

  1.     MozyPro

This is an online service, which is solely for the purpose of maintaining a backup of business data. It is operated by syncing important business files across tablets, smart phones and computers in order to aid small businesses in storing data which is up to 20GB in size and can go to 1TB in space. It is cloud services which facilitates the business by saving its time, costs, and the frustration which the day to day operation causes. This gives the business room to grow.

  1.     Microsoft Office 365

The application of Microsoft Office 365 gives access to applications like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel and that too using the cloud service, which in turn benefits businesses by providing access to these facilities from almost any place or any device. This allows the members of the staff to better utilize their time as it helps them in working best by allowing them to work virtually anywhere and on any device. This enables staff members to put their time to the best possible use by working on important documents from home or while they are on their way to office. It also enables them to instantly share their work with colleagues and other contacts.

  1.     Receipt Bank

This application is useful because it collects various receipts and invoices, from the user’s Smartphone or the tablet directly, while the document is being scanned. This is useful because it helps in reducing the extra work and burden that is caused by the receipts, bills, and invoices, particularly on the small businesses.

  1.     Legal Manager

This application is important to handle all the legal matters of the business. The Legal Manager serves to provide the user with documents complying with legal requirements. For instance, it helps in providing documents like sales agreements, terms, and conditions for websites, and property contracts. All this is provided at only a fraction of the cost which might be charged by a law firm.

  1.     Moonfruit

If a business requires a website or is in need to create a webshop then Moonfruit comes in handy. It also serves as an editor which aids small businesses by developing brands, while avoiding the complexity of having to understand complicated computer codes. Furthermore, Moonfruit can also be used to optimize sites for mobile devices, tablets, and web.

7. ProProfs Knowledge Base Software

ProProfs Knowledge Base is a knowledge management software used to create highly-searchable online FAQ’s to improve customer service and reduce tickets. ProProfs helps centralize access to all your files, documents and how-to articles ensuring they can be accessed across multiple devices and platforms. Organizations can easily share important information to train their sales, customer service and support teams. It is also an effective method for introducing new hires to company procedures during the onboarding process. ProProfs Knowledge Base improves productivity by making it easy for employees and customers to instantly find what they’re looking for, whenever and wherever they need it. ProProfs Knowledge Base Software eliminates the need to answer the same questions over and over again.

Rosemary Brown is a business and market researcher with over 20 years of experience. She has been extensively involved in exploring the impact of technological innovations on business organizations, enterprise culture and organizational processes. Currently, Rose is conducting a series of experiments to study the impact of web-based help desk tools like ProProfs Knowledge Base Software on customer retention & acquisition. Rose has a Masters Degree in Marketing Management and Strategy.


What does it take to become a Business Analyst? – Part 7

By George Bridges

In this blog, which is the final episode of this series, we will explore another topic covered in the Underlying Competencies of the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK). The area we will explore in this blog is The Business Analyst must possess knowledge of the Software Applications.”

The Business Analyst must possess knowledge of the Software Applications.

General Purpose Applications

A business analyst often use office productivity applications to document and track requirements.

These applications generally consist of three components in a suite of tools: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation components. The documents produced by these applications are the primary ways in which information is stored and distributed in many organizations. The business analyst must be proficient in the use of these tools; even where more specialized tools are available. These general purpose applications have the advantage of being purchased at a low-cost or could also be obtained at no cost.

Specialized Applications

A business analyst will use specialized applications to support the development of a formal or informal model of a particular business process. The tools in these applications are designed to support the rapid development and documentation of many types of business models. Often a set of stencils for a particular modeling notation are available for rapid use and re-use when developing business models.  For instance with the latest version of Visio, a business analyst has access to all the latest business process modeling practices, such as Entity Relationship Diagrams, UML, Data Flow Diagrams and many more including the latest Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN).

More extravagant business analysis software suites can help in building a storehouse of requirements, artifacts, process models, business rules while providing the team with means to report traceability throughout the project. The value of traceability alone is well worth the investment into these specialized software packages. Traceability can provide paybacks in the following areas:

Project Tracking          

Helps to sustain an accurate record of the implementation status of planned functionality.

Re-engineering

Helps to link legacy system’s functions being replaced with where they are in new system’s requirements and software components.

Also can help in reverse engineering.

Re-use

Aids reusing product components by identifying packages of related:

–          Designs

–          Requirements

–          Code

–          Tests

Risk Reduction

If facts or knowledge sources are lost or leave the project; the component interactions are still retained.

Testing

Provide links between tests, requirements, and code points to examine for defects.

Can eliminate redundant tests by knowing which tests verify which requirements.

Here is a preliminary list of the software applications that are evolving in the marketplace for business analysis:

Acclaro DFSS Accompa
Accept 360 AnalystPro
Application Lifecycle Mgmt Blueprint Reqs Cntr 2010
Caliber-RM codeBeamer RM
Case Complete CASE Spec
Concerto Cognition Cockpit
CORE Cradle
DOORS Enterprise Architect
GatherSpace GMARC

 

HP Requirements Management inteGREAT
IRqA Jama Contour
Leap SE Lighthouse RM
Mac A&D and Win A&D MKS Requirements
objectiF OneDesk
Open Source RM PACE
PixRef Pro PolarionReqs
Projectricity Rally
RequirementOne RaQuest
Requirement Tracing System Requisite Pro
RMTrak ScopeTracker
Serena SoftREQ
SpiraTest Teamcenter
TestTrackRM TopTeam Analyst

Online research of the tools listed above will give you additional awareness of the many features and functions used to support business analysis.

Summary

The landscape for business analysis applications is growing and will continue to increase as the business analyst profession matures. It is important to stay up-to-date on the new applications that will make the role of the business analyst a strategically vital link in their organization. I suggest you do your homework to find out what new applications are available to you; try them before you buy them and determine what works or doesn’t work for your team.  Try watching demos and presentations about the new applications that you are considering. Get a free demo of the software and try it out for at least one month before deciding or recommending the purchasing of the application.

As stated in the previous articles, to get into any new field, it takes hard work, dedication and a commitment to this occupation; if you are ready to commit and willing to work hard and devote yourself to business analysis, you can get into the business analysis field. You should also consider getting a professional coach or mentor to help you as you start your career in business analysis. Finally, set some personal and professional objectives that will keep you on a path of constant improvement and success.