Passing Thoughts on Business Analysis II

I know I’m preaching to the choir, here, but I just have to tell you – Business analysis is flat-out hard mental work! I was exhausted when I got in today after a day full of requirements elicitation & analysis working sessions. Fortunately, I had already done enough thinking over the past few weeks to accumulate a few more passing thoughts on business analysis to share.

  • As important as it is for a BA to identify and understand business need, understanding exactly what the business/customer needs doesn’t count for much if you can’t specify that need in a way that is easy to understand and use for those that are going to design, build and test the product.
  • On a note somewhat related to the previous…. Time spent re-arranging and re-working requirements to shoehorn them into a particular standardized template is typically time wasted. Designers and developers could typically care less about how well you conform to the template du jour as long as the spec is – again – something they can read and use.
  • I wonder if I’ll ever get bored of business analysis. As of now, I can’t see it happening. It seems like every day presents new puzzles to solve.
  • A business analyst is well-served by developing a functional/working knowledge of a variety of development methodologies. It’s fine to have preferences for one over the next, but versatility increases opportunity.
  • So, I wonder what will be the next “big thing” after agile?
  • I’ve pretty much stopped using the term “Best practices”. To me, it’s mostly a persuasive/marketing term most commonly used by consultants and salespeople. There are lots of good practices that seem to work well enough in a variety of situations, but I am less convinced of “best practices” that are supposed to suit any situation – or of those selling them.
  • … And, finally, why do I *still* occasionally catch myself starting to list use cases for plain “things the actor does” that don’t really represent specific goals? Seriously! I actually do know better!

About the Author

Jonathan Babcock is a management and IT consultant with expertise in business analysis, process optimization and solution delivery methodology. Practical Analyst is his outlet for sharing what he's learned, and for interacting with solution delivery professionals across the globe.

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  1. Hi Jonathan,

    These are some great thoughts. It’s always good to hear you are not alone. I kept reading and nodding my head…yup, yup, yup…. 🙂

    Love the comment about wasting time conforming to a template. I was actually thinking about this yesterday, how in my early days as a BA or even a QA-witness to BA, we had meetings where we said things like “well, there is a section in this document about [insert favorite spec section here], what do you suppose we should put in that section?” And then someone would come up with an idea which usually involved copying something from another part of the document into the new section just so the document would be “done”. Occasionally having the section prompted interesting discussion. But giving teams explicit permission to cut irrelevant sections is an important concept for IT management.


    1. Thanks, Laura – and sorry it took so long for your comment to come up. On a whim I decided to check my “spam” comments and your showed up for some reason.

      Your post today on “perfection” is a bit more developed line that I was beginning to take with the “template” musing above.

      Sometimes I think we have a skewed idea of what a good document is/looks like. Maybe we get too caught up in trying to meet an internal (or other) quality standard at the expense of making the document something that the folks you’re about to give the spec to can really understand and can easily use.

      I know my own thinking has evolved quite a bit on this over the past few years.

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