Tag: requirements

Ooops forgot the WHY!

So the previous post talks about WHY in the title and after reviewing the post I did not even scratch the surface or even answer the question of Why.  So this post is the follow up to Why you need a Social Business Analyst.  The Business Analyst has evolved to be a very intragel part of the software development lifecycle and plays a major role (yes this is a biased opinion) in keeping the worlds of business and technology synthesized.  The role has evolved to be a skilled and well positioned professional for a company, thinking about how to integrate the business’ strategy, process, technology, and implementation of a its Social Business architecture and operations.

Just check out a google search on Social Business Jobs, you will notice many of the skill sets this implementation needs, now look at what a good Business Analyst comes with, now integrate their personal and professional social profile and BOOM the Social Business Analyst.

Here is a diagram of the dynamic skill set of the Business Analyst:


The Social Business Analyst

The Social Business Analyst



Here are some criteria to answer the question Why:

1. We know how businesses work better with technology

The Social Business Analyst is well versed at understanding what the business processes are and how they are made more efficient within technology.  This understanding is critical to implementing the Social Business, because about 70% of your business is run with technology.  The other 30% is run by people making decisions about the information coming from those technologies.  Scary, hey….not really technology has freed us up to actually have more conversations and better data for making decisions.

If you look at the Enterprise2.o & “Social Media” landscape, technology plays a huge part in your ability to execute your strategy and operations.  People will say “It’s not about the technology, blah, blah, blah!”  I disagree!  It is about technology and technology from the perspective it helps make your Social Business run efficiently, effectively and in the most cost effective way.  A Social Business analyst must know how this ever changing world of social technologies (Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Jive, SocialText, Crimson Hexagon, Radian6,  and operational technologies (SAP, PeopleSoft, Concur, Salesforce.com, SAS, POS, Sterling Commerce) must integrate to make the Social Business work.


2. Organic nature of requirements gathering

Yes, you heard me right requirements come to a project or initiative in very organic and dynamic nature.  There may be methodologies methodologies step by step processes, structured traceability, but how to get and gather requirements can be rather  organic.  This typically is the best way to design solutions that people will actually use.  When you become to robotic or “order takerish” with going to meeting, gather, document, ask questions, going to another meeting, gather, document, send email, meeting…..can you see how fast collaboration, organics, and innovation gets stifled in this process.  A good Social Business Analysts does not have to think “Oh what is my next step in this methodology”, we just think this way, to easily get, analyze, model, document, use, and communicate information for the betterment of the business.



3. Document and model everything

Yes almost to a fault….but isn’t this what is going on all over consumer technologies these days.  The Social Business Analyst document requirements in an organized fashion so people can actually use the information to make decisions.  You will never see me produce a laundry list of requirements!  We make pictures for all of our words in the form of process models, state change digrams, user interface process models, conceptual data models, and wireframes (yeah we like to mock up screens to get people talking).  This helps the widest audience use information to make decisions.  Managing this information in well architected, maintained, and open tools makes a project or initiative run soooooo much smoother.  If you run projects devoid of these tools or run your organization like the “cobbler that never provides his\her children with no shoes” it will be a painful thorn in your side. I have seen both and thorns hurt!



4. We are  precocious 5 year olds when it comes to asking questions

Why do you do that?  Why is that free form text?  Why is there so many hand offs?  Why don’t you make that required?  Why not a drop down there?  Why did you change for two days ago?  Why would a customer do that? What questions do you want to ask of your information? What market-share would you like to capture? What do you want to capture from the customer engagement? How many users will you have? How will you service these requests? Who will use this?  What do you think?

See this is what we continually do when we receive information or produce it for people to talk about.  Typically the highlighted question is the one we use when we bring information to the table to discuss.  The questions we use come from a place of curiosity, fill in the blanks, connect the dots, validate the dots we have connected, and always wanting to make the business more efficient for their customers, employees, investors, and communities.



5. We love figuring out how the ecosystem works together

There are no silver bullets! We understand that to solve most business problems an ecosystem must be developed and implemented to help support the ecosystem that is the business.  Being that social, enterprise2.0, and cloud technologies are maturing everyday, businesses need people that have been maturing along with them, hence the need for the Social Business Analyst.  With the world of clouds, API’s, sharable on just about everything, consumer technology outpacing corp technology and most businesses needing to work internally and externally, a Social Business Analyst help gather, present, and make recommendations on a platform basis, not a silver bullet.



6. We like data and finding new conversations for improving

Yes based on using the information above you achieve good data in and good data out.  We continually think about the questions a business is going to have along the way once the information is being populated.  We understand the value of good data architecture, good information management, what a required field does to the process, what free form text fields vs structured data in drop downs gets you down the road.

I personally love “geeking out” with data architectes to understand how we structure the data to get it back out to make good business decisions.  Once did a project in Mexico City where every data field was in english and in spanish behind the scenes so you could run reports in spanish and english.  This skill set comes in very handy with working with monitoring tools of the social landscape.  Having a solid understanding and the ability to speak with data and information geeks will make a Social Business Analyst vital to your team.



7. Connecting the dots quickly is our DNA

The dot connecting is really evident when you go back up and look at the Social Business Analyst cube.  See the solid and dotted lines intersecting all over the place.  Those are just the dots to connect the resources together.  Now image all the dots that need to be connected across your organization…..now think about the dots connecting the internal to the external…..now lets go really big the dots that are connecting all your costumers.  Got it mapped out? Well if not a Social Business Analyst kinda sees the language of the matrix when it comes to this.  The good part, with the skills above we model, decompose the information, organize it, and “bucketize” it for easier consumption and decision making.

There is the WHY of putting this job description on the docket for 2011.   The WHY on hiring a Social Business Analyst in 2011, if you are heading down the “social” path (eventually it is the path, but that is another discussion). I do believe a the Social Business Analyst plays well in the Marketing, Advertising, Communication, Digital, Customer Service Call Center, Sales, and HR sandboxes.

What are your thoughts?  What is missing?  What were your perceptions going into this information and now what are they? Look forward to hearing from you in the comments!  I want to thank Jessi Howard for emailing some feedback on the  Social Business Analyst Job Description post (see email is not dead!) and encouraging me to explain the WHY in a little more detail.  Thank you Jessi!


A Business Analyst on a Social Media Team….Blasphemy!

Well that seems to be the general feeling I get discussing this topic with marketing, communications, pr, and leadership in those groups. So I am going to present why this role is highly suited for being part of the social team. The core skills and specialties of this role make integrating social strategies, processes, and technologies for problem solving and innovation essential to be apart of these newly forming teams. The following are my reasons to challenge the blasphemy or heresy perspective and rhetoric!

A Business Analyst………


1. Looks at problems and assesses viable solutions using people, process & technology

Yes the Business Analyst realizes there is no silver bullet. You need all three aspects of people, process, and technology to problem solve or innovate. The Business Analyst is aware the solutions will work these things as an ecosystem. The Business Analyst will ask the right questions, document the information gathered, analyze that information and have the ability to put that information into readable content for business and technology disciplines to understand. Business Analysts helps the social media project teams co-create these solutions in a rapid fashion because we understand how and what the ecosystem needs for execution. One of the biggest soft skills we use is curiosity to discover information. With every problem or potential idea to innovation we turn into a 5 year old kid discovery their world around them…..we all know a 5 year old right?

2. Diggs for information to get solutions

Business Analysts are tenacious to find, illicit, document, and fix information for a solid solution for a problem or innovation. We are good at asking questions for clarification, we will admit when we don’t understand or don’t know, but with that admission we will educate, find, and ask again if need be. This is all done from a place of curiosity, wanting the people, project, and organization to succeed. We explore the possibilities of where it could be or what it could be. All along the way we keep documenting with content to ensure we have words, pictures, and prototypes to make better fact based decisions. Well on occasion a little leap of faith based on experience is needed to be worked in also. The question why comes up a lot, but in a curious manner. That is the best way to spot a good business analyst! How do they ask the question Why?

3. Documents for review, clarity, and decision making

Documentation, Documentation, Documentation……yes I know what you are thinking. Good Business Analysts make this documentation flexible, dynamic, and not set in stone. Every hour on a project or a team the information you need to make good decisions changes. Now with social we see this information changing every minute. You need a role that can absorb information and categorize and reproduce in a rapid fashion. Now think about all the disciplines operating on a social media team: interactive designers, creatives, lawyers, HR, marketing, advertising, technical architect, infrastructure architect, testers, project managers, customers, call center reps, PR, Communications, etc etc. Yes I take the approach the social media\social business team internal and external are one team (future post on social business, enterprise2.0, and social media is much larger and more dynamic than what I have seen at any company today). Think about all the information that is being created that needs to be curated and reproduced for decision making and impact analysis.

4. Presents information for diverse audiences

Business Analysts are smack dab right in the middle of the ecosystem. Being that we have functioned within the Business culture and Technology cultures we have to take all the information above and synthesize this information for non-business people understand businesses and non-techie people understand the worlds of technology. With this skill set comes the ability to fashion a presentation around 1 screen or one process model or one requirements traceability diagram. Oh there is that word Requirements. Those silly little information snippets that cause most projects headaches and heartburn, if not gathered, managed, and traced to other forms of requirements to ensure connectability and workability of the solution or innovation. All your business, test, project, and technical information should plug into the requirements traceability hierarchy…..another blog post hey? Oh and the presentation does not mean powerpoint, most good Business Analysts want to present diagrams or working prototypes based on the requirement statements.

Information Integration with a Social Business Analyst

5. Talk business and tech languages and dialects

Yes we speak that foreign language called “techie”, but we do speak a special dialect of “techie” called “biz techie”. Yes that is right we understand how technology makes businesses work and how businesses make technology work. I do believe this is probably most crucial part of being apart of the social media team. Majority of the execution of the social media\business plan and strategy will be done through technologies or technologies will be apart of most of the activities. Business Analysts can quickly and effectively put together the tools and processes necessary for social media execution and operationalization for long term success.

The Social Business Analyst

The Social Business Analyst

So there you have it the blasphemic reasons why you need to really start looking at this role, skill, and people with the Business Analyst title to be apart of your social media\business team. Now a word of warning some folks are walking around with just the t-shirt that says they are a Business Analyst. It is a little like me wearing a professional baseball teams uniform and calling myself a professional baseball player.

So what do you think sound advice or blasphemy? Need to hire or heresy? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

 


What does the C-Suite and other Senior Leaders value about a Business Analyst

Being that the Business Analysis discipline and role is becoming more standardized and consistent with the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis), BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge®) and a Certification called the CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional™). What do senior executives and leadership feel about this discipline and role?   There is no right or wrong answers just starting a dialogue to find out the views and opinions that are out there within the Social Platforms community.

Would also like to know how Business Analysts can play a vital role in the era of companies moving towards Social Business Architecture, Enterprise 2.0, Social Media, and Social Technology Platforms.

I obviously have my biased opinions and views on the subject, but would really like to know other views.  Especially from the people that make strategic decisions about an organization.   They ultimately sign off on spending money on this discipline. I would love to get a cross section of senior leaders from the C-Suite to the Rank and File (which is where I am at on the ladder) to weigh in on this often overlooked or generalized role in most companies (believe me I have worked at many).

The one main stereotype I am trying to break most of all is “Well anyone can be a BA, so just give them the title” Additionally, I am always interested in new ideas.


The Business Analyst 3.0 Model

Yes the Business Analyst (BA) role is changing rapidly right before our eyes.  That is why I have reclassified myself as a Business Analyst 3.0.  I think BA’s really need to educate themselves on all the social technologies and software as a service models both from a external perspective and internal perspective.

We will be called upon to integrate and implement these two worlds both from processes and functions seamlessly!  For the first time in technology history we as consumers and employees have better access to technology than our employers.

We as Business Analysts better learn how our skills can help the business and technology groups converge on these platforms for quicker, more robust, and often ever changing technologies that can keep pace with the ever changing business environment.

Expect the ever looming skill that needs to be there is curiosity and willingness to collaborate with all kinds of disciplines.  This challenge I think faces all disciplines but ours in particular because we need to make all the disciplines and information work together (biased perspective I know).  Soft skills of finding new people to interact with outside the typical corporate industries is where our learning and evolution as Business Analyst 3.0 needs to take place.

For example check me out on twitter and the people that are following and interacting with me…..it is for the most part an eclectic group of individuals from a wide range of industries.  Which I think helps enhance my analysis and design skills as a Business Analyst!   I think the pendulum swung too far to Generalists then back too far to Specialists.  I am proposing a new paradigm Specialties.  This paradigm understands the fact of specialties each discipline brings to the table and learns how to work within the encroachments.  The “it’s not my job or role” mentality is out the window with the bathwater and the baby of 2009!  If you can not bring together strategy, process and technologies for problem solving or innovation, I would highly encourage to find those that can and learn from them as quick as you possibly can!

Look forward to seeing more and more people within the SDLC community embrace the social scene online.  Look top left at the icons click on your favorite channel and let’s connect!


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