Business Analysis


Sample of a Fishbone Diagram

What is a Fishbone diagram?

Ishikawa diagrams, also known as fishbone diagrams, are a mechanism for generating and mining data to discover the cause and effect of an issue or observation. Kaoru Ishikawa created this diagramming technique in (1982) to show the causes of a specific event. A fishbone diagram is an analysis tool that provides a systematic way of looking at effects and the causes that create or contribute to those effects. Because of the function of the fishbone diagram, it may be referred to as a cause-and-effect diagram. The design of the diagram looks much like the skeleton of a fish. The technique has been adopted and used in many quality and analytical processes such as SAFe’s Inspect and Adapt process.

This diagramming technique is almost always used in combination with other techniques (see below). The diagram acts as a way to organize many potential causes of problems or issues in an orderly way and so that the root cause can be sifted out of the noise.

When should a fishbone diagram be used? (more…)

An obituary was written when a queen was interned

In keeping with a slightly morbid bend in storytelling techniques, we add to the premortem technique the idea of a business (or project) obituary.  An obituary is a specialized form of a news story that communicates the key points in the life or a person, organization, event or project. During my college years, I spent time in college radio stations on air both playing music and doing the news (where do you think the podcasting came from? Check out the Software Process and Measurement Cast).  In the newsroom we largely knew how to put together an obituary.  We kept a few critical local celebrities written and ready just in case (in the business, this is called a morgue).  Just like any story an obituary is comprised by a set of attributes.  A typical (simplified) set of components found in obituaries (Chapter 51 from the News Manual – Obituaries) includes: (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 408 features our interview with Kupe Kupersmith. Kupe and I discussed the role of the business analyst in today’s dynamic environment.  It is critical to defining and facilitating the delivery of value. Weighty topics, but we also had a bit of fun.

“Kupe” Kupersmith, President, B2T Training, possesses over 18 years of experience in software systems development. He has served as the lead Business Analyst and Project Manager on projects in the energy, television and sports management and marketing industries. Additionally, he serves as a mentor for business analysis professionals. Kupe is the co-author of Business Analysis for Dummies, a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) and a former IIBA® Board Member.

Kupe is a requested speaker and has presented at many conferences around the world. Being a trained improvisational comedian, Kupe is sure to make you laugh while you’re learning. For a feel for Kupe’s view on business analysis topics check out his blog on BA Times. Kupe is a connector and has a goal in life to meet everyone!

Contact Information

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kupetheba

https://www.b2ttraining.com/

Re-Read Saturday News (more…)

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I am still traveling for the next two weeks. The trip is a mixture of vacation and a board meeting but that does not mean you will have to forego your weekly SPaMCAST.  In place of our normal format, I am posting a mix tape of the answers to the “If you could change two things” question I have been asking interviewees for nearly ten years.  This week on SPaMCAST 392 we feature our top downloaded podcasts from the year 2009:

SPaMCAST 51 – Tim Lister on Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies

http://bit.ly/1WERtk5

Tim discussed ending the estimating charade.  Tim stated it would be better if we recognized estimating as goal setting. Secondly, he noted that a lot of outsourcing has overshot its mark and reduced our organizational capabilities.

SPaMCAST 67 – Murali Chemuturi on Software Estimation Best Practices, Tools & Techniques

http://bit.ly/1MHDzeJ

Murali used his wishes to state that estimators need a better grasp and understanding the concepts of productivity and scheduling.

SPaMCAST 69 – Kevin Brennan on Business Analysis

http://bit.ly/1WERB2V

Kevin answered a different question and discussed the message he would share with a C-Level executive to describe why business analysis is important to them.

If you enjoyed the snippets please use the links to listen to the whole interviews.  Next week 2010!

How do you calculate value?

How do you calculate value?

IT value is an outcome that can be expressed as a transaction; a summation of debits and credits resulting in a number.   Unfortunately, even if we can create a specific formula, the interpretation of the number is problematic.   Measures of the economy of inputs, the efficiency of the transformations and the effectiveness of specific outputs are components of a value equation, but they only go so far.   I would like to suggest that customer satisfaction makes interpretation of value possible.

Those that receive the service determine the value, therefore value is specific to the project or service. In order for value to be predictable, you must assume that there is a relationship between how the product or service is created and the value perceived.  When we are assessing the value delivered by an IT department, which is part of a larger organization, it is rare that we are allowed the luxury of being able to declare that the group we are appraising is a black box.  Because we can’t pretend not to care about what happens inside the box or process, we have to find a way to create transparency so that we can understand what is happening. For example, one method is to define the output of the organization or processes.  The output or product can viewed as  a synthesis of inputs, raw materials and process.  The measuring the efficiency of the processes used in the transformation process is a typically measure of value add. The product or output is only valuable if it meets the users need and is fit for use. Knowing the details of the transformation process provides us with the knowledge needed to make changes. While this sounds complex, every small business has had to surmount this complexity to stay in businesses.  A simple value example from the point of view of a restaurant owner follows.

  • A customer enters the restaurant and orders a medium-rare New York Strip steak (price $32.00)
  • The kitchen retrieves the steak from the cooler and cooks the steak so that it is done at the proper time and temperature.  (The inputs include requirement for the steak, effort of waiter and kitchen staff.)
  • The customer receives a medium-rare New York Strip steak

From the restaurant owner’s point of view the value equation begins as the price of the steak minus the cost of steak, preparation, and overhead.   If the cost of steak and servicing the customer was more than the price charged, an accounting loss would have resulted and if the costs were less  . . .  an accounting profit.  The simple calculation of profit and loss provides an important marker in understanding value, but it is not sufficient.   For example, let’s say the customer was the restaurant reviewer for a large local newspaper and the owner comp’ed the meal AND the reviewer was happy with the meal.  The owner would derive value from the transaction regardless of the accounting loss from that single transaction.  As I noted earlier, customer satisfaction is a filter that allows us to interpret the transaction.   Using our example, if the customer was unhappy with his or her steak the value derived by the restaurant will be less than totaling of the accounting debits and credits would predict.  While a large IT department has many inputs and outputs, I believe the example presents a path for addressing value without getting lost in the complexity of technology.

In a perfect world, IT value would be established in a perfect market place.  Customers would weigh the economy, efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction they perceive they would garner from a specific development team to decide who should do their work. If team A down the could do the work for less money and higher quality or deliver it sooner, they would get the work.   Unfortunately, perfect market places seldom exist and participants could easily leverage pricing strategies that internal organizations would not be able to match.  The idea of a project level market place has merit and benchmarking projects is a means of injecting external pressure that helps focus teams on customer satisfaction.

Measuring IT value, whether at a macro or project level, needs to be approached as more than a simple assessment of the processes that convert inputs into products or services that the business requires.  Measure the inputs and raw materials, measure and appraise the processes used in transformation and then determine the user’s perception of the output (where the customer and user are different you need to understand both points of view).  Knowing the value of all of these components while having your thumb on the filter of customer satisfaction will put you in a position to not only determine the value you are delivering (at least over the short-term), but to predict how your customers are perceiving the value you are delivering.  Remember forewarned is forearmed.

Listen to the Software Process and Measurement Cast 304

Software Process and Measurement Cast number 304 features our interview with Jamie Lynn Cooke. Jamie Lynn Cooke is the author of The Power of the Agile Business Analyst. We discussed the definition of an Agile business analyst and what they actually do in Agile projects.  Jamie provides a clear and succinct explanation of the role and huge value of Agile business analysts bring to projects!

Jamie Lynn’s Bio:
Jamie Lynn Cooke has 24 years of experience as a senior business analyst and solutions consultant, working with more than 130 public and private sector organizations throughout Australia, Canada, and the United States.

She is the author of The Power of the Agile Business Analyst: 30 surprising ways a business analyst can add value to your Agile development team, which details how Agile business analysts can increase the relevance, quality and overall business value of Agile projects; Agile Principles Unleashed, a book written specifically to explain Agile in non-technical business terms to managers and executives outside of the IT industry; Agile: An Executive Guide: Real results from IT budgets, which gives IT executives the tools and strategies needed for bottom-line business decisions on using Agile methodologies; and Everything You Want to Know About Agile: How to get Agile results in a less-than-Agile organization, which gives readers strategies for aligning Agile work within the reporting, budgeting, staffing, and governance constraints of their organization. Also checkout,  Agile Productivity Unleashed: Proven Approaches for Achieving Real Productivity Gains in Any Organization (Second Edition)!

Jamie has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Psychology (Human Factors Engineering) from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts; and a Graduate Certificate in e-Business/Business Informatics from the University of Canberra in Australia.

You can find her website here.

 

Next

Software Process and Measurement Cast number 305 will feature our essay on estimation (here is our essay on specific topics within estimation). Estimation is a hot bed of controversy. But perhaps first we should synchronize on just what we think the word means.  Once we have a common vocabulary we can commence with the fisticuffs. In SPaMCAST 305 we will not shy away from a hard discussion.

Upcoming Events

I will be presenting at the International Conference on Software Quality and Test Management in San Diego, CA on October 1.  I have a great discount code!!!! Contact me if you are interested.

I will be presenting at the North East Quality Council 60th Conference October 21st and 22nd in Springfield, MA.

More on all of these great events in the near future! I look forward to seeing all SPaMCAST readers and listeners that attend these great events!

The Software Process and Measurement Cast has a sponsor.

As many you know I do at least one webinar for the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute (ITMPI) every year. The ITMPI provides a great service to the IT profession. ITMPI’s mission is to pull together the expertise and educational efforts of the world’s leading IT thought leaders and to create a single online destination where IT practitioners and executives can meet all of their educational and professional development needs. The ITMPI offers a premium membership that gives members unlimited free access to 400 PDU accredited webinar recordings, and waives the PDU processing fees on all live and recorded webinars. The Software Process and Measurement Cast some support if you sign up here. All the revenue our sponsorship generates goes for bandwidth, hosting and new cool equipment to create more and better content for you. Support the SPaMCAST and learn from the ITMPI.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here.

Available in English and Chinese.

Dr Penny Pullan

Dr Penny Pullan

Check out Software Process and Measurement Cast 276.  The SPaMCAST 276 features my interview with Dr. Penny Pullan. We discussed her book, Business Analysis and Leadership: Influencing Change, the impact of business analysts on projects and how to make project more effective.

Dr. Pullan has led her consulting firm, Making Projects Work Ltd., since 2007. Penny works with people in multi-national organizations who are grappling with tricky projects (i.e. risky, ambiguous, with diverse stakeholders, with virtual teams). She hosts the global BA Summit in November each year. Recently she’s also been in demand as a mentor for business analysts, especially with those keen to develop their leadership skills.

Penny’s books include “Business Analysis and Leadership: Influencing change” (published by Kogan Page, 2013), “A Short Guide to Facilitating Risk Management” (Gower, 2011) and a chapter in “The Gower Handbook of People in Project Management” (Gower, 2013).

You can find out more at www.makingprojectswork.co.uk and at her book site www.baleadership.com

Buy Business Analysis and Leadership: Influencing Change here and support Dr. Pullan and the Software Process and Measurement Cast!

Remember to register for the “Influential Agile Leader” events led by Johanna Rothman and Gil Broza.  Check out the full details at www.InfluentialAgileLeader.com

Get in touch with us anytime or leave a comment here on the blog.  Help support the SPaMCAST by reviewing and rating it on iTunes. It helps people find the cast. Like us on Facebook while you’re at it.

Next week the SPaMCAST features our essay on Scrumban (I know compound words make some people crazy).  Scrumban combines the best parts of Kanban with the best parts of Scrum to create synergy.  I think of Scrumban as post-modern Agile.

The Software Process and Measurement Cast has a sponsor.

As many you know I do at least one webinar for the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute (ITMPI) every year. The ITMPI provides a great service to the IT profession. ITMPI’s mission is to pull together the expertise and educational efforts of the world’s leading IT thought leaders and to create a single online destination where IT practitioners and executives can meet all of their educational and professional development needs. The ITMPI offers a premium membership that gives members unlimited free access to 400 PDU accredited webinar recordings, and waives the PDU processing fees on all live and recorded webinars.  The Software Process and Measurement Cast some support if you sign up here. All the revenue our sponsorship generates goes for bandwidth, hosting and new cool equipment to create more and better content for you. Support the SPaMCAST and learn from the ITMPI.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here.

Available in English and Chinese.