How to Help Project Stakeholders Avoid the Aspirin

I’m pleased to say that one of my recent blog articles has been published on “Techwell.com”, where I have contributed as a guest author. I’d love to hear what you think, so please take a look and add a comment on the site.

 

Excerpt:

“Kent McDonald recently wrote an excellent article encouraging project teams to “Get Out of the Building and Know Your Stakeholders’ Problems”. This article really resonated with me, as it quite rightly recommends spending time with project stakeholders to understand their perspective or worldview and also to understand the precise problem that the project will help them to solve.

 

Aspirin tabletsThe challenge is that there’s often a focus purely on the important and urgent initiatives and projects—meaning that less urgent projects get side-lined until they become urgent, by which time it might be too late to implement a best-in-class solution. In a worst-case scenario, this could lead to an organizations’ IT estate and application architecture evolving into an unmanageable onion, with layer-upon-layer of tactical solutions (comprising of the technical equivalent of sticky-tape and string).

 

We can help avoid these scenarios by asking the question, “Are we taking an aspirin here?”

 

Click on the link below to read the rest of the article. Enjoy!

http://www.techwell.com/2012/12/how-help-project-stakeholders-avoid-aspirin

Make a New Year’s resolution to re-visit your PESTLE and SWOT

As another year draws to a close, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on what your business or organization has achieved this year.  It’s also the perfect time to consider your organisational goals for 2013: What products will you develop?  What projects will you run?  What new markets will you explore?  And, of equal importance, what risks and threats must you mitigate against just to stay in business?

 

There are two excellent, simple and intuitive techniques that can really help.  Due to their simplicity, these techniques are often overlooked and in fact these techniques are often seen as perhaps a little “passé” and out of fashion.  Don’t be fooled—when used correctly, they can yield excellent insight and can provoke innovation.  These techniques are suitable for businesses of all sizes, whether small, multi-national or mid-sized.  The two techniques are PESTLE and SWOT.

 

Continue reading Make a New Year’s resolution to re-visit your PESTLE and SWOT

Is the UK Government Jeopardizing Its Major Projects?

I’m pleased to say that one of my recent blog articles has been published on “Techwell.com”, where I have contributed as a guest author. I’d love to hear what you think, so please take a look and add a comment on the site.

 

Excerpt:

Man giving thumbs down signal“The United Kingdom government has reportedly saved £490 million (approximately 788 million USD) of information and communication technology (ICT) and digital spending in just six months, representing around 2.4 percent of its ICT budget.

 

In these austere times, figures like this should be welcomed. However, the question has to be asked—How were these figures achieved? Certainly, it seems that significant savings have been made by re-negotiating service contracts with key suppliers.

 

There is evidence too that the government is under pressure to deliver more with less on projects. The UK government published a Major Project Approval Process in April 2011, which aims to achieve a “step-change in spending control” by strengthening the government’s project appraisal and selection processes. Perhaps we can assume that better scrutiny of potential IT projects will weed out those unlikely to deliver benefits and those likely to overrun and exceed their budgets.

 

Both of these things seem—at face value—extremely positive. What seems even more positive is that the Major Project Approval Process specifically requires that a business case is produced—including an assessment of the business need, and detailed guidance on how to produce business cases is provided. This focus on up-front enterprise analysis—a core business analysis skill, as outlined in A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge—can only be a good thing, right?

 

Well—yes and no. It is excellent that the UK government has introduced stricter controls for all of its major projects, but it is extremely disappointing to see that the role of the business analyst (BA) is strangely absent in the mandated guidelines and policy manuals. In fact, the business case guidance document goes so far as to suggest “key participants” for various workshops…article continued below…

 

Click on the link below to read the rest of the article. Enjoy!

http://www.techwell.com/2012/12/uk-government-jeopardizing-its-major-projects

Two techniques to help define organisational success and help you avoid drowning in data

Businessman giving thumbs up
Defining success

I was fascinated to read that the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, is apparently using a specially defined dashboard on his iPad to keep track of real-time insight into what is happening in the UK.  Although we’re left to imagine exactly what is on the dashboard, reports speculate that it aggregates data from a number of public sources including Google, Twitter and Facebook.  Perhaps the prime minister is using this to keep track of political topics within the blogosphere, so that he can stay on top of likely public priorities.

 

Ascribing meaning to large amounts of structured, semi-structured and completely un-structured data is a challenge, and it would be extremely interesting to know what kind of underlying analytical capabilities are being used to serve up the Prime Ministers dashboard.  If it is wading through a myriad of social networks for key words, it’s likely to need quite some analytical muscle indeed!  With such a large and expanding data-set, and so many potential dimensions that could be explored, analysing and making the link between patterns and cause/effect must be difficult.

 

This got me thinking about metrics and indicators that are useful for business.  A real challenge for organisations of all sizes – especially small and mid-size – can be how to measure success.  If you read my blog regularly, you may remember that I’ve written previously on how measuring the wrong thing can lead to unexpected outcomes.  As organisations grow, so many data-sets might be available for analysis – how should an organisation decide which data to focus on?  How can an organisation see “the wood for the trees”?  There are two readily available, free and straightforward techniques that can really help:

Continue reading Two techniques to help define organisational success and help you avoid drowning in data

Sushi, mental models and expectation management…

Tray of sushiI’m a big fan of Sushi.   I’m aware that the thought of eating raw fish isn’t to everybody’s taste, but over the years, I have grown to really, really enjoy a nice relaxing Sushi lunch away from the office.  The other day I had a rather unusual experience which led me to draw a parallel between sushi and business analysis (and no, I haven’t been drinking ‘Saki‘, before you ask!).  Let me explain…

Continue reading Sushi, mental models and expectation management…

4 Business Analysis myths we could do without

I’m pleased to say that my most recent blog article has been published on “Bridging-the-gap.com”, where I have contributed as a guest author. I’d love to hear what you think, so please take a look and add a comment on the site.

 

Excerpt:

Dictionary definition of analysis on white pageAs those of you that read my articles regularly will know, I occasionally like to “shake up the hornets’ nest”, in order to provoke thought and to get a healthy debate going.  With the end of the year looming, I thought it was a great time to think about BA myths that our profession could do without—and I thought this would be a great way of creating a great discussion.

My top 4 BA myths are below.  Do you agree with them? What are your top 4 BA myths?

 

Click below to read the full article (and see my “top 4 myths”!):

http://www.bridging-the-gap.com/4-business-analysis-myths-we-could-do-without/

7 tips for virtual requirements workshops

Shadow of a human head
Virtual facilitation can be tricky…

Increasingly, projects teams are dispersed and may be working not only in different cities, but potentially different countries, continents and time zones.  Working in a dispersed team undoubtedly creates additional challenges when facilitating requirements elicitation sessions. In fact, people may even have an initial reluctance to attend virtual meetings.  These challenges certainly aren’t surmountable, and here are some concrete tips that can help:

Continue reading 7 tips for virtual requirements workshops