I hope you’re keeping well, and that you’re enjoying my blog. In a change from my usual ‘blog’ style, I have a favour to ask… 🙂
In my ‘spare time’, I’ve been studying towards an MSc and I’m currently focussing my research on goals and expectations of stakeholders around BA conferences in the UK.
My preliminary research will be driven by a questionnaire to identify ‘themes’, which I’ll then follow up with semi-structured interviews and possibly a focus group. I wondered whether you might be able to help out by finding the time to fill in the questionnaire (it ought to take around 15 mins)?
The questionnaire is aimed at BA practitioners/BA managers of any type. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve ever been to a BA conference in the UK or not, either way your views will be really valuable.
You might have noticed that I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet on the blogging front recently. There have been many reasons for this, not least that my day job has been very busy but another overriding reason is I have been trying to stop myself blogging anything too political. The political landscape in the UK is—well—bizarre to put it kindly at the moment. I look elsewhere and I see other nation-states subjected to different types of unforeseen chaotic disruption too. I can resist the temptation to blog on items related to politics no longer 🙂 Now, before you tune out, don’t worry I won’t be touching on anything too controversial—but I’d like to look at some of the political narratives that exist in the world andwhat this might mean for our organisations and our attempts to change them.
The Dumbing Down Of Narrative and the Prevalence of False Dichotomies
Back in the dim and distant past, I worked in a highly
political organisation. In reality I
suspect anywhere there are humans there will be politics, but this organisation
had such prolific politicking it was on another level. With so much political posturing—particularly
from middle-managers—I felt really exposed
as a BA. After all, as BAs we are
usually facilitating change, and
quite often the sort of change that will affect the ‘empires’ of those that are
playing the political game. I started to
experience situations where certain stakeholders would have ‘momentary losses
of memory’ — they would have agreed to something verbally the previous day, but
then all of a sudden they couldn’t
recall that conversation at all.
If there’s one thing that acts as a ‘leveller’ it’s time. However ‘successful’ or ‘rich’ a person is, there is still only 24 hours in their day. And time really does seem to fly by at a rate of knots. I can’t quite believe it’s been ten years—a decade—since I started this blog. You can read the first ever article ‘Taking the Customer’s Viewpoint’ here, although to be honest I wouldn’t bother—it’s pretty awful :). As with any skill, blog writing takes time to develop, and some of my early work is—well—a bit cringe-worthy. It does, however, show a journey.
what I sometimes like to describe as a somewhat “reluctant”
driver. I have never really enjoyed driving, and since I live in a
very congested city it is something that I’ll avoid doing if at all
thing that I find particularly curious is the seemingly ubiquitous phenomenon
of “road rage”. We’ve probably all seen instances of this play
out on the road, for a whole variety of reasons. One particular pattern
that seems to play out time and time again is:
One thing I find about being a BA is that I can’t switch the analysis off. I am forever analysing situations and interactions, well outside of the “day job”. I suspect many of us have this trait, and it may well be at least mildly irritating to those around us. 🙂
I recently went into “analysis mode” having checked
into a hotel, exhausted after running a workshop. I went to put my clothes in the wardrobe, and
I noticed two all-too-common minor irritations that regular travels will
There were fewer hangers than I needed
The hangers were of the “anti-theft” type,
where the hanging loop is permanently attached to the rail
Unfortunately, these particular hangers were old and worn,
meaning that they didn’t fit well and whenever weight was applied to them (e.g.
by adding a shirt) they fell to the ground.
As I sighed looking at a wardrobe full of crumpled shirts now neatly
scrunched into a pile on the very bottom of the wardrobe, I couldn’t help
wonder why hotels use these weird hangers.
Even a few ten pence wire coat-hangers would be better than this
What’s The Actual Risk? And What Message Does It Send?
The conference gets bigger every year and, I’m pleased to say that there are still tickets available — so if you’ve been thinking about attending, it’s not too late! You can find out more details about the conference by clicking the link below. And remember, IIBA UK members are entitled to a 15% discount.
I highly recommend attending the conference, if you can. There are fantastic presentations from real-world practitioners, and there’s also the opportunity to relax and chat over a beer (or two) after the conference has closed. If you haven’t been before, I’d highly recommend taking a look.
If you’re attending, drop me a mail or tweet and hopefully we can catch up there.
I hope to see you there.
PS — if you can’t make it to London, I’m equally excited to say that I’ll also be presenting at the BA Summit Southern Africa in Cape Town, which is always an extremely fun and innovative conference, as well as the Building Business Capability conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA which is always so much fun too, and is the official conference of IIBA.
As anyone who has ever worked with me will know, I’m somewhat of an advocate of Non-Functional Requirements (NFR) Analysis. I’ve found that in some projects, sadly, the NFRs are left unexamined, with the Functional Requirements taking the lime-light. This is understandable, after all it’s far easier to talk about what needs to change, and far harder to talk about the quality attributes and other non-functional elements of that same change. Yet get the NFRs wrong, and you end up building a very shiny and expensive system that nobody actually uses. If you are in the UK and have been to a Post Office recently you may have experienced the ‘self-service’ booths. As Roland Hesz observed on Twitter, these are so complicated to use that they have a member of staff guiding people through the process….
For a whole variety of reasons, I’ve been thinking about NFRs a lot recently, and I came across three articles that really resonated with me, and made me think it’s about time we revisited the ‘standard lists’ of NFRs that we use. In particular, I think there are two sets of categories that we ought to add.
As I’m sure many readers will be aware, the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) recently launched the IIBA®-AAC. AAC stands for “Agile Analysis Certificate” and as you’d expect this is a certification program aimed at BAs working in an agile environment. I recently sat (and passed!) the exam, and since then a number of people have asked me if I have any tips. With this in mind, I thought I’d put together a blog post whilst the experience of studying was fresh in my mind. I hope that you find this useful.
Imagine the scene: You’re just about to start the analysis
for a project which involves a large contact centre employing hundreds of
people. The call centre manager hands
you a dusty folder marked Procedure
Guide. “Here you go, this is exactly how we do things here.” says the
manager, “this will save you interviewing our busy front-line workers!”.
I suspect many of us have experienced this situation
(although it’s far more likely to be some kind of electronic repository rather
than a dusty manual) and when it happens we try and hold back a wry smile. Procedure guides are extremely useful
artefacts, but so often they are not properly managed and maintained and they
quickly fall into disrepair. In some cases, the work that is conducted on the
shop floor often bares only a passing resemblance to the ‘official’ processes,
and in many cases there are unofficial ‘enhancements’, ‘interpretations’ and
‘workarounds’ that have crept in over the years.
With this in mind, when we are carrying out business analysis and improvement work it’s important that we understand how the work really works. Elicitation techniques such as observation, apprenticing, scenario analysis and many others can help here. If the process hasn’t been well-managed and well-maintained it’s highly likely that we’ll find variation. Differences between teams, and even individual workers may have emerged. There may be entire new ‘steps’ in the process that have been created, or steps might have been removed, re-ordered or changed in some other way.