BA Quicktips

Picture of a magic roundabout ride with horses

The Magic Roundabout and the importance of the Glossary

It’s not often that printed driving directions grab my attention, yet it happened a few weeks ago.   I was planning a trip to Cardiff, and since I don’t know the area well, I decided to check out and the route online.  Although I have sat-nav, I always like to have a vague idea of where I’m going, so I print driving directions as a back-up.    I was reading through the directions, and I noticed the following step:

 

“Cross the Magic Roundabout, 2nd exit”

 

Wow – I’m going to be crossing the magic roundabout.  That sounds pretty exciting, right?  Well, maybe….

 

For me the phrase “Magic Roundabout” conjured up two images.  Firstly, a stop-motion animated children’s TV program from the 1970s, and secondly a rather famous and complex road junction in Swindon.  Assuming that the likelihood of this “magic roundabout” being related to the 1970s TV show was extremely low, I made the assumption that it must be a frighteningly complex junction.   You know the type – a busy junction that only locals can traverse, and visitors use at their peril.  A shudder went down my spine as I imagined having to traverse this seemingly increasingly complex junction after a long journey.

 

Picture of a magic roundabout ride with horses

Would it be like this?

Traffic sign: Magic Roundabout Swindon. A complex junction, with a central roundabout and many orbital roundabouts.

Or like this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having set this expectation very firmly in my mind, the reality was somewhat more—well—glacial. It transpired that the magic roundabout in Cardiff was rather less ‘magic’ than I had been anticipating. It was nowhere near as complex as the ‘magic roundabout’ in Swindon, which was the benchmark I had been expecting, and in many ways, given its surreal nature, it shared more in common with the 1970s TV show!  In short, it was a normal roundabout with some interesting art on it.   My presumptions and expectations had been altogether wrong.  I later passed it on foot and took a picture:

Magic Roundabout Cardiff -- A traffic roundabout with artwork made from road signs on it

The *actual* magic roundabout in Cardiff

Picture of a jam-packed shop with lots of furniture outside

Avoiding “junk shop” requirements

A few weeks ago I was looking for a new set of lockable office drawers for my home office.  Not far from me, there’s an excellent second-hand shop that sells all sorts of assorted furniture, so I thought I’d pay them a visit.

 

Picture of a jam-packed shop with lots of furniture outsideI arrived at the shop, and there was every type of furniture item that you could imagine – plus a few items you wouldn’t expect!  There were tables, chairs, dolls houses, even shovels and forks.   The shop was utterly jam packed with all sorts of interesting and intriguing items.  In fact, it was so rammed-full of furniture, I couldn’t even get inside.   I didn’t even know where to start looking, so I gingerly peeked around the door.   After about five minutes, I managed to attract the shop owner’s attention. He clambered over the furniture to reach me, and I explained what I was looking for.   He immediately knew where I could find the exact thing I wanted, and pointed me in the precise direction of a practically new set of lockable office drawers.  I bought them and took them home. They were an absolute bargain too!

 

On the journey home, I was reflecting on this rather unusual experience.   The fact was that the shop was so jam-packed with furniture of every imaginable type that it was virtually impenetrable to the average customer. The only way you’d be able to find what you were looking for would be to ask the owner.  I started to think about how in some cases we might be tempted to treat our requirements like this.

 

What this means for requirements

 

On some projects, particularly those that require a high level of formality, we might create a large number of requirement artefacts.  We might create deliverables and artefacts including a context diagram, use cases, non-functional requirements, a logical data model, a glossary and so on.  We create artefacts that are jam packed with precise and concise information.  As the author, we’ll instinctively know where to find everything in our requirement set – but what about the recipients?  How do they know which artefact they need to look at to find what they are interested in?  How can we stop our requirements becoming an unregulated “junk shop” where everything exists, but stakeholders can’t find what they need?

Man with megaphone

Help Your Stakeholders Leave Their Rank at the Door: 6 Workshop Levelers

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  • Adrian Reed 
  • 2 min read

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  • Adrian Reed 
  • 1 min read

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Businesswoman in a new environment

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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: “While core business analysis techniques work irrespective of the industry or organisation… 

A picture of a smiling clown - first impressions count

5 Tips to Enhance Your Split-Second Credibility

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.  This article covers the important (but often overlooked) question of credibility, specifically focusing on the… 

Confused man with green question mark above his head -

Five ways to break the “no experience = no BA job” vicious cycle

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: “If you’re an aspiring Business Analyst who hasn’t yet attained your…