Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Analysis, User Experience, User-centered Design

It is beyond doubt that the current times of digital, mobile and social age demand professionals who are versatile, agile, sociable and dynamic. Business Analysts and product specialists are no exception to this. Whether its due to the industry demands, peer pressure, market needs or pure evolutionary tactics, BAs today are far more leading-edge, competitive, assertive and visionary contributors to the products, processes and businesses, at large. From an also-ran team player role, new-age analysts have come a long way as the multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled and multi-dimensional professionals. In this post, I will touch upon the many facets of the new-age Business Analyst and how they are adapting to the continual changes happening in the spheres of business, technology, professional and personal lives.

Emergence of the new-age BA/PO

As we discussed in the previous posts, there have been several factors that led to the emergence and evolution of the Business Analyst. The BA today moved on from just a requirements owner and a document expert and is now addressing several facets around products, processes, business and technology. Their focus still remains pretty much around the problem space, compared to the facilitation role in the solution space. The analysts identify problems, dependencies, needs and opportunities. However,  products, processes and business domains. The BAs today have been involved in scoping, release management, continuous engagement with customers and users, strategising, laying out roadmap, and working with multiple teams.  In a nutshell, the Business Analyst of the modern age is much like a leader, architect, soldier, team player…all rolled into one.

NBA_Leader.Architect.Soldier.Team Player_Texavi

Leader, architect, soldier, team player & more – the new-age BA

From being an analyst, the BA needs to transform into a leader, architect, soldier, team player and perhaps many more such roles, all rolled into one. Of course, they need not be all of these roles at the same time. The analyst today has to don one, few or all of these various roles based on the context, time, stage of implementation as befits the occasion. During the initial stages, the emphasis could be on being an architect, while during the scoping it could be that of a soldier. However, throughout the project, or initiative analysts have to keep their hat of leader and team player, no matter what stage the work is in. I touch upon the four primary facets of the new-age Business Analyst in the following paragraphs.

1. Sensible leader, not just an also-ran

You can’t talk enough about the all-imperative skill and art of analysts to work with people. They must have their hands firmly on the pulse of the different categories of people. These include the various stakeholders – direct and indirectly responsible for the product and process, from senior management all the way through to people working on the factory floor. As an able leader, the analysts must not only lead the way, but also set an example by following and working along with the team members. They should  listen actively, take steps pro-actively and be able to put in their efforts with sustainable passion, drive and commitment to achieve this shared vision and common goals.

2. Architect and a builder, not just another player

New-age business analysts must be able to look beyond the near term goals and benefits. They must have a really good and long term vision to not only lead themselves but also the team members and the organisation, at large. They must think far and beyond, using their rich experience, in-depth and specialised domain expertise. The added advantage is that these help the analysts with a “peripheral vision” around the markets, business domains, products, processes and technologies.  Besides, the new-age analyst adds great value by laying a robust roadmap that is flexible, scalable, high-performing.

3. A soldier, well-equipped and prepared

Like a soldier, who is well-equipped and well-prepared to face any kind of challenges, the new-age analyst must be prepared with all the right tools, methods and a positive attitude. The very nature and aptitude of business analysts help them to stay on the top of their game, be it at home or outside their turf. Their ability to adapt easily and quickly depending on the situation helps build on to the agility of the new-age analysts.  Analysts’ skills of being sensitive, scrupulous and open-minded, help them usable insights from ideas and actionable intelligence from information. In addition to these, the BAs try to keep ahead by addressing all possible scenarios, potential challenges and constraints, internal and external dependencies and assumptions – stated and implicit.

4. Team player, not just a one-person show

Business analysts over the ages had been looked at more as specialised consultants who come in, do their work and get out. The contribution of analysts is considered from the prism of a “support” role who comes in early in the project, find problems, specify scope and requirements and exits the scenario. However, with the advent of agile practices such as Scrum, user stories, XP, BDD and TDD being put in place, organisations are increasingly looking for analysts to be well-integrated into the development teams. The analysts today are very much an integral part of the teams and by being  participative, they contribute to the collective value delivered by the team. So, new-age analysts are equally adept at being followers and team members themselves as much as they excel at leading the teams.

I hope this post helped you understand the many dimensions, skills and demands of the new-age business analyst. We will cover more specific details on the tools, and methods for the business analyst/product owner in the upcoming posts, until then, ciao!

Agile Development, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Analysis, User Experience, User Stories

Gone are the days when you had professionals relying on the accumulation of knowledge alone. In this day and age of continual changes in technology, business, career and life styles,  there is an increasing emphasis not just on acquiring knowledge, but also on applying the experience and rich expertise. The focus has shifted from knowing to doing and sharing, from information gathering to using the right tools and methods and from just quantitative measures to insightful analytics. Like all other professions, this paradigm shift is quite apparent to a large extent in business analysis and product management areas too. In this post, I will touch upon the many facets that make up the emerging avatar of the new-age business analyst/product owner.

Many facets of the modern BA/ProductOwner

The traditional business analyst’s focus pretty much hovered on the requirements, documentation, functionality of the product. Also, the key lookout for the traditional BA has been one centred around the problem space, whether it has to do with the product, process, domain or business. The new-age business analyst’s core competencies are still based on the problem space and functional areas, their scope of influence has expanded further and beyond. This is thanks partly due to the continual changes in business, technology, ways of work and life. It could also be attributed to the “survival-of-the-fittest” theory and that the business analysts have to consistently re-invent themselves to keep them relevant to the changing and demanding times. New age_BUSINESS_ANALYSIS_Texavi_NBA

Realm and reach of the new-age BA

So what makes the new-age business analyst different from that of the traditional role? Interestingly, one school of thought identifies the BA as just another team player, there is quite another emergent thinking that is pitching the BA as a more responsible, leadership-oriented professional. From a mere documentation specialist, the realm and reach of the Business Analyst of today scaled up to that of the product owner and/or product manager. While functionality and features, problems and opportunities remain relevant and current to the new-age BA, the additional roles of release management, process improvement, increased customer and user engagement added a new dimension.

What make up a new-age BA/PO

Now let us try and assess the factors that make up a class act new-age Business Analyst. On the one hand, you need to be on the top of the product, process, business or domain, on the other hand you must also be able to connect well with “people”. A new age business analyst works her way very well through not just the product or process team members, but also key stakeholders, customers and users. Yes, it is true that the BA must be versatile and equipped with generic skills, it is beyond doubt that specialism and in-depth expertise add to the winning factors. In a nut shell, the new-age Business Analyst/Product Owner is versatile, agile, tech-savvy, responsive, responsible, and a leading-edge visionary.

In the next posts, we will look in detail the approach, tools and methods that shape up the new-age Business Analyst. Hope this post gives you enough food for thought till then. Until next, ciao!

Agile Development, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Product Development, Social business, User Experience

In an age of rapid changes in the business, technology and lifestyles, organisations and individuals alike have to be adaptive. Business Analysts are not an exception to this much alike the other professionals. What does it take to be a modern day business analyst. Is it just the logical thinking, sound communication skills, good domain knowledge? Yes, these are all necessary but not sufficient. The modern day business analysts have to be agile, suave and tech savvy. They need to be adaptive and quick to embrace change, not just to survive but to succeed. In this post, we will look at what it takes to be a successful business analyst in this new-age of digital, mobile, agile and social times.

Transformation of business analysis in the new-age

Business analysis today is less of writing requirements in long documents and more of working with the design and development team. Its about owning the product roadmap, business strategy and/or the organisational processes. Gone are the days of writing up functional specifications documents running into hundreds and thousands of pages, spending months and years. Its the time for them to be agile and lean, and move on from being traditional verbose document writers. So business analysts today have to write user stories, create wireframes and mockups, model problems and solutions, validate and test the functionality.  They must be open to change and pro-actively understand the impact of changes on business, technology, products and people.

NBA_platform_Definition_Framework

Business analysis is changing and how

From a traditional perspective,  BAs needed to be good with communication skills. They were positioned as domain experts and to some extent looked up as product specialists. Some analysts have been positioned as specialists in business process management. However, in the last few years, business analysts have moved on from mere requirements owners to product/process owners. With the extensive use of agile practices, business analysts too emerged as the change management experts. In this digital, mobile, agile and social age, the focus of business analyst has shifted to user stories, customers and users engagement, stakeholder management, modeling domain, problems and solutions. In short, the modern day business analyst is versatile, cross-disciplined, tech-savvy, agile  and a team-working professional.

NBA_platform_BusinessAnalysis_New_Age

The new-age Business Analyst’s toolset

I give below a diagrammatic representation of the toolset for the modern day business analysts. This provides a snapshot of the fundamental set of skills and knowledge that power the BAs today.

NBA_BA_Skills-and-knowledge_Toolset

Alongside the mainstream skills, the business analyst needs to be a master of communication and leadership skills. From interacting with the key stakeholders, engaging with customers and users, and working alongside the team members, business analysts must have excellent “people skills”.  Also, technology has been playing a key role in the design, development and delivery of products and services today. So, needless to say that the business analysts today have to be aware of the technologies, platforms and the application of these technologies to business context. I don’t however see that the business analysts have to be experts in technology but then they must be able to use technical applications, tools and methods to understand problems and help create solutions. Also, the new-age BAs have to be creative and be equally good with the right brain as much as they are comfortable with the data and analytics.

Hope you find this post useful – as always, please feel free to get back with your review comments and helpful feedback. On behalf of Team Texavi, I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year, 2014! May your personal and professional lives be filled with joy, prosperity and success! Until next post, ciao!

         

 

 

Agile Development, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Experience, User Stories

Often times this thought come across to me as to what makes people choose their professions. Is it their interest, aptitude, passion or simply demand in the market? I think its not just one of these but a combination of all of these that make up the professionals that we are all today. From a doctor to an engineer, from an entrepreneur to a scientist, everyone has a choice to make and that pretty much defines how they get set into what they do as their career. Looking closely at an analyst or rather more appropriately a Business Analyst, its amply clear that the role does have specific requirements, demands and expectations. Not everyone would like to be a Business Analyst and not everyone would be a good Business Analyst. So, what is it that makes one a suitable New-Age Business Analyst? In this post, let us look at some of the key factors, skills and attitudes that are the qualities of the New-Age Business Analyst.

Business Analysis is an art and a science

Yes, its indeed the most under-stated fact that business analysis is both an art as well as science. One needs to have the flair for analysis, reasoning, communication, identifying problems and facilitating in creation of solutions. A good business analyst is passionate, enthusiastic and a continuous learner. On the other hand, there is also no denying the fact that to be a a better business analyst, you need to learn the right tools and techniques to hone your analysis skills. From the SWOT technique to various notations such as BPMN ( Business Process Modeling Notation) and UML ( Unified Modeling Language) almost everything can be learnt and mastered as a discipline on a scientific basis. I will touch upon the nuances of these tools, techniques and methods in the future posts.

The various avatars of a Business Analyst

First off, let us understand and define the various names, forms of a business analyst. From a business consultant to a product specialist and various other roles, business analysts have been known by different names. I have come across some roles such as Domain Expert and Functional Consultant too. You might notice that the Business Analyst as we know cut across different industries and verticals. This ranges from Banking, Manufacturing, Information Technology, to name a few. I give below a diagram which shows the numerous avatars of the Business Analyst. Though this is not comprehensive, it pretty well presents a picture to drive home the point that the Business Analyst comes in various packages – shapes, sizes, colours, names and forms. However, you will notice that the core work remains the same, which is what we will refer in the later sections of this post.

Identity of a BA

 

Focus Areas of a New-Age Business Analyst

The main areas that a new-age business analyst focuses on are Business, Product, People and Communication. Unlike the popular perception, it is not technology, nor projects that would interest a business analyst. As the name suggests Business is the paramount factor for a BA and up next is the product focus and product thinking. No business analysis is complete if it does not touch upon the people aspect. From customers, users and team members to stakeholders and management, business analyst has to cater to the various ‘people’ involved. And if you ask me to name that one thing that separates the New-Age Business Analysts from all other analysts, it is communication. I created the image below to represent the focus areas and priorities of the new-age business analyst.

Focus areas

You can notice that the following are the priorities for the new-age BA:

  • What and Why, over How
  • Problems over Solutions
  • Product over Project
  • Facilitation over Implementation

Hope this post helped you in understanding the basic skillsets of the new-age BA. We will discuss more on this in the upcoming posts on New-Age Business Analyst. Until next time, Ciao!

Business Analysis, Business Case, Events, User Experience

Another dose of ‘wholesome entertainment experience’ with loads of fun, fanfare, dance, music, celebrities and of course, Cricket comes to an end. The  season 3 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) had its share of sporting action, larger-than-life celebrity supporters, franchises, owners, and add to these, the controversies to top them all. Along with all these, it also gave a lot of sleepless nights to the people who matter. I too had my share of late night sleeps, of course, for a different reason. I used to wake up till 11.45 pm all these days to watch the matches.

I will leave the analysis of the cricketing sport and spirit to the cricket pundits and sportsmen and the controversies et al to the media.  That spares me enough material to focus on the ‘experience’ aspect of the IPL. In a nutshell, I think IPL experience = function of (business, fun, films, dance and music, politics, cricket), though need not be in that specific order.

It is not about cricket

I am sure this thought would have crossed your mind when you were watching the  matches, reading news or watching the Television. Yes, it is true that IPL is about Cricket, it involves Cricket players who play Cricket on the cricket grounds and organised by Cricket authorities.  The association of the tournament with Cricket ends there. Whoever named the tournament, IPL had made sure this argument is true. There is no mention of Cricket anywhere in the word IPL or the expansion of the term. It has caught on the lives of Indians and perhaps a lot of other cricket enthusiasts in the World. The fact that IPL 3 matches were broadcast ‘live’  on YouTube (well, not exactly ‘live’, there was a lag of about 10 minutes), mobile phones and in Cinema Theatres in India, proves that there had been a huge following and it virtually became a life-line for some people. So, let us look at what makes up IPL, if it is not just about cricket.

Success factors

Though there could be many things that could have contributed to the huge success of IPL 3, I attribute the following as some of the major factors to make it a hit:

  • Emotional card – IPL is back in India after almost 2  years (season 2 was played out of home, in South Africa in 2009)
  • Complete and active participation of all Indian cricketers – including retired players (there is no ‘for’ or ‘against’ camps – all players took part in this tourney)
  • Strong industry support for the event – business houses and marketing agencies, large and small took part (include the franchises)
  • Optimal coverage and updates by electronic and print media – Television channels, Web sites and Newspapers &  magazines
  • Good weather for playing cricket – No match was cancelled due  to rain or poor visibility
  • Perfect timing of the match plays – 4 pm and 8 pm (after office/school hours, when it gets maximum viewership)

Marketers’ gold rush

I assume that the event would have been watched by 40% of the people in India, that still makes a good 40 million minds to occupy the space in, for the businesses. With so many eyeballs glued to the television and newspapers and ears keyed in on AM and FM Radios, I am sure no business would want to miss this bus. Rightly so, the huge opportunity was lapped up by companies big and small, old and new alike… companies selling mobile phones or motor cycles, liquor or lemon drinks, FMCG or white goods, all cashed in on the IPL wave to reach out to their target markets.

Forget the sponsors and partners, even businesses which had no direct relationship started riding on the IPL wave.  I remember seeing the buzz created by a white goods selling store, offering a hefty discount on the goods purchased that day, if Mumbai Indians team won the match played on the following day.

What’s in it for us – the experience!

Americans love Basketball and American Football and they have NBA and NPL. Europeans love Soccer and Formula One and they have Euro Cup and F1 races. Indians love Cricket and IPL was born to satiate their passion!  In the absence of any major regular sporting tournament in India, IPL turned out to be the ambrosia in the cricket-crazy nation. Besides this, the IPL offered a plethora of experiential factors that made it a hugely successful phenomenon in the sub-continent. All of the factors mentioned below are inter-connected and have a bearing on one another.

Bonding  with family and friends. I have seen parents, couples and children all in front of the Tellies and cheering for their teams. This is not just restricted to personal lives, but IPL touched work lives too. I had seen Organisations holding contests and sending the winning teams to watch the games. Also, project teams and people working in the same department get together to plan and watch the match. All these help develop bonding amongst the people.

Diversity in Unity. Though there is a bit of cultural misfit with the non-local cheer-leaders, I think some of the matches had a good dose of display of  Indian traditions and culture. You could watch some spectators wearing local traditional attire playing the local musical instruments or performing regional flavours of dance.

Belongingness. There had been a sense of belongingness which the people had towards the teams and this was sufficiently leveraged by the marketers.  The merchandise  of the teams such as jerseys, sporting gear, accessories et al were sold like hot cakes. Need a proof for this? I too bought a Mumbai Indians jersey on the day of the final match between Mumbai and Chennai. Of course, I don’t want to share with you how I felt at the end of the match, when Mumbai Indians lost to Chennai Super Kings.

Love for Regional / local flavours. Thanks to the formation of teams, based on the different regions or states, there has been a sense of rekindling of love for one’s region or state. Often, this  added to the lighter side of India’s diversity. For instance, I was born in Vijayawada, studied in Hyderabad and Puttaparthi, worked in Bangalore and Chennai and settled in Mumbai. These are all from four different states, where different languages are spoken and differ on the traditions and cuisines as well. This only made me confused if I should support my settled home Mumbai or my original home, Hyderabad in a match, where they played each other. My case is rather simple, I had a friend who has links to 8 different states and he thoroughly enjoyed each match in the IPL tournament.

Not so good things

Timing of the tournament was not just right for students. Many of the secondary and junior college students have their annual final and board examinations around March and April, every year. By keeping the IPL during this time, students could not but face the pressure but more so parents of these students too faced the problems.

Marketing was a bit overdone in a few cases. Every six hit by batsman in the match is a ‘DLF Maximum’ six, every catch a ‘Karbonn kamaal catch’, as announced by the commentators.  They had done it to the extent that sometimes, it started annoying the viewers. For instance, the continual beaming and talking of the MRF blimp on air, is a real irritant, no matter how much important MRF is to the IPL organisers.

Anything in excess is dangerous and so with cricket too. The teams had too many matches to play against one another and the 45-day long tournament could have left the players tired and perhaps bored with too much cricket!