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CBAP Mock Test

CBAP Exam Questions

This CBAP mock test comprises of 10 questions. These questions are drill questions, designed to test your understanding of the BABOK guide and knowledge areas. Our CBAP and CCBA Certification courses have drill questions as well as case study based questions for a comprehensive preparation.

About this CBAP Mock test

CBAP and CCBA certification questions use the vocabulary of BABOK guide and sometimes it can get overwhelming. So, it’s important to imbibe the terms and concepts used in BABOK.

We have created these questions for our students to test the vocabulary and key concepts in BABOK guide.  This is a good way of getting ready for simulated tests.

This mock test is based on IIBA BABOK guide v3.

Welcome to CBAP Certification Mock Test

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1.

The basis on which requirements are prioritized is agreed upon by relevant stakeholders as defined in the Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring knowledge area."


Typical factors that influence prioritization excludes:

2.

“A metric is a quantifiable level of an indicator that an organization uses to measure progress. An indicator identifies a specific numerical measurement that represents the degree of progress toward achieving a goal, objective, output, activity, or further input.”


Which of the following is not a key factor in assessing the quality of indicators and their metrics?

3.

In the task Maintain Requirements, this technique is used to identify requirements associated with the components and available for reuse and in the task Specify and Model Requirements it is used to model requirements in order to identify constituent parts of an overall complex business function.


Identify the technique from the following options.

4.

Tom is a business analyst on a project and Client asked Tom to collect information on the current state of the organization. Tom plans to present the AS-IS state of the organization using specifications and models. What’s the purpose of specifying and modeling requirements process?

5.

While conducting the elicitation activity at InCable LLC, Roni Mehta is participating in an activity with stakeholders, where he is playing the role of a moderator. He is both skilled at keeping the session on track and knowledgeable about the initiative. He is able to engage all participants by being adaptable. His fellow recorder takes notes to ensure the participant’s opinions are accurately recorded.


Choose the purpose of above mentioned technique

6.

Ritesh Shukla is the business analyst for a banking software for retail customer. He has created a conceptual level use case model for a funds transfer module. The use case model needs refinement by identifying include/exclude relationship. Can you help by identifying the CORRECT option?


CBAP mock test image

7.

“It is performed to determine if an enterprise is able to adapt to or effectively use a solution. This identifies which processes and tools within the enterprise are adequately equipped to benefit from the solution, and if sufficient and appropriate assets are in place to support it. When conducting it, business analysts consider:



  • Policies and procedures,

  • Capabilities and processes that enable other capabilities,

  • Skill and training needs,

  • Human resources practices,

  • Risk tolerance and management approaches, and

  • Tools and technology that support a solution. ”


Business Analyst does all the above-mentioned activities in which of the following elements of the task Assess Enterprise Limitations?

8.

A Business Analyst finds the following limitations in a technique:



  1. Requires an organization to agree to collaborate on this model.

  2. When created unilaterally or in a vacuum it fails to deliver on the goals of alignment and shared understanding.

  3. Requires a broad, cross–functional collaboration in defining the model and the value framework.


Which of the following techniques is the Business Analyst referring to?

9.

As part of requirement analysis, Robin wants to specify and model requirements pertaining to current state of the organization. All of the following are valid reasons except one why Robin wants to create the current state model of the organization except?

10.

Rob is a business analyst working with ABC organization. Rob is working on a performance improvement project on web services. Management suggested Rob that these improvement initiative should not take more than 90 days to implement. What type of factor does 90-day implementation represent?



Click on Submit button to view the answers and explanations



 

CBAP Test Simulator

Techcanvass has launched the CBAP question bank with simulator. Currently, introductory offer is available on the test simulator. Click on the link below to visit the website and avail the offer

CBAP Question Bank

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass offers IT certification courses for professionals. We are an IIBA endorsed education provider (EEP), iSQI ATP (for Certified Agile Business Analyst Training) as well as Agile Testing alliance partner for CP-SAT certification training in Selenium.

We have a Business analyst training course with domain training in-built into it. This training program offers you the opportunity to get certified with ECBA certification as well as have banking domain understanding.

CBAP Preparation TrainingCCBA Preparation Training

 

ECBA Preparation Training

 

 

 

Business Analysis fundamentals PDF

Business Analysis Fundamentals E-book

Download this business analysis fundamentals PDF book to learn the basics of business analysis. This book will help you learn the basics and help you get started as a business analyst.

What does this book cover?

This is a crisp yet comprehensive book which covers following topics related to business analysis:

  • What is business analysis?
  • Who is a business analyst – role and responsibilities
  • Skills of a business analyst
  • Software development phases
  • Top software development methodologies
  • Case Study

What is business analysis?

In this section, you will learn about business analysis. What are the key elements of it and how does IIBA (International Institute of business analysis) defines it?

Who is a business analyst – role and responsibilities

The next section in the book is about the role and responsibilities of a business analyst. We are going to talk about the role of an IT business analyst.

Skills of a business analyst

In the third chapter of this book, we will provide an insight into the skills of a business analyst specially for an entry level business analyst. This section will also list down the soft skills of a business analyst.

Software Development Phases

This chapter will deal with the phases of a software development process. As a business analyst, you need to know about each of the phases of the software development. Even though you may not be participating in all the phases.

Top Software Development Methodologies

This chapter will deal with two of the most well-known software development life cycle methodologies namely – Waterfall and Agile.

Case Study

Any form of learning is incomplete without a practical example. That’s what is this chapter all about. In this chapter, we present a full case study covering all the phases. This will help you in understanding the intricacies of every phase.

 

Download business analysis fundamentals PDF

To get the PDF copy of the book, please send an email to info@techcanvass.co.in with subject line “Business analysis fundamentals”. We will send you the link to download.

Don’t forget to add this email id to safe list so that the reply email does not land in SPAM.

 

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass is an IT certifications training organization specializing in business analysis and automation testing training.  We are an IIBA and iSQI Germany authorized training centre. You can check more details at the following pages:

Business Analysis CertificationsAutomation Testing Courses

A list of Free Business Analyst training online

A list of Free Business Analyst training online

This article lists down a list of free business analyst training online. These courses are mostly video based except one of the them, which is text based.

In my research, I could not find a complete business analyst training course anywhere in a structured manner, chapter wise. But some websites did have multiple business analysis related videos and I have tried to put them in a sequence for easy viewing and comprehension.

This list of Free business analyst training online is compiled for professionals, who wish to become business analysts. These courses are no way comprehensive (Freebies can’t be), but they are good resources to get started.

IIBA Business Analyst Training resources

International Institute of business analysis (IIBA) is a leading certifying agency based in Canada. It conducts online webinars on business analysis topics. Some of these webinars are Free for everyone. I have selected a few of them. Go through these  in a sequential manner:

Becoming a Business Analyst

Seven steps to mastering business analysis

Capturing Requirements

Understanding Use cases

Prototyping

Modelling Data

Validating Requirements

LinkedIn Business Analyst Training resources (1-month Free Trial)

I found these videos to be well made with good explanations. There are multiple free videos and you need to scout through them to figure out, which ones are meant for entry level business analysts. So, I have made the list for you, which will get you started.

Start with: What is business Analysis?

Next: Requirements Elicitation & Analysis

Next: Handling Requirements in Agile Projects

There are many more videos available but you can access these videos for Free with 1-month trial only. I feel one month should be good enough to go through these videos.

Smart-BA Business Analysis training resources (PDFs and PPTs only)

Smart-BA has a resource page providing a list of business analyst training materials. These are PDFs or powerpoint presentations. The PDF documents are arranged in 3 chapters and are useful.

Module 1: Objective Analysis

Module 2: Scope and context analysis

Module 3: Functional requirements analysis

There are other resources as well on this page.You can visit other resources here.

Srinivas S’s business analyst training videos

This business analyst training is a 6-part series and is a recording of a classroom session. But recording is good and you can also view the presentation.

Video 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGCzJ5HRqUs

Other videos are linked to this video and you can find links on Youtube page.

BAExeprts Business Analyst Training online

This page has more than 30 videos but again they are not listed in an order. So I have selected a few of the videos. Here is my list of business analyst training videos from this website.

Start with: Overview of Business Analysis for Information Technology

Next: An introduction to business analysis Techniques

Next:Business Analysis and System Development Methodologies (SDM)

Next:Business Analysis and Waterfall Methodologies

Next: Business Analysis and Agile Methodologies

Next: How to Identify stakeholders

Next: Business Process Analysis

Next: Business Data Modelling

Next: How to write data and process specifications

You can go through other videos as well once you have gone through these videos.

Bridging-the-gap Free business analyst training course

Laura Brandenburg, the founder of Bridging-the-gap offers a short course on business analysis providing guidance on business analysis career and some free tips.

This course requires a registration and you will receive the video links in the email.

Bridging the Gap Business analyst training page

TECHCANVASS’s Free Business analysis Fundamentals Course

Techcanvass also offers a free business analyst training online. These videos are recordings from the online training on business analyst certification course. These videos are listed on our Blog page in a particular order for better understanding.

I am reproducing the list here with links:

Module 1: What is business Analysis?

Module 2: Business Analyst role & responsibilities

Module 3: Understanding software development process Part-A

Module 4: Understanding software development process Part-B

Module 5: Software Development Process (SDLC Methodology) basics

Module 6: Understanding requirements, its types and common technoques

Module 7: UML requirements Modelling

Module 8: Verification and validation

This list may not be the most exhaustive list but I have tried to provide you a list of Free business analyst training online, which will help you in kick starting your BA career.

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass offers IT certification courses for professionals. We are an IIBA endorsed education provider (EEP), iSQI ATP (for Certified Agile Business Analyst Training) as well as Agile Testing alliance partner for CP-SAT certification training in Selenium.

We have a Business analyst training course with domain training in-built into it. This training program offers you the opportunity to get certified with ECBA certification as well as have banking domain understanding.

Business Analyst Training - ECBA Certification

Business Analyst Course

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Agile Business Analyst Training

Agile Business Analyst Training

Business Analyst Training with Trade Finance

Business Analyst Training with Trade Finance

ECBA Exam Simulator

ECBA Exam Simulator

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

BA with Investment Banking Domain

BA Training with Investment Banking

How important is domain knowledge for a Business Analyst?

Importance of domain knowledge for a Business Analyst

How important is domain knowledge for a business analyst? Let’s examine this in this post. I am going to look at the domain knowledge from at least two perspectives:

  • What is the level of expertise needed?
  • Is it a pre-requisite to start as a business analyst?

I am also going to leave you with some resources to learn basics of a few domains.

What is domain knowledge?

Domain is a specified sphere of activity or knowledge.

The literal/dictionary meaning is very clear and obvious. In the IT industry, the domain knowledge is used to refer to the knowledge and understanding of the business sector or specific business process of a project/product.

So, a domain could be Banking, Insurance, Trade finance at a higher level or could be retail lending process, funds transfer at a more specific level. A domain knowledge refers to the understanding of the specific domain area. So, what does it include?

  • Understanding of the of the sector/industry/segment
  • Understanding of the key concepts/vocabularies
  • Understanding of the business processes
  • Understanding of the implementations and its challenges

For example, If you would like to be good at understanding retail banking, you need to understand the following, for example:

  • Customer acquisition, cross-selling and up-selling
  • Unified customer view
  • Retail banking operations like account opening, funds transfer, deposits etc
  • The back end processes
  • Integrations with external entities like bank transfer, SWIFT payments etc

Which domains are relevant and important for IT industry?

Some of the important sectors for IT industry and for business analysts are as follows:

  • Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI)
  • Manufacturing
  • E-Commerce
  • Internet Services (Online apps for travel, cab booking etc)
  • Telecom

The importance and relevance is based on the simple fact – Which of the industries provide substantial business to the IT industry. BFSI (Banking, Finance services and Insurance) has always been the top sector for several decades.

Why it’s important for Business Analysts?

Let’s consider the scenario of working in BFSI domain as a business analyst or for that matter Telecom or healthcare? As a BA, you need to interact with the customer to understand the business needs/requirements.

During the requirements discussions, the customer will be stating their expectations in a language, which will comprise of:

  • Domain specific terminologies
  • Process steps specific to the project

Example: You are discussing the funds transfer process for developing a mobile banking application for an India bank. You may come across the following statements:

The funds transfer happen through NEFT, RTGS, UPI and IMPS using the RBI and NPCI infrastructure. Once the beneficiary is added and approved, our customer can initiate the funds transfer. These transactions are carried out the NPCI/RBI networks. The confirmation is then given to the beneficiary. Each of these networks may have specific formats for carrying out transactions

There is no way, customer is going to explain you (and you should not even ask them) the meaning of NPCI, NEFT, RTGS etc and how do they work? If don’t have a clue of these terms, you may miss out many important aspects as you may not be able to related to them (or may not be able to understand the importance).

The domain knowledge is important for business analysts, because this enable you to

  • Understand not only the stated needs but also the unstated ones as you understand the process and concepts
  • Value add by suggesting improvements, thereby improving your credibility. (This comes with experience)

Level of domain expertise for business analysts

As an entry level business analyst, you are not expected to possess domain knowledge. Understanding of requirements capturing techniques, UML modelling, requirements analysis and SRS/FS understanding are more important as an entry level business analyst. However, it is always an added advantage to have basic understanding of a domain like Banking, Insurance etc.

However, as a practicing business analyst, domain knowledge becomes important. Domain knowledge and expertise grows with experience and number of projects (of that domain), you are part of. This is a hard to replace expertise and enables you to gain more and more credibility as a professional.

A pertinent point is to consider is – specialization Vs generalization. Do you need to be an expert in one domain or you should be a generalist having broad level understanding of multiple domains. Well Jury is out on this one and it will purely depend on the business scenario. Specialization is good if the growth opportunities in that domain is substantial. One such example is banking domain.

However, generalization is like Jack of all trades and it’s pretty useful in downturns as it improves your chances of being relevant always.

Domain Basics Resources

I have selected a few resources, which you can use to learn basics of some of the domains. It is by no means the complete list:

Khan Academy –

A comprehensive course on basics of banking series. There are multiple videos in this playlist. You can watch it here.

Investment banking basics

An animated and short video. You can watch it here.

Insurance Basics

A simple explanation of insurance industry. You can watch it here.

Another insurance fundamentals video. You can watch it here.

Types of life insurance

A nicely presented video on types of life insurance. You can watch it here.

Health Insurance basics

Basics of health insurance. An animated video. You can watch it here.

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass offers IT certification courses for professionals. We specialize in Business analysis and automation testing courses.

We are an IIBA endorsed education provider (EEP), iSQI ATP (for Certified Agile Business Analyst Training) as well as Agile Testing alliance partner for CP-SAT certification training in Selenium.

We have a Business analyst training course with domain training in-built into it. This training program offers you the opportunity to get certified with ECBA certification as well as have banking domain understanding.

We also offer other domain training courses for business analysts. Here is the list.

Business Analyst training with Banking domain

Business Analyst training with Insurance Domain (Coming up)

Business Analyst training with Investment Banking domain

Business Analyst training with US healthcare domain

Are business analysis and analytics the same?

Business Analysis vs Business Analytics

Are business analysis and analytics the same or there is something common between them? In this post, I am going to examine the topic – business analysis vs business analytics. I will also examine if they have a symbiotic relationship with the help of a case study.

This Business Analysis is a discipline and encompasses wide range of activities. The primary objective of business analysis is to solve business problems. Business Analysis includes the following activities:

  • Problem/needs analysis or requirement Analysis
  • Requirement modeling
  • Solution analysis
    • Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA)
    • Risk Analysis
    • Feasibility Analysis
  • Organization Readiness Assessment
  • Change Management

Organizations have to evolve and transform themselves in order to survive and remain competitive in the market. Business Analysis plays a key role in enabling the organization to transform efficiently. Business Analysts are responsible for carrying out the business analysis activities.

Let’s take an example where business analysts play an important role.

A manufacturing company is finding it difficult to meet the quality standards of the deliverables promised to the customer. This problem was solved by implementing an ERP system as well as introducing more robust processes of communicating the product specifications to the manufacturing team  by the Sales team.

As you can see, solving of the business problem, not only involved transitioning to a new software solution (ERP) but also a process adaptation. Business analysts not only help in recommending the solution but also help the organization in implementing the solution efficiently.

Would you like to know more about the Business Analysts:

Business Analyst career and growth path

What is Business Analytics

Business Analytics is defined as the scientific process of transforming data into insights for making better decisions. Using data to make decisions is not a new phenomenon. It has been into practice for a long long time. However, it was only in the 1950s that tools were developed to capture and analyze large amounts of data to enable quicker decision making.

Business analytics solutions typically use data, statistical and quantitative analysis to measure past performance to guide an organization’s business planning.

The real magic of Business Analytics is its capability to predict and prescribe future course of actions by analyzing current and historical data patterns.

Types of Business Analytics

There are four types of business analytics and they are-  decisive analytics, descriptive analytics, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics. I will discuss these types of analytics in my next posts.

Now let’s take an example to understand business analytics.

Many of you must have used LinkedIn. LinkedIn always shows you a list titled “People you may know.

(A screenshot below)

Are Business Analysis and Business Analytics the same?

 

LinkedIn had millions of users (till last estimate it had 225 million users). The “People you may know” list involves matching 225 million against 225 millions to find common threads. The basis of this analysis could be connection of connections (1st , 2nd and 3rd degree connections) along with organizational overlap and many such parameters. Making sense of such large amounts of data is the domain of analytics (in this case prescriptive analytics). The Analytics tools use current and historical data (registered users, their connections, their organizations etc) to prescribe potential connections.

But is there anything common, afterall?

Now the Big Question – is there a relationship between Business Analytics and Business Analysis?

Why did LinkedIn use analytics to create “People you may know section”, it must have cost them a bomb (aka millions of Dollars)? The reason was to increase the number of users and hits to its website, as that was critical to its survival.

Was this a business problem? Of course, yes. The business problem/challenge was to increase the number of users/hits to the website to grow. Many solution options must have been shortlisted, “People you may know” section was one of the solution, which was found to be a recommended one. This usually comes under the domain of a business analyst. A business Analyst conducts cost-benefit, feasibility and risk analysis to recommend a solution. That’s the reason, it was chosen, implemented and actually succeeded in its objective. Since then, the number of registered users and hits have increased many fold.

So, what is the answer to the question – is there a relationship between Business Analytics and Business Analysis?

In my view, Business Analysis encompasses business analytics as one of the means to find solutions to the business problems. For Business Analysts, it may prove to be a valuable tool, especially in the cases where large amounts of data is available to predict or prescribe solutions.

I have recently recorded a video on this topic, you can view this video below:

If you are interested in knowing more about Business Analytics, here are some useful resources for you:

What is Business Analytics

More on types of Business Analytics

What is Descriptive Analytics?

Career in Business Analytics

 

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass offers IT certification courses for professionals. We are an IIBA endorsed education provider (EEP), iSQI ATP (for Certified Agile Business Analyst Training) as well as Agile Testing alliance partner for CP-SAT certification training in Selenium.

We have a Business analyst training course with domain training in-built into it. This training program offers you the opportunity to get certified with ECBA certification as well as have banking domain understanding.


Business Analyst Training

IIBA Business Analyst Training


Business Analyst Training with Banking Domain

ECBA Training with Banking Domain

Agile Business Analyst Training

Agile Business Analyst Training

Cheers

Top 4 mistakes IT professionals make which spoils their careers

Top 4 mistakes IT professionals make which spoils their careers

disclaimer: This article is purely based on my experiences as an IT professional. Purely personal experiences and may not be valid for every professional.

Being in the IT industry for over two decades, I have experienced some great moments of joy and despair. Going home at 4 AM because of a crucial release, or going for a team lunch post UAT sign off or getting a kickass email from the customer are all itched on my memory forever. Every such moment was an experience.

Talking of experience, I have had experience of working with some really high-performance, intelligent and capable people as well as some really average ones. I am in touch with most of them and when I meet them, I try and understand what made them click or fail.

Over the years, I have developed my own theory on what are the critical success factors for an IT professional. Thought to share with you. These are top 4 mistakes IT professionals make in their professional lives, which literally spoils their growth prospects

Boss is only for assigning work

In my career, I have seen people who interact with their bosses or immediate managers, only when boss calls them for assigning work. Not good. Be practical, your supervisor is not only responsible for assigning work to you but also for your role, your growth as well as your increments. You don’t need to buttress your boss but you must definitely try and build a cordial relationships with him/her.

Let me share the benefits of cordial relationship with bosses. In later part of my career, I never had to put up my resume on Naukri or Monster. Why? Because whenever, I wanted to change, I would talk to one of my ex-managers and that’s it. Moreover, it saved me a lot of search time as well as enabled me in getting better or desired roles & salary, which would have been difficult otherwise.

This is just one aspect but this can help you in many other aspects as well. If you are setting up your own startup, it can help you in getting contacts and even some deals.

So the key take away is to build relationship with your bosses.

PS: This section is meant for bosses who are not out there to make your life hell. In that case, you know what do you need to do – Leave your Boss.

I love this technology, every other technology is useless

This is something I never understood. Yesterday, I was having a discussion with a senior programmer, who had resigned from his current company. We were talking about the reasons for his resignation and it was- the company had decided to move to a different technology and he was not keen to work on that. Well had it been a move from PHP to Java or .NET to Java – I could have understood. But we’re talking about moving to Angular.JS from ASP.NET/C#. So I asked him, if the company decides against it, will he continue, he said – yes.

Excuse me!!

Technology is an enabler and as an IT professional, you must be looking at technology as a tool to solve problems rather than choosing the problem to suit a technology.

If you take this kind of an approach, you will soon become a pariah or will seriously limit your opportunities in any organization as well your own growth.

I can’t interact with people who don’t understand technology

This one is my favorite. Over the years, I have got used to this situation, however. People, with high Technology quotient (TQ), believe that it’s futile to discuss anything with low TQs or zero TQs people.

We all must understand, business software applications are developed for a customer to solve their problems. We earn our salaries because customers are paying for these software applications.

This means that to be successful in this field, we must gain experience in solving customer problems. Problems can only be solved, if they are understood correctly and for that we need to interact with customers, who may not be as tech savvy as we would like them to be.

So, do we have an option of not interacting with them?

Being a loner

Do you identify with it? No, then it’s good. Many of us believe in – doing work sincerely, leaving rest to GOD. Big mistake. You will be loosing out big time.  Two major drawback of being a loner:

  • It’s all about visibility in corporate world, dude.If you are not seen, you are dependent on somebody to help you grow. Do you want yourself to be in that situation? You are talented and hard-working, so go out and show it. Make presentations, conduct training sessions for your team mates and so on.But make sure, it is published and known to people (Use Intranet or HR website)
  • Corporate offices are becoming hotbed of politics. People manipulate, backbite or do whatever is possible to sabotage other’s careers (rather than focusing on building their own). If you are not aware of whats happening around you, you are going to be at a loss for sure…keeping abreast of office politics is important and that can only happen, if you interact – give and take policy.

These are not the only mistakes, we make as IT professionals but I chose the most important ones, as per my understanding.

Will be eager to hear about your experiences as well.

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass is an IT certifications training academy specializing in Business Analysis, Automation Testing and Project Management certifications. We are IIBA endorsed education provider, iSQI ATP (for Certified Agile Business Analyst Training) as well as Agile Testing alliance partner for CP-SAT certification training in Selenium.

 


Business Analyst Training
IIBA Business Analyst Training

Business Analyst Training with Banking Domain
ECBA Training with Banking Domain
Agile Business Analyst Training

Agile Business Analyst Training

Cheers

Top 6 Characteristics of an effective Project Manager

Top 6 Characteristics of a great Project Manager

Top 6 Characteristics of an effective Project Manager

Project Managers play a vital role in the success or failure of a project being the captain of the ship. Every organization recognizes the importance of an effective project manager. What makes these project manager click?

We have compiled a list of 6 characteristics of an effective project manager. The characteristics are not presented in any specific order.

Follow KISS principle

“Keep it simple, Stupid” – The KISS principle was coined by Kelly Johnson while working on airplane designs for Lockheed Martin. He and his team were designing spy airplanes for war zones. His goal was to make a spy plane, which could be repaired by using simple tools and techniques, so that even average mechanic can repair it in the war zones. He was not trying to make the best spy plane but a simple to use war plane which served the functional purpose.

Warren Buffet once said: “There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.”
Let’s take an example of an e-commerce website. An e-commerce website is meant to facilitate the online purchase of a product, generating revenue. You may aim to make the best looking website with lots of bells and whistles but, at the end of the day, users must be able:

  • To search the products easily and
  • To make the payment, even as a guest

If your website does not provide these two basic features mentioned above, all your effort is futile, even though you end up making the best looking e-commerce website in the world.

So the great project managers, keep it simple as much as possible to achieve the business goals or objectives.

Set the expectations rights

One of the important traits of a project manager is to set the expectations right, be it for team members or customers. We may call it as expectations management but it plays a crucial role. One of my seniors always advised me to follow a simple maxim – “Promise less and deliver more”. Instead, what most of the managers do is the exact opposite.
However, having handled many projects myself, I have to admit that it is not possible every time because sales team would have already over committed in winning the deal. Well, in that case, read the next point.

Know how to get things done

I, personally, feel that this is the most important characteristics of a great project manager. Pulling the right strings at the right time is vital. Be it a team member or a shared services in the organization, great project managers know how to get things done. If a team member is not delivering, they will sit with him at his desk to get the things done by encouraging or helping him. If a shared services group like infrastructure services, is not moving as fast as it should (for getting a piece of hardware), they know how to use a customer or senior management threat to make it faster.

So, It’s basically “horses for courses”. But just be little creative to get things done.

Know your subject

All great project managers, understand the language of the customer as well as the team members. You don’t need to be an expert in that domain, be it technology or business but be good enough to understand the context yourself. You should not need an interpreter to understand their language, if it is so, you have lost it. Upgrade yourself, there is plenty available on the internet on every subject. Take a MOOC course or watch a Youtube video, which is free. Just brush up the basics.

Review, Review & Review

One must be a systematic and periodic reviewer to be really successful as a manager. Projects can’t run on auto pilot mode, it needs to be nurtured and controlled. Managers must know, what’s happening in the project, whether right or wrong on a daily basis. A proper reviewing mechanism means setting up the review agenda as well as the frequency. For larger teams, line managers (team leads and project leads) play an important role.

Great project managers are relentless reviewers- unless you know what’s wrong with the project as early as possible- how do you fix it?

Present a calm demeanor

Can you remain calm in the midst of a crisis? Most of us can’t. It’s natural to be upset when things are not going your way. As you might know, software projects carry multiple risks and any of the risks may materialize.

Great project managers are necessarily not the bravest of the souls but they always present a calmer exterior. This is absolutely critical to keep the morale of the team intact. It also gives the impression to everyone (Team, Management and customers alike) that things can be managed, even though it looks bad. Showing calmness – is not an in-born thing, it can be learnt easily.
This article is based on my industry experience and my discussions with my colleagues and seniors in the industry. Let me know if you have any feedbacks for me at abhishek@techcanvass.com

Why do we go wrong in Requirements gathering?

Why do we go wrong in Requirements gathering?

Requirements gathering is probably the most critical phase of every software project. But empirical data suggests we are not doing well in this. So, why do we go wrong in requirements gathering?

Before getting into reasons for it, I must share with you one of my favorite videos. It’s a funny take on the requirements gathering meeting.

The video highlights a few important points:

a) Customers, sometimes, also don’t have clarity on what exactly do they want?

b) Why don’t we ask this question – Why do you want this? What is the purpose of this feature?

All the studies about the success and failure of software projects have found that lack of clarity on understanding, is one of the top reasons for project failure. In this post, I am going to touch upon top 4 reasons for  – Why do we go wrong in Requirements gathering?

Not Asking “Why”

The question “Why do you want something to be done” is one of the most important questions – a Business Analyst can ask? It not only enables you to understand the actual requirements but also enables the customer to explore and understand – what do they want and why?

It’s important to associate requirements with the business objective and goal. Every feature or function included in the system must be linked to the end objective and not because it is a fanciful idea.

One simple example will further explain this aspect. Let’s say you visit a doctor because you have fever.  Once you meet the doctor, you may tell the doctor – “Doctor, I might have viral fever as I am having nausea and headache as well?” A good doctor  never takes that statement on face value, instead the doctor asks questions to do his/her own diagnosis. These questions could be:

  • Since when you are having fever?
  • Did you measure it?
  • Are you having body ache?
  • Do you feel chill?

Based on the answers to these questions, the doctor may ask for further investigation. Unless the doctor is sure of the actual reason, he/she can’t treat it well.  Imagine doctor giving medicines based on our judgement rather than his own diagnosis.

One of the most important mistakes, we make as business analysts is to not use enough “Why”. What is stated by the customer stakeholder during requirements elicitation meetings should not be taken at face value.

Making Assumptions

Our experience teaches us a lot. Business processes understanding is just one of the skills, a BA acquires in his/her career. Over the years, working in variety of projects, build our skills about an industry, its processes and its implementations.

This helps us in a lot of ways. But many a times, we also assume that the current customer organization will also be doing this function as the previous customer. is that always true? More often than not.

Every customer is different. 

So, How can we avoid this mistake? By keeping in mind a few things:

  • Treat every customer as different and so their processes
  • Always challenge your assumptions
  • Don’t hesitate in asking questions, even though simple (Ego is your biggest enemy)
  • Validate the requirements properly

As a business analyst, we can start by using open and close ended questions at the right time. Open ended questions are asked to understand the processes and its steps. Whereas close ended questions are asked to confirm an understanding. – Ask open ended questions for understanding requirements.

Examples of open-ended questions:

  • What is your cross-selling process?
  • What do you do when the due date for bill payment is passed?
  • What is the process of account opening? How many steps are involved?

An account opening process for ICICI Bank is different from Kotak’s bank even though they may be savings bank account. The steps carried out in the back-end are completely different.

Ignoring end users as stakeholders

End users: Users or customer employees, who are the actual users of the software (once it is ready). They are not the managers, who feel that they know every detail.

Ignoring these end users can prove to be counter-productive. It can happen in a project, if:

  • Customer managers/directors/CIOs tell the IT team that they know what is needed and there is no need to talk to the end users
  • We, as business analysts, feel that the end users are not savvy enough to give us valuable details.

It’s not something, we should avoid. The end users are the actual users and they can provide us important inputs from the ground zero.

 

Not validating requirements

We are used to test the developed software thoroughly but miss out on validating the software requirements, the right way. The reason for this is that we feel that verifying the SRS/FS using a checklist is validating the requirements or sending the well-written SRS document to the customer (for going through it and confirming it). That’s far from the truth.

A perfectly verified requirements specification can produce completely useless software product. Why?

That’s because verification of requirements only look at what is written and documented. It does not check if the documented requirements will be able to help customer achieve the business goal. Most of the times, it does not.

Validation is the process of checking the requirements (It can be in any format) with respect to the business objectives/goals. How do we do it? And how we should not do it?

  • We don’t do it by sending a 300 page SRS document (Do you think customer will read it?)
  • We do it by creating prototypes, demonstrate it and get an agreement in a collaborative manner?
  • We can do it by creating demos or proof of concepts also?

In the next article, we will be discussing the difference between requirements verification and validation. You might like to look at the following post:

Top 6 characteristics of Well written requirements

Conclusion

As a business analyst, we should be aware of the factors, which prevents us from missing out on requirements. Requirements are the basis for the software development and getting them right, is our responsibility.

It’s important that we make ourselves aware of all the factors and aspects, which cause impediments in getting the requirements right.

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Top 4 misconceptions about Agile

Top 4 misconceptions about Agile

In this article, I am going to have a look about top 4 misconceptions about agile adoption. Agile methodologies are being adopted by companies at an increasing rate and that’s really encouraging. To quote a recent article by Harvard Business Review titled “Embracing Agile

Agile innovation methods have revolutionized information technology. Over the past 25 to 30 years they have greatly increased success rates in software development, improved quality and speed to market, and boosted the motivation and productivity of IT teams.

However, are we really adopting agile in the right spirit? The Harvard Business review article, further states

But a serious impediment exists. When we ask executives what they know about agile, the response is usually an uneasy smile and a quip such as “Just enough to be dangerous.” They may throw around agile-related terms (“sprints,” “time boxes”) and claim that their companies are becoming more and more nimble. But because they haven’t gone through training, they don’t really understand the approach. Consequently, they unwittingly continue to manage in ways that run counter to agile principles and practices, undermining the effectiveness of agile teams in units that report to them.

All of us have understood Agile in a manner, that suits our deep rooted understanding of software development practices & principles. Having spent more than couple of decades in the IT sector, I can related to these myths and misconceptions. But adopting agile with these misconceptions does not allow us to reap the benefits of agile development.

The thought behind this article is to bust these myths. I have picked up top 4 myths about Agile adoption.

Misconception I: Agile is SCRUM

Agile is a framework and several software development methodologies have been conceptualized based on Agile Concepts e.g. SCRUM, Agile Unified Process, Extreme programming etc. But somehow, we have come to a point where Agile has become synonymous with SCRUM and everyone seems to think that way.

Couple of reasons could be responsible for this – Scrum is simple to understand and the marketing force behind it. Lot of organizations are supporting it with full razzmatazz. Owing to this, other equally powerful Agile methodologies are being overlooked.

One of important downsides of this misconception is that we are not even evaluating the other Agile methodologies, which might produce better results for a particular situation.

Dave Thomas, one of the creators of Agile Manifesto in 2001 laments about commercialization of Agile but lack of understanding of the Agile philosophy in this thought provoking video titled “Agile is Dead”

Misconception II: Fixed price contracts can’t be executed using Agile Methodologies

Common perception is that if scope can’t be fixed upfront, fixed priced contracts is not feasible. This is a completely misplaced thought process.

Let’s do a reality check. The fixed priced contracts are a way to de-risk themselves for future cost escalations (from customer perspective). Customers are in the driver’s seat and they will never agree to keep the costs open, for obvious reasons.

Another reality, When we estimate the effort/cost for the fixed priced contracts, are we really accurate in estimation. In my career, I have come across several way-off budgetary estimates. It’s natural because budgetary estimates are done at a stage, when we know the least about the project requirements.

Another reality, most of the projects, executed using non-agile methodologies, are challenged (delayed, cost overruns or failed) with incorrect comprehension of requirements being one of the top reasons. We have no reliable study which suggests quantification of re-work but we certainly have data, which suggest that these re-works result in challenged projects.

My view is that, if we consider the range of re-work to be 20-50% (and add to that the spoiled relationship with the customer & bad appraisals back home), adopting Agile methodologies is not a bad bet (if we can map 20-50% of re-work to bloating of requirements).

Misconception III: Agile is just an iterative SDLC methodology

This is deadly. Many managers believe that Agile is nothing but multiple waterfall iterations. Dividing the project into multiple small iterations and doing it waterfall way is the Agile way.

So how do we go for it? We gather all the requirements upfront and get a sign off and then start delivering the modules in an iterative manner. Each time a module is ready, we go to the customer, demonstrate the module and give them for testing. The development for the next module starts or even better, we can form parallel teams to carry our multiple modules simultaneously. Does it sound cool?

The approach discussed above is a workable model but it’s definitely not Agile. Agile is much more than just being iterative.

Misconception IV: MVP is equivalent to doing Masters, transactions and reports in different sprints

This is more of a corollary to the previous point but certainly needed a mention. Software teams looked at a project from masters, transactions and reports perspective. But customers never understood this classification, they expect modules, which is meaningful for them.

Agile MVP or Minimum viable product is about delivering a feature, which is usable and implementable. Division of the MVP has to be driven from that perspective. ‘s blog post Making sense of MVP (Minimum Viable Product is a must read if you really would like to get a grasp of MVP from grounds up).

Serious commercialization of Agile movement has shifted the focus towards getting the Agile TAG. But does Agile really offer serious benefits? I don’t need there is any confusion on that, but what are these benefits.

I discussed and explained the benefits of agile adoption from a Project manager’s perspective in one of my business analyst classes. Here it is: