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Software Estimation Techniques for New and Maintenance Projects

Multiple Software Estimation Techniques are available for estimating the efforts of a software project. However, not all techniques can be used for all kinds of projects. In this post, I am going to talk about 3 project scenarios and the appropriate estimation technique to be used for each.

New Software Project (medium to large sized)

Typically estimations are done at the pre-sales stage for bidding. The availability of information about requirements is limited. This makes the task of estimation very challenging and naturally it is error prone.

Pros – FPA estimation Technique

The ideal estimation technique could be function point analysis (FPA), which is an algorithmic estimation technique. FPA is a size and effort estimation technique based on features.This technique covers all aspects of software development like:

  • Number of interfaces
  • Number of screens
  • Data stores and interactions & more…

FPA also considers environmental factors such as type of application. A mid-sized project with 1,00,000 concurrent users expectations will have need more effort than 100 concurrent users expectations. This aspect is often overlooked in the other estimation techniques.

There are multiple environmental factors which can be useful for different scenarios.

Cons – FPA estimation Technique

It has a learning curve and requires some experience to be able to estimate using this technique.

Learning FPA

Here are some of the picks for learning FPA

IFPUG Documentation (Though a little dated)

FPA in Agile

FPA with examples


Maintenance Projects

I include change requests for enhancements and bug fixing in maintenance projects. These are characterized by much better availability of information. The system is already in place.

A WBS (work break down) based estimation technique is an ideal choice. it’s possibly one of the simplest estimation techniques.

In this estimation technique, we decompose the requirements into smaller units of work (by creating work break down structure). Each unit of work is then estimated for effort in days or hours. A sample break down structure is shown below:

Once the coding effort is estimated, you can roll it up to estimate the total effort including testing, requirement study etc.

Pros – WBS Estimation Technique

It’s a simple to understand estimation technique and can be easily learned.

Cons – WBS Estimation Technique

Just like any other estimation technique, it is also dependent on individual’s assessment and is prone to being biased.


New Software Project (Small Project)

We can use WBS estimation technique for small projects as well as discussed above.


Subjectivity in software Estimation Techniques

Software estimations are conducted by individuals and they are prone to being biased (not intentionally though). The reasons could be:

  • An expert developer estimating for programs, it will always be on lower side
  • A domain expert estimating the functionality
  • A normal professional typically underestimates

These reasons can be eliminated by simple modifications to any of the estimation techniques.

Eliminating subjectivity – Method I

In case of WBS estimation technique, we can ask two developers to give their estimation. This will average out the subjectivity without too much of effort. The estimation sheet will look as shown below:

We can easily take the average to arrive at better coding estimate. In case of FPA (typically done by project managers), we can ask two project managers to create FPA estimations and then take average.

Eliminating subjectivity – Method II

This is a more accurate technique to eliminate subjectivity. In this technique, a simple weighted average is calculated to arrive at the most likely estimate.

The estimation needs to created for the following scenarios:

  • Minimum time to finish (a)
  • Maximum time to finish (b)
  • most likely time to finish (c)

Then use the formula, best time to finish = (a+4b+c)/6

Conclusion

Software estimation technique has always been dependent on individuals. Many experts feel that software estimation is an art rather than a science. In my more than two decades of experience, lot of my estimations proved to be wrong. But I used the learnings to improve my next estimation. If you are expected to estimate, always be open to ask questions and learn from previous mistakes.

It’s also a good idea to refer to estimations of similar types of projects or ask your colleagues who have been involved in similar projects.

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.

 

Top 6 characteristics of Well written requirements

Top 6 characteristics of Well written requirements

In this article, I am going to discuss top 6 characteristics of well written requirements. Requirements are key to the success of a software project.

So, how do you ensure that the requirements are well written. This is achieved by verifying the key characteristics of requirements.

Reason for failed projects

Bad or incomplete requirements have been one of the top reasons for most of the projects, which fail. Standish group publishes CHAOS Report every year on the track record of software projects. The pie chart below shows the top 10 reasons  for the failure of the projects, for the period 2011-2015.

challenged-projects

 

As you can see incomplete requirements is one of the top reasons for the failure of the projects. So, its important to understand, how can we make sure that requirements are documented correctly.

Types of requirements as per BABOK

 

Characteristics of well written requirements

Here are top 6 characteristics of well written requirements specifications:

  • Complete
  • Consistent
  • Feasible
  • Modifiable
  • Unambiguous
  • Testable

Complete

The requirements must be complete, what is the meaning of completeness? It means that all the required information to implement (read Code) the requirement. There is no need to assume anything in order to implement the same. One of the important aspects of completeness is to also have measuring units, if applicable.

In case of an error, the system must exit gracefully.

I am sure, many of you must have seen this requirement before. This is an incomplete requirement as it does not provide all the information needed to implement the exit, in case of error.

A complete requirement would be as follows:

In case of an error, the system must show an error page to the users with the following message:

Oops! We have encountered some error and working on it. In the while you can go to the home page and try other options or write to us about what were you doing, so that we can help. Our email id is support@abc.com

Consistent

Consistency is an important aspect of requirements. It means that all inputs to any process, must be processed similarly. It should not happen that processes produce different outputs for inputs coming from different sources. Consistent requirements also mean that you will not find a contradicting information in the SRS document. Let’s look at the following two requirements:

Req1: The invoices will be generated and sent automatically based on the milestones achieved with a copy to the accounts department

The second requirement mentioned in the same document

Req2: The accounts department will generate the invoice based on milestones achieved and will send it to the customer.

The requirements mentioned above are not consistent as they are presenting contradictory information.

Feasible

This is one of the crucial parts of requirements capturing. All the requirements included in the SRS must be feasible to implement. A requirement to be feasible must be:

  • Implementable within the given time frame and budget
  • Implementable using the existing and chosen technology platform
  • A feature, which will be used by the end users

Let’s look at some of the requirements below:

The developed software must be reliable and should not crash.

Next example:

The developed software must be free of defects.

Both the above requirements are not feasible. There is no software which is free of defects.

Modifiable

Every SRS document must be modifiable. In the modern software projects, requirements are never static and don’t stop coming after the SRS document is signed off.  We can’t expect the customers to stop altering the requirements or adding new requirements as we also need to look at business needs.

So the best way to manage the requirements is to manage these changes. In order to do so, we must have an SRS, which clearly identifies each and every requirement in a systematic manner. In case of  any changes, the specific requirements and the dependent ones can be modified accordingly without impact the others.

Unambiguous

Unambiguous means there could be only interpretation of the requirement. If a requirement is defined in such a manner that it can only be interpreted in one way, it means that the requirement is unambiguous. All subjective words or statements must be eliminated from the requirements.

Let’s look at this requirement:

All the screens in the system must load quickly.

Do you think, this statement is clear? Certainly not. Nothing can be understood from the word “quickly”. It must specify clearly what is the meaning of “quickly”. A better version of this requirement would be:

All the screens in the system must load within 8 seconds.

Testable

A testable requirement can be defined as a requirement, which can be tested and validated using any of the following methods:

  • Inspection
  • Walkthrough
  • Demonstration
  • Testing

In this manner, it is possible to ensure that the requirement has been implemented correctly.

Let’s take an example and examine if it is testable:

The system must be user-friendly.

If this is allowed to be part of the final SRS document, how will you test it once the software is developed and is ready to be delivered for the UAT. It is not testable. So a better example would be:

The user interface should be menu driven on the top of the website along with site index. A tool tip for all the text boxes must be provided.

Let me know if you feel, there could be any other points.

 

~Cheers

How did I prepare and clear CBAP certification exam

Preparing for CBAP certification Exam

I am Devina Ligga, CBAP v3 certified business analyst. In this post, I am going to share my preparation strategy. How did I prepare and clear CBAP certification exam?

How did it all start?

I have a Business analysis experience of 8 years and I was confident to crack my CBAP exam on the first attempt. After all how difficult could it be? And BAs are a bunch of highly intelligent people, especially with such an experience.

So I started studying for my CBAP exam. Completed reading the BABOK v3 guide once and was so sure that I would be able to crack the exam, which was still a month and a half away. Read some blogs regarding it and then decided to go for a mock test. So all confident and geared up, I took the test and scored 45%. That’s right!!! 45%

Getting back on track

After this, the truth hit me hard, I woke up from my dream world and made a plan for myself and here I am sharing my strategy to crack the CBAP exam.

  1. Make sure you meet all eligibility criteria for appearing for CBAP exam. Fill out your application and get it approved before you start studying for the exam. You will need to complete 35 hrs of PDUs from any EEP recognized by IIBA.
  2. Book your exam date well in advance. This will give you enough time to plan and prepare for the exam
  3. Get a copy of BABOK v3 and read it as many times as you can. This does not mean to simply read and turn the pages to finish the book. You need to understand the concepts, make notes, re-read as many times as necessary. Get yourself acquainted with the book and its contents.
  4. Once you are through with the BABOK Guide, you can opt for other preparation options, like joining study groups, flashcards, online/offline training courses
  5. Make a chart of the 6 Knowledge Areas, their tasks, inputs and outputs and the techniques used. Get it printed and put it on a wall. Go through it every time you get across your wall. This will help you in absorbing the concepts
  6. Put special attention on the 50 Business Analysis techniques mentioned in the BABOK. I studied one technique at a time, researched it more unless I was quite satisfied with the knowledge I have on a particular technique. Then I moved on to the next one.
  7. Each and every part of BABOK is important from the exam perspective. Still, pay major attention to the definitions, sequences, and synthesis. Synthesis is important because the questions for CBAP are of case study model
  8. Give mock tests. As much as you can. Mock tests are available based on either a specific topic/knowledge area or a full-length CBAP exam mock. You can choose to appear for them based on your preparation and plan. But be sure to take a lot of practice tests before your exam
  9. Revise the topics. There may be certain topics you find difficult to grasp or are not very confident at. Make sure to revise them and the notes you have prepared for yourself
  10. Relax and take proper rest on the day before the exam. You will rock on the D day

 

This article is brought to you by Techcanvass.

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.

CCBA Certification CourseCBAP Certification Course

 

 

Entry level business analyst interview questions

Entry level business analyst interview questions

Are you going for a business analyst job interview? What are the typical entry level business analyst interview questions? In this post, we are presenting some important questions.

These questions are taken from my book Business Analyst interview questions and answers, available on Amazon.

The questions along with the answers follow:

Why should we consider you for this profile? What do you bring to the table?

This question can be unnerving for you, if you are not prepared for it. This question requires some preparation.

Firstly, you should know about the key responsibilities areas and skills expected for this profile. This can be found in the job description (JD).

Secondly, map your existing skills and/or experience to the required skills and responsibility areas. Let’s take an example to understand the approach to answer this question.

Key Skill: UML Modelling

 UML Modelling is used to model requirements. Use cases, Activity diagrams and scenario development are specific skills.

If you have used these in any of your projects, brief the interviewer about the project and the models, you have used. It’s possible that you may have used it in more than one project. Be ready for creating one during the interview. So, practice it well.

If you have not used in your project but are familiar with the skill, you can say so. Prepare well with the concepts and examples if possible from your project.

What’s the difference between needs and requirements?

Requirements are the useful representation of the needs. Needs are high level description of the customer needs. Requirements are the expanded and detailed out description of the customer needs.

Let’s take an example of a need: 

Only authenticated users can enter the system to access the member only features.

Let’s detail out customer need as requirements:

Create a login screen which will allow the members to enter loginID and password and click on submit button to access the member only area. In case of a wrong loginID and/or password, the system throws an error.

Have you participated in requirements elicitation meetings? What are the major challenges you faced?

Yes, I have participated in the requirements elicitation phase in my last project. This project was for ‘National Bank’ (Change it as per your customer name). We were doing this project for the retail banking group. Though there were several challenges, I would like to point top two:

>> Even though we had scheduled the requirements elicitation meetings, well in advance and had also communicated to the bank, we found that the stakeholders were not available at the scheduled time and we had to wait for hours sometimes. This was going to have an impact on the overall schedule, so we involved the senior management and urged them for better participation.

>> We found this customer to be tech savvy in general and that was a good thing. But some of the stakeholders were going overboard in explaining their requirements. They were also giving their wish list as well. We tried telling them that this was probably out of scope, but they were not ready to listen. So, we decided to handle these out of scope later, as we didn’t want to interrupt the requirements gathering process.

>> I have also come across different versions or contradictory requirements coming in from different stakeholders.

As a business Analyst, which all documents have you prepared?

I have prepared quite a number of documents, some of them are:

>> System Requirements Specifications document

>> Use case Specifications document

>> Requirements Traceability Matrix

>> Change Request Document

>> RACI Matrix

>> Gap Analysis Document

Please use only those, which you are familiar with as you will get follow up questions.

What is Gap Analysis?

 Gap Analysis is a term used in product implementation lifecycle, generally.

In product implementation, we conduct “AS IS” process study to understand the existing business processes in detail.

Next step is to study the “TO BE” process. The “TO BE” processes represent the desired processes. This is the primary reason why this project is underway.

Once the “TO BE” processes are studied, the product is configured to incorporate the “TO BE” processes in the product, whatever is configurable. Remaining processes are either developed as product customization or custom build process.

Finally, the configured product is demonstrated to the customer. During this session, all the gaps in the system are identified e.g. custom reports, yet to be implemented business processes, search etc.

What are non-functional requirements? Did you capture them in SRS? Why are they important?

Non-functional requirements represent the characteristics of the application under development (AUD) rather than the behaviour of the system.

These requirements are related to performance, user interfaces, security, auditing etc. We do capture them in the SRS document along with functional requirements, but in a different section.

They are important because they allow us to identify the need for skills/resources outside the project team.

What are the key elements of an SRS?

Key elements of an SRS are shown below:

  • Scope of Work
  • Assumptions, Constraints and Dependencies
  • Functional Requirements
  • Data Model
  • Non-Functional Requirements
  • Acceptance Criteria

You mentioned Assumptions & constraints? Why are they important and what’s the difference?

Assumptions, Constraints and dependencies are important aspects of any software project as they represent the context and constraints within which, the project has to be executed.

The schedule is created considering the assumptions and constraints and if any of the assumptions becomes invalid, it might have an adverse impact on the project. So, identifying them in the Requirements specifications document becomes important.

Difference between Assumptions & constraints

>> Assumptions are scenarios and situations that are considered to be as facts for the project under development. E.g. The customer will provide access to a test PayPal system for testing payment process.

>> Constraints are restrictions that are agreed upon and recognized by all the stakeholders. E.g. A software will not be compatible with all the versions of all the browsers.

How did you make sure that requirements were good to go for next stage?

This is generally a two-pronged approach.

Firstly, we conduct reviews on the requirements. In one of the projects, the review was conducted by another business analyst, who had worked on similar project in the past.

He reviewed the documents and pointed out gaps about logical errors, missing requirements, subjectivity etc.

Secondly, the requirements were validated by the customer. We created a prototype to demonstrate the system to the customer and discussed each and every screen diligently.

What is requirements prioritization and why it’s important?

As per IIBA BABOK Guide:

Prioritization provides a framework for business analysts to facilitate stakeholder
decisions and to understand the relative importance of business analysis
information.

Requirements prioritization is the process or stage, where we allocate requirements to different phases or iterations, based on business urgency, schedule, cost etc.

Creating a prioritized requirements list helps in handling requirements in order of their importance to the customer.

There are multiple techniques, which are used for requirements prioritization like:

>> MoSCoW Technique

>> 100-dollar method

>> Requirements Ranking Method

>> Five Whys

>> Kano Analysis & More

Further Reading

Another post in this blog provides some scenario based questions for business analysts and elements of an SRS interview question.

You can also buy the book, written by me from Amazon:

Business Analyst Interview questions

 

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

Business Analysis Basics

Business Analysis Basics

In this business analysis basics tutorial, you will learn – what is business analysis, role of a business analyst & responsibilities of a business analyst. Business analysts have been gaining importance in the IT industry, especially in the last few years. This trend is expected to become better in the coming years.

They play an important role by enabling the customer organizations implement a software solution effectively and efficiently. Business analysts work as an intermediary between the customer and the software teams to understand & capture the requirements and communicate with the technology team.

This blog post on business analyst basics is intended for any professional (IT or non-IT professional), who would like to become a business analyst.

What is Business Analysis?

International Institute of business analysis (IIBA), Canada defines business analysis as:

Business Analysis is the practice of enabling change in an organizational context, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.

Business analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs, determining the best-fit solution and measuring the effectiveness of the solution. Business analysis comprises of three key elements as shown below:

Business Analysis fundamentals

Problem Analysis and Definition

The first element of business analysis is to understand the problem/needs of the customer. This is possibly the most important element of business analysis practice. Identifying the correct problem is necessary before we can attempt to solve it.

Albert Einstein once said,

“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it,”

Nothing highlights the importance of using right techniques and methodology to understand the problems or needs, correctly. Needs are high level problem statements or business goals. The needs must be detailed out to help the software development team to develop a software application. The detailed version of needs is referred to as requirements. We will discuss requirements and how does it evolve, in the tutorial later.

Solution Evaluation

The second element of business analysis is to determine – how to address or to solve the customer needs. Evaluation of a solution can be conducted on multiple parameters, some of them are as shown below:

  • Cost vs benefit
  • Risks analysis
  • Financial analysis like Net present value
  • Features of the solution & others…

Basic evaluation can be done based on cost and benefits (popularly known as Build vs Buy). How does it help the customer? This analysis helps in taking a decision to develop a solution from scratch or buy a product from the market.

For example, a customer may decide to develop a Financial accounting system from scratch or may decide to buy a product like SAP, Oracle E-Business suite or Tally.

PS: The actual development and implementation of the solution is done by technology team and is not part of business analysis practice directly

Solution Assessment

The third and last element of business analysis is about measuring the solution effectiveness. This is done by planning and implementing the ways to measure “What was supposed to be achieved as business goal?”.

For example, if the customer organization wishes to improve the revenue in a state by USD 1 million, this is a rather straight forward measurement.

Similarly, we can ascertain the metrics (the parameters to measure) and capture the data to compute the metrics, once the solution is implemented. The actual values of metrics vs the expected value of the metrics indicates the success or failure of the solution. Corrective measures can be taken to fix the problem.

In this chapter, We discussed the business analysis practice and its elements. Now We will focus IT business analyst and their role and responsibilities:

  • Who is a business analyst? Who is an IT business analyst?
  • What does an IT business analyst do? What are the roles & responsibilities of a business analyst?
  • What are the required skills of a business analyst?

Who is a business Analyst?

A business analyst is a professional who is engaged in the business analysis activities. A business analyst may not be conducting all the business analysis activities in every project or initiative. However, a business analyst must be aware of these skills.

The focus of this tutorial course is to discuss the Business Analyst role in the IT industry.

Role of an IT business analyst

An IT business analyst works with customer as well as technology team on a day-to-day basis. The diagram below shows high-level view of an IT business analyst role:

Business Analyst Role

An IT business analyst works as an intermediary between the customer and the technology team to understand the customer needs and communicate it to the technology team.

Business Analyst’s Responsibilities

A business analyst performs multiple tasks during the software development process. We can list down the key responsibilities of a business analyst as below:

  • Eliciting Requirements: One of the primary responsibilities of a business analyst is to co-ordinate with the stakeholders to gather requirements for a software system. Business analysts use one or more of the elicitation techniques to do so. Eliciting requirements involves multiple steps and we are going to discuss it in detail.
  • Preparing Requirements Specifications: Once the requirements are understood, analysed and reviewed, a document is prepared in the appropriate format for the stakeholders as well as for the software development team to take it forward.
  • Managing requirements and changes to the requirements: Requirements need to be kept up-to-date throughout the life of the software in existence. Requirements can be managed using techniques such as RTT, Backlogs etc. It’s quite common to have changes to the requirements during the software development lifecycle and business analysts handle the changes to the requirements using a defined change request process.
  • Functional Testing: Business analysts also conduct functional or system level testing, where they check the business processes and scenarios before the system is handed over to the customer for User acceptance testing (UAT). The customer team tests the software before accepting it for their usage.
  • UAT Co-ordination: During the testing conducted by the customer stakeholders, the business analyst co-ordinates with the technology team to get the defects fixed.

The diagram shows the responsibilities of a business analyst:

Business Analyst Responsibilities

In this business analyst basics tutorial, we discussed about the business analysis fundamentals, role of a business analyst and its responsibilities.

Related Articles

If you are a business analyst aspirant, you may like to know about the certifications. Refer to the article- Business analyst certification for beginners.

A list of Free business analyst training courses may also be a useful resource for you on this Techcanvass Blog. These free courses will help you to build on the learnings from this business analyst basics tutorial.

You can explore this blog for more articles, resources, videos and certification exam resources.

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

Are BRD and SRS different or they represent the same thing?

BRD vs SRS

Business requirements document (BRD) and System requirements document (SRS) are used interchangeably in the software industry? Are they the same or they are different?

What is the purpose of creating these documents?

Business Requirements Document

Business requirements document captures business requirements, as the name of the document suggests. Business requirements are high level description of business needs. The business requirements are written using the customer stakeholders perspective.

For example, business requirements can be written as,

The visitor will be required to be a member of the website to access member-only features with proper authentication.

Another example of business requirement,

The invoice will be created by the administrator by the finance manager and will be approved by finance director.

So, who prepares the business requirements document?

Business requirements document may be prepared by a business analyst even before the project starts. The BRD document is shared with the software companies before the start of the project.

Intended Audience: Business Analysts, Business users, Project Manager etc. But this document is not prepared for developers/programmers.

System Requirements Specifications document (SRS)

System requirements document (SRS) describes the requirements for the proposed system and it is much more detailed and in-depth document than the BRD. SRS describes the requirements or the features of the software system, which is going to be developed.

The visitor can register as a member by entering the following details:

  • Name
  • Email ID
  • User Name
  • Password

The name and email are mandatory fields.

The details in the SRS document is captured to enable developers write the code for the proposed software.

Contrast it with the BRD details and you can realize that the perspectives are different as well as the detailing.

The elements of an SRS are discussed and described in one of our posts.

However, I have seen many instances where BRD is used to refer to a document, which is very similar to SRS. So, don’t get surprised but now you know the difference.

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 Course with ECBA Certification

IIBA ECBA Training

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Agile Business Analyst Training

Agile Business Analyst Training

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

 

7 productivity tools for business analysts

In this post, I am going to discuss 7 productivity tools for business analysts. As a professional, we always strive to be efficient and productive. This is true for business analysts as well. Subject matter expertise, discipline, continuous learning and tools contribute significantly towards making a business analyst perform above par.

The tools, which I am going to discuss in this post, can help you in the following ways:

  • By adopting conversational presenting than just a static and linear presentation
  • Using a Voice enabled task organizer with unified view across devices
  • Managing and collaborating requirements online and visually
  • By allowing you to create super cool prototyping automating scenarios
  • & more….

7 productivity tools for business analysts

Prezi

A presentation software++…

Communicating requirements with stakeholders is part and parcel of a business analyst’s work life. A business analyst uses presentation software and other tools to do so.

Microsoft Power point is a fantastic tool but Prezi is a notch ahead.Prezi uses motion, zoom, and spatial relationships to bring your ideas to life and make you a great presenter.

Prezi has some distinct advantages over power point:

  • Prezi allows you to define your own path for presentations unlike Power point, which follows a linear path. A great feature, when you are demonstrating the system screens and processes.
  • Prezi has a zoom function. This allows you to zoom into a specific area of slide for emphasis – Again a great feature for demonstrations.

 

You can find more information and features about Prezi here…

yUML

A script based UML modelling online tool…

This one is my personal favourite. I don’t like drag and drop effort to create UML diagrams (or any other diagrams). I find it cumbersome and complex. This online tool is cool as I can create use cases, activity and class diagrams by writing just a few lines of code.

Let’s take an example of a basic use case model as shown below:

The script for the above diagram is just 5 lines of English like script as shown below:

You can do the same for class diagrams and activity diagrams.

The best part is that it is completely FREE. Another such tool for drawing sequence diagrams online is WebSequenceDiagrams. This is also a Free tool.

iPlan

Free requirements management tool….

A requirements management tool to manage processes, process diagrams and to collaborate. iPlan enterprise is a suite of products and requirements management is one of the tools in the suite.

Key features of this tool are:

  • Create a functional decomposition structure starting with the business vision
  • Manage requirements traceability
  • Capture history of requirement changes and maintain link to the change request.
  • Document the test cases at each level to be triggered while review or testing.

iPlan requirements management tool as part of iPlan enterprise is FREE for 5-users team for upto 5 projects.

Axure

A collaborative and scenario modelling tool….

Axure is a prototyping, collaboration and specification tool, which can be used for developing mock ups during the requirements elicitation phase. The feature to annotate diagrams and prototypes helps you to specify requirements along with prototypes.

You can create a team project and collaborate with team members during the requirements elicitation phase. The offshore team can collaborate with Business analysts to develop proof of concepts or review them.

Read these business cases described on Axure website to know how you can use them.

Evernote

A personal productivity tool….

Evernote is an app designed for note taking, organizing tasks lists, and archiving. It’s a cool application allowing a business analyst or any professional, for that matter, to organize their work efficiently.

Evernote app works on multiple devices and syncs seamlessly to present a unified and consistent view of your tasks and ideas.

Some of the important features, which is really worth considering:

  • Use speech-to-text feature of Evernote to dictate notes
  • Take notes in a variety of formats, including: text, sketches, photos, audio, video, PDFs, web clippings and more
  • Use camera capture to easily scan and comment on pieces of paper, including printed documents, business cards, handwriting and sketches
  • Sync everything automatically across any computer, phone or tablet
  • Create, share and discuss with the people who help get your work done, all in one app
  • Set reminders to keep yourself on top of activities and write to-do lists

 CardBoard

A user stories mapping software for Agile Business Analysts and Product Owners….

A simple to use software to create visual mappings for user stories. A user story map is an effective decomposition technique used during the requirements analysis and modelling phase.

User stories are mostly used in Agile methodologies but can be used in others as well.

Some of the features of this tool are:

  • Create user stories map collaboratively
  • Sync it with project management tools like JIRA, VersionOne etc
  • Flexible tool – Change the map from anywhere

It has a Free subscription plan with unlimited boards.

Other Alternative: Realtimeboard also has a FREE plan with upto 3 members. It’s not a specific user story mapping tool but does provide that feature.

TopTeam Analyst

Requirements definition and management software…

The only End-to-End solution for Requirements Definition and Requirements Management with integrated Agile process. It’s part of TopTeam suite, which is an application life cycle management tool.

This tool has the following features to help you in your business analysis activities:

  • Develop requirements models
  • Develop navigation enabled prototypes to simulate application behavior
  • Generate test cases from use cases
  • Establish and maintain requirements traceability

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 Course with ECBA Certification

IIBA ECBA Training

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Agile Business Analyst Training

Agile Business Analyst Training

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

Which are the required skills for becoming a business analyst?

The Context

A common question for every business analyst aspirant is – What should I learn to get into this role? Which are the required skills for becoming a business analyst? Does it involve learning any programming skills?

The good news is that the minimum required skills (MRS) are actually not too complex to acquire and can be acquired with reasonable effort. Also, it does not involve any programming skills.

Required Skills for Business AnalystYou can become a business analyst in IT industry, even if you are:

a) A programmer

b) A testing professional

c) A UI Developer

d) A business development professional

e) A travel professional

f) An operations professional

Business Analyst role is one of the most promising one in the IT industry.

However, Please remember:

There is no shortcuts in life

Be ready for the initial 6-12 months grind, to lay a strong foundation for a great future. Once you spend the initial months applying the learnt skills, the journey becomes easier and quite rewarding.

So, what are the skills of a new business analyst?

Business analyst is a multi-faceted role. Success as a business analyst is dependent on multiple skills. If we look at the complete skill set for a business analyst, it may look like as shown below:

Business Analyst Skills

But to become a business analyst, you need a small sub-set of above shown skill set. We call it minimum required skills (MRS) for a new business analyst.

New Business Analyst Skills

 

I believe that these are just the right skills for an entry level business analyst, no matter which domain you are coming from?

Break down the skills for me

So, lets get into the specifics and break down these skills into 5. You must learn the following skills to be able to clear business analyst interviews:

a) Writing SRS/FS (Systems Requirements specifications or Functional specifications) document using customer requirements

b) Requirements modelling using UML or DFD/ER diagrams

c) Functional Testing

d) SQL Basics

e) Oral and written communication skills

I feel that these are the skills which should be able to help you clear any job interview provided you update your resume. Your resume is what recruiters look at and that is how you get a call for the interview.

How do I know if I have learnt the MRS skills?

You might acquire these skills either through a professional training course or self-learning. During your learning process, you should keep measuring/testing your knowledge regularly to check if you are going in the right direction?

Last but not the least, you should reach a stage where you are capable of preparing a requirements specifications (SRS) from business requirements. The SRS should be detailed enough to help developers develop the system.

Check this case study to detail out the requirements from business requirements:

Use Case case study – UML Modelling

 

Do I need any certifications?

Certifications provide credibility to your resume and is the only way to give confidence to the recruiter about your knowledge. IIBA, IREB and BCS are some of the organizations, which provide entry level certifications for business analysts. Read the following post to know more:

Business Analyst Certification for beginners – ECBA Certification

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 Course with ECBA Certification

IIBA ECBA Training

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Agile Business Analyst Training

Agile Business Analyst Training

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

Which is the best business analyst certification to start my BA Career?

Vinita Jain has asked me the following question:

I am a marketing professional and have 5 years of experience. I would like to get into business analysis role as I feel I have the analytical power & strong communication skills. I know about this profile through couple of my friends, who are working as business analyst? My question is?

Which is the best business analyst certification to start my BA Career?

This is a commonly asked question. Every business analyst aspirant would like to know about it. In this post, I am going to answer this question – Which is the best business analyst certification to start my BA Career?

Here is a list of business analyst certifications suitable for becoming a BA:

  • Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA) from IIBA
  • ECBA+ from IIBA
  • Foundation level certifications from BCS
  • Practitioner level certification from BCS (you only need to clear the Foundation level)
  • Agile BA from APMG International

Top criteria for selecting the Business analyst certification

You should choose a certification based on the following two reasons:

The Industry Recognition

An industry recognized certification will help you in getting shortlisted, when you apply for a job. It’s important to note that certification alone does not ensure a job. But it does help in differentiating your resume and that helps in getting shortlisted.

You can find some of the business analyst interview questions with answers on our blog.

Skills Development

Getting shortlisted is just the first step (a foot in the door). But, You need to clear the business analyst interview to start your BA career. You will need to answer business analysis skills related questions. So, choose a certification, which also helps you in learning & developing key business analysis skills.

So which are the key business analysis skills for starting a BA career? Some of them are:

  • Requirements Elicitation & gathering techniques
  • Preparing Requirements Specifications document
  • UML Modelling Technique
  • Agile project & requirements handling in Agile Porjects
  • SQL Basics

So find a course (for certification preparation) and Training Institute, which fulfills both the criteria. The program must enable you to not only cover certification syllabus but also cover the BA skills, as mentioned above.

ECBA and ECBA+ Certification from IIBA

International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) is a Canada based organization and is one of the most reputed certification organizations. IIBA certifications have an industry-wide recognition. Entry certification in business analysis (ECBA) was launched in September 2016. ECBA+ is going to be launched soon (as of May 2018).

These two certifications are for anyone, who wishes to become a business analyst. You can find more information at IIBA ECBA Certification Page. The only eligibility criteria is to have 21-hrs of PDUs from an IIBA endorsed education provider like Techcanvass.

Why should you choose this certification?

For the simple reason that IIBA is the most widely accepted BA certification organization.

BA Certifications from BCS

British Computer Society Ltd is a UK based certification organization. It’s one of the oldest organizations and is widely recognized in Europe. They have foundation level and practitioner level certifications. Foundation level certification has no eligibility criteria, whereas practitioner level certification needs you to clear foundation level first.

If you are working in the IT industry (but not necessarily as a BA), you can go for practitioner level certification.

Why should you choose this certification?

If you are targeting UK, France or other European countries, then this is the best business analyst certification. BCS is well recognized there and may be even a better option than IIBA. The downside the is the course coverage and lack of training partners across the world.

Agile BA Certifications from APMG International

APMG International is also a UK based certification and accreditation organization. It has partnerships with many other organizations like BCS & Exin. Agile business analyst certification is becoming more and more popular because of growing adoption of Agile methodology.

APMG has two levels of certification. There is no eligibility for foundation level certification. You need to clear the foundation level to become eligible for practitioner level.

Why should you choose this certification?

You can go for this certification if you are looking for a specific Agile business analysis certification.

Conclusion

IIBA ECBA is the certification of choice and is the best bet. However, if you are looking for employment in UK or other nearby European countries, BCS is a better bet.

Business analyst certifications at a glance

Here is a table showing the key aspects of these certifications.

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 Course with ECBA Certification

IIBA ECBA Training

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Agile Business Analyst Training

Agile Business Analyst Training

BA Training with Healthcare Domain

BA Training with Healthcare Domain