Category Archive Articles

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

Top 5 Business Analyst Tools

Top 5 Business Analyst tools

In this article, I am going to share with you, my pick of top 5 business analyst tools, which can be used by an IT business analyst on a day to day basis. These are my top picks and have been selected based on the following factors:

  • Importance from a usage perspective (for an IT business analyst)
  • Easy to learn techniques
  • Not a commercial tool

Important: MS-VISIO from Microsoft is one of the easiest tools to use and I use it regularly and many business analysts also use it. However, this is not a FREE or open source, hence it is not included in this article. 

Business analysts deal with requirements elicitation, gathering, analysis and modelling on a day-to-day basis. An efficient and simple tool helps in performing theses tasks more efficiently.

However, tools alone are not sufficient to succeed even though they help you in becoming more efficient. You should also work towards attaining the core business analysis skills. We have published two different articles discussing the technical and soft skills for a business analyst.

Business analysis skills for a new business analyst

Top 4 soft Skills for business analysts

So, here are my picks of top business analyst tools:

UML Modelling tool – YUML


Best Feature – Use case modelling using simple English

This is my favourite business analysis tool. YUML.ME is a simple UML modelling tool. It supports use cases, activity and class diagrams. It is an online tool and you can save the output in multiple formats including PDF.

What I like about this tool is that, you can create use case diagrams by writing just a few lines of script. You can go to use case diagrams page and start creating use cases.

Drawing use case using YUML

I used it to draw a use case diagrams for the following use cases:

  • Customer sign-in into an online system
  • Customer buys a product
  • Customer browses products (Buy a product includes this use case)
  • Customer checks out (Browse products includes this use case)
  • Customer add new Credit card (Checks out includes this use case)

To draw the use case diagrams for the above, we can write script as shown below:

  • [Customer]-(Sign In)
  • [Customer]-(Buy Products)
  • (Buy Products)>(Browse Products)
  • (Buy Products)>(Checkout)
  • (Checkout)<(Add New Credit Card)

Based on the above script, YUML creates the use case model automatically, as shown below.

It’s a FREE online tool.

Prototyping Tool – Pencil


Best Feature – Quickly creates a prototype

Prototyping is a an important part of business analysts’ role as it helps in getting confirmation from the customer on the requirements. During the requirements gathering phase, creating a quick prototype to help customer understand the look & feel or navigational flow is valuable. Prototyping tools help a lot in doing so.

There are many such tools but my favourite prototyping tool is definitely Pencil. Pencil is available as a standalone tool and you can download and use it locally. It has a simple interface and you can simply drag & drop elements to create a screen.

It provides variety of web and screen elements as shown on the left side of the tool interface.

Business Analysis tool - Pencil

 

This is a free tool.

User Story Tool –  Trello


User stories are integral part of agile projects. Trello is a simple tool to create user story maps and manage it in systematic manner. This is specially useful for multi-locational agile teams. This tool can be used as a collaboration tool so that all the teams are in sync.

A typical user story board will look as shown below:

Business Analysis tool - Trello

Requirement Traceability Matrix


This may not be termed as business analysis tool in the true sense, but this matrix is an important tool for business analysts. Managing requirements with forward and backward traceability is extremely important for business analysts.

In case of changes asked by the customer,  a business analyst needs to refer to the requirement traceability matrix to know all the requirements/features, which might be impacted. In case you don’t know the impacted features for any change, unexpected defects might crop up in the released software.

Requirement Treacibility Tool

 Sequence Diagram Tool – WebSequenceDiagrams


The next business analysis tool is for creating sequence diagram. Sequence diagrams is a process modelling diagram based on UML notations. If you need to create these diagrams, it can become really overwhelming. Sequence diagrams is an exhaustive diagram with lots of details.

There are other FREE tools as well for creating sequence diagram like UMLet. However, WebSequenceDiagrams.com is my favourite for couple of reasons:

a) You don’t need to create diagram but use a simple English based syntax and the tool will draw it for you

b) It’s complete FREE

Sequence Diagram Example

Let’s create a sequence diagram for login process. The steps involved for login process are as shown below:

  • User enters login ID and password in the login screen
  • The login screen checks with database, if the LoginID & password are correct
  • The response is sent to User through Login Screen

We can create the sequence diagram by writing the following script:

  • title Login Process
  • User->LoginScreen: Login into system
  • LoginScreen->Userdatabase: CheckLoginDetails
  • Userdatabase->LoginScreen: Validation Response
  • LoginScreen->User:LoginSuccess

The result is as shown below:

Business Analysis tool - WebSequenceDiagrams

Conclusion

You will come across multiple tools as a business analyst, can you master all of them? That is difficult to achieve. So the best strategy is to pick selective tools and just master them. Tools are always just enablers and not a skill.

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

What is the difference between Needs and Requirements?

Needs Vs Requirements

We often use needs and requirements interchangeably. But are these two terms same? What is the difference between needs and requirements? In this article, we are going to examine the difference with the help of examples.

What is need?

The literal meaning of need is:

Need is something which is essential or very important rather than just desirable.

So, need represents a necessity which must be addressed. A simple example is – A person is thirsty and he/she needs to quench his/her thirst. This is an example of a need.

In business terms, need can be defined as:

A problem or opportunity faced by a business or organization, which needs to be addressed

Business needs is the primary reason why organizations engage experts or consultants (like IT companies) to find a solution. We will take a practical scenario to understand the concept of needs:

Case Study

Oil & Gas Company (Small)

Norman Oil and Gas company is facing severe resource issue at its local gas agencies as people are thronging to apply for new gas connection. It is disrupting the service to existing customers as delivery of cylinders to them is getting affected.

What’s the need? The need is to find a solution to stop disruption of services at local gas agencies. The needs essentially defines – WHY do we want to do something or WHY something is important? What’s the value for the organization?

So, what is requirements? How is it different from the needs?

Difference between needs and requirements

Requirements represent the needs in a useful way so that development team or the solution team can find a solution. In other words, requirements is a more detailed representation of needs meant for the specific audience.

Let’s consider our case study. In the previous section, we looked at the needs of Normal Oil and Gas company, which was to stop the disruption of services at the local gas agencies.

How can we represent this need in a useful format for the technology team? See the requirements described below:

We need to create an alternative method of capturing the applications for a new LPG connection. Each application has to be unique and must capture  the following information:

Full Name

Contact Number(s)

Location

Family Income

Email ID

Aadhaar Number

Needs described in this form, will help the development team in designing and developing the solution.

Needs explain WHY an organization wants a solution to a problem whereas requirements explain WHAT is to be done? What are the details of the problem?

Summary

Needs and requirements are two critical pieces of any project. Needs provide the reasons to initiate the project. Requirements define the needs in a useful format to enable the solution team to find the appropriate solution.

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

CBAP Tutorial | BABOK Technique | Data Dictionary

CCBA CBAP tutorial on Data Dictionary

In this CCBA CBAP tutorial on Data Dictionary, we will cover the basics of this 10.2 BABOK v3 technique. Data dictionary may not be a commonly used vocabulary in your day-to-day business analysis world, but it is an important concept.

In this tutorial on data dictionary, I will try and provide a conceptual understanding of data dictionary with examples. This is part of our CCBA CBAP Study guide for CCBA and CBAP preparation course.

What is Data Dictionary?

IBM Dictionary of computing defines data dictionary as

“A centralized repository of information about data such as meaning, relationships to other data, origin, usage, and format”

A data dictionary is also referred to as metadata repository. It comprises of information about the primitive and composite data elements.

A landline number is an example of a composite data element and it comprises of primitive data elements like ISD Code, STD Code, Area code etc. Let’s consider a complete telephone number in India, it looks as follows:

+91 22 2857 1200

This number comprises of multiple information as shown below:

Basic Element Name Any other name Type of values Description
ISD Code Country Code Number The international dialling code for the country
STD Code City Code Number The country’s city code
Area Code Area Code Number Local telephone exchange number
Telephone Number Telephone Number Number Actual phone number
Complete Telephone Number = [ISD Code + STD Code + Area Code + Telephone Number]

 

The table above describes primitive data elements and the composite data elements. This table is an example of data dictionary.

Purpose of Data Dictionary

Data dictionary is used to create a standardized representation of data elements for a given project or projects and for its stakeholders. This helps in having a common understanding and representation.

Without having a data dictionary, data can have multiple interpretations in a system. This may lead to different representations. For example, one developer may present a phone number as one value (allowing numbers and ‘+’ sign) and other one may present it as a combination of multiple fields. This leads to bad user experience.

Please note that data dictionary is always created for a context (a project). A composite data element may be relevant for one project but may not be for the other.

For example, if the application under development is for customers across the world, the ISD code is a relevant part of the telephone number. We have created the data dictionary for an application with ISD number.

But, if the application is to be used only in one country, the ISD code has no relevance and should not be part of the data dictionary.

Formats for Data Dictionary

Multiple formats can be used to represent a data dictionary. BABOK v3 suggests the following format:

Data Dictionary

We can use any format for representing the data dictionary as long as it is consistent across the artifacts.

Elements of Data Dictionary

As per BABOK v3 guide, the primitive data elements should have the following information:

  • Name: A meaningful name to the element so that it be recognized uniquely.
  • Aliases: Alternate or commonly used term used for the data element, different from Name
  • Value/Meanings: Represents data types (like number or text), size, list of values (if applicable) etc
  • Description: More details about the data elements for the specific project/context

Composite Elements may be:

  • Sequences: A composite element comprises of multiple primitive data elements. These elements could be arranged in a sequence i.e. coming one after the other as in the telephone number. A ‘+’ sign is used to represent that as shown below:

[ISD Code + STD Code + Area Code + Telephone Number]

  • Repetitions: When one of the data elements gets repeated multiple times. A ‘{ }’ is used to represent that:

Invoice = Invoice_number + Date + {items-ordered} + Sub-total + Sales-Tax + Total due

  • Optional Elements: A composite data element may also have optional elements. Optional elements are represented by ‘( )’.

Customer_name = First_name + (Middle_name) + Last_name

 

Note: Care must be taken to create the data dictionaries as unnecessary and irrelevant data dictionaries can lead to limited or no realization of business value.

Data Dictionary Example – Online Payments

In this example data dictionary, a composite data element payment-data and primitive data elements are shown:

Data Dictionary Example

CCBA CBAP Study Guide

This is an extract from our CCBA CBAP Study guide based on BABOK v3. The study guide is created to help aspirants understand concepts with the help of examples. BABOK v3 guide is a comprehensive book yet does not provide practitioner’s perspective.

This study guide is a complimentary study material to BABOK v3.

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

 

 

Cheers

Business Analysis Fundamentals

Business Analysis Fundamentals

In this tutorial, you will learn business analysis fundamentals from the very basics. This tutorial covers the basics of business analysis, the role and responsibilities of a business analyst and how does a business analyst handle requirements? It will also cover the global certifications for business analysts.

This tutorial course will help you in:

  • learning business analysis fundamentals
  • getting you started on your quest to become a business analyst
  • Taking a decision on business analyst career choice

 What does this tutorial cover?

This business analysis fundamentals tutorial course has 6 chapters, as shown below:

  • What is Business Analysis?
  • Business Analyst Role and Responsibilities
  • Software Development Process Part A
  • Software Development Process Part B
  • Handling Requirements as a business analyst
  • Certifications to become to business analyst

What is Business Analysis?

Business analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs, determining & Validating solutions to the business problems.

Business analysis comprises of three key aspects as shown below:

Business Analysis fundamentals

 

The first element of business analysis is to understand the problem/needs of the customer. The second element of business analysis is to determine – how to address or to solve the customer needs. The third element of business analysis is to validate the effectiveness of the solution.

Business Analysis Example

Let’s take a simple example to understand business analysis elements.

A customer organization is having an issue with managing customer queries effectively (their customer service executives are slow in responding). They want to address this problem.

So in this case, what’s the need? –

To find a solution to make customer service management more responsive.

The next element is to determine the solution to address the needs. It’s common to have more than one alternatives to address the needs.

What are the alternatives in this case?

  • To buy a customer relationship management software product like SIEBEL CRM
  • To get a new CRM software developed to address the need (Known as customized solution)
  • To get a subscription based software (SalesForce)

One of the solutions needs to be chosen based on cost, features, technology and other factors. The implementation of the solution follows.

The last element of business analysis to determine the effectiveness of the chosen solution.

So, how do we validate?

In software parlance, we conduct testing (verification and validation) to validate the solution. The validation may also extend to measure the effectiveness after the solution is in use for a certain period of time.

Even though I have taken the software industry example, business analysis is relevant for any industry.

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 capable of carrying out these tasks.

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

Watch this video to know more about – what is business analysis & who is a business analyst?

 

Business Analyst Role and Responsibilities

The second chapter of business analysis fundamentals tutorial course deals with the role and responsibilities of a business analyst in details.

 

 

 

Software Development Process Part A & B

The next two chapters in this business analysis fundamentals tutorial course is about understanding software development process.

These two videos explain the software development process from the grounds up. Even if you are a non-IT professional, you can understand it.

You may skip the Part A, if you are already familiar with SDLC process.

 

 

Software development process Part B video

This video explains the activities carried out in each phase of the software development process with the help of a simple application.

 

Handling Requirements as a business analyst

A business analyst deals with the gathering, analysis and managing of requirements on a day-to-day basis. This chapter will cover the following topics:

  • Types of requirements
  • How do requirements evolve from business needs to functional/non-functional requirements
  • common terminologies

 

Certifications to become to business analyst

The last chapter of this business analysis fundamentals tutorial course will explain the global certifications available for becoming a business analyst.

IIBA is one of the leading organizations certifying business analysts across the world. Techcanvass is an endorsed education provider of IIBA.

 

What’s Next

We have next level of tutorials, which you can watch next. You will find the first 2 videos common with this tutorial there, you can skip them and watch other 3 videos to understand:

  • Popular SDLC methodologies
  • Requirements Analysis and Modelling with UML diagrams
  • Verification and validation

Business Analysis Tutorial for beginners

All the topics in the business analysis fundamentals tutorial and the above tutorial are covered in-depth in our business analyst training courses.

 

Techcanvass Youtube Channel

These videos are published on a regular basis on our youtube channel. If you would like to be notified of these video releases, please subscribe to our youtube channel.

Techcanvass on Youtube

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 Certification Training for beginners

Business Analyst Training - ECBA Certification

Business Analyst Training with Banking Domain

Business Analyst Training with Banking

Business Analyst Short Courses

Business Analyst Training Self-learning Course

 

Business Analyst roles and responsibilities

Business Analyst roles and responsibilities

In this article, I am going to discuss about business analyst role and responsibilities. Entry level business analysts have different responsibilities as compared to senior business analysts. In this post, I am going to talk about entry level business analyst role.

In one of the next posts, I will talk about senior business analyst roles and responsibilities.

Business analyst term is used to refer to two distinct profiles and that is often confusing for many. In general, the IT industry is using the term Business Analyst to refer to:

  • IT business Analyst or Systems Analyst: We are going to discuss about this role in the article
  • Business Analyst / Data analyst / Analytics professionals / data scientists – This role is different than the IT business analyst, even though there are similarities.

It’s pertinent to explain what is business analysis so that we can understand the role of an IT business analyst in the right context.

What is business Analysis and who is a business analyst?

International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) defines business analysis as follows:

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

This formal definition leads to the following diagrammatic representation of “What is business analysis”.

 

Business Analysis

 

So business analysis is all about solving a business problem/need using the organizational context and transitioning the organization through the change (implementing the solution).

So, who is a business analyst?

A business analyst is a professional who performs one or all of the business analysis functions. He or she may not get involved with all the functions, defined as business analysis functions

A business analyst, in general, is agnostic of the method/techniques used to solve a business need/problem. He/she may use statistical models, machine learning or software development methodologies to achieve the end goal.

This is one of the reasons why there is a wide spread use of the business analyst in multiple contexts. In this article, we are going to focus on IT business analyst only.

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

 

Here is the summary of the role of an IT business analyst:

  • To interact with customer to understand their requirements
  • To convert the business requirements into detailed technical requirements for technology team
  • To co-ordinate with the technology team to explain the requirements
  • To validate the developed solution before handing over to the customer for User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
  • To co-ordinate with the customer team and the technology team to facilitate UAT

So, what does it translate to? What are the typical responsibilities of a business analyst on a day to day basis? Let’s discuss them in the next section.

Business Analyst’s Responsibilities

A business analyst will be performing one or more of the activities on a day to day basis:

Business Analyst Responsibilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These activities are the primary responsibility areas for an entry level business analyst. He/she may not be doing all of them every day. The activities differ based on the stage of the project. Let’s consider these scenarios:

Changes in existing requirements

In case of changes in the existing system (already in use by the customer), a business analyst has the following responsibiliites:

Understand and document the requirements -> Create the specifications document -> work with technology team to assess the impact of the change (Effort, cost etc) -> Seek customer approval -> Validate the developed solution -> co-ordinate the UAT

New Project

A new project is completely different from the ongoing project. In case of a new project, a business analyst’s responsibilities are as follows:

Understand and document the requirements -> Create prototype model -> Create UML or similar model ->  Develop data model -> Prepare system requirements specifications (SRS) document -> Co-ordinate with technology team to design and develop the solution Validate the developed solution -> co-ordinate the UAT.

To summarize, business analysts play an intermediary role between the customer team and the technology team to ensure that right software is developed for the customer.

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass is an IT certifications training academy offering courses in Data Science, Business Analysis and Automation testing.

We are an IIBA Endorsed education provider (EEP) and iSQI authorized training partner. Our business analyst courses are for all the levels as shown below:

Entry Level Business Analyst Certification Training (ECBA)

Business Analyst Training - ECBA Certification

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certified Agile Business Analyst Training

Agile Business Analyst Training

User Stories Basics

User Stories Basics

User Story is a popular requirements modelling tool. In this post, we will learn about user stories basics, structure of user stories, INVEST theory for user stories. We will also look at an example user story model.

What are user Stories?

User Story is a popular format of representing a feature or user requirements of a software system from an external user perspective. The format comprises of three key elements as shown below:

As a <User role>

I want <to do something>

So that I can <achieve some goal>

The user role represents a type of user (and not an individual user). The requirements are presented from this user role perspective – <to do something>. The third part of the user stories is the purpose of the action.

The user stories, not only, represent the system feature/requirements, it also explains – why it is being done?

User Story Example

Let’s a simple example to understand the user stories basics better. A customer is looking to get a travel portal for flight tickets booking. One of the requirements for this portal is the search of flight tickets for a business traveler.

The user story for this case can be presented as shown below:

As a <User>

I want <to search for flight tickets as per my schedule>

So that I can <so that I can attend a business conference>

The good thing about user stories is that every stakeholder (customer as well as developers) gets a complete idea about the requirements.

Writing good user stories

What are the characteristics of a good user story? Well-written user stories are critical to the success of a project. INVEST represents the characteristics of a good user story as explained below:

  • Independent – User Stories should be as independent as possible.
  • Negotiable – User Stories are not a contract. They are not detailed specifications. They are reminders of features for the team to discuss and collaborate to clarify the details near the time of development.
  • Valuable – User Stories should be valuable to the user (or owner) of the solution. They should be written in user language. They should be features, not tasks.
  • Estimatable – User Stories need to be possible to estimate. They need to provide enough information to estimate, without being too detailed.
  • Small – User Stories should be small. Not too small. But not too big.
  • Testable – User Stories need to be worded in a way that is testable, i.e. not too subjective and to provide clear details of how the User Story will be tested.

INVEST guidelines can also be used to review the developed user stories.

More on User Stories

I am going to post more articles/Videos on this subject. These user stories posts are going to be:

User Stories 3C model (Article)

User Stories Modelling in Agile Projects (Video)

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass is an IT certifications training academy offering courses in Data Science, Business Analysis and Automation testing.

We are an IIBA Endorsed education provider (EEP) and iSQI authorized training partner. Our business analyst courses are for all the levels as shown below:

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Incremental Vs Iterative Methodologies

Incremental Vs Iterative Methodologies

The software development methodologies have evolved over the years. We started with sequential methodology (Waterfall) and adopted Incremental and Iterative methodologies, as methodologies evolved.

We use Incremental and Iterative methodologies interchangeably though they are different in their approaches. In this post, we would discuss the differences between Incremental and Iterative Methodologies.

These are approaches rather than specific methodologies. We can group SDLC methodologies under these approaches, just like we have Waterfall as a sequential methodology

Incremental Methodology

Incremental methodology refers to building the product in increments, one piece at a time. These increments are typically complimentary to each other. Once we complete all the increments, the product is complete.

It’s like constructing a house from scratch. We first get the Foundation level constructed. Then the ground floor, First floor, Second Floor and so on. This is a good example of an incremental approach.

The diagram below demonstrates the approach:

Incremental Methodology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see in the diagram, each of the increments essentially follow all the phases of software development. Each increment provides inputs to the next increment.

Characteristics of Incremental Methodologies

Incremental methodologies have evolved from the sequential methodologies. This approach of software development has proved to be more effective as compared to Sequential approach.

Sequential Approach

The key characteristics of this approach provides the reasons:

Risk mitigation for Customers: The software is built in increments, thereby reducing the overall risk. In sequential approach, the customers get to test the software only at the end of all the phases. In case of big projects, the wait could be 9-12 months or even more.

Having a product/software built in 9-12 months and finding it to be not as per expectations is a massive risk for the customers. Using incremental approach, we minimize the risk as each increment can be delivered in 2-3 months.

Improved Customer Collaboration: Short increment cycles improve the customer collaboration with the development. This is an important improvement over sequential approach. It’s good for the development team as well as it allows them to understand customer expectations on a rather regular basis.

Using Incremental approach: An incremental approach will always be beneficial compared to sequential approach, specially when the project size is not small.

Examples of Iterative software development methodologies are:

  • Multiple Waterfall methodology

Iterative Approach

Iterative approach has a major difference with the incremental approach. Each increment in incremental approach is developed assuming it is done correctly, without having the need to reverse it.

In our example of a house, each level of the house is constructed one after the other. Once the Foundation level is completed, reversing it (if we find issues with it) is still a significant effort and will not be feasible as it will increase the cost as well as timeline.

In a frequently changing requirements scenario, even incremental approach is not a suitable approach. We need an approach, which needs to achieve the following:

  • Ability to incorporate changes at any stage 
  • Involving customers more frequently 

An iterative approach of development does precisely that.

The software is developed in extremely short iterations involving customer collaboration at the end of each iteration. Even during the iteration, the developers follow an approach, which allows them to get their work validated every day.

For example, If I am a developer developing several screens in an iteration as:

  • User Master
  • User Roles
  • Role assignment etc

Typically, My approach would be to develop one screen, say User Master and immediately show it to the customer or a Product Owner. In case, it is not right, I can discard it and re-develop it the next day.

Even if I have to re-do it, the team looses one person day of work.

This is the key Characteristic of doing, undoing and redoing (DUR) without incurring too much of cost or risks.

Another important characteristic of this approach is the frequent customer collaboration at the end of every iteration. Since the iteration is small, customer collaboration provides an early feedback on the product, thereby mitigating the risk of gap in the customer expectations and software team’s understanding.

Using Iterative approach: An Iterative approach will always be beneficial compared to Incremental approach, specially when the project requirements are expected to change a lot.

Examples of Iterative software development methodologies are:

  • Spiral Methodology
  • SCRUM
  • DSDM
  • Extreme Programming
  • Pair Programming etc

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass is an IT certifications training academy for professionals offering courses in Business Analysis, automation testing and analytics. We are an IIBA Endorsed education provider (EEP) and iSQI authorized training partner for conducting business analyst certiBusiness Analyst Training Bankingfications courses.Business Analyst Training - ECBA Certification

What is Descriptive Analytics?

Descriptive Analytics

Descriptive analytics is one of the types of Business analytics or the initial stages of data science reporting. Business Analytics is defined as the scientific process of transforming data into insights for making better decisions and predict the outcome for the business.

Any form of analytics starts with the collection of data and developing a model to summarize and create visual patterns for better understanding. However, 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

Business analytics can be categorized into four types, based on the depth of data analysis and the usage of that analysis.

  • Descriptive Analytics tells about “What is happening?” based on the available data. It provides real-time dashboards.
  • Diagnostics Analytics is used to discover or to determine “why something happened?”.
  • Predictive Analytics tells about “What is likely to happen?” based on the available data.
  • Prescriptive Analytics suggests decision options to handle “What is likely to happen?”

Business Intelligence (BI) was the earlier avatar of business analytics (data science) with limited capabilities to predict and to learn (machine learning).

BI used reporting tools like Hyperion, Business Objects to explore the historical data, analyze it and make sense of the same using slicing & dicing.

However, businesses today, are not looking at merely what’s been happening with my business or business initiatives but are also looking to know why, and other forward looking questions such as what if these trends continue, what will happen next, and what is the best/worst that can happen?

Descriptive Analytics

In this post, I am going to delve into descriptive analytics with examples. In my next posts (as time permits), I will talk about the other three types.

Descriptive analytics is the most basic form of analytics and lays the foundation for more advanced form of analytics. This type of analytics deals with “What has happened in the organization” and “what is happening now?”.

Every organization generates raw data in day-to-day transactions. For example, a car manufacturing company will generate data relating to inquiries made, actual sales, collections etc.

To make it even more staggering is the case of Facebook.

Facebook users generate content through posts, comments and picture uploads. This data is unstructured and is generated at a considerable rate.

Facebook statistics suggest that it processes 2.4 million posts per minute amounting to approx. 500 terabytes of data daily. These mind-boggling figures has given rise to the term “Big Data” and “Big Data Analytics”.  Some other post for “Big Data”!!

Making sense of the data in its raw format will be extremely difficult. This data has to be summarized, categorized and presented in a user-friendly manner to enable managers to understand and make sense of it.

Business Intelligence and data mining tools/techniques have been the de-facto mechanisms of doing so for larger organizations. But almost every organization does some form of summarization and MIS reporting using data base reporting tools or simply excel sheets.

Descriptive analytics is characterized by three key methods to summarize and describe the raw data:

Dashboards and MIS reporting: This method typically provide summarized data providing information on “What has happened”, “What’s been happening?” and “How does it compare with the plan?”

Ad-hoc reporting: This method supplements the previous method in helping the management in extracting information as required.

Drill-Down Reporting: This is the most complex part of descriptive analytics and provides the ability to dig deeper into any report to understand the data better. Typically summary data is drilled down to understand the transactional data. For example, Q4 All India sales figure for a product is a summary figure, which can be drilled down to look at the sales figures of each city or each region.

The case study description

Let’s take an example to understand it better. I will take the example of Google Analytics as I have been using it for my company to understand the flow of users, their demographics etc.

Let me first explain the use case.

Every company wants to have its online presence and so do we. Recently we have started online marketing using Google Paid Ads and Facebook. So, we would like to know the effectiveness of our campaigns on each channel as well as the effectiveness of our SEO campaign.

Deciphering the case study

Google provides a script based tracking mechanism, so you need to put that piece of code in every page you track.

So, every time a visitor comes to our website, Google script captures the page name, the referrer, demographics etc.

If the data is presented to me in the raw format, I would get overwhelmed with the large number of columns and rows. So Google analytics engine nicely summarizes this data for me.

In the image below, it shows me the number of visitor sessions on pages, I want to track.

What is descriptive Analytics?

 

When I drill down, it shows me the sources of traffic. Google Analytics categorizes the data into paid, non-paid, social etc categories, enabling me to understand the effect of each marketing effort/campaign.

What is descriptive Analytics?

If I now want to calculate the ROI of my campaigns, I further drill it down as shown in image below.

What is descriptive Analytics?

So, descriptive analytics enables an organization to make better sense of data, by providing summarization of data and the ability to drill down.

About Techcanvass

Techcanvass is an IT certifications training academy for mid-level professionals offering courses in Data science, Business Analysis & Automation testing. We are an IIBA Endorsed education provider (EEP) and iSQI, Germany authorized training partners.

Business analytics is an extremely promising field as far as your career is concerned. We have following 3 courses on Data science as shown below:

Data Science Course in R

Data Science Course in R

Big Data Analytics Training

Big Data Scientist Course

Data Science Course in Excel

 

 

Data Science Course in Excel

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