My session at the DREAM15 BA Conference in the Netherlands

Last week I had the honour to present at the DREAM15 event, This is run by DREAM (Dutch Requirements Engineering And Management).

In a previous post I wrote about the 22 reasons that I was attending the conference. However, in that post I didn’t mention the 23rd reason – that I had been invited to present.

Here is the slide deck from that presentation.

More info on the IIBA Global Strategic Alliances


In a few recent posts (“The IIBA is teaming up…what does this mean to you?” and “Is the new IIBA alliance a trustworthy one?“) I discussed the alliances that the IIBA has formed.

I see now, that the IIBA, itself, has published information on the rationale behind these alliances.along with the key outcomes.

Essentially, they describe what we already expected. That the there is definitely a benefit to these partnerships. (See below for the link to their page).

One alliance that caused considerable discussion was the one with Sparx. There was concern that partnering with a commercial company would lead to a bias to this one vendor. It’s interesting to read that one of the key outcomes (of the alliance with Sparx) is

The potential integration of BABOK® Guide v3 with Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect (EA)“.

I’m curious what this will mean. What do you think?

Here’s the link to the IIBA page:

22 reasons why I’m Attending the DREAM15 event



I’ve registered for the DREAM15 event being held in Vianen, on the 8th of October, 2015, in the Netherlands. And I am looking forward to it!

What’s DREAM?

DREAM is an acronym for Dutch Requirements Engineering And Management.

It’s an initiative that was set up, in the Netherlands, in 2008. Originally spearheaded by Atos, but is now supported and run by representatives from different organisations, with the goal of sharing knowledge and best practices surrounding Requirements Engineering and Management.

So … what’s DREAM15 then?

Dream15 is the sixth conference that Dream has organised. This year there will be three main topics:

  • Business Analysis – Business analysis has to do with change in organisations from identifying the changes that are needed and creating suitable solutions through to the implementation of the solution and subsequent analysis of its effectiveness.
  • Best practices – following proven/accepted standards helps reduce errors, and keeps unexpected problems to a minimum.
  • Methods, techniques and tools – What methods can Business Analysts use, what techniques are handy for the BA, and what tools are available.

Ok … what are these 21 reasons why you are attending?

Where to start?

1. Great keynote speeches

Opening Keynote

The conference is kicking off with a keynote speech by Paul Turner. Paul Turner!!! He’s one of the authors of “Business Analysis Techniques (99 Essentials Tools for Success)“. (This book is my go-to book for BA techniques. It should be in the bookcase of every Business Analyst).

Paul is also the Director of AssistKD. (Check out their site, there’s tons of great resources there.)

Paul will be talking about systems thinking and the soft systems approach, concentrating on how they can be used to add value to the Business Analyst.

Closing keynote

At the end of the conference, Theo Severien is going to give a presentation on organizational improvement from an holistic point of view. that is – when changes are implemented, the order of attention is people – > business – > information – > systems.

Theo will be going further into how this is all possible using a mixture of philosophy, theory and practical examples. It sounds fascinating. I’m definitely hanging around for this one.

2. Great sessions

There are 16 sessions that are spread across 4 streams.
(One of the sessions is still to be filled).

This is frustrating, because  I want to see all the sessions, but because they are running in parallel, I’ll have to make a choice

There’ll be (in no particular order):

a PhD student, from Utrecht University, presenting on quality levels in user stories, and a web application that the University has created to check this automatically
a presentation on digital litigation and the impact that will have on UX and also on requirements.
a chance to learn about, and practice, brainwriting
an in-depth look at Specifications by Example and how they were used, at, to bridge the communication gap between stakeholders and developers.
one of the Netherlands’ largest banks (ABN AMRO) presenting how it implemented a central requirements management tool to accommodate multiple projects, multiple BAs, multiple regulations, and many, many requirements.
an “exploration” of the correct detail level for requirements in an Agile environment
a look at how Business Analysis techniques such as Impact Analysis can be used to improve the bureaucratic Dutch government system of registrations (“stelsel van basisregistraties“)
two interesting presentations that cover complexity, and how the Cynefin framework can be used.
a discussion about the “uncovering” of requirements hidden in business processes.
a look at how Behavior Driven Development (BDD) was used inside an Agile environment.
a process simulation and game using … socks
the chance to see how the national railway company in the Netherlands (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) was able to guarantee quality in its requirements enineering.
presentations by Synergio and also by Atos.

3. Great sponsors

I’ll get a chance to visit the stands of some of the top companies, in the Netherlands, in this field, and see what they can offer…

This includes: Atos, Devoteam, Entrador, Le Blanc Advies, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Synergio, iSQI, IREB, Jama, Microfocus, Mithun, PNA, The Future Group

4. Learning

I always love the opportunity to get together with like-minded people. It can be very inspiring as everyone speaks the same language.

There’s always a great chance to learn something. Whether at the sessions mentioned above, or by listening to the keynote speeches, or challenging the vendors, or talking with other attendees

5. Making New Friends and Networking

This event will be an excellent chance to meet new people. my goal is always to meet as many people as I can in the time.

6. Conversations

As mentioned in the previous “reason”, we’re all in the same game. We all talk the same talk. I look forward to asking others what they do, and why. What techniques they prefer. Whether they think Agile is “the answer”, or whether Waterfall has its place.

Having a conversation is one of the most dynamic, and enriching things that we can do. And often I have discovered that, just by having a conversation, valuable things have come from it.

Where’s it being held?

The Dream15 event will be held at Hotel Vianen

Where can you learn more?

So – those are the 22 reasons I’m going to DREAM. (I know – there are only 6 listed above, but if you count the keynotes and the sessions, there are 22 reasons).

I’ll be blogging while I’m there, so if you someone frantically scribbling notes, and dashing back and forth between sessions, then that’s probably me. Feel free to say Hello.

22 redenen waarom ik deelneem aan DREAM15


English Nederlands

Op 8 oktober 2015 wordt het 6de DREAM Event georganiseerd: DREAM15. Daar heb ik best wel zin in.

Wat is DREAM?

DREAM is een afkorting voor Dutch Requirements Engineering And Management.

Het is een initiatief dat in 2008 is opgestart door Atos, maar ondersteund is en uitgevoerd door vertegenwoordigers van verschillende organisaties, met als doel het delen van kennis en best practices rond Requirements Engineering and Management.

OK … wat is DREAM15 dan?

DREAM15 is de zesde conferentie die DREAM heeft georganiseerd. Dit jaar worden er drie hoofd onderwerpen onder de loep genomen:

  • Business Analyse – Business analyse heeft te maken met veranderingen in organisaties
    • het identificeren van de nodige veranderingen
    • het creëren van geschikte oplossingen
    • de implementatie van de oplossing en vervolgens …
    • een analyse van de effectiviteit ervan.
  • Best practices – bewezen/geaccepteerde standaarden helpen fouten te beperken en helpen onverwachte problemen tot een minimum te beperken.
  • Methoden, technieken en hulpmiddelen – welke methodes kan een business analyst gebruiken, welke technieken zijn handig voor de BA, en welke tools zijn ook beschikbaar?

Ok … wat zijn de 22 redenen waarom ik deze dag wil bijwonen?

Waar te beginnen?

1. Uitstekende Keynotes

Opening Keynote

De conferentie begint met een speech van Paul Turner. Paul Turner! Hij is een van de auteurs van “Business Analysis Techniques (99 Essentials Tools for Success) “. (Dit boek is mijn go-to boek voor BA technieken, en hoort thuis in de boekenkast van elke Business Analyst!).

Paul is ook de Directeur van AssistKD. (Ga even naar hun website, er zijn daar veel behulpzame resources.)

Paul zal spreken over systems thinking en de soft systems approach, waarbij het accent ligt op de manier waarop ze waarde kunnen toegevoegen aan de Business Analyst.

Closing keynote

Aan het einde van de conferentie, gaat Theo Severien een presentatie geven over het verbeteren vanuit de essentie van de organisatie. Dat is – de volgorde van aandacht bij het implementeren van verbeteringen is: mensen -> business -> informatie -> data (systemen).

Theo gaat verder in op hoe dit allemaal mogelijk is met een mix van filosofie, theorie en praktische voorbeelden. Het klinkt boeiend.

2. Interressante sessies

Er zijn 16 sessies verdeeld over 4 streams. Dit is frustrerend, want meestal wil ik alle sessies zien, maar omdat ze op hetzelfde moment lopen, moet dan ik een keus maken …

Er zijn (in willekeurige volgorde):

Een PhD student, van de Universiteit van Utrecht, die een presentatie gaat geven over verschillende kwaliteitsniveaus in user stories, en over een web applicatie die de Universiteit gemaakt heeft , om dit automatisch te checken
een presentatie over digitaal procederen en de belang van de UX en bijbehorende requirements
de kans om over brainwriting te leren, en ook om het te oefenen
een diepgaande blik op Specifications by Example en hoe ze, bij, gebruikt werden,  om de communicatiekloof tussen stakeholders en ontwikkelaars te overbruggen 
één van Nederlands grootste banken (ABN AMRO) presenteert hoe zij een centrale requirements management tool hebben ingericht die geschikt is voor veel projecten, veel BAs, veel regelgeving, en heel veel requirements
een “exploratie” van het juiste detailniveau voor de eisen in een Agile omgeving
hoe Business Analyse technieken zoals het Impact Analysis gebruikt kunnen worden voor het verbeteren van de bureaucratische stelsel van basisregistraties
twee interessante presentaties over complexiteit, en hoe de Cynefin framework kan worden gebruikt.
een discussie over de “ontdekking” van verborgen eisen in bedrijfsprocessen.
een kijk op hoe Behavior Driven Development (BDD) werd gebruikt in een Agile omgeving.
een proces simulatie en game met … sokken
de kans om in de RE-keuken van de NS te kijken
presentaties van Synergio en ook Atos.

3. Top sponsors

Er wordt de mogelijkheid geboden om te zien waar sommige van de top bedrijven in Nederland mee bezig zijn in dit gebied.

Dit zijn: Atos, Devoteam, Entrador, Le Blanc Advies, Nederlandse Spoorwegen,Synergio, iSQI, IREB, Jama, Microfocus, Mithun, PNA, The Future Group

4. Learning

Ik vind het altijd geweldig om in de gelegenheid te zijn om samen met gelijkgestemden mensen te praten.

Het kan heel inspirerend zijn als iedereen dezelfde “taal” spreekt. Er is altijd een geweldige kans om iets te leren. Bijvoorbeeld tijdens de sessies die hierboven genoemd zijn, of door naar de keynote sprekers te luisteren, door met de sponsors te spreken, of gewoon door met andere deelnemers te praten.

5. Nieuwe vrienden en Networking

Dit evenement geeft mij de gelegenheid om nieuwe mensen te ontmoeten. Mijn doel is zoveel mogelijk mensen te leren kennen als ik kan in die tijd.

6. Gesprekken

Zoals vermeld in de vorige “reden”, zitten we allemaal in hetzelfde vak. We praten allemaal dezelfde “taal”. Ik kijk uit naar de kans om anderen te vragen wat ze doen en waarom. Voor welke technieken hebben zij voorkeur. Of ze denken dat Agile “het antwoord” is , of Waterfall nog steeds zijn plaats heeft.

Een gesprek is één van de meest dynamische en verrijkende dingen die we kunnen doen. En vaak heb ik ontdekt dat op basis van een gesprek, waardevolle connecties ontstaan.

Waar gaat het gebeuren?

De droom15 evenement vindt plaats in Hotel Vianen

Hoe kunt u hierover meer leren?

Zo, dit waren de 22 redenen waarom ik naar DREAM ga. (Ja – ik weet wel dat erboven maar 6 zijn vermeld, maar als je de keynotes en sessies ook telt, zijn het er 22).

Als ik daar ben, ga ik bloggen, dus als je iemand ziet die als een gek aan het noteren is en heen en weer rent tussen sessies, dan ben ik dat waarschijnlijk. Wees niet bang om “Hallo” te zeggen.

Is the new IIBA alliance a trustworthy one?


The IIBA has formed a strategic alliance, (as described in my previous post).

In that post, I looked at how each partner could enrich the IIBA offering. The partners are:

  • BCS The Chartered Institute for IT,
  • BRM Institute,
  • IREB, and
  • Sparx Systems Pty Ltd.

After submitting the above-mentioned post to some BA groups on LinkedIn, I got some great responses. Ones that made me stop and think about the alliance.

Each member of the alliance has in-depth knowledge of specific areas that are covered at a higher, and broader, level by the IIBA. And this will add value. However, one of the partners, Sparx, is actually a vendor. And this is where the concern is…

Here’s some of the comments that have been made…

I thinks it’s odd and perhaps a conflict of interest for a standards/certification organization to align itself with a particular vendor…no matter how good they are.

How likely will it be that IIBA will host webinars with other competing products now that they are in alliance with one vendor? Probably not very likely. So rather than expose members to a collection of tools, foster competition and recommend “best of breed” products, this alliance does exactly the opposite.

I saw the announcement and was vaguely uneasy about the implications, primarily my squeamishly about IIBA becoming commercialised – maybe i’m being too naive?

So, there is some concern that an alliance with a vendor might not be a good thing.

In the discussion Alain ArsenaultSenior Officer, Corporate and Business Development at IIBA, offered the following:

In 2014, IIBA leadership and Board of Directors revised the organization vision and defined a new direction for IIBA. A 3-years strategic plan was established to support this new model along with a new core purpose to “unite a community of professionals to create better business outcomes”.

The new vision focuses on collaboration, engagement and value creation while continuing to support and advance the practice, discipline and profession of Business Analysis.

The newly announced alliances support this new paradigm. Our goal is to broaden our engagements and enable the Business Analysis ecosystem to flourish and provide greater value and connectivity to our members, the broader BA community and business stakeholders.

Our engagements are not exclusive and we welcome and will continue to foster similar alliances of collaboration with other associations and organizations.

You’ll see that Alain mentions “value creation”, and providing “greater value”. And as mentioned, Sparx do offer a depth of resources and knowledge that is of great value to a BA.

But that last sentence is also a bit of a concern…”our engagements are not exclusive” and “we … will continue to foster similar alliances of collaboration with other associations and organizations.” IREB, BCS and BRMI are all “associations, or organizations”, but how does Sparx fit in there?

Personally, I feel that the IIBA does have our best interests at heart…But the concerns that I mentioned above are also bothering me.


Unfortunately, I’m unable to predict, with any certainty, what is going to happen here…so I‘m just going to wait and see. (IIBA – we are all watching.)

What about you? What are your thoughts? Do you think that the IIBA’s alliance with vendors is one that we should be concerned about? Let me know in the comments below.

Related Links

The IIBA is teaming up…what does this mean to you?

war army

IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) has announced a strategic alliance with four leading, global organizations. 

The four leading, global, organisations are:

  • BCS The Chartered Institute for IT,
  • BRM Institute,
  • IREB, and
  • Sparx Systems Pty Ltd.

In my opinion this is a great thing. Each of these organisations offer real value. Often in ways that the IIBA can’t.

Map Makers

Let’s face it, IIBA does not pretend to be an expert in any one specific field. The IIBA (according to themselves) assists business analysts by defining standards for business analysis, identify the skills necessary to be effective in the business analyst role and recognise BA competency through their CCBA and CBAP certification.  In fact, in an earlier post I mentioned that “the BABOK was merely providing an extremely good high-level map of the BA world. One with signposts to areas that needed further exploring.”

Members of the Alliance

So what value do the parties of this alliance have to offer? Let’s have a look…


BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, promotes good working practices, codes of conduct, skills frameworks and common standards. (In that respect, they are similar to the IIBA).

They provide rich, detailed, guidance, and certifications, for specific areas relating to Business Analysis. I have always been impressed with their in-depth material. In fact, one of the most valuable books that I have in my BA bookcase, is “Business Analysis Techniques”, it’s my go-to book when I want to understand specific BA techniques

I see the BCS as definitely complementing what the IIBA offers. (Check out their website, the qualifications, and certifications that they offer, and their list of excellent books).

BRM Institute

The Business Relationship Management Institute advances the art and discipline of BRMThey offer training and varying degrees of certification in BRM. They also have their own BOK, the BRM Body of Knowledge. 

Having the BRMI in a partnership with the IIBA is definitely a winner. It will definitely strengthen the discipline of Business Analysis.

You can read more about the BRM Institute on their website.


The International Requirements Engineering Board provides training and certification in the field of Requirements Engineering (naturally). Their certification is the Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering (CPRE), and is made up of three levels – Foundation, Advanced, Expert. (The Expert level is in the planning stages – so really it’s only two levels).  The IREB publish an excellent (free) quarterly magazine – Requirements Engineering

The IREB focuses in depth on software specific requirement elicitation, requirements documentation, requirements analysis, requirements modeling and requirements management. This will definitely be of value to a complete BA offering.

IREB’s website: Click here also to see an interesting comparison of the IIBA and IREB offering (from 2014).

Sparx Systems

Sparx Systems specialise in visual modelling tools. Their product Enterprise Architect is an exceptional tool for full life cycle modeling. It has a user base of over 350,000, and is used across the globe. Added to that Sparx offer a wealth of information including white papers, tutorials, e-books, etc.

Having Sparx Systems as a member of this alliance makes sense. Sparx Systems have very good credentials, and can offer a lot. 

The Whole is Greater than the Sum the Parts

Each member of the Alliance brings something valuable to the BA discipline. The IIBA is very broad in what it offers, but not necessarily deep. The other partners all contribute something that bolsters out that depth. It is a very sensible alliance and one that I am excited about.

Another possibility…

As you might be aware, dear reader, recently there has been a new threat  to the IIBA’s seat of power. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has developed it’s own Business Analysis certification. A lot of analysis has been performed on the validity of this threat.

Watermark Learning made some very interesting observations in a blog post. The PMI’s perspective of a BA is is that the business analysts support the efforts of the program and project manager. The IIBA perspective is that business analysts support the organization. Which does the organization need?

So … it is also possible that this alliance came about as a way for the IIBA to fend off this new threat, 

I’m curious what you think …

Other Links

Becoming a Stronger Leader


The following is a guest blog, written by Marie Miguel

Being a strong communicator is an important part of being a strong leader. A good example of this can be seen on episodes of the TV Series “West Wing”, in which the US President was shown as a very good speaker. He is displayed as someone who can ‘hold his own’ in a discussion without a script writer. Likewise, he is able to approach every member of his staff regardless of their differences of opinion, personality type and communication style. This is part of what makes him a very strong leader and it can be said to be the most pertinent quality.   This still holds true outside of movies and television. Being able to communicate well with your team no matter what the circumstances, makes you an effective leader.

Communicating well doesn’t only mean you are good with words. As a leader, your communication style should effectively influence and motivate others. At the same time, you should also understand other communication styles to decrease the chance of conflicts and misunderstandings. There are many different models for communication styles. One of them in particular shows four styles namely: Relator, Socializer, Thinker and Director.

Relators are open and friendly, but they are also self-conscious. So, when speaking to them, give them time to open up. Relators need time to let their guard down and trust you. You can also get them to contribute to the discussion by asking for suggestions or their opinion instead of doing all the talking. For example, if you’re discussing performance targets with your ‘Relator’ employee, you can ask them to plan with you and for suggestions on how they can meet the set targets.

There are many different models for communication styles. One of them in particular shows four styles namely: Relator, Socializer, Thinker and Director.

On the other hand, socializers prefer working with teams. They also like fast-paced environments and are aggressive in their communication approach, thus it takes them no time to open up to their group. Likewise, to motivate a socializer, use an upbeat tone and make sure to incorporate a little fun coupled with team based work to achieve your goals.

Thinkers are very different from socializers; they tend to take their time in making decisions because they like to think things through. They also take more time to open up and bond with the team. Before speaking to a thinker, you need to make sure you prepare your “numbers”. What are the pros and cons in the discussion? What are the advantages and disadvantages? For example, when talking about movement within the team or a new task that you’d like them to work on, explain the broader picture to them and how their part impacts it as a whole. Similarly, if they are put in a position in which they have to make a choice, make sure to explain the different possible outcomes related to the decision you want them to make. You will also need to give them time to think about it and not pressure them to make a decision on the spot.

Finally, there are the directors. These individuals can be more aggressive, very competitive and extremely independent. Directors usually aren’t too enthused to work with others, especially if it won’t make a difference in the results they need. When communicating with a director, you have to be specific and get directly to the point. Right away, they will want to know what results you need so they can start figuring out what they need to do to get them. The good thing about a director is you usually don’t need to over explain yourself. Since they are results-driven, they will immediately get to work to achieve the specific result you indicate is desired. All you need to do, as a leader, is oversee a director during the process, especially if you expect them to collaborate with the rest of the team. With all of that being said try not to have a preconceived notion about a qualified person based solely on how they seem at the interview.

For more information on why you shouldn’t, check out this article.

As a leader, one of the most important things you should have is the ability to communicate well with others. Because each member of your team will have a different communication style, this is not an easy task. However, knowing the different communication styles will help you apply the right strategies so you’ll have productive and harmonious discussions with them. Which in the long run will make the team more productive and you a stronger leader.

“Work-life balance” is so wrong!


When I hear someone talk about “work-life balance“, I fight back the urge to push the person to the ground and slap them over and over, while screaming, in a high-pitched, maniacal, way “Shut up, shut up, you silly person!”

The reason I get this urge is because the whole “Work-life” balance thing is a load of crock. It works on the idea that “Work” and “Life” are two separate things.

Well, my friend…they are not. “Work” is part of “Life“. You cannot separate them. It’s not as if you stop living when you go to work. It might feel like it to some, but, whether you like it or not, you are STILL living.

Andy Clark describes it well in his video on YouTube. It’s well worth a look. He points out exactly what I stated above – that “work” and “life” are NOT separate things. And, in the comments, was this …

Just the fact that the expression puts “WORK” first says it all.

SharePoint – Quick! Tell me why you are doing it.


I have seen many situations where the actual reason for “doing SharePoint” is something that gets asked long after its implementation (if at all)

Antony Clay wrote a brilliant piece on what the real vision is when companies start talking about using SharePoint. This was originally written as a guest blogger for Cloud2.

Antony has been kind enough to allow me to publish it here also…

The Board and the SharePoint Platypus

Did I say Platypus? Sorry I meant platitude…

Platypus are cool, cuddly and can, from what I hear, add value to any organisation and SharePoint project by giving them a warm fluffy feeling.

Platitudes are not so good, platitudes are a huge challenge for the board and your SharePoint project. Platitudes insight confusion, lack of direction and hinder the delivery of SharePoint business value to your organisation

The definition of a platitude is a word or statement that is:

“…too overused and general to be anything more than undirected statements with ultimately little meaningful contribution towards a solution…”

So what relevance does this have to your SharePoint project and engaging with your board? Well it all stems from vision: Most failing SharePoint projects I have witnessed or been involved with do not have a clear vision; in fact an alarmingly significant proportion of companies I have engaged with don’t have a clear vision!

The challenge for SharePoint projects and their visions are that it is this vision that the board hears about, it is the vision that should tell the story of the value that the SharePoint can or will deliver to the organisation and so if that vision is not strong and clear, the board will get mixed messages, the board “won’t get it”, the board will struggle to engage with the project and, in essence won’t give a damn.

Typical SharePoint project platitudes include some of these, do you recognise them? I thought so!:

    • “Better Collaboration” [better than what, fileshares, our competitors, why?]
    • “Be more social” [why do we need to be more social?]
    • “Take control of our information” [to what end, what if we don’t?]
    • “Improve efficiencies” [Company, department, me? By how much? What does good look like?].

That’s just a sample of platitudes that I see pinned to the mast as visions to SharePoint projects and in every case you can misinterpret, ask the question why and not understand how you measure and achieve that vision.

This is our challenge. In my experience a good vision serves three very valuable roles:

  • Defines the difference that the project will make in business terms
  • Enables us to align business requirements to the project Vision
  • Articulates to the board the value the project will deliver.

These three areas are all equally important and actually can all add substance and meaning to the conversations we need to have at board level.

Get a vision

Your first step to engaging the board effectively is to get yourself a vision. My absolute favourite activity for doing this is using ‘Cover Story taken from the book ‘Gamestorming’ (Gray, D., Brown, S., Macanufo, J., 2010). It is a great collaborative exercise if facilitated well, for defining your SharePoint vision, at a platform, project or even functional level.

Whatever the remit of an engagement, I always use this activity to ensure we all have a clear vision or goal to strive for during the engagement. As the activity is extremely collaborative, one advantage is that early on in the engagement I can gain an initial assessment of the dynamics of the stakeholders and whether they have a shared understanding of the goal. The activity also often unearths interesting insights into culture, personalities and the general dynamics of the group that I will need to work with and the organisation as a whole. In short, it can be a gold-mine of emergent value for you.

The exercise asks the participants to imagine that the project/initiative that they are working on has been successfully completed, actually it has not just been successful, but earth shatteringly awesomely successful! So much so that an international trade publication or Time magazine, have decided to run a full front-cover story on the project and the difference it made to the organisation and its customers!

On a whiteboard or very large piece of paper, in groups of 4-8, depending on the number of stakeholders, the participants build out the template I’ve sketched below using sketches, words, craft materials or post-it notes:

sharepointThe areas on the visual canvas are used to help derive certain ‘vision’ details and are defined as follows:

  • Cover – This is the front-cover and should contain the bold, hard-hitting story and perhaps images, that articulate the big story and the high-level difference that you have made delivering the project
  • Big Headlines – Here you convey the substance of the story, more detail, but still hard-hitting and usually aspirational key requirements or functional areas
  • Brainstorm – This area is used for ‘storing’ any ideas that don’t fit anywhere else, but quite often contains very interesting insights
  • Images – I tend not to use this for SharePoint Governance work, but the areas is meant for any visuals that help define your vision and the difference this has made
  • Quotes – This is really useful, what would people say about this great success? What do project members, business users, stakeholder or even customers say about what’s been delivered and the difference it has made?
  • Side-Bar – This area is for capturing the details; I encourage participants to use this area to come up with measures for the difference they have made articulated in %’s, $’s, £’s, time etc.

The resulting visual canvas is both beautiful, insightful and delivers a clear message, in the words of business stakeholders, of what they are trying to achieve. What you will also find is that as the group or spokesperson report back their ‘cover story’, they will be telling you a story. Actively listen and make copious notes, because as all great facilitators know, there is substantial value in what they say as well as what they have created.

When you are engaging the board, this vision is invaluable as it should really articulate the benefit, values and drivers for the project and you can and will continually refer back to it, as you steer your SharePoint project or platform towards its goal.

In my experience it’s what can make the difference between technology mayhem and SharePoint sanity!

Goal align to your vision

Once you have a clearly articulated vision defined in terms of ‘the difference it will make’, you can utilise another equally effective and disruptive activity in a range of scenarios to ensure the vision is effectively influencing your projects direction. It’s all about ‘Goal Alignment’ and it is a simple means of sense-checking what’s going on in a project:

“Ensuring that we are not delivering the wrong things really effectively!”

In my eyes, in order to truly reach the karmic state of delivering maximum business value, everything that happens in your technology platform and any subsequent projects must be aligned to directly or indirectly making a positive difference to your organisation. If it isn’t then don’t do it, or re-define it. Agile and lean approaches to manufacturing, technology and business, all strive to reduce waste, and however you’re implementing your SharePoint solutions, I think you should too. It may seem harsh or even verging on heretical to go around your projects telling people to stop what they are doing and move onto something else, but consider these common SharePoint ‘feature requests’:

  • Move the ‘Search’ box to the left-hand side of the screen
  • Animate the menu structure
  • Make SharePoint more ‘Social’
  • Have an information architecture based on our ever-changing organisational structure
  • Make the text flash if it’s important.

Seriously, do any of these actually add any value to your solution or to the business? The likely answer in all the cases above is no they don’t, so let’s stamp out this waste and focus on delivering the right things really well.

Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t have solutions that look good and exude a great user experience, we should; but let’s focus our precious resources on the things that really matter first.

This approach, albeit perhaps very annoying to the recipients, is relevant whatever phase or activity you are doing whether it’s coding a custom web-part, branding, creating a custom list, facilitating requirements, delivering training, managing on-going change or engaging with the board.

How do we achieve this project nirvana of just doing the things that matter and make a positive difference?

The answer is ‘Goal Alignment’.

Why? Fundamentally, this is a very effective approach to ensuring a shared understanding and allows you to question the value of what you are doing. If you already have a vision, then this is a simple validation technique:

sharepoint visionFor every programme, project, requirement or technical feature we can ask ‘why’ it supports the Vision, if it does, great; but if it doesn’t then we either need to redefine it or remove it from scope, as it must be waste, for this project at least.

This is also extremely powerful and useful when you’re talking to the board and gaining their trust and backing for your project. With a clear vision, any new requirements, ideas or projects the board may dream up you can sense-check it with them as to how it adds value to or supports the vision, if it doesn’t then it is clear and send a strong message as to why that ‘thing’ shouldn’t be pursued.

It’s much easier to say no to the board with your vision, a visual (goal alignment) and some post-it notes than just saying ‘No!’

Socialise your vision

sharepoint vision

Once you have the vision defined it’s time to socialise it, bring it forth in everything you are doing and make sure your aligned to it.

The visuals from the activity are very useful to replay in project documentation and display in project war-rooms, you’ll find that key pieces, statements etc. will resonate strongly with your business, use them, they are the voice of your business stakeholder and they are the backbone of your project.

It’s really important to not let these messages, this vision and your projects story to stagnate and the more it’s used the more it will take on its own life and increase in value.

The board need to be interested in your project, but for the most part they don’t really care about the technology and they’re not that fussed about what requirements you’ll be delivering.

What does matter is the value you’re project will deliver and the difference it will make to their business. The stories your vision can articulate and the messages it will reinforce are powerful ways of engaging and maintaining a strong relationship with the board and ensuring they are keen advocates for the delivery of business value through your SharePoint platform long term.

So for every project your deliver:

Hug a Platypus.

Engage your Board.

Stay away from Platitudes.

Build your own Vision.

Stay Aligned.


The original post, at Cloud2, can be read by clicking here.

Making your website responsive ≠ great usability!





Aah – responsive web design – that great technique that allows the layout of a web site to adapt to the viewing environment.



If you view the site on a normal large screen, it looks good.
On a tablet, still looks good.
On a smartphone – still looking good.


None of the page elements are lost, they just get moved, or stacked, without becoming teenie tiny, to fit the screen they are displayed on.

It’s promoted as “providing an optimal viewing experience” and as being “a must for tablets and mobile devices”.

It’s all wrong

Well, my friend, I am here to tell you that as good as “responsive web design” might be, you still need to think about what people use your site for before you make it an “optimal viewing experience”.

Case in point (or “let me give you a real-world example”)

I live in the wops (also known as “middle of nowhere”, “the other side of the black stump”, “the back of beyond”).

That, combined with the fact that the house I live in has no telephone lines, means that I need to get my phone, and Internet, through a wireless broadband connection.

The homepage, of the company that provides this service, is a wonderful thing, and the top of the page displays pictures and promotional messages. If you scroll down the page, there’s more information on the products the company offers, along with a list of FAQs on the right side of the screen.

browser -1429703304606 - full - fade

Under the FAQ’s, the “network status” is displayed. This shows if there are any problem with the networks. It’s tucked down on the bottom right of the page, and you have to scroll down to it. No big deal. If I can view the web site, then I know that the network status is all OK.

If I can view the web site, then I know that the network status is all OK.

The site uses responsive web design. This means that all these page elements “stack” in a way that allows for that “optimal viewing experience”. On a smartphone, all the information is sill accessible. This is a wonderous thing, and butterflies and doves take to flight…

However, consider this…

When there is no problem with network, I work happily away online, and the company’s website is the last place I tend to go – I already have their product.

I want to check on the status of the networks. And do you know where I can find this? At the bottom of the responsive “optimal viewing experience” site.

When there is a problem with the network, I can’t get to anywhere on the network.

So I switch to my smartphone, and use the mobile network to open up their site. Do you think that I am interested in their products and services. No! I want to check on the status of the networks. And do you know where I can find this? Three quarters of the way down the responsive “optimal viewing experience” site. And to get there takes time… Not a lot I admit (when compared to a tree growing), but it still takes time, and makes that user experience a very poor one.

Here’s a image of the web site when viewed on my phone…

When viewing on a smartphone

Does it give me the sensation of an “optimised viewing experience“. No.

Several smart people at this communication company have clearly sat around a table, and decided that responsive web design is what they need. Or a web design company (in this case a “web design, app development and online marketing” company), convinced the them that “a responsive web would be really cool and if they didn’t have one, small puppies would start dying“.

This is where responsive web design is a Fail

Having one web site that is displayed nicely on all devices sounds like a great idea. There is only one set of code that needs to be maintained, and when content is changed, it only has to happen in one place.

The big thing, however, that promoters of responsive web design miss is that people have different needs when they view information on different devices. As shown in the example above.

What should be done.

The number one thing that should be done when redesigning a company website is …

Talk with the customer!

Find out what the user of the site are actually looking for when they view your site.

This can be done through a number of ways:

  • focus groups – talk with the customer
  • personas – create “categories” of users, each with its own reason for visiting the site.
  • surveys – talk with the customer
  • actual historic data – server logs, site statistics, etc. – see what the needs and uses of a customers have done in the past

Note – talking with the customers doesn’t necessarily apply to the “design” of the site, but more to the content used/information required. (Check this article out) 

Other useful articles

Create a separate site that is especially designed for a mobile device

Yes, yes, I know that his is going against the current glassy-eyed trend. However, if you consider that needs and uses of smart device users is different from PC users, then it makes sense to have separate sites.

There is no need to make the entire site portable.

Responsive sites are, in the vast majority of cases, thin long versions of the desktop website, with the same amount and type of content and functionality that is optimized for the computer experience, not the mobile device and connection. There is no need to make the entire site portable. In the example given above, as a smart device user, I don’t care about the companies products.

Make a specific app.

Creating an app has its benefits. An app is generally dedicated. Because it is something installed on the device, it can take advantage of the phones hardware. As a result, better functionality.

And its something that the user wants (otherwise it wouldn’t be there).

However, the same principle applies here, as it does for a web site (be it responsive, or separate) – find out what the company wants. The company mentioned in the example above have an app that still does not provide me with the information that I want…the status of their networks.

More resources that are of value:

Test, test, measure and test

During the process of designing the site/app, constantly run usability tests. Get feedback from “real” users. Make sure that what is getting made is what is actually wanted.

After the site/app goes live, keep testing…is it meeting user’s expectations? Is there room for improvement?

Measure the use of the site…there are several measurable metrics that give you valuable information how the site is being used.

Have a look at these resources for more information:



Whether you decide to have a separate mobile site, a responsive site, or an app….do your homework, and make sure that it is offering value to the user.

Otherwise, it’s just a waste of space, money, and time (yours and the customers). 

Useful Resources:


Why are the CBAP exam questions so friggin tricky?


Aargghhh!!” I hear as several Accelerated CBAP course participants tackle some sample CBAP questions. “Why are these questions worded so confusingly?”

I glance over my spectacles, and smile. I was asking the same questions not too long ago. It seems that it’s all because of some guy called Bloom.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Mr Bloom, once upon a time, worked out that you could classify learning objectives as being cognitive, affective or psychomotor. And he created a taxonomy – which is just another way of saying “grouping”.
(You can read more about the Bloom’s Taxonomy here.)

Exam creators (and this includes the IIBA), the world around, love to use Mr Blooms taxonomy when they devise exam questions. They especially like using the “cognitive” grouping, which contains six different levels…

Cognitive Levels

1. Knowledge – these are pretty straight-forward questions. Simple beasts, they have only one goal – to test your ability to know specific facts and recall information that you have learned.

E.g.: Which type of requirement typically describes high-level organizational needs?
A. Business
B. Stakeholder
C. Functional
D. Transition

Caution: Even though these appear relatively harmless, it does require coordinated use of a variety of neural structures.

2. Comprehension – These questions want to check how good you are at understanding facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, and interpreting

E.g.: What type of requirements contains the environmental conditions of the solution?
A. Transition requirements
B. Stakeholder requirements
C. Business requirements
D. Solution requirements

Caution: the same as for the Knowledge questions.

3. Application – questions of this nature want you to use your knowledge to solve problems.

E,g.: Transition requirements are typically prepared after which requirements document is completed?
A. Solution requirements
B. Stakeholder requirements
C. Business requirements
D. System requirements

Caution: These can sometimes mistaken for the slightly less harmless “knowledge question”. However, stay alert, and don’t be fooled.

4. Analysis – these beauties want you to recognize patterns and seek hidden meanings in the information you are provided.

E.g.: To capture the process of provisioning a circuit, the business analyst observed an ordering supervisor for half a day. The resulting information could then be incorporated into all of the following types of requirements EXCEPT:
A. Transition requirements
B. Solution requirements
C. Stakeholder requirements
D. Functional requirements

Cautionthese can be tricky little buggers. Make sure you read these questions carefully. They can sometimes throw you by including NOT or EXCEPT, as in the example above.

5. Synthesis – although sounding impressive, the synthesis question just wants to see if you can relate facts, and draw conclusions.

E.g.: After reviewing the existing process to approve a new cell phone order, Ginger realized that the senior manager is not always available to manually approve the purchase. She documented the capabilities that facilitate a faster ordering approval process relative to the existing situation. She felt that the existing process was inefficient and that it needed to be changed. What would be an appropriate way for Ginger to express the cause of the current cell phone ordering delays?
A. Blame the manual process for the inefficiencies
B. State all of the facts in a neutral manner
C. Express opinions on how to fix the process
D. Insist that approvers adhere to strict deadlines

Caution: These nasty little things like to confuse you by adding throwing lots of information at you which actually isn’t relevant. Don’t let this scare you, or distract you. Take a deep breath and focus…

6. Evaluation – A slightly less aggressive question, these expect you to make judgements about the value of ideas or materials.

E.g.: To document why your project was initiated, it is appropriate to include the:
A. Business case
B. Project mandate
C. Solution approach
D. Business goals

Caution: As with the other questions. Approach these carefully. No sudden movements (or guesses).

Other Types of Questions

Yaaqub Mohammed (Yamo), in his book “The Ultimate CBAP-CCBA Study Guide“,  describes other types of questions:

  • Main idea questions: that test your knowledge and comprehension skills – what is the main use of . . . how does this function?
  • Inference questions: that test your ability to synthesize and evaluate scenarios – which of the following or what can be inferred from the scenario?
  • Implication questions: these test your ability to evaluate case scenarios or real world situations – what is implied by the following scenario?
  • Best-fit questions: that test your knowledge of business analysis and require evaluation and application – which method would be best to apply in such a situation?

Specific Question Types

Yamo goes further to list several specific question types:

Question Type Description
Activities contributing to a KA Descriptions of various tasks or activities in the tasks to identify a knowledge area.
Task Application Scenarios Real-world scenarios for how a task could be applied.
Outputs of Tasks Either direct description or an indirect mention of the output of a task.
Inputs of Tasks Usage of inputs referred with the names as-is or description of the inputs.
Stakeholders Involved/Invited Scenarios to identify which stakeholder need to be involved or is involved.
Role of a Stakeholder What is the role of the stakeholder in a given activity as applicable to a given task?
Purpose of a Task Why is a given task performed?
Outside of BABOK / General Knowledge General knowledge that you are expected to know as a business analyst. (These include Maslow, Tuckman’s model of group development, Motivation Theory, etc)
Real-World Application Scenarios Application scenarios where a real project scenario will be illustrated and a question from any aspect of the task or KA couldbe asked.
Techniques Usage Consideration Implied from the “Usage considerations” of a technique.
Techniques–Best Technique For Best technique for a given scenario (with indirect reference to a task).
Techniques–Elements Key considerations for a technique. Implied from the “Elements” section of a technique.
Requirements Attributes-Related Questions related to broadly used requirements attributes.
Skills Recognition in Underlying Competencies Scenarios or examples given to identify which competency a BA is exhibiting or is lacking.
Definition / Glossary Direct or indirect reference to definitions of terms in the glossary.
Requirements State Questions related to state of requirements.
Techniques in Tasks Which techniques would be used – direct or indirect through a real- world scenario with indirect mention of the task.
Exclusion type questions Usually a misleading question if not read carefully and often characterized by NOT identifying the negative of what is being described in the question.
The Next Step What should happen next in analysis – could be answered by applying experience and using the inputs/outputs that flow between tasks.
Knowledge Analysis
– Tricky questions,
– Confusing / misleading answer choices
Questions requiring careful reading .and analysis of the facts to arrive at the correct answer; Misleading answer choices or closely worded answer choices
Elements of Task Question related to key facets of a task directly asked or indirectly by the use of a real world scenario.

So…now you know…that’s why the CBAP questions are so friggin tricky.


Many thanks to Yamo and tothe “CBAP/CCBA Certified Business Analysis
Study Guide” (for the question examples used above).

Brief History of Agile Movement


A nice overview of the path that has been taken for Agile to arrive in our daily thinking…

Originally posted on Technology Trend Analysis:

In February this year agile movement completes 11 years of existence. I am sure you are either using some form of agile methodology or examining the possibility of using them. But, are you aware of how the agile movement happened? Did it happen by chance or was it inevitable? Do you know what influenced the agile manifesto? Who the authors are? What are their backgrounds and what do they do now? How was the name “Agile” selected?

The Influencers

It is clear from the notes published by Jon Kern that 4 methodologies had significant influence on the manifesto – they are:

  1. Scrum (Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber – also Mike Beedle)
  2. DSDM (DSDM Consortium represented by Arie van Bennekum)
  3. ASD (Jim Highsmith)
  4. XP (Kent Beck, Ward Cunningham and Ron Jeffries – Martin Fowler)

Prior to the meet all these methodologies were classified as “Lightweight Methodologies”. The meet happened as a…

View original 1,711 more words

Writing Requirements for the Paper-clip


David Ordal mused, back in 2008, about what would be necessary to write the functional requirements for the humble paper-clip.

He feels that it should be an easy task, and promotes the idea of “keeping it simple”. The less detail there was the more creative the developers could be.

While I find the idea of writing functional requirements for a paper-clip amusingly fascinating, it’s interesting to take a look at the “short-form’ requirements for this “paper binding device”. Is it really enough? Or is what David describes an “agile” way of looking at it?

Go read David’s article now, and then come back and tell me what you think. The comments at the bottom of his post are also rewarding to read.

When “making it personal” makes it personal


NZPost has a tracking facility (as most postal services do). One of their offerings with this tracking service is to send automated tweet notifications from a Twitterbot when the status of a tracked item changes. Pretty cool, definitely handy. 

To set this up requires “following” @nzposttracking. You are automatically followed back and send you a direct message when the status changes.

On the Twitter homepage I got to read some of the public tweets that this account has been sending out…


These “friendly” tweets that were sent out, for “routine maintenance“, made me smile.



BOK wisdom


After my last post, a lengthy discussion started in LinkedIn regarding what the BABOK is.

One commenter – Magnus Stensson – posted a superb comment…

I think there are, roughly speaking, three different groups of interpreters when it comes to BOK’s, be it BABOK, PMBOK, etc.

1. Those who see them for what they are. A collection of current best practices, tools, tips, methods, vocabulary, etc.. grouped into somewhat logical sections called knowledge areas. The reader can get tips and inspiration while choosing how to apply the information in there to suit the environment they are working in. This group has the best use of the BOK as they adapt it to reality and use it to enhance their knowledge and practical ability in the area.

2. Those who, because it is not prescriptive and describes everything in a How to manner, see it as fluffy, too theoretical and incomprehensible, and thus unusable. They are the ones who grumble about it being too theoretical and not useable in the real world.

3. The BOK evangelists who see it as the bible of all things in the area, They seek to apply all knowledge areas and techniques to all projects regardless of scope, creating massive documentation and inefficiency. Everything is referred to against the BOK. “We must do transition requirements as the BOK says so”. “we need these models because BABOk says so”,.. etc. (unfortunately I’ve worked with these people….) . This group refuses to adapt the BOK to suit the situation and end up destroying its reputation because their co-workers, who haven’t read it, see it as a theoretical source of impracticality.

He summed it up nicely.

Further to that, his parting shot was…

The views in discussions like this one reflect which group people subscribe to.. :-)

BABOK is all well and good – but in the “real world”…?

Skilled warrior

This post has been updated to include further detail on the way the BABOK presents information.

One of the main comments I heard today, at an Accelerated CBAP course, was “this is all fine, but in the real world things are different“.

The message was that what IIBA’s Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) presented with regards Knowlegde Areas (KAs), and Tasks, didn’t actually align with what happened in projects.

Continue reading

The Pro’s and Con’s of using a Livescribe smartpen – for Business Analysis

In 2013 I purchased a Livescribe pen.

The Livescribe Echo pen

Livescribe Echo smartpen

For those that aren’t in the know, a Livescribe pen allows you to capture the conversation taking place while you are writing notes.

By using specially marked paper, the pen can synchronise the audio being recorded with what you are writing and, at a later stage, you can press the pen anywhere on the page (on which you have written your notes), and the conversation that was taking place at that particular time is played back to you.

I have used this pen in a lot of elicitation situations and, in this post, I would like to describe some of the “lessons learned”.

Which Livescribe Pen have I got?

There are several models of the Livescribe pen available. The latest version in Livescribe 3 Smartpen and it offers some pretty cool functionality.

When I was looking at the pens 3.0 hadn’t been released yet.  And I also reasoned that I did not need real-time syncing to the cloud.

As such I chose the Echo Smartpen (see image above). You can see what this pen is capable of here and here.

How I used it?

In any elicitation situation where I was taking notes, I would use the Echo to keep a record of the actual conversation taking place. At the same time I would take be taking notes.

After the session I would playback the conversation at various points, to confirm that my notes were correct, or to expand on what I had written (you know that written notes don’t always capture everything that was discussed).

Using the Livescribe Desktop app, I was able to convert my written notes into a dynamic PDF that could be archived, or distributed to others in the team. This PDF had the audio embedded and the reader could click on any word to playback the discussion taking place at that time.

When I was not the scribe

Often when you are running an elicitation workshop, you are up in front of everyone, leading discussions, asking questions, prompting and encouraging responses. You can’t do this and write everything done. In this case, there is usually someone else who has been assigned this task (the scribe).

When I was in this situation, I was still able to use the Livescribe. Whenever there was a change in discussion, or a particular point that could be summarised in a word, I would write that on the special dot paper. After the session, I could still playback what was said at that point.

The Pro’s of using the Livescribe

Using the Livescribe pen has a lot going for it:

  • You are able to capture the whole discussion and tie it in with your notes.
  • The audio is synchronised to the notes you have written, so you can playback the conversation that was taking place at specific points.
  • The notes with audio can be shared with other members of the team, or with the stakeholders (f desired), as part of your Work Product.
  • You are confident that you can go back over the audio to pick up things that were said, but not written down.

Lessons Learned

Using the pen has been very handy, but it also has its down-sides. What follows are some of the “lessons learned”.

Ask Permission

Before actually using the pen during any elicitation event where other people are involved (workshops, interviews, active observation, etc), ask if it is OK to record the conversation. Usually people are pretty good about this and don’t mind. However it is important to reassure participants that you are using the pen merely as a tool to support the notes you are taking. And as an professional BA, you need to remember that, also.

Don’t let the pen be a replacement for Active note-taking

Use the pen to capture the conversation, but don’t be lazy. You still need to actively listen, and write down the important points from the conversation.

You still need to Confirm

Just because you have an audio record of the conversations that you have, does not mean that you don’t have to validate, that the stated requirements match the stakeholder’s understanding of the problem and the stakeholder’s needs.

What is written, and what was said, still might not be what was actually meant.

Make your notes meaningful

As I mention above, in a workshop situation you might just write a word of two and let the pen capture the conversation.

I’ve had situations where, after a series of seven one-hour workshops I’ve gone back over my notes, and haven’t been able to work out which part of the workshop the squiggle on the page tied in with, or what that strange sentence that I wrote (which meant something at the time – three days earlier) actually referred to.

When you are writing “headings” to describe certain parts of a conversation/discussion, write something meaningful, so that, after five days, it will still be clear. The discussions in workshops, or interviews, don’t always take place in nicely define “sub-sections”.

Never just record the sessioN

This is a classic newbie mistake, and relates to something I wrote above, Never, ever, just record the elicitation session thinking with the intention of “writing up the notes later on”. You might have have a three day workshop. Remember – when you playback the audio, it will take three days to listen to it! (And this includes all those side-conversations, jokes, and irrelevant comments that get made.)

Secure the output

This is related to “Ask Permission” above.

Regardless of whether you have been given the OK, by the session participants, to use the Livescribe, be aware that a lot of things are said during the workshop/interview/active observation session that might not be relevant,or are “off-record”. It may note be your intent, but you don’t want a situation where something someone says is later used against that person.

Have a way of charging the pen

The pen can be used for several hours, but it won’t last for ever. With the Echo I could plug a USB cable in to it, and plug that into my PC. This allowed the pen to be constantly charged, while I wrote notes.

Ensure you have enough paper

The live scribe uses paper with microdots on them. This allows the smartpen to be able to map what is being written, and the location on the page.

Livescribe sells this paper in the form of notebooks.Ensure that you have an extra notebook with you. You might never use it, but, then again, you might. (You can print out the Micro Dot paper yourself, but read the next “Lesson Learned” for more on this.)


Keep track of the pages

Each page in the notebook has a unique, sequential, ID. This way, the Livescribe can keep all the pages in the correct order. Don’t write your notes on random pages. It makes it difficult, when it comes to working with the notes, and audio, when you are back at your computer.

Printed Pages

As mentioned above, you can print out the Micro Dot paper yourself. If you do this, you will have several loose sheets. These are handy if you want to put the sheets in a ring binder, etc., but be aware that, as with the notebooks, each page is in sequential order. Keep them in the correct order (the page number is printed on each). This saves a lot of pain when exporting to a PDF, etc.


Conclusion – Would I recommend using the pen?

The pen is an incredibly handy tool (with the later version offering even more functionality, as well as looking like a real pen).

However, for the purposes of Business Analysis I would not, personally, recommend using it.


As I alluded to in some of the Lessons Learned, being able to record the conversation taking place is valuable. But it also makes you relax.

It’s easy to think “Oh I won’t write that down – I’ll go back over the audio later.” WRONG! The idea of the elicitation session is to actively capture the main points, In real-time.

That’s part of being a good BA. Active Listening, and Active Note Taking. You are in the elicitation session to really understand the message that the stakeholders are communicating. And you need to make sure that you have captured it properly.

Going back over a recording of a session, in my opinion, is of little value. The real value should be in your notes. If they need expanding upon, or clarifying, that is something that needs to be done directly, with the appropriate stakeholder.

I’m not saying that a smartpen is worthless. But if you think about it, BA’s have been taking notes as part of the elicitation process for years. How many have recorded the session?


My conclusion above, however, is how I feel about it. For you, fellow BA, it might be a different situation.

In fact, someone pointed out to me that their handwriting was terrible, and they often could not read their own notes. Having the pen would mean that they could, indeed, dive into what was being said at the time the notes were made.

I can’t argue with this reasoning…

Other Reviews

For other reviews of the Livescribe pens, click here.

Your opinion

Have you used the Livescribe pen? What are thoughts on it? Do you think that I am wrong in not recommending it for BA work? Feel free to let me know in the comments.



What I like in an Agile article, post, or book…

Preaching to the converted

…is balance.

There are so many Agile books, articles, and posts that do one of two things:

  1. spend a lot of time pointing out how evil, backwards, or just plain stupid anything, that isn’t Agile, is.
  2. Spend a lot of time shouting (enthusiastically) about how great Agile is, and that you are stupid for not embracing it.

I like the idea of Agile, but I also believe something should be able to stand by itself, without resorting to slagging off any alternatives. Let the good points of the methodology/ideology/whatever-ology be seen, and leave the reader to convince themselves, rather than trying to do it for them.

At the same time, don’t just rant, and rave, about the fact that I “just have to” adopt Agile, or I’ll be considered a Luddite, a caveman, or just a person who is not willing to “see the truth”. Give me good, sensible, reasons, and I’m likely to keep reading.

A good example of something that doesn’t do either of the two things mentioned above, is something that I am reading at the moment – “Agile Estimating and Planning” by Mike Cohn. He steps you through the idea of Agile, with regards to planning, without once talking about Waterfall.

It’s a strange experience for me. With regards Agile I have wanted to believe. The problem was that every time I tried to learn more I met glazed eyed enthusiasts that just told me “Agile is good…Waterfall is evil”. Agile Estimating and Planning, however, has me nodding my head with every chapter I read.

 What do you think?

Do you agree? Or am I just talking out of a hole in my head…?