Unhappiness with IIBA

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Recent activity in the IIBA group in LinkedIn has revealed a variety of opinions about the effectiveness of IIBA.

David Olsen wrote a blog post titled “Why I Chose Not to Renew My IIBA Membership” and posted it in the IIBA group in LinkedIn. 

This is my summary of the discussion.

David’s Reasons

David’s main concerns are:

  • the IIBA is too focused on members, and gaining new members, than on Business Analysis itself. His main argument here is that the IIBA’s Body of Knowledge, the BABOK, should be free for everyone who wants to improve in Business Analysis.
  • The Recertification process. A BA can earn more points for presenting, and watching webinars than they can from actually “doing” BA work.
  • the IIBA communicates poorly. Often major announcements are made with little, or no, rationale given. Examples include:
    • IIBA’s 3 year strategy plan
    • The new Global Strategic Alliances (see more on this herehere and here).
    • The decision to rebrand the CBAP / CCBA certifications as part of a broader “Gold Standard” certification with levels.

These seem like valid concerns. Enough to make Dave want to not renew his membership.

The Reaction

So what happened when he posted this to the IIBA group on LinkedIn? Well, before I go into that, I just want to mention what David wrote when he share his blog post in the group:

I figured this was a place where I would probably get the most disagreement so I figured I would post a link here in case anyone wanted to chime in and maybe end up changing my mind (not that I expect any of you to care).

What followed showed that people, actually, did care. I’m writing this 5 days after the original post, and there have been 80 comments made, and 119 people have indicated that they want to follow the discussion.

And in the comments you could that there were three groups:

  • those who 100% agreed with David’s concerns
  • those who did not agree with David’s concerns
  • and people who fitted in between – they agreed with some of David’s concerns, but also consider things from a pragmatic point of view.

Those who thought he was right

 

Free the Knowledge

There were those that agreed that the BABOK should be available to the wider Business analysis community.

since they claim to be the “voice” of our profession, they should realize that whatever is developed at IIBA – publications, tools, methods, BoK, … it’s all collective property of the entire community. And community here means anyone who is working in this profession, irrespective of the membership.

– Rajul A.

 

Make BABOK and such other sources free for all – I feel very strongly about this. Let the whole of business analysis benefit from these.

– Ronnel E.

One commenter pointed out an example of this – an online Business Analysts Guidebook, put together by the New York State Government

Fully support the comments on openness (The future is MOOCed)

See: Business Analysis Guidebook
(https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Business_Analysis_Guidebook)

– Gerrit B.

Cost  and value of membership

And then there were many voices concerned with the cost of membership, and the value of it.

The IIBA is not delivering value to me that justify to pay the member renewal amount

– Sergio L.C.

 

I strongly believe that the IIBA needs to do a better job on this front of demonstrating and communicating the value being added.

– Michael R.

 

I have never understood why you have to pay for a membership to IIBA and then be asked to pay for local membership as well. Why doesn’t this $110 cover local membership too?

– Angie P.

 

I am also disappointed by IIBA hence did not renewed my membership . If you are part of IIBA global community, by default You get access to local chapter. Unfortunately it didn’t happened

– Harsh S.

 

I started my BA career three years ago as a transition from being a Developer hoping I would get something out of membership. I’ve been rather disappointed with the membership in general. I just don’t feel like there’s much value added criteria to the membership in general.

– Thomas P.

 

I would be more satisfied with the membership fee if the IIBA were to publish a monthly peer-reviewed research journal on business analysis modeled on the Communications of the ACM or IEEE Software.

– Douglas K.

 

I’ve considered joining the IIBA, and taking the CBAP, for a few years. I was initially put off by their attitude as illustrated by your first point: all they seemed to be interested in was money.

– Ron H.

 

[Re-]certification

And, people weren’t happy with the certification, or recertification, process. (You can read more about the recertification requirements in the IIBA Recertification Handbook.)

As an IIBA member and a CBAP certificate holder i completely agree with your analysis, especially on the recertification process which is geared toward EEP courses rather than experience.

– Marius A.

 

I just renewed my certification last year and felt it was a nightmare trying to figure out what qualified and what didn’t. I couldn’t get credit for working and guiding my team on business analysis as their manager because the experience had to be something where I learned something. Well, let me tell you, there wasn’t a time that I didn’t learn from my co-workers something new and different based on their experience and viewpoint. Why is that not valuable?

– Angie P.

 

I started the process to get my certification but stopped before I wrote the test. I have been doing BA work long before the term was coined. I know what needs to be done, and how to do it. The problem with the test, like most, is that it is all memorization. It tests if you have memorized the BABOK, not if you can actually do the work. My resume and references show if I can do the work.

– Dean M.

 

This year I finally decided I was just going to sit down and finally attempt to get my certification but I admit I was having some reservations after reading about IIBA and was wondering if I was the only one.

– Michelle D.

Those who disagreed

While there were a lot of people in support of David’s concerns, there was also a small camp of people who did not agree. Either with what David had expressed,or with the comments that others had made.

As a volunteer who worked on both the BABOK and Competency Model I would like to clarify for the dialog here that myself and the other writers were not paid. We all gave of our time to these assets with no remuneration. We do this out of our passion for business analysis and a desire advance the profession.

– Angela W.

 

… I can only say I value my membership highly. It provides access to a wide range of information, tools, insights that have helped me take my career to the next level.

– Sheila B.

 

The BABOK is all about community input….In a nutshell, the Team uses various research studies, and multiple levels and layers of community feedback. All of it includes thousands of BAs around the globe. There are standard guidelines the development of a standard BoK as a community effort and IIBA does follow them. This is why it takes 5 years to create a new version. The Core Team of experts is there to make the trade off decisions on conflicting feedback from the community.

– Angela W.

 

I was also one of the volunteers on BABOK 3. I participated because I believe in the IIBA’s objectives in creating professional recognition of Business Analysts and wanted to share and develop my knowledge.

– Brian H.

 

I was a lead author on BABOK 2.0 and an expert reviewer on 3.0 I received nothing–absolutely nothing–for the hundreds of hours I put in. I did it for many reasons, among them because I believe in having consistency in what business analysis is and what the work entails, to have some say in shaping those things, and to work with colleagues whom I respect and like.

– Elizabeth L.

 

I believe and am passionate about the profession of business analysis and the IIBA is the only institution that I have found that validates everything I have worked towards well before the profession became a true profession. I do not believe the BABOK should be a truly open source product. The limiting and monitoring of its development ensures those who are truly qualified are assisting with the shaping of the profession. With that said, I also believe all performing the discipline should have a voice.

– Lora M.

 

It is not the IIBA’s responsibility to alone do the things you’ve mentioned. We as members have a responsibility there too. If we want greater transparency we should define and demand it. If we want to grow the community we should put forward the opportunity and help make it happen.

– Christopher H.

 

As far as I am concerned, the business analysis profession is leaps and bounds better than it was 12 years.

– Jeffrey D.

 

While I have been frustrated with IIBA for many things over the years, we are better for having them around.

* The organization is opaque, but we are better with them than without. No other alternative for BAs is as attractive to me.
* The BABOK, whatever my personal quibbles, serves its purpose of defining the scope of the jobs involved, standardizing the profession, and growing professionals skills.
* As someone who contributes by writing, speaking, and sometimes chapter involvement, I love these things! It helps push us forward.

– Jeffrey D.

Jeffrey also shared a link toTo Stay Relevant, Professional Associations Must Rebrand

One suggestion is to become involved in your local chapter. Join the leadership team. Contribute to the program.

– Rebecca S.

 

One positive found was access to their online library.

– Rupkamal T.

 

I want to throw a thought in about your comment David, ‘The IIBA is Too Member-Focused’. I would be disappointed if they were not member focused. There is a lot of good information on the IIBA website for members such as the online library for example…

– Bryan W.

 

Those who had a pragmatic viewpoint

As I mentioned at the beginning, there were also those commenters who might have agreed with some of David’s comments, they looked at things pragmatically.

In some ways I agree with you. But in the end charity doesn’t help sustain, forget about growing. If an organization were to grow, commercial aspect is necessary.

– Rahul A.

 

This is a difficult one. The CBAP is the gold standard for BA certifications, but the IIBA brings me absolutely no added value. BABOK v3 came from volunteers, not the IIBA.

– Michael B.

 

David, thank you very much for this article. It has prompted a great discussion and after all that is what Business Analysis is about. Challenging status quo with discussions. I happen to agree with you on a few points. Make BABOK and such other sources free for all – I feel very strongly about this. Let the whole of business analysis benefit from these. Change re-certification to also recognize the value of professional experience (including management of business analysts). However I believe there is still a place for a membership. A membership to me would mean regular news letters, access to the online library, even a better deal in some training opportunities. These are all direct value a membership can provide.

– Ronnel E.

 

IIBA’s response

Although there were several commenters who were involved directly with the IIBA, the  were two “official” responses from the IIBA.

David, Thank you very much for your feedback. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your views further. If you are available for further discussion, please contact Kathleen Hutton, our EVP, Chapters and Member Services at Kathleen.hutton@iiba.org. Thank you.

– Kristina Fixter

 

Thank you for your feedback as it is valuable to our ongoing evolution as a Member driven organization. I have provided additional insights on this important conversation. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/value-iiba-membership-kathleen-hutton?published=t

– Kathleen Hutton

 

Kathlyn goes further into the strategic plan of the IIBA, as well as given more detail on some of the current activities of the IIBA aligned with the strategic plan.

 

In conclusion

What is have shown above is just a sampling of the comments made with regards David’s post. As you can see, there are a lot of valid comments that support the issues that David mentioned. And, there are a lot of great input from the other side of the argument. I’m glad that the IIBA got involved. I’m not sure if David has taken this further with them. Hopefully we will hear more soon.

What did strike me was one of the comments made:

Lots of inputs, criticisms, suggestions… Some cosmetic actions… Silence on key issues… complacency… Noise fads… Silence prevails… I hope this discussion doesn’t take this route.

My sentiments exactly. Are they yours?

 

Related links

Business Analysis – To certify or not…that is the question

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There is a perennial discussion about the value of certification.

In the realm of Business Analysis you can get certified by the IIBA, the BCS, the PMI, the IREB. All certifications have their own flavour and value. For me, the value of a certification is in showing me what I could be, and not what I was. (Here are some more of my thoughts on it).

With regards to the value of certification, Paul Loney, an interesting chap with a beard, an incredible breadth of experience in Business Analysis, and a call-it-as-he-sees-it attitude made an excellent comment in a LinkedIn discussion.

Setting the Scene

To set the scene –  Esta Lessing had written a post titled “What every Business Analyst should know about certification paths, Business Analysis training courses and ultimately your career.

She published it, and also posted a link to the article in a Business Analysis group on LinkedIn. 

And then the discussion started.

Value

If you are in the world of Business Analysis, you might be aware that recently there has been a bit of a shake-up with regard certification. (You can read more about it here, here, here)

So now it looks like Business Analysis certification is becoming diluted. There is a certain confusion about what is what. And what was interesting in the discussion was there was hardly a mention about which certification was the best. It was more about whether certification itself was necessary. 

James Shield made a few pertinent remarks:

I hope certification doesn’t become a ‘tax’ on the profession in that it must be obtained

… undertaking a BA certification is by no means the only path to self-development …

And he makes a good point.

This was amplified by Paul (who I mentioned above)

As I’ve coached, mentored, and supervised entry-level and junior BAs over the years I have always concentrated on their THINKING capability as being a preeminent professional asset to develop. And following on from that their people AWARENESS in every way.

My goal was that they should have the resilience and adaptability to virtually be dropped into any BA scenario and hit the ground running. No panicking. Quick assessment of what they did and did not know. Ability to establish trust and rapport. Reach out to SMEs. Ability to abstract and normalise information from real-world scenarios. Hold high-level viewpoints in-hand with detailed dives, and juggle these granularities. Attention to detail. Ability to question (Why, why, why?). Get into the mind of others. Seek effective communication through visualisation. Be pragmatic. Sense of humour!

This is what you want to work with. This is who you’ll gladly have a pint with after work!

 

As you read, James and Paul’s opinion is that being a good BA is actually more than just having a piece of paper with your name on it, along with the name of a particular certification body.

What are your thoughts? Is certification valuable? Do you agree with Paul, or James?

Conference 2 – IIBA NL Lustrumcongres

I recently attended three conferences here in the Netherlands. In the previous post I described the Dream conference.

This is post #2

IIBA-NL Lustrum Conference

Location: De Landgoederij, Bunnik, Netherlands

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First things first – a “lustrum” is a period of 5 years or the celebration of the end of a period of five years.

In this case, it was the fifth annual general conference of the IIBA chapter in the Netherlands. The theme was ‘Managing Change of Change Management’.
It was something that I was looking forward to.

Why was I looking forward to it?

This is simple to answer, and applies to all the conferences I go to:

A chance to learn

There were some interesting sessions in the line-up.

First off, Mike Green‘s “Change Management: how to influence without authority“. Due to fog, Mike’s flight had been cancelled so he was doing the presentation using Skype. Talk about managing change!

Mike is the author of “Change Management Masterclass”, and co-author of “Making Sense of Change Management and making Sense of Leadership“. His presentation, even via Skype, was fascinating. I have a copy of his book which I’ll be reading soon.

One interesting observation, was that in the beginning Mike was sitting facing the webcam. And the presentation was…OK. A bit later, he stood up, and then the presentation became quite animated, and engaging.

Next up was Dr Erwin Metselaar, who’s presentation was titled “Managing Change: an evidence based model“. Erwin talked about the measuri10-5923-j-hrmr-20150502-03_002ng resistance to change through use of a survey-based technique. This is referred to as the DINIMO model.

 

 

 

 

 

Then there were two parallel sessions. I’m never a fan of parallel sessions…only because it means that whichever session I choose, I will miss out on the other session(s). The one I went to, was titled “Agile: Business & IT as one!” It’s something that I’ve always maintained – that the “business” and IT are not separate entities!

Then Dr Jan Hoogervorst, an organisational theorist from the University of Antwerp gave an amusing talk on the subject “Managing change or change management?”. It had everyone laughing, and was a good close for the conference.

A chance to meet people

This is also one of the most valuable things for me. Getting a chance to meet like-minded people. Luckily, because the conference was being run by the Dutch Chapter of IIBA, there were a lot of like-minded people.

I got to meet people that I had spoken with at the Dream conference (see earlier post), and some people who I hadn’t spoken with, but who had been at my presentation. (Always nice to hear what they thought of it),

As well, during the dinner, I was able to keep on learning. The two gentlemen that I was sitting near educated me on the intricacies of working as a freelancer in the Netherlands. Really valuable to be able to get some first-hand advice!

Further to that, I was able to get to know, in person, the committee members, who, until then, I had only interacted with online.

It’s this “making connections” that I really enjoy.

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Summing Up

Good conference. Educational, Inspiratonal, Informative, and great food!

 

 

Tweets from the DREAM15 Requirements Engineering conference

DREAM15Vianen

Previous post: Conference 1: DREAM15

Below are a collection of the tweets that were tweeted by participants of the DREAM conference held in Vianen, on the 8th of October 2015.

 

 

Conference 1: DREAM15

I recently attended three conferences here in the Netherlands. In this, and the following two posts, I’m going to describe my experiences at them.

This is post #1

DREAM15 Event

Location: Hotel Vianen, Utrecht, Netherlands

BA

In my earlier post “22 reasons why I’m Attending the DREAM15 event I described a conference that DREAM (Dutch Requirements Engineering And Management) were holding.

In it I had mentioned that one session didn’t have a speaker yet. I was ecstatic when the organisers asked me to fill that spot. While you can read my slidedeck from that session here, today I’d like to describe the conference itself.

Arrival

Buzzing” is the word I would use to describe the atmosphere at the conference when I arrived. I was taken aback  at the number of people that were attending. The place was packed. And this became even more evident during the opening keynote.

Opening Keynote

The opening keynote speaker was Paul Turner. As I’ve mentioned (in the above-mentioned post), Paul Turner is one of the co-authors of the excellent book “Business Analysis Techniques (99 Essentials Tools for Success)“. Paul was entertaining while being informative, and while Paul presented in English, and the audience was Dutch, everyone enjoyed his presentation. In fact, what he had spoken about was repeated at several times during the day by other speakers. (However, Arjen Uittenbogaard, one of the speakers, commented in his (dutch) blog that Paul had given a bit of a mixed message at one stage.)

Sessions

This was where it was difficult. And the organisers, in the introduction in the morning, acknowledged that it would be . There were just so many great sessions running in parallel. It really meant that you had to make a choice.

I had intended to write a little bit about them all. I even tried this, in the morning, by watching a little bit of each presentation, running from one conference room to another, Unfortunately this was not very effective.

Brainwriting

In the afternoon, there was one session that I wanted to attend: “Brainwriting“.

Like brainstorming this technique also allows for the generation of ideas. However, unlike brainstorming that relies on the quick, and “public” shouting out of ideas, brainwriting involves lists. Blank ones. The main problem, or goal, is written at the top of the lists. Participants are divided into groups of 6, and then each person is given a list. They write their idea down on the list and, after a given time, each participant hands their list to the person to the right of them. A new idea is written down. And so on. At the end there are a large number of ideas, and these can be discussed.

As mentioned, the aim of this technique is similar to brainstorming, but let’s everyone come up with an idea, rather than just the loudest people in the room.

This was a practical session and very effective. As well as being a lot of fun. I recommenced searching for more on this.

My Session

It was a honour (and a surprise) when the organiser’s asked me to present. (You can read my presentation here).

There were more people in the audience than I had expected, and my presentation was well received. (Even considering that I presented in English – just goes to show how easily the Dutch can speak a language that isn’t their own.)

Closing Keynote

The closing keynote, by Theo Severein, took the opposite angle from the opening keynote, and looked at organizational improvement from a holistic viewpoint. This was also a crowd-pleaser.

Socialising

This is one of the big draw-cards for me. A chance to mix and mingle with other like-minded people. It also was a chance to meet, in person, people that I have been interacting with online.

During one of the breaks I was doing the rounds of the vendor standsand had a chance to meet Jan Willem Knop, one of the committee members of the IIBA NL chapter. it was really great to finally meet him in person, and learn more about the IINA in the Netherlands.

Carrying on around, I also got to meet Stefan Sturm, the Managing Director of IREB (International Requirements Engineering Board). Through some of my blog posts, and posts on LinkedIn, I been “conversing” with Stefan for awhile. Also a really great chance to meet him in person.

Just before the end of the break, I was able to introduce myself to Paul Turner (the keynote speaker). This was an honour, and I have an very, very interesting chat with him.

In fact, it was a great chance to learn more from Jan Willem, Stefan, and Paul, how the IIBA, IREB and BCS will be playing together in the new alliance/partnership that the IIBA had announced.

Conclusion

All-in-all, a great day. Great sessions combined with an excellent chance to meet, and talk with, others in the industry.

Related Links

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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: http://www.iiba.org/mou/backgrounder.aspx

22 reasons why I’m Attending the DREAM15 event

DREAM15Vianen

EnglishNederlands

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 22 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 bol.com, 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

DREAM15Vianen

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 bol.com, 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?

fellowship

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.

concernedpose

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

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.

IREB

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: https://www.ireb.org/en. 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

Why are the CBAP exam questions so friggin tricky?

hell

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.

ME

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

Writing Functional Requirements for the Paper-clip

black1

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.

What is your idea of what a BOK is?

Magic_Scrolls

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.)

71szq9bc+jL._SL1500_

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.

Why?

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?

However…

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…?

 

CBAP – I made it, but it’s not the destination that I thought it was

CBAP is not the final destination

 After a lifetime of progressive career moves, I started, two years ago, on a serious journey towards attaining CBAP certification from the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

At the end of 2014 I sat and passed the exam.

It’s been an awesome adventure. There have been struggles and achievements. I’ve had to fight off ogres that wanted to prevent me reaching my goal. (Most of these were in my head). I have met many wonderful, eclectic, people along the way, and have been supported (both morally, and physically) by many heroes and heroines that have been there for me.

And I have learnt a lot. Studying the IIBA’s BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge), has allowed me to formalise the skills and knowledge that are invaluable for a Business Analyst.

And while I thought that achieving that right to vaunt that I had achieved CBAP status would be the pinnacle of my journey – the very goal that I was striving for, it turns out that it isn’t.

Everything described in the BABOK was, for me, enlightening. Every sentence written in this tome of knowledge is valuable. As I read, and re-read each paragraph, and viewed each diagram, I felt an enriching of my comprehension. As if my brain started working at new levels….

However, the more I read, the more I realised 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.

CBAP isn’t my destination… 

IIBA CBAP … Merely a stop along the way