2017 was a busy year personally. I wrapped up a 3-year enterprise-level project; which led to me accepting a management position (managing a very small team of business analysts); I bought a house; and generally dealt with a number of the curve-balls that life throws at you. All of which unfortunately meant that this site did not get nearly the attention I hoped.
On a positive note, my goal of writing content that has a longer shelf life and having this site act as a sort of reference resource seems to be working even with a bit of inattention. 2017 saw the following improvements in site metrics over 2016 (as measured by Google Analytics):
- Individual users were up just under 16% to roughly 56,000
- Individual sessions were up a bit over 17% to 67,000
- The bounce rate dropped 12% from 52% to 40%
- The % of visitors who spent at least 5 minutes on the site was up 14%
Other interesting statistics include:
- Over 82% of site visitors are using desktops, with 15% on mobile.
- The U.S., U.K, India, Canada and Germany are the top 5 sources of traffic
- And the following site pages remain the most visited:
- RASCI Matrix
- Context Diagram
- Stakeholder Onion Diagram
- VMOST Analysis
- Stakeholder Communications Matrix
I am hoping in 2018 to get back to regular writing for this site and finally finishing some of the longer articles I have had in progress for a while.
Thank you again to all those who visit and find something of use here. I remain committed to having no advertising on this site, so my only reward is your attention and the occasional positive comment. 🙂
May your 2018 be a story of success, both personal and professional.
This site has been offline occasionally for at least the last 2 days with messages such as “Internal Server Error” and similar messages. It turns out this is a server issue with my hosting provider and they are working to get it fixed.
So if you have trouble accessing the site, please check back later in the day. Thanks!
It’s been a few months since I posted something new, but I haven’t abandoned the site or my work on it.
The lack of updates has been been due to a combination of factors including my having started a new job, some family requirements, a need to focus on other things, a lack of content elsewhere that I thought warranted a “Recommended Reading” post here, and the fact that the articles I have in the works are all ones that require quite a bit more time than I originally expected to research and write.
So things may slow down for a while longer with blog and wiki articles coming more infrequently, but they will come.
Due to work and other commitments I ended up taking December 2016 off as far as new material for this website goes. But I have several articles and wiki pages in progress and hope to get the new material coming soon. In the meantime, here are some quick statistics for the website for the 2016 calendar year vs. the 2015 calendar year:
- Unique site visitors were up over 45% to roughly 48,400
- Returning visitors increased from 13.1% of site visitors in 2015 to 15.5% of site visitors in 2016
- Mobile traffic was up over 100%, but still made up under 15% of visitors (no surprise)
- The top countries that visitors to the site came from were:
- United States (27.0%)
- United Kingdom (9.8%)
- India (6.7%)
- Australia (6.6%)
- Canada (6.1%)
- Germany (4.0%)
- Netherlands (2.4%)
- France (2.0%)
- South Africa (2.0%)
- Philippines (1.6%)
- The most popular pages on the site in terms of page views (other than the home page) were:
- Responsibility Matrix wiki page
- Context Diagram wiki page
- My blog post on Why I Chose not to Renew my IIBA Membership
- Decomposition wiki page
- Stakeholder Onion Diagram wiki page
- My blog post on using OneNote for Meeting Notes
- Stakeholder Communications Matrix wiki page
- Benchmarking wiki page
- Stakeholder Salience Diagram wiki page
- Data Dictionary wiki page
- But the pages that people spent the largest average time actually reading were:
- Interviews wiki page
- My blog post “Better Business Analysis through Problem Statements”
- Decomposition wiki page
- VMOST Analysis wiki page
- Observation wiki page
- Unified Process wiki page
- Stakeholder Salience Diagram wiki page
- Data Dictionary wiki page
- Kano Model Prioritization wiki page
- My blog post “We are not Business Analysts”
For a web site that I work on during my personal time, without earning any money from and as a way of giving back to the community, this was a tremendously successful year. The increase in returning site visitors to over 15% of unique traffic is extremely gratifying given that most users find this site through search sites like Google and DuckDuckGo. That means that people are finding the material I write valuable enough to come back. I am also very happy that several of my posts are attracting attention and being read. It’s good to know I’m not just spouting off into the wind. At least some of the time. 🙂
But honestly two of the things in the list above that I really appreciate is that the wiki pages for VMOST Analysis and Kano Model Prioritization are among the articles people spend the most time reading. Both of those pages are (in my opinion) probably the best references on those subjects you will find on the internet. The fact that they are there tell me that there is an audience who appreciates the occasionally months of work I put into researching some of these topics.
So to all of you who come here and find value in what I have put together with this site, I thank you. Especially those of you who continue to come back, and those who take to the time to read some of the very long pages I put together when I try to make an exhaustive resource. You can get a quick summary in a lot of places, but I hope that this will be where you come when you want detailed information. And that continues to be my goal for the site.
I hope you all enjoy nothing but success and happiness in this new year.
I made a few minor updates to the wiki Certification page, just in case you haven’t visited it in a while. They were:
- Added new IIBA Level 1 (ECBA) and Level 4 (CBATL) certifications
- Updated links for all of the IIBA certifications to go to the new pages
- Added the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) to the Agile group
- Added the forthcoming [email protected] certifications from the IREB
- Added the Certified Business Architect from the Business Architecture Guild to the Business Architecture group
- Cleaned up the IREB certifications and updated the links to the new page URL’s
As always, if you are aware of a BA-related certification that I have not identified please add a comment to that page or send me an email (see the ‘About’ page) with info on the certification and I will think about adding it.
As a follow-up to the new wiki page on the Fishbone Diagram a few weeks ago, I have added another new wiki page on the Five Why’s technique. I probably should have done them in reverse order since Five Why’s is in many ways the foundation of the Fishbone Diagram when it’s used for root cause analysis. But what can I say, I sometimes do things in a strange order here. 🙂
As always, comments and feedback are welcome on any of the site content.
I’ve added a new page to the wiki that covers the Fishbone Diagram. This diagram is most frequently used for root cause analysis but the structure and general process can also be used for:
- A Feature Tree
- Evaluating the risk of an event with multiple causes
- Product cost analysis
- Project Post-Morten analysis
The wiki page covers the root cause analysis use in detail with step-by-step instructions, a example diagram that is built out with each step, and the usual supplemental information and links to all of the sources I used.
And continuing the focus of the wiki, I tried to make the page the most comprehensive source on this subject that you can find on the web. And also as usual, feedback and suggested improvement are always welcome.
With Google deciding to punish sites that aren’t mobile-friendly I decided to change the WordPress theme I use to one that is responsive and thus mobile friendly. While this should make Google happy the theme I ended up using (so far) is pretty plain and basic. Hopefully you all, the readers, don’t mind.
If you have feedback though, feel free to add comments to this post. If enough folks comment on something, I will explore other options.
For a while now I’ve been studying up on the more enterprise aspects of business analysis, including business architecture and business strategy. And this new wiki page on the VMOST Analysis technique is first page that has come from those studies.
I plan to add other wiki pages that will eventually cover even more of the enterprise and strategic aspects of business analysis (in my view of the broadest sense), but they may be a bit slow in coming. Just to give you an idea, I think for this article alone I ended up reading more than 350 pages of material and even then I am sure there are aspects I missed.
As usual though I tried to provide a web page that represents the most comprehensive set of information on this topic from a business analyst perspective that is available on the web (at least from what I could find), and which is structured in a practical way oriented towards those who wish to learn both when and how the technique could be used.
Lastly, this was written without the use of an editor (as always) so please be aware of the potential for (hopefully) minor spelling and grammar mistakes. Feel free to send me an email with any you identify if you are so inclined.
And as always, comments are always appreciated. Especially if you can identify important information that I missed.
First, I added a new page to the site called BA Book List under the Resources menu (which is also where the Links and Research Papers pages are now). This is a list of all of the books specifically about Business Analysis and the BA core skills (which IMO are Business Analysis, Business Architecture, Process Improvement, and Requirements Engineering) that I could identify that still seem to be available for purchase. I am not including any self-published or e-book only options; or any books about BA-related topics like Agile, Project Management, Software Development, or similar topics. Feel free to recommend additions to the list if you think I missed a particular book.
Second, I would like to thank you the visitors to this site. I created (and am slowly adding to) this site to be resource for the BA community that is free of advertising, login requirements, or poorly-hidden (or not hidden at all) “paid placement” articles. 2015 has been a great year for site traffic, with a few of the following year-over-year statistics standing out:
- Unique site users increased from 11,600 in to 33,100
- Returning users increased from 2150 to 5000 (and really, these are the people I maintain this site for)
- The numbers of pages viewed increased from 21,400 to 52,000
- The bounce rate decreased nearly 5% (which means more people are actually staying past the first page they view)
- The top-10 countries visitors to the site came from were: 1) U.S. 2) U.K. 3) India 4) Canada 5) Australia 6) Germany 7) Netherlands 8) South Africa 9) Brazil 10) France
So thanks again to all the visitors, but especially thanks to those who actually stick around for a while and the few who keep on coming back. Have a wonderful New Year!
I have several large research projects ongoing for the wiki that are limiting my ability to generate as much new content as I would like. So in the meantime I finished writing up a wiki page I had started a while ago but never completed. This one is on Decision Tables.
The validation logic I included is something I don’t see in many other write-ups of Decision Tables, so hopefully this article provides enough extra information to make reading it worthwhile. And if you want even more information on the validation logic, feel free to read the Rand Corporation paper I got it from. A direct link is included in the References section of the page.
And as always, feedback is always welcome. 🙂
Just a quick reminder to visitors that while this blog section contains site news and other commentary by me, the majority of the site content is located under the Wiki section.
See the link in the main menu above.
I’ve noticed from the logs that some folks never seem to make it past the blog part so I am sticking this at the top of the blog as a gentle reminder on where most of the “good” stuff is. 🙂
A common refrain of the Agile movement is that “you can’t predict future requirements”, but it’s one I’ve never completely agreed with. Can you predict 100% of future requirements, 100% of the time, with 100% accuracy? No. But that does not mean for certain that you can’t predict some likely future requirements and design your solution so that you can either include those capabilities in your initial solution design, or define your solution architecture in such a way that adding those capabilities in the future is much easier, quicker, and less costly than they might otherwise be if you made no attempt to include them from the beginning.
And while it’s fine for me to say that, the question is how might you go about determining some future requirements or some future events that may drive future requirements in a systematic, thoughtful way?
Luckily, there is a technique from the field of Futures Studies (that is also used in Social Studies, Political Sciences, and other fields) that is both useful for Business Analysis work and relatively easy to execute. That technique is the Futures Wheel.
Of course, like many Business Analysis techniques that are “relatively simple” to execute, the true value comes from the expertise and effort of those who execute the technique. But it’s a technique I rarely see discussed by other Business Analysts, Project Managers, or others in related fields. So give the new wiki page a look if you are interested and see if it might be something you want to try.
And as always, feedback is appreciated. 🙂
I updated the wiki page on Waterfall today, nearly doubling its length to what is now an article roughly 35 pages in length if printed. As with the previous version, I’m trying less to describe the common interpretation of what ‘Waterfall’ is, and more trying to show that the common interpretation seems to be wrong based on the historical documents. Or at least that the common interpretation of ‘Waterfall’ may never have existed as anything more than a straw man.
I’m not a big promoter of “Waterfall”, although I am a big believer in analysis and design up front (both of which can evolve later, but the more you do early the better you understand your current situation and where you want to go). But the thing I find fascinating about ‘Waterfall’ as a concept is how like a mystery novel it is.
Poor Winston Royce wrote what at the time was a non-controversial paper that discussed current practices for large software development and in which he made some relatively minor suggestions for improving things. He doesn’t use the term ‘Waterfall’ anywhere. Yet starting almost a decade after he published his paper, and continuing to this day, his name is tied to something called ‘Waterfall’ that bears very little resemblance to what he wrote and which is called such things as a “toxic concept” and “the most costly mistake in the history of the world”.
Yet to this day I can’t find any document that EVER advocated for anything close to the highly rigid process that is how ‘Waterfall’ is commonly described. Describe such as process? Sure. Usually while citing Royce’s paper. But not advocated.
The new article is long, hopefully informative, fully referenced, and spends way more time talking about history than it probably should. Be aware that I have no outside editor, so there are probably grammar and other mistakes galore.
Feel free to add comments if you have any.
Perhaps the single most important thing a business analyst can do when they start working on an initiative (whether it be a project, process, or problem analysis) is to learn the language of the stakeholder(s) they will be working with.
Learning the language of your stakeholder(s) should be among the very first tasks you undertake as a business analyst. Indeed, in my opinion, it is the very foundation of EVERY other activity a business analyst undertakes with that stakeholder.
- It is difficult to understand the business problem(s) you are trying to solve if you do not understand the subtleties of the language the stakeholder is speaking. Even common terms used within the larger organization can have subtly different meanings to your stakeholder that are important for you to know.
- When working with multiple stakeholders, you cannot communicate optimally with them if you do not do so in language that they understand at the most complete level.
- When working with multiple stakeholders, you cannot identify potential differences in stakeholder needs if you do not understand the exact language each stakeholder is speaking,
- You cannot most effectively plan to elicit information if you do not know the meanings and relationships of the concepts the stakeholders use.
- And you cannot fully understand the information you elicit from stakeholders if you do not understand the full meaning of what they communicate.