Category Archives: Site News

News about this site.

Wiki Page Updated – Waterfall

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of what ‘Waterfall’ is, and more trying to show that the common interpretation seems to be wrong based on the historical documents.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.

Learning the Stakeholders Language with Concept Maps and Glossaries

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.

Continue reading

New Wiki Page: Matrix Prioritization

I have added a new wiki page on the Matrix Prioritization technique as an addition to the set of prioritization wiki pages I posted earlier this month.

Most BA’s probably know Matrix Prioritization as “Wiegers Prioritization Matrix” or something similar, but there are a few other variants out there and they seem to use roughly the same process, so I documented the general process and included examples of both the common Wiegers version and a more complex version that leverages the same process in a slightly different way.

The nice thing about Matrix Prioritization is that it can be as simple or complex as you like.

As usual, I’ve tried to make the wiki entry pretty complete and feedback is always appreciated.


After working on them off and on for several months I am posting the first batch of wiki pages related to prioritization today.  The new pages include:

As usual, I’ve tried to make these in-depth information resources that include step-by-step instructions.  My goal is to provide a reference that goes beyond what you are likely to find anywhere else on the web if that seems feasible.  In particular, the Prioritization concept page and the Kano Model page have more consolidated information than I have found anywhere else.

Be warned that the Prioritization concept page in particular is fairly huge.  But hopefully not so huge that it is not useful.  🙂

I still plan to add at least one more specific prioritization technique, and possibly a few others.  But they are not my top priority at the moment.

Your feedback and comments would be appreciated.  If you don’t want to leave a comment directly on the page in question, there is an indirect reference to my email address on the “About” page of the site (at the bottom).


Wiki pages for Body’s of Knowledge Consolidated

I decided that having separate wiki pages for each Body of Knowledge of potential interest to Business Analyst’s wasn’t useful, as several of them only had a few lines of content.  So I combined all of the pages into a single page “Body’s of Knowledge”.

I have also removed the references to project management bodies of knowledge for the moment, figuring those are less relevant and given that there is already so much info out there on project management that it shouldn’t be hard for a BA to find information if they need it.

I may do this type of consolidation for other pages, such as those under Organizations (current and future) in order to try and keep the wiki cleanly organized and not full of a bunch of small pages.

If you have suggestions for similar improvements, feel free to add a comment.

Coming Soon – Prioritization! Any Questions?

I wanted to add a quick post that the reason I have not posted any new wiki pages in a while is that I have been working on a collection of pages that I hope to post at once, or at least a good chunk of them at once.  Last year I tackled the issue of Stakeholders with wiki pages for Stakeholder Identification, Analysis, and Management as well as a number of different stakeholder-related techniques.  After finishing my CPRE-FL I decided to tackle Prioritization.  It seemed like a relatively simple subject until I started diving into it.  🙂

I also wanted to ask if any of you out there had questions on prioritization that you would like me to take on?  If so, post your idea or request to the comments of this blog post.

So far, I have pages nearly done for:

  • Prioritization in general (this is meant to be a fairly complete overview that has some content for everyone from beginners to more advanced)
  • MoSCoW Prioritization (with at least one major variation documented, and possibly another to be added)
  • Cumulative Voting Prioritization (with the HCV variant documented in detail as well)
  • Category Assignment Prioritization (which MoSCoW is actually a variant of)

I still need to get the Kano Method written up, and all of these pages harmonized before I expect to post the first batch of wiki pages.  Then I may move on to address other prioritization techniques such as:

  • Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)
  • Bubble Sorting
  • And perhaps a few others

Wiki Certification page updated

The Certification page on the Wiki has been updated to include the following:

  • The new PMI-PBA certification
  • Two Usability / User Experience individual certifications from Human Factors International
  • Three certifications from the International Qualification Board for Business Analysis (only one actually available)
  • Three certifications from the Requirements Engineering Qualification Board (possibly none currently available, hard to tell)

I am a little uncomfortable with the last two as they are both organizations and certifications I have never heard of before.  And both seem to have a VERY heavy overlap with what the I.R.E.B is doing (and I have a lot of confidence that the IREB is a fully legit and respected organization and certifications).  But I wanted to include them on the page in hopes of getting feedback from people who have actually engaged with those bodies and done the certifications.

If you know of any relevant certifications that I am missing, please let me know either via the comments on that page or via email (see the “About” page).  At the moment I am not planning to include any certifications issued by for-profit training companies (LearningTree for example) or those coming from college or university education programs.

The Certification page is among the most popular pages on the site (it averages 2nd most popular), so I want to try and keep it up to date.  Thanks for visiting!

New Wiki Entry: Use Case Diagrams

I added a new wiki page for Use Case Diagrams.  I’m not a big fan of them, so there may be ways the same diagrams could be improved or even errors.  But since I had to study up on them as preparation for the CPRE-FL exam, I tried to make the information as accurate as I could since I might be tested on it.

But please let me know if you have any suggestions or comments.  I’m always open to suggestions for improvement.  Thanks!

New Links and Research Papers Added

I realized I had not added anything new to the Links or Research Papers pages of this site in a while, despite having added a number of both to my personal archives.  So I decided to update both lists.

I added 8 new Links and 28 new Research Papers.  Most of the Research Papers are from 2013 or 2014, with a few older ones thrown in.  As usual, I have not read all of these, but they were something I came across while researching various issues and I thought they looked interesting enough to add to the site.  Thankfully, with the increasing number of open-access journals and academics posting their personal copies of their publications, there is a lot more interesting research papers showing up on the publicly accessible internet.

To find the new entries on either list, just sort by the date added column twice.  The first click will display the list with the oldest entries first, the second click sorts with the newest entries first.

Studying for the CPRE-FL, does anyone have any tips?

There will likely be fewer new wiki entries in the next couple of months or so because I decided to study for the CPRE-FL certification.  I started about 3 weeks ago and it looks like it will take me a month or two more before I think I am ready to try the exam.  I decided to study for the CPRE for the same reason I went for the CBAP, to learn.  But I also wanted to go through the process so that I could see if I wanted to recommend it to any of the BA’s that I mentor (now or in the future) or possibly to the BA practice center that my employer is setting up and for which I am a “coach”.

It’s slow going the way I do it.  I am four chapters into the syllabus and study guide, with 160 self-study questions created so far.  5 more chapters to go just for the review and question creation.  Then I put all those study questions to use by running myself through trial exams.

If anyone has any suggestions on ways to prepare for the exam I would appreciate your suggestions.  I’m going to write up my experiences once I am done, probably as a combination of blog posts and updates to the wiki entry for CPRE, and would like to be able to talk about different ideas that people may have.


New Wiki Page: Decision Trees

I added a new “Technique” page to the wiki section.  This one is on Decision Trees.  As usual, I tried to go beyond what is on Wikipedia.  But I would really like suggestions for improvements on this one.  I’ve used decision tree’s occasionally as a BA, but always in the logic-mapping way.  We very rarely use them in the business decision way at my employer, and when they are done they are almost always done by the PM.  So I did my best based on past classes, a small bit of secondary experience, and what I could find on the web.  But I’m sure there is room for improvement.

There is a step-by-step guide to creating them, lots of references and resources to review if you don’t like my info, and hopefully enough to help you figure out if they might be of use to you and how to generally do them.  So hopefully you get some value from the page.  I learned a bit, which is my primary goal.  🙂

New Wiki Tools Section Added and an Introduction to MS OneNote 2010 page as well

They were low on my priority list, but I have gotten around to migrating the BA Tools content from the prior version of this web site over.  Rather than have an individual page for each application, I consolidated them into single pages for each category in order to make it easier to maintain.  I didn’t see a reason for me to try and maintain separate pages for each tool when the vendor or coder would do a much better job of that than I could.  I also figured the biggest value I could give here would be awareness of what options are out there.  In an exception to that idea though, I also migrated over my “Introduction to Microsoft OneNote 2010 for Business Analyst’s” content as a wiki sub-page under the information management page.  This is a re-structured version of a presentation deck I put together a while back in order to encourage my fellow BA’s at work to adopt OneNote.  It mainly just gives a consolidated overview of the OneNote functions, and tries to throw in a few places where those might be useful to BA’s.

If you are aware of any tools I have left off (I’m sure there are a lot), feel free to send me an email or add a comment letting me know what I missed and I will add it to the wiki.  Thanks!

New Wiki Page: Unified Process

I added a new page to the wiki that covers the Unified Process and it’s major variants.  As usual, I tried to put together more information than you would find on Wikipedia.  You may be aware of most of the info there, but we don’t use UP or any of it’s variants where I work, so it was a learning experience.  There could be some improvements I’m sure, so feel free to add comments with suggestions.

New Wiki Page: Decomposition – Functional and Otherwise

I added a new page to the Wiki that covers Decomposition.  Originally I was just going to write about Functional Decomposition since that is what is in the BABOK, but when doing my research for writing the page I came across too many other examples of when Business Analyst’s use a broader range of decomposition types.  So the wiki page covers structural, behavioral / functional, and goal decomposition.  I have also included very simple examples of documenting decomposition with a diagram, an outline structure, and a table structure.

I’ve got that mental itch that tells me I am going to have to come back and revisit / revise this page some day in the future.   But for now I think it gives a broader overview than what you will get in the BABOK and consolidates information from a number of sources.

As always, feedback is appreciated.