Requirements Management and the Business Analyst1. The Role of the Business Analyst2. Key Requirements Tasks Performer by the Business Analyst3. Key Deliverables of the Business Analyst for Requirements Management1. The Role of the Business AnalystWhat kind of impact is all of this having on the skills required of the business analyst? The businessanalyst acts as a bridge between the business and IT, translating the businesss requirements into aform that can be understood by the system developers, as well as explaining to the business how it cantake advantage of the capabilities of IT.The term business analyst means different things in different organisations. To some, the businessanalysts job is specifically limited to defining information, usually in terms of IT system requirements.For an increasing number of organisations, however, the business analyst has a wider role thatexamines the environment in which the IT system operates, to ensure that the identified requirementsare justified. In the terms used in this article, the business process defines the context for therequirements definition. I believe it is preferable to think in wider rather than narrower terms - it ismore and more difficult to separate the definition of the to-be process from the underlying IT support.This approach is supported by the definition of the business analysts role in the latest version of theSkills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), which includes initiating and influencing enterprise-wide business process analysis.The increased breadth of the business analysts role also reflects the evolving nature of the projectswith which they are involved. There are very few projects involving IT alone. IT is now regarded as anenabler of business change rather than a provider of business benefits directly. It is the businesschange that is enabled by IT that results in the business benefits. As a consequence, the ITdevelopment work is seen as part of a larger business change programme. The focus of the businesscase shifts, therefore, from the IT development to the business change.This greater responsibility now facing the business analyst implies an upgrading of their skills. At thevery least, business analysts will have to be proficient at producing process models. It is hearteningthat the ISEB Business System Development Diploma scheme (3) has recently introduced a ModellingBusiness Processes Certificate. These mechanical skills are, however, only the starting point. Ifbusiness-IT alignment is to really take place, the business analyst will need to act as a consultant,advising the business on how they can improve their processes. Inevitably this will involvemeasurement of a number of elements, including the existing processes, the expected performance ofnew processes, a comparison of actual against planned, and benchmarking against externalorganisations. That leads further into benefits management and realisation. The business analyst needsa range of both business and technical competencies - communication skills, business knowledge andpolitical savvy as well as an appreciation of IT capabilities and the discipline necessary to carry throughchange built around new technology.2. Key Requirements Tasks Performer by the Business Analyst
As stated above, the business analyst will act as a condoit between IT and the business. What thismeans is that the business analyst must successfully fully capture the requirements and make sure theyare translated to understandable documentation for the full project team. The life-cycle documentationincludes the following. o 1. Assisting with the Business case o 2. High level feasibility o 3. Gathering of the requirements o 4. Designing and/or reviewing test cases o 5. Processing change requests o 6. Tracing the requirements during implementation (traceability matrix) o 7. Manage scope o 8. Acceptance, Installation, deploymentOnce the project is defined and feasibility established in sections 1 and 2, the business analyst venturesinto the requirements gathering and requirements management phase. To adequately cover all areas ofdocumentation could cover a full book, so the focus for this article will just be items 3 through 6 in thedocumentation steps above.3. Key Deliverables of the Business Analyst for Requirements ManagementThere is no one defined way to become a Business Analyst. Often the Business Analyst has a technicalbackground, whether having worked as a programmer or engineer, or completing a Computer Sciencedegree. Others may move into a BA role from a business role - their status as a Subject Matter Expertand their analytical skills make them suitable for the role. Business analysts often grow further intoother roles as Project manager or consultant.A Business Analyst does not always work in IT-related projects, as Business Analyst skills are oftenrequired in marketing and financial roles as well.Business Analysts work in different industries such as Finance, Banking, Insurance, Telco, Utilities,Entertainment, Internet and others. It is common that BAs switch between industries. The BusinessDomain subject areas BAs may work in include workflow, billing, mediation, provisioning and customerrelationship management. The Telco industry has mapped these functional areas in their eTOM(Telecommunications Operational Map) model.4. Do you have the aptitude to be a successful business analyst?Many people often look at the role of a business analyst as someone with strong interpersonal skills andstrong communication skills, or as a position where “soft” skills are more necessary than a technicalbackground. For the most part this is true. A good business analyst will spend a large part of their dayperforming documentation tasks by documenting various system artifacts.What most people don’t know, until they become a business analyst, is that the role is largelyprocedural, task-oriented and mundane. Yes I said, it, go ahead and sue me for saying it. It’s definitelya mundane position. If you get right down to it, the core mission of the business analyst is to translategeneral or rough business ideas into detailed functional requirements that can be used by theengineering team to execute on. As an analyst, you typically are managed by the project manager whomay bark orders at you to create lots of documentation, some unnecessary. Why does this happened?CYA – Yes, to “cover thy ass” of the project manager to prove that all of the appropriate documentationwas available.In one nightmare position working at the Capital Group, I found myself at many requirements meetingswhere I’d be listening to the engineers and the product managers discuss what they thought the system
should do. The project manager, working at the time had the nerve to make gestures at the businessanalyst with her fingers making a “scribbling” gesture in the air, basically telling them to write downeverything.It’s really important to understand your personality to determine if you are “cut out” to be a businessanalyst. If you are the creative type that likes to grow ideas, and may not be at good at digging intodetails, the role of the business analyst is not for you. To be a great business analyst, you should focuson NOT being creative, but to focus on as much detail as possible. Your role is to organize anddocument. Do you still want to be a business analyst??Skill Area 1 - SharePoint System AdministratorPerhaps one of the most misunderstood skills in SharePoint is that of the SystemAdministrator. Many people confuse the System Administrator with a concept referred to as aSharePoint Administrator (we refer to this role as the Super User). Instead of explaining thedifferences between the two roles Ill explain the function of the SharePoint SystemAdministrator in detail in this section and the Super User in detail further on in thisdocument.The SharePoint System Administrator is concerned primarily with the back-end functions ofSharePoint focusing on how it integrates with other server applications.Responsibilities Selecting the correct version of SharePoint. Specifying the most suitable set up for anticipated load. Deploying SharePoint correctly. Configuring email (incoming). Configuring email (outgoing). Ensuring Anti-virus is operable. Configuring start-up security. Configuring shared services. Configuring search. Backup. Restore. Disaster Recovery. Other duties focusing on the Central Administration PageSkillsAnybody carrying out this function should have a minimum of two years working as a systemadministrator on Windows Server, SQL, and Exchange. They should be fully conversant withDomain Name Systems (DNS) and Active Directory.Training As a bolt-on to existing skills as listed above the System Administrator wouldbenefit from a 5 day SharePoint Administrators course. Make sure this is a SystemAdministrator course not a SharePoint Administrator course!
Work LoadIt is anticipated that once the SharePoint system is in and robust the additional burden on theadministrator will be an additional 1% of their existing workload.Skill Area 2 - Super UserThis individual has the most important function within SharePoint, they are responsible forconfiguring SharePoint to match 70% of the organizations bespoke needs. This is the role thatis sometimes referred to as SharePoint Administrator, as they administer the SharePointfront-end environment. Once the System Administrator has installed SharePoint andconfirmed that it has been robustly installed the Super User takes over.This role is non-technical (meaning no knowledge of code, or computer systems is required)and we strongly recommended that this role is given to someone outside of IT. This isbecause the focus of this role should be on the I (information) and not on the T (technology).In our experience a member of the IT team will focus on the technology because this is whatthey know. This role is suited to a Business Analyst, as they have the skills to analyseproblems and find solutions most suited to the current organizational strategy. The SuperUser uses the out-of-the-box SharePoint features available to meet the requirements of thebusiness. They will focus on using the Site Actions button to deliver the needs of thebusiness.Responsibilities Managing site collections. Configuring security at site level. Creating and owning sub-sites. Creating lists, blogs, wikis etc. Creating and configuring site features. Mapping business issues to SharePoint functions. All configurations under the site actions button. Creating site level policies.SkillsThis individual must be a good communicator at all levels and have excellent presentationskills. They need to be able to understand the business and analyse business problems. TheSuper User must have a solid understanding of how SharePoint can be configured out-of-the -box. The Super User must have excellent business analyst skills and needs to be able to mapbusiness problems onto SharePoint functionality.TrainingThis user will need 5 days Super User training course and a 3 day End User training course.This will give them a full understanding of the out-of-the-box capabilities of SharePoint.Work Load
The Super User can expect to have 100% of their time dedicated to working with SharePointsites. There time will be split between developing new uses of SharePoint and monitoring andmaintain existing SharePoint sites.Skill Area 3 - SharePoint DesignerA further 20% of the organizations bespoke needs can be customized by the SharePointDesigner. The customisations performed by this individual are changes that cannot be donethrough the SharePoint user interface i.e. the site actions button. Once the Super User hasexhausted all possibilities through the site actions button the SharePoint Designer comes in.The three main areas SharePoint designer is used for is branding, creating workflows andconnecting to external data sources. This document will split the SharePoint Designer skill setinto these three different work streams, to clarify the different skills needed for each. Thisdoes not mean that three different people have to commit to each area in fact one personcould manage all three strands.SharePoint Designer (Banding)This person will be responsible for managing the look and feel of the SharePoint site, thiswill involve creating page layouts, making changes to the master pages, and responsibility forthe aesthetics of the site. This person should have knowledge of accessibility standards whendesigning to ensure the design is as inclusive as possible as well as being pleasing to the eye.Responsibilities Creating page layouts. Editing the master page. Giving guidance on design best practice.SkillsThe person performing this function needs to have a thorough understanding of the web andpreferably come from a web design background. Knowledge of Cascading Style Sheets(CSS) and HTML is very desirable. As mentioned above knowledge of accessibilitystandards is also desirable.TrainingThis user will need a 5 day SharePoint Designer course, preferably aimed at web and graphicdesigners.Work LoadThe SharePoint Designer usually has a 100% time allocation at the beginning of adeployment and thereafter a reducing amount of commitment. The work load typicallyconsists of smaller projects delegated to them by the strategy team.SharePoint Designer (Workflow)
Workflow is an important part of any SharePoint deployment, SharePoint designer hasextremely powerful capabilities for developing bespoke workflow. The person responsiblefor this will work with the Super User to examine business processes and translate them intoSharePoint designer workflows.Responsibilities Examining user requirements. Designing workflows and building them. Testing and evaluating existing workflow.SkillsThis person needs to have a broad understanding of current business processes and analyticalskills. Experience of previous work in business processing mapping is desirable.TrainingThis person will need a 5 day SharePoint Designer course.WorkloadThe SharePoint Designer usually has a 100% time allocation at the beginning of adeployment and thereafter a reducing amount of commitment. The work load typicallyconsists of smaller projects delegated to them by the strategy team.SharePoint Designer (Database Access)Businesses will have information and data stored in multiple storage sites across multiplelocations. One good point about SharePoint is that you can access information held in otherlocations through SharePoint. SharePoint designer can be used to create access to thisinformation so it can be used again and again.ResponsibilitiesCreating data access modules. Ensuring data protection laws are upheld.SkillsThe person in this role will need to have an understanding of data and a technology namedActiveX Data Objects (ADO). Previous experience of writing databases is an advantage.Knowledge of the Data Protection Act is also desirable.TrainingThis person will need a 5 day SharePoint designer course.Workload
The SharePoint Designer usually has a 100% time allocation at the beginning of adeployment and thereafter a reducing amount of commitment. The work load typicallyconsists of smaller projects delegated to them by the strategy team.Skill Area 4 - Web (.NET) DeveloperThe remaining 10% of an organizations bespoke SharePoint needs can be achieved by callingon the services of a Web (.NET) Developer. This person should be a last resort when it comesto SharePoint development, SharePoint works best when the out-of-the-box features areleveraged fully.This individual will be able to carry out deep customization and provides the ability toachieve very tight integration between SharePoint and legacy systems. Custom web parts andcomplicated workflow processes can be designed b a Web (.NET) Developer. A WebDeveloper would only be called when both the Super User and the SharePoint Designer haveexhausted all other options.Responsibilities Developing solutions / features within best practice guidelines. Working with and leveraging the object model. Working with and leveraging SharePoint web services. Creating web parts. Creating user controls. Implementing events. Developing complex asynchronous workflows. Deploying solutions and features with best practice. Working with enhanced security. Creating code in keeping with best practice.SkillsThe Web (.NET) Developer will need to have a minimum of 3 years.NET developmentexperience. They must have experience of developing for the browser and have been workingwith ASP.NET 2 for at least 12 months.Their core skills will need to be: Understanding the SharePoint object model, and Working with workflowsTrainingThis user will need a 5 day SharePoint Developer course.Work LoadThe Web Developers work load will be very dependent upon the needs of the business andspecifically the level of integrating with legacy systems.
Once again, in the initially stages of deployment the Web Developer will be heavily utilizedand after a period will have less demands made on their time. Web Developers will be calledon an ad-hoc basis to complete projectSkill Area 5 - End UserLast but not least, the End User will also need some SharePoint skills. Although the skillsrequired are minimal, End Users will still require training to build their confidence andacceptance of the site. When End Users are given proper training and told explicitly what isexpected of them when using the site the more likely it is to be a success. The general rule fortraining End User with SharePoint is to focus on small skills based learning packages andmake sure users are comfortable with them. It is always best to train in fewer areas well thancover lots of topics without users really understanding.Responsibilities Navigate through the site and find content. Organise themselves with alerts and RSS feeds to keep updated. File documents in the appropriate place. File documents with the appropriate metadata for searching.SkillsEnd Users do not need any specific skills and providing that they have had some exposure tothe internet they will be capable of working with SharePoint.The training provision is mainly to build confidence initially and acceptance of the site.TrainingEnd Users require a 1 day session as close to go-live as is possible. This session should focuson the tasks they are going to complete on a day to day basis.Work LoadThe End User can expect to interact with the SharePoint site 100% of the time on an ongoingbasis. This of course will very much depend on the tasks required to be performed by the EndUser can the function of the site. End Users make up the majority of SharePoint users.About this AuthorEmma Catignani is the Communications Director of Solutions Developed. Having workedwith SharePoint since 2002 Solutions Developed has a number of prestigious roll-outs undertheir belt.Solutions Developed now specialises in SharePoint and other associated technologies.Their business philosophy can be summed up by their policy statement: