Business Analysis and Project Management Trends in 2014

Normally, trends and projections come out in December or January.  These are a little late, but at least they still make the first quarter in 2014.  Here are my predictions of key trends that we will see affect business analysis and project management in 2014. 1. Agile Continues to Grow – Agile adoption will continue to grow.  This will mean many changes in terms of how requirements are developed and managed. Requirement “shall” statements will be replaced with user stories. The three C’s model of users stories: Card, Confirmation, and Conversations will continue to grow. PMs and BAs will continue to redefine their roles in the agile world of self-managing teams and product backlogs. 2. Managing Data not Documents – As agile adoption continues, the need for large paper based requirement documents will go away. Requirements will be managed as data in a backlog, not as long paper-based business requirement documents (BRDs) or Functional Requirement Specifications (FRS). 3. Dual-Track Agile Takes Off – Agile will be difficult and a cultural challenge for many organizations where there are multiple teams and resources are not collocated. “User story hell” will become a reality for many organizations as teams continue to spend more and more time grooming the backlog. Many organizations will adopt dual-track agile or some variant to better manage discovery activities.  This will enable lower costs as requirements will be validated using less expensive methods than code. 4. More Emphasis on Business Change – The BABOK Version 3 will be released sometime in 2014.  There are big changes coming to the role of business analysis. The focus will be much...

Rescuing a Troubled Project

According to the Standish Group, over 60% of projects fail or are challenged. Gartner Group 2011 research shows the same story; only it paints a slightly worse picture. Based on these statistics, program/portfolio managers and PMOs need to have skills for rescuing troubled projects. Determining if You Have a Troubled Project It is important to determine if you have a troubled project before any significant intervention is taken. It is best to do this using predefined criterion that are administered at the PMO or portfolio level. The following criteria provide  some examples: Project Planning The project does not have an agreed upon vision and clear set of objectives. Impacts that the project will have on the business architecture have not been identified and defined. A thorough stakeholder analysis has not been performed. Discovery The solution scope has not been clearly defined as a set of features that can be delivered independently. Customers and users are not adequately engaged in project discovery activities. Delivery Delivery team satisfaction is low. Agile team commitments have not been met. Velocity is decreasing. Project Performance The  project  is  trending  20%  or  more over  its  estimated  budget. The  project  is  trending  20%  or  more over  its  estimated  deadline. Benefits Realization   The  client  is  extremely  dissatisfied with  the  performance  of  the  project team. Benefits as defined in the business case are not being achieved. Project Recovery Process Turning around a troubled project is never easy, but there are approaches that can be used that provide a good chance for success.  It is important to note that success may not mean delivering the project within the original time and budget constraints. Rather the focus must now be on salvaging the project to ensure that the project addresses the business need and achieves the expected business outcomes. If...

Requirements Management Tools versus Robust Business Analysis Tools

In one of my recent blog articles, Risk Management: Business Analysis is a Huge Risk for Most Organizations, I stated that business analysis is at a dangerously low level of maturity for most organizations as evidenced by Standish Group Research, which analyzes project performance.  Standish Group Research shows that the top five reasons for failed or challenged projects are: Lack of user involvement Lack of transparency Poor or incomplete requirements Changing requirements Lack of business alignment Now, examine these problems carefully; all of them are related to poor business analysis.  Looking at this and other research, I firmly believe that poor business analysis is the number one cause of failed and challenged projects. According to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), business analysis involves much more than just writing solution requirements. However, in many organizations, BAs only write solution requirements and do not perform other key activities specified in BABOK. For example, few business analysts are actually involved in Enterprise Analysis and Solution Assessment and Validation which are two key knowledge areas specified in the BABOK. Many people think that Requirements Analysis and business analysis are one in the same. Requirements Analysis is only one of the six knowledge areas in BABOK. It’s important to stress that there is much more to business analysis than just writing solution requirements. Many confuse requirements engineering and business analysis, thinking they are one in the same; however, they are not. Understanding the differences is key for successful IT projects. Requirements engineering, although helpful, is certainly not the key for success on business IT projects. Requirements engineering might address problems 3 and...

Risk Management: Business Analysis is a Huge Risk for Organizations

Business analysis is at a dangerously low level of maturity for most organizations.  According to Standish Group Research, the top five reasons for failed or challenged projects are: 1. Lack of user involvement 2. Lack of transparency 3. Poor or incomplete requirements 4. Changing requirements 5. Lack of business alignment Look at all these problems carefully; all of these are related to poor business analysis.  Looking at this and other research, poor business analysis is the number one cause of failed and challenged projects. A vast majority of business analysts only write solution requirements and do not perform other activities as specified in IIBA’s Business Analysis Body of Knowledge. Many are not involved in activities such as Enterprise Analysis and Solution Assessment and Validation.  Many only write solution requirements and have not idea about the importance of other requirement types defined in BABOK. A mature business analysis function will perform the following types of activities: Focus on achievement of business outcomes and enablement of business change. Perform analysis and evaluation, not simply taking notes. Work with Business SMEs to analyze the problem and root cause. Work with Business SMEs to redesign business process to decrease cycle time, reduce errors, and reduce waste. Serve as the knowledge manager for the solution by providing advice, facilitating discussions and decisions, and promoting collaboration between business and technical stakeholders. Responsible for defining and managing solution scope. Work with stakeholders to simplify solutions and eliminate non-value added features and functions. Write high quality requirements that are concise, clear, complete, testable, and valuable. Assess and validate the development and deployment of the solution to ensure...

Q&A on KPIs for Agile Project Managers and Business Analysts

The questions below came from our latest webinar on KPIs for Agile Project Managers and Business Analysts. What are some leading BA KPIs? Stakeholder satisfaction by Feature (Satisfaction) Stakeholder activity by Feature (Engagement) Cycle time from ideation to Feature approval Business value per Feature (Value) Test coverage for Feature (Quality) Number of defects per Feature (Quality) Feature Completeness (Inspection or Peer Review) Is it common practice to have stakeholders sign off on KPIs prior to development? Yes, however, stakeholders should also be actively involved in their development. Getting stakeholder approval is key for all KPIs. What is a good way to minimize the time to get signoff on requirements WITHOUT getting poor/missing/misunderstood requirements? Optimally, requirements should be reviewed as they are being created.  To do this requires an automated requirements tool such as Enfocus Requirements Suite™. Here are some specific recommendations: Break down the solution scope into separate independent components (Features). Validate each Feature and eliminate Features that provide little or no value. Define solution requirements only for validated features. Assign a BA and a Sponsor to each Feature Allow stakeholders to review and comment on each requirement as they are being developed using an automated tool such as Enfocus Requirements Suite.™ Obtain review and signoff on a Feature by Feature basis using stakeholders that are involved in that feature.  This procedure can prevent a lot of noise. Measure the cycle time from Ideation to validation and validation to acceptance. Where can I get the benchmark for any metric? There are many benchmarking services, including: APQC The Hackett Group InfoTech Enfocus Requirements Suite™ (RequirementCoach™) Process Intelligence What tool was...