SOLVVE is following the Agile methodology, meaning that each of our development teams works with the business analyst (BA). However, within the scope of the Agile approach, the role of BA became less clear and often encompasses the duties of the product owner, project manager, scrum master, etc. Due to multiple facets of BA’s scope of work, it is important to build an efficient business analysis workflow.
SOLVVE uses a 3-step strategy when it comes to the business analysis approach. We would like to share some tips on how we handle the key aspects of the BA’s role.
Face-to-face communication over emails
Having direct communication with the stakeholders over Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or any other preferred messenger saves a lot of troubles. For example, it spares you from lengthy email chains with multiple copies to several participants that create excessive information noise. Reading and answering them eats up a terrifying amount of man-hours that could be otherwise utilized productively to deliver solutions. Moreover, information gets lost and twisted easily.
We suggest discarding emails in favor of direct communication. However, understandingly, many prefer to have all decisions and changes properly documented. This is where emails are handy. Yet, face-to-face discussions help to address issues instantly and from multiple points of view. If absolutely necessary, a follow-up email with the meeting minutes can be a written proof of the decisions made.
Designated software over paperwork
SOLVVE also uses emails mainly to report about implemented features, set dates and times for the upcoming meeting or addressing urgent matters that must be clarified in writing. Nevertheless, piling up tons of paperwork is also a time killer, even if stored digitally. SOLVVE bets on specialized software like JIRA and Confluence to assign tasks and keep track of progress.
Here is how it works. BAs create stories based on stakeholders’ requirements and forward them to testers who prepare test cases. Later, the story gets to the development team where it is taken apart to smaller tasks. As soon as tasks are ready and tested, the story is marked as “done”. Then we repeat this business analysis workflow for other requirements.
Short over long
We believe that short and focused meetings are more productive than the long ones, they keel effectiveness. SOLVVE’s policy is to limit the meeting time to one hour at maximum. It comes with certain challenges. However, in this case, limitations foster creativity and stimulate better workflow organization.
Firstly, to maximize the efficiency of short meetings prepare a meeting plan in advance and assign a secretary who will moderate the conversation and mark down all the important aspects, e.g. changes in the project, decisions made, new suggestions, and so on. Secondly, have all materials ready before the meeting and send them to all the stakeholders so that when the meeting starts everybody is aware of the main discussion topics. Finally, pay close attention to stakeholders’ requests as some of the most brilliant ideas are born during such sessions.
Hypothesis vs requirements
It is crucial to clarify requirements as early as possible. However, before certain ideas will be verified as actual requirements, SOLVVE treats them as hypotheses. They will not become requirements unless our analysts can prove their value to the project by answering the following questions:
- How many users will use the suggested feature?
- How many resources are necessary for its implementation?
- Do they conflict with the existing functionality?
- How do they compare to existing similar solutions? Sometimes there is no need to implement a requirement. One can pick up good ideas and take them from good to great.
This is by no means a full list. It is quite extensive, but going through it helps our BAs to save time by prioritizing requirements and getting to the implementation of the most valuable ones first. Such an approach to business analysis workflow decreases the number of errors in decision making and provides a faster return on investment.
Clear vs complex
SOLVVE prefers simple structures over complicated representations overloaded with complex diagrams. We emphasize ease of reading, understanding, and navigation for all the stakeholders to avoid potential mistakes. We deliver detailed prototypes for each and every requirement for desktop, tablet, and mobile views along with the full set of prototypes for web and mobile applications. Moreover, we follow the best international practices and standards like iOS and Android Guides as well as unified modeling language (UML) to create visual representations of systems and different elements.
Among many other things, BAs are often dealing with descriptions of the user interfaces. Thus, it is crucial to stay tuned to the latest trends in UX writing and know-how to talk about them in detail when conveying ideas to stakeholders. It is also good to have a couple of mockup designs ready in advance to have something to choose from and later settle on a single solution that will be turned into requirements if it passes the hypothesis screening.
Last but not least, it is important to remember that no BA will be able to deliver necessary results if their productivity slacks due to a poor working atmosphere. Regardless of whether your BAs work on sight or as a part of a remote team, they should feel that they can get all the necessary support and enjoy an overall positive vibe at the workplace. SOLVVE makes sure that BAs of our multi-team organization are free to exchange ideas and share their experience, and they have all the necessary tools to do so.