August 30, 2012

This Ugly Whiteboard Explains the Business Analyst Productivity Black Hole

Helix ALM
Requirements Management
Our graphic designer is on vacation, so I had got to create my own graphics today! My next project is to help repair the "Ecce Homo" fresco that was recently botched in Spain. [caption id="attachment_11986" align="aligncenter" width="576" caption="The life of a business analyst"][/caption] What you'll notice here is that there's a black hole developing in your BA's inbox. The better your customers are at responding to requirement reviews, the more productivity is sucked out of their day. Instead of delivering requirements to the development team or figuring out what's going to be in the next sprint, your BAs are busy reviewing Word documents and making clerical updates. The first issue is just the sheer number of changes that need to be reviewed across multiple documents. They'll comb through each document, find differences, and apply those to the "master" requirements document. Meanwhile, other customers are reviewing requirements and really have no way to see changes and comments that were made before they started their review. Also, development probably doesn't even know that the "master" document they're working from is being updated, so you can add some re-work to the schedule once they're told the requirements have changed. To really grind this process to a halt, any place where two customers made different changes to the same requirement the business analyst need to get on the phone to hash out the differences and come to a compromise. That almost certainly requires sending updated documents to both customers and waiting for a response. How do you handle customers that responded early in the review process, and haven't seen feedback from everyone else? And then to really cap it all off, someone's changes are always caught in the SPAM filter and not found until 2 weeks after the project starts! So after badgering that customer to provide comments on the project requirements, your poor BA has deliver the message - "thanks for sending in your comments, unfortunately they were trapped in my SPAM filter so we weren't able to incorporate them into the design. Sorry about that :)" If you had just given your customers access to TestTrack RM Reviewer web client, this whole design phase could have gone much smoother!
  1. Business analyst marks the requirement document as ""Ready for Review" which triggers an email to customers to provide review feedback.
  2. Customers log in via the web, review the document, and make their changes. At all times they're seeing the latest document, and (if you want) can see comments and edits from other customers.
  3. Business analysts are notified of changes as they're made and can quickly pop-in and accept or reject those changes, or let them pile up and handle them in batches later on. Either way customers, developers, and testers see feedback in real-time and aren't dependent on the BA to know the state of the requirements review session.
  4. Development and testing can check in on document progress at any time to see changes being made and monitor overall progress of the review.
So save your BAs from the productivity black hole, and give TestTrack RM Reviewer a look.