Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blog Categories

Since number of blog entries have raised up, I thought it's more user friendly to arrange the entries under different categories. So, following are the categories I have at this stage together with the number of blogs under each category.

Business Analysis (6)
IT Industry (13)
Life (18)
Project Management (3)
Sports (7)

Aussies Win The World Cup. Sri Lanka, The Second Best

Aussies sealed their third consecutive world cup win this morning. Sri Lanka finished as the second best. Congratulations to both teams! It is a big achievement to come to the final, so Sri Lanka should be happy with the result. Even the creators of Cricket, England couldn't even get close to Semis, so, this is all good stuff! Aussies deserved to win today, but SL showed a great spirit in their innings even though they were behind the chase most of the time. Rain disturbed their rhythm in run chasing, but even without those rain disturbances, I think Aussies could have probably won it, but by a closer margin.

Regardless of this result, Sri Lankan team has done tremendously well in this tournament and will be given the same welcome back home on their arrival. Well done Guys!! Life has to go on,there is always a tomorrow, lets try to make it even better!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sri Lanka Enters Cricket World Cup Finals

It’s a public holiday here for the Anzac day, so having some free time to rest & sleep as we lost entire night’s sleep due to watching the Cricket World Cup Semi Finals between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Each moment of that hard commitment was worth it, as our team made all Sri Lankans proud by showing their class to win convincingly. Well done Sri Lanka! Keep it up! We can go all the way through to produce yet another dream similar to that of 1996!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

End of Super Eight Stage



This is the points table at the end of the Super Eight stage of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. I think right teams have been selected for the semi final spots and each of those four top teams deserve to be there. Its a different tournament from this point onwards!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why Business Analysis goes closely with Project Management

After I wrote the previous piece on SA and BA, something that came to my mind was, why don't I discuss about the BA and PM relationship!! These two are close roles and worth discussing the similarities.

It’s very common where the same person plays the role of PM and BA in the same project and it's a known fact that the BA path is a fairly quick path to the PM track if someone ever wants to. Not every BA likes this idea, as the PM role does not offer the full breadth of Business/IT experience that the BA role offers. There is a considerable difference between the management of it and being involved in really doing it. This again depends on the person and what they want to do in their life/career.

Why are they closely related? What are the overlaps and why is it easy for the same person to do both the jobs? These are the things I would like to discuss at a very high-level here.

Firstly, both are pretty non-technical, so in a heavy technical industry, playing roles that are more towards business/management, creates a relationship and easy access paths in between the two.

Secondly and most importantly I believe, is the involvement in Scope management. Scoping is a high responsibility of the BA, but the PM has a direct responsibility in it too, because at the end of the day, he has to manage the whole thing and work with whatever the agreed scope.

Business Analysis forms the base for the project as it gathers, analyses and documents the requirements. PM has to manage a project, which tries to deliver those requirements, so he needs to have a clear handle of those requirements. Basically, PM manages the deliverables defined by the BA. If forming requirements and scoping is done by the same person (a PM/BA), it would ease things a lot for a seamless overall management. If they are two persons, they have to work closely and the job areas are divided by a grey line and not clear-cut as black and white. In smaller projects, there is a good opportunity for a dual role-play.

On the other hand, if the PM does not have a good understanding of BA work, and how requirements analysis is done in order to form the basis for the project, he will lose control of the project at the earliest stage of the project, which will be quite hard to rectify. This justifies why experienced BAs are sought for PM roles (i.e.: because their BA understanding is going to be very valuable in a PM role.)

Another critical area is the Change Management process, which is very important for both roles equally, and responsibility is also generally shared. However, since it’s driven by the change of business requirements, the BA falls into the heart of the responsibility. Once the change is identified, documented and approved, the PM has to change the plans in order to cater for it, so the closeness of the two roles is obvious. Generally, both the PM and BA would be members of the change management group/committee/board setup for a large project together with the business representative(s), Client representative(s), QA/Testing rep(s) etc. whereas in smaller projects, change management would be more informal but still needs the agreement of all parties and the PM & BA will play critical roles.

I found the following article to be very interesting and the discussion is somewhat relevant here. http://www.allpm.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1517&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

And also http://www.allpm.com/ has chosen the same topic that we discuss here as the theme of the month for April.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_analyst - This one touches on the importance of having PM skills within a BA and the following quote shows the difference (or the similarity! depends on the way you look at it, I guess) between the two.
"Fundamentally, the PM manages project resources (people, money) and the BA manages the business stakeholders."
This statement on its own can be misleading without reading the whole thing or understanding the background. The PM is also involved in managing business stakeholders but business stakeholder management for the purposes of requirements/scope/system usage/system acceptance is the BA's responsibility.

Some of the soft skills that we highlight as crucial for a BA overlap with skills required for a good PM, to name a few, presentation, communication, interview and customer relationship building. However, things like diagrammatic modelling, requirement documentation (from the BA side) and human resource management, project plan (from the PM side) do not overlap in common situations.

The other side of this is the close association between Business Consultancy (BC) and Business Analysis. A senior BA plays a role of a consultant in some projects and organizations. This can be just a term difference, as some companies do not have consultants at all, therefore BAs do everything. Whereas, some opt to have consultants who will do BA work as well. Specially, consultation oriented companies do this more than the development centric ones. A Business Consultant definitely needs to be a good project manager, as in most instances he will be operating on his own, managing his work, client and the scope. So, senior BAs who do consultancy type of work would have the requirement of PM skills.

A practical proof of this is in job advertisements for either the BA or BC, as recruiters in most cases ask for PM expertise and in some cases for very senior level opportunities, even program management experience is sought.

It's really important to know project management concepts and principles as well as having some experience in them to do a sound BA job. On a personal note, this is the reason I went through a PM training a few months back and also am planning to do Prince2 Foundation exams in first week of May, and then become a practitioner of it hopefully by July this year.

Hope everyone would enjoy this long post (wonder whether it’s too long for a blog post!) and share their thoughts as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The difference between a Business Analyst and a Systems Analyst

I thought I should write something about this topic specifically even though I have discussed it in some of my articles slightly.

I always use the following example to explain who a Business Analyst is, or what the Business Analysis means. If the software engineers/developers and Business Users are two sides of a river, Business Analysts are the bridge that connects these two ends. So, BA needs to know both languages to some extent, and at least if he doesn't, should be capable of adapting to.

In this bridge, Systems Analyst would fit into the end that’s closer to the software developers. SA needs to know the SW language very well, and the tools to communicate to them seamlessly; one good example is UML diagrammatic modelling.

However, the difference is very tiny and it’s a grey line between the two job areas. This is why we find SAs doing BA works and vice-versa and also some organizations opt to designate them as Business Systems Analysts. Most organizations have BAs but they do the full range of work.

Even though I don't want to use jargon here, but to highlight one good example, a SA would do a Systems Use Case model whereas a BA would do a Business Use Case model. It’s like the two sides of the same coin. The difference is SA is more close to the IT implementation side of it.

SA should be able to work closely with developers, helping them out with requirements, use the language that they are comfortable with, and involve in development oriented things such as screen designing, whereas a BA needs to work more closely with the business and try to talk in their language and also understand what the business requirements are, where the business should head and what should the systems offer to achieve those. In the event where there are no two groups such as SA and BA, whoever exists, either SA or BA or BSA, has to do all of the above or at least try to!

A logical career move for a developer (If someone ever wants to!) is to be a SA first and gradually move to be a BA. I personally had such a transition, at least designation-wise, but role-wise, I was mostly a BA.

If someone asks me, which one is the better one, I would say, that depends on the person! If you are a person who’s driven by being close to software development but like to have an overall picture, a SA role is for you because if you become a BA, you will be bored with not having any technical related thing to do. On the other hand, if you are someone who doesn't want to think of technical implementation side of it at all but concerned about business side predominantly, then a BA role is for you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good One to Read

I thought I should have a post in my blog to publish a great link, which takes you to a blog post, which is so inspirational to young IT professionals and new entrants into the field.
http://deb.foocode.net/?p=38

http://deb.foocode.net/ is the read worthy blog of Debbie Timmins, a well known figure in the SA IT and ACS communities, specially with young IT work.

Well done Debbie,,and keep it up!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Kangaroo Island Vacation





It was Easter vacation here, so we went to Kangaroo Islands, which is a beautiful popular island located south of Australia. The trip was fantastic, the tour was perfect as guide gave us all possible information and the place we stayed was also great. Sceneries of beaches and wildlife were so nice and natural. We saw Koalas, Seals, Kangaroos, Penguins and Wallabies, not in sanctuaries or captivities, but in exact places they naturally live in.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

We Won again

Now we have two consecutive wins in the Super Eight and fairly on track to a place in the Semis. Windies match was the one to watch! England match must have been great to watch for neutrals, but for most of us, it was very stressing as until the last ball, both teams had a chance in it. Its great to have won it finally, yes its by just 2 runs, but a win is a win, gives 2 points. However, since we have to face far bigger challenges than England in the next few matches against likes of Australia and New Zealand, the team needs to step-up a little further, specially batting, it's still not consistent enough. Even though Malinga managed to pull it close against South Africa, the reason for loss was batting.

Anyway, we have won, so well done Sri Lanka, and best of Luck for the rest!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

ACS MLB Board Meeting

I participated as the South Australian Representative of the ACS Member Lifecycle Board held in Sydney last Wednesday.

http://www.acs.org.au/index.cfm?action=show&conID=acsml

MLB provides direction on, and strategic co-ordination of, ACS activities that relate to gaining and retaining members. This is third year of MLB. Marketing is a key aspect of it, but things like professional development, standards , young IT and other ways of promoting the Society and the industry at large are tightly related.

I flew to Sydney in early morning and came back the same day late in the night, its a flight of about one and a half hours. Didn't get much time to see the city, but managed to see the Sydney Bridge and the Opera House and also went around the crowded Sydney streets during the limited time I had.

Mr Beans Holiday

We watched Mr Beans newest film, 'Mr Beans Holiday' and it was hilarious as he always is!