In today’s uncertain economic times businesses, governments, and non-profits around the globe are trying to maximize their efforts, develop innovative opportunities, and overcome difficult challenges. During this economic slump in the US some organizations are disappearing because they cannot keep up with their competition or their business costs. Businesses are looking hard at all their organizations, their processes, their information, and their policies to examine what can be reorganized, retooled, reengineered, and streamlined. Their goals are typically to slash costs, increase productivity, and increase value in their market place. One strategic tool that is tied integrally with all business opportunities and challenges is developing new technology. Management wants it done yesterday, cheaper, faster, better. Business analysis professionals need to make intelligent decisions. In our “do it now culture,” let’s not throw out what we have learned over the past 30 years about software development.

Over the years developing software has often been compared to building homes. Much of the analogy works, but building software is more dynamic than building most homes where plans remain more fixed. Builders generally do not pull out all the dry wall or redo the electrical wiring from scratch because a requirement was missed. Unless something really bad is involved, homes rarely get leveled and started over. Can we say the same about software? Unfortunately not. Many software projects get scrapped on a daily basis and started over. So much time and money out the door. Failed projects make it hard to compete, and hence the need for intelligent business analysis. This leads me to repeat a mantra of several practices that I know to be essential and independent of any industry, project, or software methodology.

  1. Get organized with a purpose and a plan.
  2. Know your business.
  3. Develop solutions iteratively.
  4. Communicate clearly and frequently with stakeholders.
  5. Acknowledge your lessons learned and repeat again!

More about each of these practices in the business analysis world in future blog entries.

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