I enjoyed reading a provocative article on BA Times, The Tyranny of Best Practice and Its Effect on Requirements Elicitation, about the evolution and tyranny of best practices. I have always believed that techniques and processes become known as best practices because there has been proven success repeatedly (with verification). I was curious where the author got his statistic:”The fact that failure rates for the practice exceed the 90% mark, are never revealed.” It seems to me there are many old practices and they still work when applied to the correct situation. For example I agree with one of the commenters, Tom, who said the first question would be – what is your business problem? Or it could be what is the business opportunity? These questions have been asked for years and are still relevant to be answered at the start of any project.

As a BA there are a number of elicitation steps and analysis steps I may need to go through to figure out what solution will truly create advantage. I really appreciate what the author said about designing to performance. Depending on the problem, often it is a performance issue, especially in manufacturing or engineering industries. Not always. Times are changing and new practices may be needed. For any innovation, BAs must learn and adapt.

SMEs, BAs, architects and developers are often most effective when they are housed together, all part of the same team- and guess what? Some of us have been working on those types of teams going on 30 years before the word agile was ever coined. Really understanding your customer will always be a best practice. For me, familiarity breeds success rather than over the wall contempt. Having the appropriate resource allocation (the right people who can make decisions) and a sound, light-weight process (something iterative) are what I consider a best practice for success. Having worked with many cross-discipline, cross-functional teams, I have never found a better replacement for these best practices: an agreed upon approach, clear objectives, team collaboration, trust, and enthusiasm and throw in the appropriate amount of management support are all enduring and dare I say best practices that can bring any project to a satisfying goal. Oh wow am I showing my age? OK well maybe today our team may be global and we have to do most tasks with a web cam, use collaborative software, SharePoint, wikis, texting and Twitter but the rest still endure!

Collaboratively yours,

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