I recently hosted an industry luncheon with senior Business Analysts’ and one of the topics of conversation was templates. The question is how helpful are templates and how much are they hurting us?

My take is that templates are helpful to the extent that they provide consistency but become problematic when BA’s can’t see outside their parameters. For example, if I need to do a Context Dataflow Diagram to scope my project and there isn’t a place in the template to put it – does that mean I shouldn’t do it? I would argue, no – we need to use whatever analysis techniques help us think outside the box and apply critical thinking skills to our projects.

I recommend thinking of the template as a guideline but don’t be limited by it. Use the techniques and format that is going to help you communicate more effectively with your stakeholders and elicit all the core requirement components (data, process, business rules, external agents).

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