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SantaHello there – BobtheBA here wishing you fantastic Holidays in advance.  Yes, it really is that time of the year again!  Where did the time go?  Seems like yesterday when 2011 was full of plans, promise and new projects.  Now, with less than 7 weeks to go everyone will be busy cramming (whoops – I meant implementing) projects and of course focused on family and friends during the Holiday(s) of your choice.  So whatever you are celebrating be it Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanza, New Years, or something else, I thought I would share my B.A. Holiday Wish List for you.  Many of you may not know (my students and some of my colleagues do) that I am actually the Santa Claus of Business Analysis.  That’s right, I will know if your requirements have been naughty or nice so here are my top 5 things I wish for you during the Holidays (to remain on the nice list of course).

#5.  I wish for you a great plan.  Really?  A great plan?  What about turkey, candy canes, dreidels or snow?  Well we are talking Business Analysis here…. So, if you have been going at things status quo lately I urge you to stop and take stock of what is going on around you and analyze what you think is about to happen.  You must readjust your requirements plan for so many reasons during the Holidays taking into account schedules, preferences, culture and more.  I have already heard horror stories in just the last week of people scheduling meetings on actual Holidays, back-to-back meetings from 9 to 5 day over multiple days as well as people flat out declining meetings without explanation.  Now some of you may say how is that different than the rest of the year?  Sadly, it is not for some and all the more reason you need a good plan when you factor in the Holidays.  Business Analysts are leaders in their domain so it is up to you to step up and educate people on how it is done.

First, make sure that you are respectful of people’s time especially during the next 7 weeks.  Spread those meetings out.  Think through the types of meetings you have.  Can you combine some individual interviews into a panel or group interview?  Can you hold a JAR (Joint Application Requirements) workshop?  What can you do to ensure you can still meet goals and objectives during this abbreviated timeframe?  Ask your stakeholders what they think will work.  They may surprise you with some effective and creative options for combatting the Holiday hustle.

Make sure you know what everyone else’s plan looks like.  They may have similar ideas in mind or something completely opposite.  Some coordination here will go a long way in making the Holidays go smoother. 

Finally, factor in all of your personal time.  Do not let your Holidays be overrun by your job.  A personal plan that is working in conjunction with your work plan may make for your best Holiday season yet!

#4. I wish for you all the training that you need and want in 2012.  Well of course this ties into #5 of having a good plan.  It is neither too late to see if any budget has remained unused in 2011 or to plant the seeds with your management about building your skill sets for the next year. 

#3. I wish for you Verification and Validation.  So many companies around the world have big December releases and code freezes.  Hey… that means you have WAY less than seven weeks to get things done!  It is important to ask yourself a couple of questions: A. Are we building the right product?  B. Are we building the product right? 

In order to figure out if you are “building the right product” you must trace all of your requirements back to goals and objectives.  Yes, it is a good practice to do this early and often and perhaps you have already done so but another check at this time will help to both ensure the best interest of the business at heart and determine that all of your requirements are in scope.  Requirements that are not traceable to goals and objectives generally mean some kind of scope creep happened or you have incomplete goals and objectives.  Santa does not like scope creep.

In order to answer “are we building the product right” you must trace all of your requirements to design.  Did the design capture all of your requirements?  Did the designers alter any of your requirements without your knowledge?  Have you been attending those design meetings? 

In both cases, failure to answer these questions could mean that your 2012 might not get off to a great beginning because that is when your rework would start.  Happy New Year.  Whee.

#2. I wish for you lots of Holiday movies to enjoy and share.  I have about 65 in my collection (and counting) that I rotate through each year (I know, nuts right?).  What does that have to do with Business Analysis you ask?  Depends on how you look at it.  I would argue that there is a lot of Business Analysis going on in Charlie Brown’s Christmas.  Look at the analysis that went into choosing the Christmas tree, Snoopy’s Holiday decorations, the stakeholder analysis for casting the school play.  Need I say more?  Santa thinks not.  In the end these movies inspire me, motivate me and they instill in me a sense of joy and wonderment.  And everyone needs that.  Which is why…

#1. I wish for you what I would wish for myself – joy!  Joy in your jobs; joy in your pursuit of great Business Analysis, the joy of sharing with your families, friends and colleagues and whatever Holiday and reasons you have to celebrate.  And in this joy that we share, I do believe we can all find happiness, some success and peace.

Happy Holidays!

PS The Santa Claus of Business Analysis is making his list… checking it twice…

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