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“Bah humbug!”  Well at least that is what it sounded like to me (BobtheBA) at the time, a few Christmases ago.  And all I could think of was “What a Scrooge!”  So what’s the story that brought out the worst in two people during the holiday season?  Well before I tell you this true story just know that this person and I are close friends and I do have permission to tell the story (we laugh about it a lot now).

I was working on a small project to make some minor enhancements to a website.  The requirements were simple so I did not do much other than write up some bullet points in a MS Word document in 20 point font, double sided.  So 2 pages of bullet point requirements in large print, easy to read, they were clear, concise, correct, necessary, testable, traceable and all of the other characteristics of well-written requirements.  I was feeling pretty good, they had been discussed, signed off on and I sent the requirements to the developer so they could crank them out and we would be on to the next phase.

Time goes by and I do not hear from the developer.  This was supposed to happen quickly so I was surprised.  I sent an email and received no response.  I went to talk to the developer and as I approached, the developer took the double-sided, well-written, large font requirements and pushed it toward me and said, “I don’t value reading” and they went back to looking at their computer screen.  What???  Really?  Bah humbug you say?  I did a double take and looked behind me thinking the comment could not really have been made to me not to mention the absurdity of not valuing reading.  Yet it was and this started a multi-hour argument (yes, argument and not debate or discussion) about the requirements.  This was not about the quality, lack of understanding or how they fit into the vision, but instead the argument was about the packaging of the requirements.  It was not what they wanted.  It was two pages!  What could they possibly want?

So in the heat of the moment I went there… again, how hard is it to read two pages in large font?  I accommodated their need of not wearing their glasses (hello… 20 point font).  Was I supposed to put them on CD so they could listen?  Did they want them in user story format?  Use cases?  What?  They wanted a matrix.  Let the argument continue.  “You can’t read two pages and you are angry because it was not in a matrix?  How hard is it to read two pages in large font?”  Scrooge!  “Bah humbug, do them again.”  Sigh, what a Scroogy McScroogerton.  This was certainly feeling like I was seeing nightmares with the Ghost of Christmas Future and not drinking the Milk of Human Kindness with the Ghost of Christmas Present.

So whose fault is it?  One side can argue that it is not hard to read two pages in large font.  For the good of the project just plough through quickly and get over it.  The other side can argue that it is the BAs responsibility to ensure the right format for the right audience regardless of project size and complexity.  Well, in this case it was my lack of vision.  In every case as a Business Analyst you need to consider your audience.  I did consider them but only from a historical perspective (past projects and behaviors).  Where I missed my opportunity was that I should have also asked them directly and confirmed my approach.  If they were in agreement with the approach then the two pages would have been fine.  However, if they had been asked they would have said they needed a “matrix” and that would have given me the boundaries for what I needed to do.

I have relayed this story many times and people end up on both sides of the fence.  Some say BobtheBA you should have asked.  Others say tell Scrooge to get over it.  What do you think?  Whatever you think and in whatever you do, I hope this Holiday season you will not have reason to be called Scrooge, call someone else Scrooge or just feel Scroogy in general.  Let’s all take the approach of the Ghost of Christmas Present and have a great Holiday season!

One thought on “Scrooged!

  1. I hope you did have a great Xmas. I believe you were both wrong. Yes, you should have asked. It is very frustrating to receive a deliverable in a format not appropriate for its use.
    However, Scrooge was not very professional in not responding to you to let you know he could not work with the format of the document. Scrooge slowed down the delivery of the product; he did not put the clients first. He might also have been able to work as is but I cannot say that for sure without being involved.

    One way of avoiding this kind of issues, is to have established procedures and standards. This way everybody knows what they have to do and what to expect.

    However, it does not eliminate the need to consult with team members. For example, a set of system use cases were developed without consulting with the clients or the business analyst on the organization of the use cases. Neither were happy with its organization. The numbering was all over the place and a few a them were way too large. Had the system analyst consulted with the clients and the business analyst, he would have found that out prior to doing all the work. A lot of waste work happens when proper consultations are not done.
    That is my two cents.

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