Last year, I flew to NYC on business over the 4th July weekend. I rented a car from Dollar (@DollarCars / http://www.dollar.com) well in advance. Literally from the moment of arrival, it was a very frustrating experience, including
a long, long wait for a vehicle (couple of hours, with about 15 people waiting ahead of me when I arrived and no available vehicles);
a demand by the Dollar counter staff to prepay for a full tank of fuel, even though I had Originally made the booking with an agreement to return the vehicle full of fuel;
a vehicle – eventually provided – that was not quite as clean inside as it might have been (probably because of the quick turnaround required);
You know the horror of having to change your password for your email address or some other login…? It is a nightmare to come up with a new password that you’ll remember and that will be strong enough to resist all of the hundreds (thousands?) of different hacks, exploits and attacks happening seemingly every week… So, when you painstakingly choose a new password, it’s only natural that you’ll use the same password (or a minor variant of it) when you later have to reset some other password.
Increasingly, workplace systems that require passwords are set up to force-reset passwords every 30 or 45 days (or whatever). This, of course, means you have to reinvent your password – and it has to be easy to remember yet hard to ‘break’ – every month or two.
Naturally, you don’t write down your passwords. That would be stupid. Instead, you save them in a note or an email, on your phone or on your PC or laptop, maybe synchronised to some public cloud storage provider… After all, who could know that your file call ‘blah.doc‘ contains potentially useful information, and how would they even know where to look…?
As a Business Analyst, Technology Consultant or in any role where you need to identify suitable Applications, when trying to find a Solution or Product to meet your Requirements, particularly a Customised Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Product, you will no doubt come across blog posts, updates and group comments purporting to give you access to a ‘white paper’, ‘product review’ or ‘industry overview’…
These often turn out, frustratingly, to be nothing but a mechanism for gathering email addresses for the Sales & Marketing departments of various Vendors.
What’s worse is when you’re trickled into giving your contact details to gain some insight, only to discover all you’ve got access to is a product brochure.
One of the most common things I have to do on software development or Application selection projects, at one point or another, is to define a series of potential features or functions. They can range from obvious and nearly mandatory (e.g. ‘reset password’) to the more ‘out there’ features. Often, trying to get stakeholders to contribute to the production of these feature sets (note: they are not requirements yet!) is a pain in the proverbial backside. Everyone is too busy to tell you what they want their shiny new toy to do – although they’ll be quick enough to tell you if you get it wrong!
So, over many years & many projects, I have developed (and continue to develop) a quick and easy process to get the obvious features into a list early in the engagement _ but in a way that cries out for stakeholders to get stuck in and evolve it. Feel free to adapt it to your needs – you can use it to impress stakeholders with your speed of delivery!
I’m often asked to recommend simple tools for aspiring BAs to use and I can’t think of anything more simple – or more useful – than pen & paper or, where available, a whiteboard.
For those of you who like to work with pen & paper or with whiteboard & marker, here’s a simple tip: Get a sheet of A4 paper & laminate it. Then get some fine-tip whiteboard markers. You now have a portablewhiteboard.
Make an A3 version too, if you wish. Don’t roll them up, though… it’s a nightmare to unroll them when needed. If you want something a bit more robust, laminate a piece of white card instead of paper. Read More »
Although it’s now been quite a while since I was involved in Corporate SEPA migration and SEPA has now bedded in for most Organizations, I still occasionally get involved in discussions about specific issues that don’t seem to be as clear cut as others, more-so now that there is another SEPA deadline looming. These deadlines focus the mind and this is when – during implementation rather than theoretical analysis – outlier issues tend to arise.
One such ‘outlier’ is the issue of what happens when a Creditor collects a SEPA DD from a Debtor who is in a non-Eurozone country (or who has a bank account that is in another currency) and where the Debtor initiates a refund 12 months after the original Transaction. Logically, and according to the SEPA rules, it won’t matter. The Creditor simply refunds the Euro amount, regardless of what the customer’s “home” currency is.
Warning: this is a lonnnng post so please excercise due discretion – or read it in your spare time! I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble for reading it in work… although you could at least argue that it has some workplace relevance 😉
First, this video will give you a giggle if you’ve attended many virtual meetings… but don’t forget to read on afterwards..!
At this stage in the evolution of business technology, virtual meetings are an integral part of the day-to-day activities of a huge number of Organisations and work forces. Many Organisations would simply not be able to continue to exist (or would need to adapt radically) if virtual meetings were no longer possible.
At least the technology (whether video or voice-only) is better than it was way back when multi-location meetings started to become common. I agree that they are not as easy in some ways as face-to-face meetings when it comes to the non-verbal stuff like body language, attempts to contribute, noticing lack of participation etc. However, virtual meetings can also be better, especially when they involve remote / offshore participants.
Updated in February 2016 after I discovered the recently-launched ‘Textografo’ (here). It’s an excellent, intuitive online tool for generating quick flow charts (other diagrams are apparently on the way). I recommend it even for non-technical people because it makes flowchart-creation so quick it can easily be done on the fly in meetings etc. almost as quick as pen-and-paper diagrams (but without the hassle of turning them into digital diagrams later). There is a free version (limited to 5 diagrams at any one time but otherwise fully-featured) and the Pro sunscription is not particularly expensive. I also can’t wait until there’s a Mobile version, maybe with shape rec0gnition and stylus support (maybe that’s just being greedy!)
In recent times I’ve been involved in a number of conversations in various contexts where the subject of minimalist visual representations of simple concepts has been discussed and it often appears that some Business Analysts think they are… well, too simple to be valuable.
If the purpose of communication is to present information to others in such a way that they understand it, and this can be achieved in a given context (but not always, of course) with a simple graphic, then why would you want to make it any more complicated than that…?
What has Sign Language got to do with being a Business Analyst…? In simple terms, both are processes of interpretation, not – and this needs to be stated clearly – ‘just’ processes of translation.
Not that there is anything WRONG with translation – its an important skill in some scenarios – but translation skills alone will not really be enough to be a good BA (in my view, at least. Feel free to disagree!). Translation and interpretation are related but different processes in the same way that Cryptography & Steganography are related but different. Only by knowing which you are supposed to be applying can you hope to do it right! By the way, don’t worry if you don’t know your Steganography from a Stegosaurus… it’s obscure / specialised, which kind of illustrates my point: knowing what they are is only part of the battle.