Improving Business Analysis from the Bottom Up

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4 March 2011
Michael Fitzgerald

As part of research effort into building business analysis skills, I was talking with a manager of a business analyst department in a major U.S. bank this week.He described their approach to improving requirements collection. It struck me as an effective and practical method that I want to pass along.

Many of the models for building business analysis skills are top-down initiatives, planned and executed as part of a wider improvement program. These are often driven from a learning and development department or a special training area within the IT organization (see the Celent Report Building a Better Business Analyst – Transforming the Enterprise). This bank’s approach was more “bottom-up” and grew out of a focus on their software testing process.They improved the rigor of their business requirements documentation through automating their test scripting, planning and test case development process.As part of their revised methodology, it is now necessary for business analysts to gather requirements in a structured manner that can be automatically uploaded into their test automation software. These then generate test scripts, plans and cases.This yields increased consistency, control and structure to what previously was a very ad hoc process.

This practical development approach is valuable in that it delivers skill and process enhancements as part of the day-to-day activities of software development.For those looking for a different strategy for improving requirements gathering, getting there through automated testing may help.For those that have also taken this same approach, I would be interested in knowing what the results have been.


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