The continued rise of the business analysis profession has led to a surge in software tools specifically designed for the business analyst. Find out what types of tools are in the marketplace today and how to select the right business analysis software tool for your organization.
Experts have stated that of the projects that fail, 71 percent can be traced back to requirements issues. It is clear that we need to identify means to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our requirements solutions and thus improve this deplorable percentage. To reach a higher state of requirements excellence, business analysts must focus on three improvement areas: communication and collaboration; structure, rigor, and completeness; and traceability and relationships.
Communication and collaboration : An effective business analysis approach requires clear and consistent communication among business analysts, users, and stakeholders. This sharing of information enables meaningful collaboration and improves the quality and accuracy of requirements.
Structure, rigor, and completeness : Requirements definition is not as simple as pulling statements out of thin air or blindly repeating the wishes of users. Developing meaningful requirements necessitates a sophisticated level of analysis, which requires the use of models, diagrams, and other business analysis products to gain an in-depth understanding of the users' and stakeholders' needs.
Traceability and relationships : Few requirements or business analysis artifacts offer sufficient detail alone. It is the combination of these artifacts and their relationships to one another that provide the complete view of a system that is required for the latter stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
To support these three improvement areas, organizations should introduce software tools that support the requirements lifecycle and cater to the specialized needs of the business analyst. The implementation of a specialized business analysis tool can greatly benefit each of these core areas and, in turn, decrease the overall time needed for requirements development, increase requirements quality, and minimize rework.
The most popular requirements definition tool today, Microsoft Word, was never intended to be one. For years, business analysts have depended on standard office productivity software--Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint--as tools of their trade. Overextending and forcing these tools to perform tasks for which they were never designed limit our productivity, increase costs and schedule, and do more harm than good.
There is a better way, but navigating the myriad business analysis tools to find the right solution can be difficult. Only by understanding the types of tools that exist, identifying your organization's constraints and needs, and knowing what traits to look for can you make an informed choice for your organization and its software development projects.
Business Analysis Tools 101
The majority of software products for the business analyst can be broken down into two distinct categories based on functionality and the products' places within the requirements lifecycle.
Requirements definition tools : Software products designed to aid the business analyst in the elicitation and documentation of requirements are considered requirements definition tools. This category includes computer-aided software engineering tools, visualization products, and business process modeling software. These tools are deployed during the planning and requirements phase of a project. Requirements definition tools improve the quality of the requirements and are designed to aid business analysts in communicating with stakeholders. They provide a means to link IT and the business through standard languages, such as UML, or through the development of visualizations. These tools are adept at documenting several views of the candidate system, and some support the standard architecture frameworks, such as Zackman, DODAF, and TOGAF.
Requirements management tools : Once requirements have been defined, requirements management tools pick up where definition tools left off. They store requirements in a single location, allow you to view relationships between requirements, and track changes. Requirements management tools are effective when used within organizations with a mature requirements process and skilled business analysts. Unlike requirements definition tools, requirements management tools do not improve
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