Archive for July, 2010

Job Interview Tip – Thank You Note

Just a quick note… my husband (@gary_doyle) had a great suggestion the other day. When putting together your Thank You note after your interview (immediately following the interview – everyone does this, right?), include in your note a “nugget” for the interviewer. Something that they can find value in based on your conversation during the interview.

For instance, if you discussed the need for the organization to develop a stronger PMO, perhaps you could include a reference to a website that you frequent for PMO development.

This “nugget” adds a lot. First, it shows that you can apply what you know to the position and start adding value even BEFORE you have the job! Secondly, it gives you another chance to show how you understand the organization’s challenges. Third, who doesn’t appreciate someone taking the time to share knowledge?

I could also see this tip being applied after a professional interaction. What a great networking method – to follow-up with someone you would like to develop a relationship with through a hand-written note (okay… or email I guess) and to include something that the person might find helpful.

In my experience as a hiring manager, I rarely receive a hand-written Thank You (sad) and I have never received one with something like this. I cannot imagine how excited I would be about a candidate who took the time to do this one little step. I would find the creativity, enthusiasm, and positive contribution as strong qualities in a candidate.

I would love to hear if you have had any positive experiences with a tip like this or if you have any other suggestions to share!

July 25, 2010 at 5:51 pm 1 comment

Lousy Leadership – Do As I Say

“Do As I Say, Not As I Do” – A favorite phrase for some parents can be counter-productive as a Leader.

Continue Reading July 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm 1 comment

Engaging Your Stakeholders

Tired of hunting stakeholders down for approvals on requirements? Here are a few tips that I have pulled together to help!

Continue Reading July 22, 2010 at 9:51 pm 1 comment

The Dangers of Being the Hero

Having a hero on the team is great but be cautious about turning to your Superman every time.

Continue Reading July 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment

Lacking Priority

When working with your stakeholders, a business analyst should strive to not only capture a complete, clear, concise requirement but supporting information about that requirement.  One key element that I strongly recommend is Priority.

Asking for the World – or maybe just Priority

Most of the business users I have worked with are passionate about what they do.  When gathering requirements from them for a project, I notice they have a sense of pride and responsiblity for the fact that they are representing their organization.  As the Business Analyst guides the group of stakeholders through the conversation,

Ways to Capture Priority

Capturing Priority can be done many ways.  Ranking requirements (1-n) is one method.  I have seen this used in Business Requirements when working against a tight timeline.  The rank was determined by the quantitative business value that could be defined.  The BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge) has multiple ideas defined for capturing Priority.   One is MoSCoW.

Must:  Describes a requirement that must be satisfied in the final solution for the solution to be considered a success.

Should:  Represents a high-priority item that should be included in the solution if it is possible. This is often a critical requirement but one which can be satisfied in other ways if strictly necessary.

Could:  Describes a requirement which is considered desirable but not necessary. This will be included if time and resources permit.

Would:  Represents a requirement that stakeholders have agreed will not be implemented in a given release, but may be considered for the future.

I have not used this method but I have used a similar method with High, Medium, Low.  I treat High as Must Have, Medium as Nice to Have, and Low as Like to Have.

The BABOK also mentions Timeboxing/Budgeting as an option.  I love this idea as it forces your stakeholders to think about the ramifications of having their requirements included in the scope of the project.

▶All In: Begin with all the eligible requirements with assigned Duration or Cost. Remove the requirements in order to meet the calendar dates or budget limit.

▶ All Out: Begin with adding the requirement(s) with assigned duration or cost to the calendar or budget. Stop when the calendar dates are met or budget limit is reached.

▶ Selective: Begin by identifying high priority requirements added to the calendar or budget. Add or remove requirements in order to meet the calendar date or budget limit.

The BABOK also mentions Voting as an option.  While I can understand having this as a documented option (democracy being as popular as it is), I can’t say that I would support this method.  Business decisions, in my humble opinion, should not come down to a popularity contest.  If a set of stakeholders cannot make a decision based on what is best for the company, then I think there needs to be an evaluation made on their analysis process.

Why Capturing Priority Early Reduces Drama

Down the road during the project, an issue could arise that requires the scope to be re-addressed.  Whether the timeline becomes at risk, the budget cut, or another project management catastrophe, there will could be a need to look at reducing scope.  In my experience, the best method for reducing scope is to review the Priority assigned to each Business or User requirement.  Not that you can depend on Priority alone, but by using Priority to guide your discussion, you can be thorough about the process of evaluation.  This analysis activity is likely to be stressful.  And that is why capturing Priority at the start is helpful.  Capturing this information while your stakeholders are in a calm state of mind and focused on starting a new project makes it a great time to have this discussion.  The Business Analyst can help the owner of the requirement understand the value of capturing this element and once it is elicited once or twice, it will become part of the routine for the stakeholders.  Now think about trying to determine the Priority of the requirements while discussing the descoping of requirements.  This scene is a bit more difficult to navigate.  The owner of the requirement is reluctant to say anything other than “high” because he or she knows that they will have to fight harder to keep their lower-than-high Priority in scope.  Their name is associated with this requirement and so it is personal to them to keep it in scope.  Of course, we all hope that requirement owners can separate their personal feelings from what is right for the company but why take the chance?

Final Note

There are many elements to capture while eliciting requirements, and Priority can prove to be one of the most critical to your project’s success.  It can help steer your stakeholders through difficult discussions later on and all it takes is a simple question at the start.

July 13, 2010 at 8:54 pm 1 comment

Little League Learnings – Communication

I truly believe that elements of Leadership are not just applicable in our lives at work but also in real life. And last week at my son’s t-ball game, it was evident that Communication impacts all ages.

My son is NOT the world’s best listener. Like many 6 year olds, he’s very content playing in the dirt on the ball field than actually playing the game. At the end of last week’s game, at the end of the final inning, the coach yelled “After this batter, everybody run home”. His intent was that the runners on base run home so that every kid gets a chance to cross home plate. Unfortunately, he was not very clear nor concise in his communication. As the last batter nailed the ball from the t-stand, my son does as he was told and runs from his position at short stop to home plate. Other kids in the outfield were confused so they followed my son’s lead.

So this made me think a little about real life. What obligation did the coach have to better communicate his intent? How often do we, as communicators, assume that the receivers of our message know what we mean? What obligation did my son have as a receiver to ask for clarification if he didn’t understand? Was the use of the word “everybody” cause some of this issue? Could the coach have been more clear if he had said “the runners on base” instead of “everybody”?

Ah… the joys of little league but I do have to chuckle when I think about how the life lessons that my son is learning now in t-ball will follow him into adulthood and especially in his professional career.

July 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment

The Value of Enterprise Business Analysis

Enterprise Business Analysis is a critical step when initiating a project. Time spent in this activity can help your company start on the right foot with your project or prevent yourselves from spending valuable resources on a project that is not in the best interest of the company.

Continue Reading July 11, 2010 at 8:41 pm 2 comments


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 39 other followers

Top Posts & Pages


%d bloggers like this: