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Change Management Engagement Management Software Development

So, You Want What?

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Communication with Vision Variance

The swing picture has been circulating for years and we all still laugh at this picture, because it is still so true. Everyone who works on projects can relate to it. Yet if we know this happens, why is it so difficult to make a change?

English: The Universal Language

The customer speaks English. I write in English. Developers read English. Where is the confusion? What is the problem? Well, still the widget is not doing what is needed. This is because it is easy to believe everything is clear, yet there is still misunderstanding. Take for example the following statements:

1. “We need to produce a Minimally Viable Product(MVP).”

  • The application functions?
  • Oh, you want user tracking and analytics too?
  • You need email marketing automated?

Minimal needs clarification. If something is required, state it as required. On some projects I have provided a raking from Required to Nice to have.

2. “We have doubled our impressions”

  • Twice as many people are thinking highly of us?
  • Twice as many people are visiting our site?
  • Twice as many people saw our ad?
  • Our advertising is working?

English terminology can be different. Depending on the audience, clarification of terms and what they mean, or do not mean, could be useful.

3. “Take it EZ. “

  • Do not worry about it?
  • Only put in 4 hours of work today?
  • Do not work past 9 PM?
  • Sit around and watch TV?

People have preconceived ideas about what this means.

4. “There is no hurry on that”

  • Whenever I get to it is fine?
  • You need it today, but not right now?
  • You need it in the next hour, but not the next minute?

Without clarity on this one you could really get you into some trouble.

5. “What are possible solutions?”

  • Option A
  • Option B
  • Option C

Boss, “I like Options B.”

Contractor, “That one is not in scope. We can price that option for you.”

Boss, “Which possible solutions are in scope?”

Contractor, “Option A”

Here the contractor could stand to clarify the options as to what will add cost to the project.

The above examples point out how easy it is to state something clearly as we can all read what was written, but there can still be miscommunication.

Spending Less is Better!
(Or Maybe Not?)

A 2019 BMW Z4 is selling for $72,000. However, on the other side of town you can get the “exact same car” (color, model, features, etc…) from a different dealer for $65,000. Chełmża glyset tablets Spending less is better.

It is the same with software. Spending less for the same thing is better. If you are looking at a finished product, such as Turbo Tax for Business, and you can pick up a copy for $99 or the same product at another store for $89, slotland no deposit bonus spending less is better.

Imagine a scenario where Company X has put together a document describing their widget requirements and asked for quotes from three different software companies. The three different companies all supply their price to deliver the widget. They tell Company X what they will charge for the work. Should Company X award their contract to the low bidder? http://www.course22.com/12-cat/dating_27.html Is spending less better?

The Lowest Cost Was More!

Think about the swing picture which everyone laughs about. Which block of the picture was being described by the requirements? Which block of the picture was estimated by each of the software companies? There may be three costs provided, but what they plan on providing may not match the widget Company X has in mind.

You can sit in a room with employees of Company X, discuss what is needed, and still everyone walks away with a slightly different picture or understanding of what is needed and how best to proceed. We have the meeting to clarify details and reach consensus, but there will still be variation. What is the variation and how important is the variation?

“I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure that you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” – Erik Jul

One meeting attendee may think the system is getting a blue widget. Another attendee may think the system is getting a round widget. It may be the case that being blue or round is not important to Company X, but the functionality of the widget is important.

Projects proceed with some balance between clarity and ambiguity. It is important to understand this and identify prior to the start what balance is needed. How complex is the widget? How much detail is needed regarding the widget?

  • Higher Complexity = Higher Cost
  • Higher Detail = Higher Cost

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Specifications around the widget, what is being bought, is red slots 7 a balance between clarity and ambiguity. When a project is starting it is important to have an understanding that there is a level of clarity which is needed and a level of ambiguity which is tolerable. Change in a project is inevitable. However, change has a cost.

What if the software company with the lowest bid makes a blue colored round widget, but does not get the functionality correct? Because the needed functionality is not present, a change is required. Changes cost money. This cost is both the cost to make the change in functionality and the loss due to the widget not being available. It is quite possible that Antelope machine a sous payante en ligne the cost of the change now makes the company with the lowest bid the highest cost.

There are other considerations as well such as how something is built, future maintenance, ease of adding functionality. The lowest cost at first glance, does not mean it is always the best choice

Ways to Add Clarity
(A.K.A. Best Practices, Recommendations, Things to Try, Solutions)

1. Visible to All

There is a cost to both clarity and ambiguity. Documentation which can clarify a widget takes time and effort which has a cost. A lack of documentation which adds ambiguity around a widget adds to the possibility that rework and change will be needed before the widget is completed. I recommend the Rapid JAD principle of Visible to All as a model for gathering data about a widget and adding clarity. This can include pictures, diagrams, and flows. Imagine if the customer had provided a picture of the swing they wanted.

2. Six Components of a Well Written Requirement

Often requirements which are developed are missing information which helps add clarity. In my blog The Magic 6 I list the six components which should be a part of every requirement.

3. Test First

Whenever possible, provide the test(s) for successful completion of the widget along with the requirement detailing the widget. Providing the test(s) adds clarity to what the widget must do. For example, the swing may have weight requirements. Specify that you will be testing it with 150 pounds of weight.

4. Dictionary of terms

Different companies use terminology differently. This can lead to confusion. If there are terms you know are used in a specific way in the company, define them. I was in a meeting and the presenter was using the term, “Impressions.” I was wondering if the audience knew the definition of an impression. If they did, perhaps they would not have been as impressed.

Summary

Projects can have a lot of additional costs. For high cost projects or projects which are business critical, I always recommend looking at the past experience of the leaders who will be running the project on a day to day basis. They will know what to look for to balance clarity with ambiguity and make sure clarity is pulled in where there is currently ambiguity. Experience will help get you the needed widget in a timely fashion. After all, if what you need is a tire swing, but it costs you like a La-Z-Boy recliner or takes as long as a coaster, someone may be looking for the noose.

 

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Change Management Engagement Management Software Development

Avoid Project Management Pain

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stingProject managers drive change. They sit at the helm of a chartered operation intended to deliver specified high-quality business benefits on time and within budget.

Project management is a noble and difficult endeavor—part science, part art—and effective practitioners must be skilled and experienced in a host of related disciplines too numerous to list here (but look here).

Various bodies of knowledge, certifications, and best practices arise and proliferate with increasing frequency intending to help increase the project manager’s likelihood of success.

http://crsrealestatesolutionsllc.com/29-cat/dating_40.html Avoid Some Pain

Here’s the bad news: despite concerted and well-intentioned efforts, projects often fail to realize expected results. The perceived gap between delivery and expectation may prompt some project managers, sponsors, and would-be benefactors to consult the Schmidt Sting Pain Index for a scientific ranking of their pain.

Worse yet, much of that pain is avoidable. The key? Providing appropriate levels of organizational change management (OCM) to positively affect the people side of change.

Why? Because even the best IT project that meets quality, time, and budget objectives can still fail to deliver desired business results and return on investment by failing to address user adoption, utilization, and proficiency.

Prosci presents evidence gained through longitudinal surveys indicating that projects with excellent OCM are six times more likely to meet or exceed objectives than those with poor or no OCM (96% compared to 16%).

Brilliant! Because most IT projects implement solutions that must be adopted and used for business benefit, focusing on accelerating and improving user adoption, utilization, and proficiency makes sense.

In fact, not integrating OCM planning with project planning is like asking to be stung.

That’s what Schmidt did.

How integrated are your project and OCM plans?

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Rapid JAD Time Management

Bending the Dimension of Time for Quality

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Bending Time in the Quality Triangle

So much to do. So little time. If only we had more time. Have you felt this way about a project?

One colleague of mine likes to say, “Time, money, or resources. Which one do you want to sacrifice?” This is another play on the Project Management Triangle of Quality.

Time x Resources = Scope

If your time is fixed, then the only way to increase scope is to increase resources.

If your resources are fixed, then the only way to reduce time and still get the same scope is to sacrifice quality; or maybe not…

Bending Time

What if you can bend the dimension of time? Get more stuff in the same time, all the while increasing quality. This is in effect increasing scope without increasing time or resources.  This is the proven method we implement and what you can put in practice through the implementation of Rapid JAD.

Expand time. Expand the possible.

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Change Management Requirements Software Development

Prime the Pump

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pumpBy the time a Business Analyst (BA) shows up, many decisions have already been made. Things are in motion. Change is afoot.

It could be, for some in an organization, that the arrival of a BA is the first indicator of change. After all, one might think, why are you shadowing me, putting my life’s work into tidy swim lanes, drawing bony fish skeletons, and asking so many questions? What’s up? What’s in it for me?

It’s true. BAs are often among the first on the ground when the project team ramps up, gathering, defining, and managing the requirements that will become the foundation for future system development. But they should not be the vanguard of change messages.

Prime the Pump

Renowned motivational speaker Zig Ziglar used to tell the story, “Prime the Pump.”

Ziglar used that story of the hand pump to teach many lessons, one of which is “you need to put something in here (pointing to the pump mechanism) to get something out there (the spout).”

Organizations should “prime the pump” when it comes to managing change by communicating information about change initiatives early and frequently with stakeholders. What is changing? Why? When? In what ways? What happens if we do not change? These are natural questions, and they WILL be in the minds of stakeholders.

By sharing what can be known as soon and as transparently as possible, leaders help to set direction, increase awareness, and build desire for the change.

This primes the pump for the BAs and everybody else involved in the change initiative.

The effective BA understands the fundamentals of organizational change management (OCM) and, through their interactions with SMEs, front-line associates, managers, and executives, can help carry out the change tactics even as they ply their BA skills.

If the pump is primed, the BAs can work the pump handle nice and easy, information will flow like water, and the environment will be readied for successful Rapid JAD processes.

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Document Management Rapid JAD Requirements Software Development

Blow Your Mind Requirements For Results

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The Magic 6 is a black ball with the number 6 on it

Six components of a well-written requirement are so powerful that I call them magical. Missing any one of these six requirement attributes will cost your project.

Capture them up front to save money, time, help communication, and minimize frustration. Have you hired a company to gather requirements? They should provide these six.

Because I love practical examples and keeping it simple I will provide a short explanation with a real life example. This example comes from a centralized system that tracks issues for a company with multiple locations.  

1. A Unique ID

This is the first attribute of a good requirement. In addition to being unique, the identifier for each requirement should capture an area or grouping as well as a count. The grouping communicates the area within the entire project and provides context. For a system that tracks and communicates issues, a View Updates group was created. The unique identifier, uses an abbreviation and a numeric. For this group I used VU.01 for the first requirement in the group View Updates.

2. Identification of who needs the requirement

This is typically a group name, such as Customer. This communicates the group needing the feature, which provides use context as well as an idea of security level. This system has customers who need to view issues affecting their multiple locations.

3. Statement of what is required

A statement of what is required identifies the task to be accomplished or the action to be performed. For customers with multiple locations, “Search by location is needed for issues.” This communicates an action a customer needs to take.

4. Statement of why the requirement is needed

The market for a product as well as competitor products can be the impetus for rapidly changing a requirement. Communicating why something is required also provides information on when it may no longer be needed. For issue tracking, search by a specific location is needed so that the customer can see all issues affecting a location.

5. Acceptance Criteria

Ideally acceptance criteria is communicated by a business owner. This provides clear communication to the development team when the business will agree that work on a requirement is fulfilled. When a customer can search by a specific location and all results are displayed, this requirement is complete. For more information on this topic, see The End Goal – Removing Ambiguity in Requirement

6. Business Owner

This identifies the person who can answer questions regarding a specific requirement, Matt Murdock. All requirements should have a point of contact in the business. It can be months after a requirement has been captured and development questions arise. In addition to clarification, there may be impacts from other events that come along and you will need to get input the right person in the business. 

Blow Your Mind

If you are looking at a requirements document and the Business Analyst captured all six of these attributes, that should blow your mind. Take them to lunch and thank them, they are going to save your project time and money.

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Rapid JAD Requirements Software Development

Start with the End in Mind

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finish-2When developing systems and software, how do you know when you’re done?

Here are some proven failing methods:

  1. When time is up
  2. When the budget is exhausted
  3. When a sponsor or client demands the product
  4. When the project is cancelled or suspended

These are arbitrary, and sometimes brutal, measures, none of which necessarily correlates with either a complete or quality product.

Agile, test-driven development focuses on building to a testable goal, and then rapidly fixing what’s needed until all tests pass.

The business/requirements analyst can play a key role in helping to develop acceptance criteria, working with:

  • the product owner (What really meets the need of the customer?)
  • the developers (What exactly am I building, and how will I know that my code implements the desired features?)
  • and the testing/quality assurance lead (How can I test to demonstrate required functionality?)

With a focus on the end in mind, the business analyst can insert this bit of magic:

  • “This requirement is fulfilled when it is demonstrated that…”

This “definition of done” comes before the product owner signs off on the requirement, and the requirement is not fully written without this statement.

So, as you are implementing Rapid JAD processes, remember, you are not done unless you have started with the end in mind.

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Change Management Content Management Document Management Engagement Management Rapid JAD

How to Synthesize the Business Analysis Competencies

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Business Analysis Competency

Rapid JAD provides a practical solution for how a Business Analyst can quickly master the organization and synthesizing of large amounts of information provided by stakeholders.

When you look over the IIBA Business Analysis Competency Model there are a large number of competencies and tasks. Below is one pair from each major section which brings home the point that one needs good practical processes.

1.  Category – Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring

Task: Plan Requirements Management Process
Competency: Identifies and communicates risks and issues that may require changes to plan or scope

2.  Category – Elicitation

Task: Document Elicitation Results
Competency: Captures information provided in elicitation sessions

3.  Category – Requirements Management and Communication

Task: Maintain Requirement for Reuse
Competency: Organizes and maintains requirements for reuse

4.  Category: Enterprise Analysis

Task: Defines Business Need
Competency: Identifies and defines business needs

5.  Category – Requirements Analysis

Task: Organize Requirements
Competency: Organizes and Synthesizes large amounts of information provided by stakeholders

6.  Category – Solution Assessment and Validation

Task: Allocate Requirements
Competency: Allocates stakeholder and solution requirements among solution components to maximize business value

Just the six above can seem overwhelming, let alone the entire competency model!  And while the competencies are defined, how one becomes proficient or implements a task is not. This is because businesses and jobs in Business Analysis can vary greatly.

This is why we have developed the Rapid JAD principles, to provide practical methods, which when followed, will push aside many of the pitfalls a Business Analyst can run into while performing their tasks and mastering their competencies.

The Rapid JAD team has years of practical experience in government, nonprofit, and private sectors in numerous industries. We would love to hear from you. Let us know what your experience has been as you implement the principles and master the world of Business Analysis competencies.

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Rapid JAD Requirements Software Development

How To Get More of What You Need Faster

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As a business analyst or system developer, do you want to get more of what you need– accurate, complete, testable requirements that meet the customer’s needs–faster?

Like any good business analyst, I often use graphical tools to explore an idea, discover logical relationships, simplify concepts, or present findings.

Consider the following:rapid-jad-2x2

This simple 2-by-2 chart plots speed and accuracy in determining functional requirements for software development.  Both are desirable goals.

It’s obvious: avoid quadrants 1-3.  Ever been there?  These are not happy places for any project.

Quadrant 4 is everyone’s goal.  Get more of what you need, faster. But how to get there? Reliably? Repeatedly? Quickly?

In my years of project experience I’ve come to rely on the four simple, actionable steps we call Rapid JAD (see quadrant 4, above).

How quickly you begin realizing benefits simply depends upon how quickly you adopt and begin practicing Rapid JAD.  Regardless of the size, complexity, duration, or project phase, start now.  Or, if you’ve already started using Rapid JAD (congratulations!), then seek opportunities to learn, reflect, improve your practice, or share with others.

You will get more of what you need, faster.  Guaranteed.

For an introduction or refresher:

Capture Now
Document Once
Visible to All
Revise Quickly

Start getting more of what you need, faster. Use the 2X2 chart, above, to plot your own success!

 

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How to Increase Your Shares and Click-Through

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How to increase your shares and click through. An example of CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer

Building quality content and creating consumer appeal to reach your target market takes a new mindset. These five takeaways help in a world of social marketing: Topic, Title, Graphic, Lead Paragraph, and Content.

As Erik Jul points out in I Don’t Like to Write, it is fun having written! But even if you have written, it is no good having a site nobody visits. This post is a follow-on to, Increase Traffic to Your Website and Love the Results, because I am passionate about marketing, social, and the web.

The Topic

  1. Topic: This is the first thing to identify. What do people want to read? Want to know about? Want to Share? And most importantly which of the above answers is a topic you want to write about? Writing is always better when you like and want to write about a topic. With these questions answered you have a topic.

The Social Post

The next three items are new and go together because they are picked up by social sites when posting a URL. On social sites, people will share, re-post, and re-tweet regardless of content. They do this because they like what is communicated in the post itself. This might not have been as important in the past, but times they are a changin.

  1. Title: When creating a title, ask yourself, is it a good title? Is the title catchy? Is the title shareable? Additionally, you can now rate your Title on CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, to get another thought on the value of your title. Let’s look at rating from a recent popular in your network list from Twitter.
  2. Graphic: All posts, topics, or web pages need a good graphic. Create a graphic which is related to your topic and one which is interesting. Ask yourself, is it catchy? Is it shareable? Whenever I am out and about I take pictures. Pictures of all kinds of items. Now I have these available to use. And do not forget Memes, graphics with text on top, as people love to share memes.
  3. Lead Paragraph: The first paragraph is picked up by social sites when you provide the page URL. This paragraph, in conjunction with the Title and Graphic may be the only thing people read as they may not follow the link to your content. Make your lead paragraph something people will want to share all on its own. Convey the worthiness and message summary of your topic in the lead paragraph.

And Then There is Content

  1. Content: This has been important for the past decade as a way to increase page rank on search engines. People do want good content. If you desire people to come back to your site, good content is a must.
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Content Management Document Management Engagement Management Rapid JAD Time Management

Rapid JAD in Pictures

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by Erik Jul*

capture-now
Capture Now. No time is better, and certainly not later.

document-once
Document once. Don’t do the work multiple times. Whose got the time?

visible-to-all
Visible to all. Everyone has to see. Why? They might have more perfect knowledge, opinions, suggestions, have approval authority, or just need a sense of comfort.

revise-quickly
Revise quickly. With all best efforts, you might get close to a final, correct, and complete artifact. But don’t count on it. Just change it as quickly as possible.

Rapid JAD really is simple. Execution is the key: decide (it starts with you), implement (start somewhere, but just start), adjust (learn as you go), practice (build the Rapid JAD habit), multiply (share the revolution and bring others along with you).

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