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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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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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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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Rapid JAD Software Development

How to Take the Stress Out of Large Software Projects

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Momma singing me to sleep

I remember those ol’ days when I was stressed out about software projects. Not at all like momma singing me to sleep.

220 requirements, 14 design sessions, and 7 months into the project and my mind is jumbling bits and pieces together. The project manager asks me a question. I know some of the topic. I know this was discussed. Others made decisions.

Then I am thinking, why is anyone wondering about this? What is in scope or out of scope? Ah, we have a new project manager and this was a project manager number one discussion topic.

Thankfully I work on a team that implements the Rapid JAD principles:

  • Capture Now: If this was used, then we captured the topic and important decisions
  • Document Once: If this was used, then we have accurate notes stored in our document repository
  • Visible to All: If this was used, then everyone can find the information
  • Revise Quickly: If this was used, then the information is current

Finding that tidbit of information is a document repository search away…found. Ah, now I see an issue was created and logged in TFS…there it is.

Rapid JAD principles take the stress out of large software development project. They are as comforting as momma singing me to sleep.

Yes, I remember those ol’ days when I was stressed out.

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Rapid JAD Requirements Uncategorized

Fllng n Th Blnks

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Fill In the Blank

By Erik Jul

If you read the title, you probably already have a sense of the topic: Filling In The Blanks.

How did you know that? In response to visual stimuli (the title), your brain did you a favor by filling in the missing letters (the vowels, in this case) in order to make sense of what you were seeing.

Take a minute to thank your brain…

…for making it easy to read an incomplete string of letters, form words, and make meaning. And for the billions of other times just today that your brain has taken much more complex and equally incomplete sensory data and rendered for you a version of the world that makes sense. Mostly.

At least, to it.

Neuro- and cognitive scientists refer to a principle of closure:

“The mind’s tendency to see complete figures or forms even if a picture is incomplete, partially hidden by other objects, or if part of the information needed to make a complete picture in our minds is missing”

Take another minute to thank your brain. It’s doing the best it can, and it certainly hopes that you appreciate it.

You see, the brain practically lives just to make sense of things, and it loves doing so in the most efficient way possible. Which often means using limited data to predict the reality that the data represent. In fact, as soon as the brain has a “good fit,” having matched sensory input against a memory bank of possibilities, it serves up it’s best offering.

Now, better take another minute to be concerned about what your brain is telling you.

And, if you are a business or requirements analyst, take a long minute to ponder the thousands of times you and others, in perfectly well-managed joint application development sessions, have thought that you understood the customer’s need based on your acceptance of the meaning that your brain provided based on limited information.

And if you are now taking a minute to wonder, “How can we decrease the chance that we are accepting in our requirements workshops as “true and complete” what our brain is providing based on incomplete information? I would completely understand.

And I would recommend practicing the Rapid JAD principles.

Now, scientifically approved.

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Rapid JAD Requirements Uncategorized

Bundling

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By Erik Jul

Bundling is a tidy idea.  Consider the humble bundle of sticks.

Bundle of Sticks

Useful.

Or the Roman fasces, shown here on the reverse of a U.S. Mercury dime, or Winged Liberty Head, dime.

Fasces

Powerful.

What makes each bundle desirable?

  • Utility
  • Fitness for a purpose
  • Ease of use
  • Similarity or complementarity of components, or
  • Some other bundle-making attribute that ties the individual pieces together

When selecting from a backlog of functional requirements, product owners and developers must select and form a bundle for the next development sprint.

This may seem like–or it may be–and easy job.  More often than not, however, it is fraught with decisions, trade-offs, and compromises.

What makes a good bundle?  Something must tie them together.

  • They implement a coherent feature.
  • They trace to user stories or epics.
  • They build upon a prior bundle.
  • They are required for a subsequent bundle.
  • They match the velocity of the development team.
  • They can be implemented in the current environment.
  • The account for any technical debt from previous bundles.

Of course, any bundle is only as good as its constituent requirements, which must be clear, correct, complete, consistent, unambiguous, verifiable, traceable, and testable.  Rapid JAD techniques greatly assist these objectives.

Creating the right requirement bundle is the basis for a successful development sprint, and a good bundle starts with a strategically stocked product backlog selected from a bank of user stories or epics.

Executing these challenging business analysis and project management tasks can prevent a bundle from becoming a bungle.

What’s in your bundle?

 

 

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Document Management Rapid JAD

Getting It Right

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by Erik Jul

When specifying requirements for a new system, large or small, how much do we have to get right?

Isn’t “All of it” the right answer?

Not always, and maybe never.

Concepts such as “minimally viable product” (which carries the moniker MVP as if it were some sort of champion), “iterative solution scoping,” and “progressive elaboration” decry the notion of completeness and possibly even that of correctness.

Of course, no one wants to deliver, or attempt to use, a system that does not work or is ill-suited to the task. So “getting it right” must matter to some degree: the system must work as specified.

But how much of what the user needs or wants has been identified and correctly specified in functional and other requirements? And of that, how much was correctly implemented?

Relying upon a Six Sigma approach (a methodology driving toward six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) may reduce defects, but may still fall short of identifying a customer’s true problem and its best solution.

Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Agile, and the Three Amigos Scrum Alliance. These, plus approaches already forgotten or yet to be proposed, try to help us “get it right.”

In successive waves of innovation and reinvention, practitioners attempt to narrow the gap between what’s needed, what’s specified, what’s delivered, and what solves the customer’s problem.

Along that path, from problem to solution (scope, time, and cost notwithstanding), the professional solutions team—sponsor, business owner, project manager, business analyst, QA /tester, solution architect, developer, trainer, change management lead—all focus on “getting it right.”

Common software development and project management practices such as change requests, expectation management, phased releases, bug fixes, cumulative updates, and new versions testify that “getting it right” remains a noble goal seldom reached and maybe never reasonably expected.  For now, these are our best tools for getting it right, eventually.

To increase the likelihood of getting more right now rather than eventually, try these Rapid JAD principles: Capture Now, Document Once, Visible to All, and Revise Quickly.

Simple. Proven. Effective.

How much do you want to get right?

 

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