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As a business analyst, I regularly need to make presentations to groups large and small. It is often nerve-wracking so I like to pick up new techniques and approaches that might help. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to listen to a webinar entitled "Presentation Skills for Conferences" that was offered by members of the organising committee for the BA Conference Europe 2017. The webinar was facilitated by IRM UK and the members who made up the panel were Debbie Paul, Adrian Reed and...

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Posted: 25 Apr 2017  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
Since the election of Donald Trump in the United States, and the EU referendum in the UK, a number of social commentators have drawn attention to what is becoming known as the 'echo chamber' effect, whereby people only interact with social media that reflect, and therefore reinforce, their own view of the world. As a result, they are not exposed to different, and possibly challenging ideas and viewpoints. In a rather similar fashion, I have noticed that many organisations exist within their...

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Posted: 27 Mar 2017  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
October 2016 saw the release of a "state of the nation (profession) paper" by the consultancy firm - KPMG. The report is entitled "Business Analysis - Positioning for Success" and is based on a recent and extensive survey of BA and IS professionals who perform a range of roles. http://www.iiba.org/Learning-Development/L-D/research-and-study-impact2016.aspx Whilst many survey respondents will be based in the Americas we might remember that eggs are eggs whatever country you happen to be in....

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Posted: 13 Mar 2017  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
Over the past two years the Leicester City story has transcended football and captured the imagination of sporting and non-sporting fans alike. On 4 th April 2015, Leicester City were rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, and were odds on to be relegated. Turn the clock forward to 2 nd May 2016, and Leicester City were crowned champions of England. Described as a modern day fairy tale this was one of the most amazing turnarounds in sporting history. However, the 'happy ever...

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Posted: 02 Mar 2017  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
As regular readers will know, your Alchemist, among other activities, presents training courses in business analysis. One thing that sometimes surprises me is when I am asked for the 'right' answer to a business issue, or the 'correct' technique to use in a given situation. Unfortunately, my answers can disappoint as they usually begin with "Well, it all depends..." The same concern is also evident in online forums like LinkedIn, where there are requests for definitive answers to questions...

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Posted: 14 Feb 2017  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
The business alchemist can look back on many glowing achievements but few compare to a first bronze medallion swim badge that was proudly presented by the then Scunthorpe town player, Kevin Keegan (pre-perm). Imagine my horror then to overhear a business analyst decry professional certification as being no better than a swim badge. This is wrong at every level. Firstly, the "swim badge" shows a real achievement, swimming a certain distance, collecting the brick from the bottom of the...

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Posted: 31 Jan 2017  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
An earlier blog looked at how business analysts can support product owners with their agile development work. This blog looks at another possibility, which is the situation where a BA is required to actually cover some of the responsibilities and work of the product owner role. While it is the case that a BA may possess certain skills that can supplement those of the product owner, we need to think carefully before assuming that the BA should become the 'Proxy PO' by taking on elements...

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Posted: 16 Jan 2017  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
The New Year usually raises the thorny issue of resolutions. 'What shall I aim to do, or to not do, over the next year?' we ask ourselves. And inevitably, our good intentions last for a few weeks, or days, or possibly, hours. However, help may be at hand. Once upon a time the business alchemist was a dedicated smoker - until he read a short paperback called "The Easyway to Give Up Smoking". * The book was written back in the mid-80's by a converted 100 a day man, Allen Carr. Now "The...

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Posted: 03 Jan 2017  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
Just the other day a dreadful thing happened to me. Much to my dismay, Mrs Alchemist decided to start playing Christmas records. Now when I say 'record' I do not mean a circular piece of vinyl of the sort which entertained music lovers in the previous century; what I mean, of course, is she streamed the offending tune online, using a fully legitimate and subscribed music service. As shop assistants throughout the UK have had these festive tunes inflicted on them since as long ago as...

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Posted: 09 Dec 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
More and more organisations are adopting agile development approaches and, accordingly, more and more business analysts are asking the question "How can I support the product owner with their agile development work?" Scrum.org is clear about the PO role, describing it as " responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team, which can vary widely across organizations. The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog"....

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Posted: 28 Nov 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
I was recently asked to review an e-learning product produced by a major organisation. It used video, graphics and animation and cost tens of thousands of pounds to produce. Its designers and promoters were keen to emphasise its use of up-to-date technology. It was relatively entertaining. However, it had little to do with learning. The designers had missed the point completely. The objectives and process of learning had disappeared beneath a host of technologies. E-learning...

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Posted: 14 Nov 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
"The principle finding of our investigation is that you're original surmises was correct and that the problem lays within your process and systems and not by your people. They are disinterested but it is the processes that are mainly the problem here. Enough!!! "This is the type of English up with which I will not put" (as Sir Winston Churchill famously wrote in the margin of a memo that displeased him). There is a fashion at the moment whereby some people...

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Posted: 31 Oct 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
If you attended the BA Conference Europe last month you may have seen television broadcaster and author Gavin Esler's brilliant keynote speech about leadership, in which he shared his experiences of interviewing some of the world's most famous and powerful figures. Central to Esler's presentation was the notion of 'telling stories' i.e. how it is through stories that successful leaders define themselves, gather followers and share, develop and defend their ideas. For example, when Bill Clinton...

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Posted: 19 Oct 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
This year's BA Conference Europe was, yet again, an amazing success. How brilliant it was to welcome 410 delegates from 28 countries! So many stories were shared and new networks formed against a backdrop of presentations and workshops delivered by BA experts. How often do we get the opportunity to witness new BA frameworks, methodologies and tools and techniques discussed in such depth with so much experience contributing to the conversation? It was great that all those who attended...

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Posted: 03 Oct 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
I wonder sometimes about the etiquette of email communication and whether we fall foul of making assumptions or allowing our concerns to take precedence to the detriment of the desired outcomes. A few recent examples brought the following to mind: The crystal ball delusion. Have you ever received an email and thought 'I'll get onto that as soon as I can' then found that this takes a few days or even weeks. In the meantime, your best intentions to provide a thorough and accurate...

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Posted: 19 Sep 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
It is interesting how many techniques and frameworks there are available to business analysts - and how rarely we apply them to business analysis itself. The phrase 'cobbler's shoes' often comes to mind as we use analytical techniques to help our customers improve their work but don't think about applying them to ourselves. Some examples where we might gain insights from using such techniques are: Drawing a use case diagram of the BA services Building a rich picture of a BA...

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Posted: 05 Sep 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
BAs are often asked what they do and/or what benefits their existence brings. People who don't "get" business analysis may not be clued into the value it can offer. Some may even not be aware of the existence of the role. So what is your elevator speech? Does your heart sink at the party when you have to explain what it is that you do? Any answer will be unique to the individual but I have sought out some useful definitions and tag lines for the role that I can share with you. Hopefully some...

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Posted: 22 Aug 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
All professional disciplines need to be supported by best practice guidance upon which standards, job definitions, estimates and certifications can be based. One of the key issues for business analysis when it first emerged was the absence of acknowledged best practice; gaining insights into relevant techniques and skills required a reading list running to several pages. However, over the last decade, guidance has been generated by the business analysis practitioner community and two key examples...

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Posted: 09 Aug 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
As the dust settles on Brexit, politicians from both sides (Remain & Leave) have to unite to find the best way forward for the UK. They need to engage with each other and their respective constituencies as at no other time in most of our living memories, regardless of personal likes/dislikes or political persuasion. A strategy is required that focuses on delivering a set of priorities that have been carefully negotiated and are 'right' for the whole country. Does this sound...

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Posted: 25 Jul 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
So how should one while away a summer day - when the sun is shining and the light evenings encourage us to venture outdoors. How about a walk down to the cricket pitch to listen to the sound of leather on willow and enjoy an afternoon snooze; very civilised. Perhaps more typically, and not enjoying the seasonal delights, what about an evening in front of the football on TV? The business alchemist isn't the biggest football fan, but given one daughters passion for the sport, the interest grows....

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Posted: 11 Jul 2016  |  Author: The Business Alchemist  |  Comments (0)
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