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A Business Analyst's view about Planning

For almost every feature on our daily activities, planning is an important matter; since it increases efficiency and reduces most of business-related risks it becomes one of the most essential parts of a development or business project. The use of planning strategies will also help outlining the objectives and milestones while motivating those involved by giving a sense of order and, eventually, accomplishment.

 
Every project needs a planning stage, but in order for it to be successful it needs to stay focused on the main target, this means to understand what is inside the boundaries of the project. It will focus on objectives related to the main target and will be continuous and prevalent during the whole assignment. During the planning stage it is very important to make sure to save enough time for meetings, research, setting the environment, upgrades, code reviews, interviews with stakeholders and such activities.
 
The planning process will be divided into tasks; these are the smallest identifiable and essential pieces of a job that will serve as a unit of work, and as a means of differentiating between the various components of a project.
 
In order to keep on going with the subject, we may first define four main concepts that are constrained to the planning stage of any project:


Inputs

They consist of the information or precondition necessary to begin any task; they might be explicitly generated outside the scope of our work (e.g. a specific request made by the customer) or triggered by another task.


Outputs

These are the goods, services or results produced by a machine, computer, system or contractor. In this sense it is important to understand that anything generated after working with an input, becomes an output, even a reject or failure. Examples of outputs are queries, screens, mockups and deliverables.


Milestones

Milestones are scheduled events that indicate the completion of a major deliverable event (or a set thereof) of a project; they are measurable and observable and serve as progress markers (flags) but, by definition, are independent of time (have zero durations) therefore no work or consumption of resources is associated with them.


Techniques

There’s a wide variety of planning techniques that we will discuss on further posts throughout this week, but what we must point out right now is that they will provide additional information on different ways depending on how the task might be performed or the different forms that an output task may take. They go from a simple brainstorm to requirements workshops and decision analysis; the right technique for a project depends on its approach and type.


Stakeholders

Anybody who can affect or is affected by an organization, strategy or project is considered a stakeholder; any of the following may be a stakeholder:

· Business analyst
· Customer
· Domain Subject Matter Expert (SME)
· End User
· Implementation Subject Matter Expert (SME)
· Project Manager
· Tester
· Regulator
· Sponsor
· Supplier

Regarding the Project Managers PM and the Business Analysts BA, their scopes will be different, so it is convenient to understand them.

 

Business analisys

 

Defining the responsibilities of each stakeholder might become a hard task, to help you out through this you can use the RACI matrix, It describes stakeholders as having one or more of the following responsibilities for a given task or deliverable:
 
(R)esponsible: does the work.
(A)ccountable: decision maker (only one).
(C)onsulted: must be consulted prior to the work and provides an output.
(I)nformed: must be notified of the outcome.
 
The BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge) provides examples of this matrix: 

RACI matrix

Now that you have a better understanding on this matter, we can move forward on the next days to explain the techniques that can be used for planning.

 

Sergio H.

Sergio has 10 years of experience in the industry and a great trajectory in business analysis. He has a major in Computer Systems Engineer and was born in Villahermosa, Tabasco. Among his hobbies we can find manga, video games and sports and more recently motorcycles. He has written very helpful posts from the business side of IT you should read.

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