Business Intelligence Toolkit: Personal Experience

    We have repeatedly told how the first major client nearly killed our entire business. Then one of the obvious holes, along with QA (Quality Assurance), was BA (Business Analysis). Before the emergence of truly large projects in our portfolio, there was no need for a deep analysis of the customer’s business requirements and development of system solutions to satisfy them. There are three business analysts at Redmadrobot who determine the points of development of mobility projects based on the business tasks of clients.
    One of our BAs, Semyon Zamorov, shared his Toolset, a set of programs that help him get the job done even faster.

    The International Institute for Business Analysis (IIBA) defines business analysis as the
    practice of creating the conditions for the implementation of organizational changes by identifying needs and proposing solutions that would benefit shareholders.

    In Redmadrobot, we try to maintain a certain rhythm in order to clearly carry out the tasks. The Agile and Scrum methodology helps us with this. Timing is very valuable for analysts, no less than for PM. That's why we use a sprint pulse., which clearly regulates the deadline for the implementation of a set of works and correctly distributes activities between team members. During the sprint, 20 people load tons of information into business analytics every day, because VA is an intermediary between the development team and the customer, and tasks and questions fly from both sides. Systematization of information, organization of tasks and monitoring the implementation of projects are very relevant topics, which I will talk about.
    I’ll make a reservation - I use a Mac and an Android smartphone, because of this there is some specificity of my toolkit.

    What it all consists of
    My Toolset is divided into two zones - common with the project team and the project personal. The general tasks include the current sprint, business functional, functional requirements, etc. (We carry out tasks in JIRA, and store the requirements in Confluence). And what to do with other activities that are related to the project personal area?

    How does it work

    • 1. Definition of the scope of work. Scope is formed in JIRA together with the customer. We try to take more tasks for evaluation, so that there is plenty to choose from.
    • 2. Business analysis and the stage of preparation for the assessment. The task scope is usually formulated as epic stories. It is in the form of epic names that I create a set of tasks in Wunderlist . Be sure to attach a link to the task, it’s easier to search and track.

    Wunderlist . The choice of the program is due to its relative simplicity without sacrificing functionality. As a nice addition - it can be used on Mac and Android at the same time. With Wunderlist, I control the timing of tasks not only small and everyday, but also tasks from JIRA. It is better to have one common source of information, which will provide a complete picture of current activities. All tasks fall into the inbox and may not have a clear description. At the end of the working day, I sort through this list, clarify descriptions, set deadlines and put everything in folders in Wunderlist and shortcuts in Evernotethat partially overlap (Beeline, Redmadrobot, Personal). Such an organization allows me to clearly control the work of the current day and plan the next week.

    Next, the process of working with a specific task begins. With a pen in a notebook, I write out the entire set of atomic user stories, which, in my opinion, should be performed by the user of the mobile application, and also fix the special requirements for these stories in the form of a note. It turns out a draft, which can be discussed and clarified with the customer. I take a draft and send it to Evernote . This helps if necessary to return to the roots, if something in the process is lost.

    The discussion results in a list of clear and understandable user stories that I record in Confluence. All important letters, meeting minutes are sent to Evernote .
    So, fixing the business level at every step, I get the most complete picture, which is stored in my personal knowledge base.

    Evernote I use it to aggregate all the information received. Important letter? We ship to Evernote . Jot down something important in a notebook? I take pictures - and upload there. This approach has repeatedly saved me. Junk - all unsorted information - merges into a common notebook. There I keep notes for a week. Then everything that has not passed confirmation and has not become relevant, is deleted. I supply the updated records with the necessary tag and send to the right notebook with the name of the project. For convenient and quick search or search, I use tags.

    • 3. The evaluation process. The usual, classical process of evaluating future tasks and making decisions about taking a task into work or rejecting and transferring part or all of it to another sprint. The set of tasks is fixed in JIRA, approved by the customer and the sprint starts.
    • 4. System analysis and design. At this point, I already have a complete understanding of the task and a set of necessary artifacts for work. As a rule, if consultation with the customer is required, it will be minimal and is more likely to be synchronized. At this step, my set of actions is as follows:

    - Wunderlist . Tasks that are not included in the sprint go out of sight to the backlog. Tasks that are included in the sprint are provided with new deadlines and reminders. In parallel, there is a set of tasks outside the sprint, with a long lead time (personally, my tasks at work).

    - The calendar. In the calendar, I plan in advance the dates for the review of requirements with the project team (usually 1-2 weeks in advance). It helps me maintain my personal inner rhythm and try to do everything on time.

    - Mail.Standard Mac mail client. The most important thing is setting up filters. I use two required: Today (messages for the current day only) and New (only new messages). Such a system helps to focus on the important and not spray on the tasks of the past day. In extreme cases, there is always a search. I try not to keep too much and only look at the Today filter. All that is needed for work will be sent to Evernote. Mail for correspondence, not for storing information. The information I'm currently working with, I keep in the SPRINT notebook. I also conduct a system analysis based on user stories.

    - Pomodoro. The Pomodoro - 11 Pomodoro timer for a working day helps to control the rhythm of personal project tasks .

    • 5. Review requirements with the project team. As soon as I consider that my work has been completed, the design requirements are sent to Confluence, and there they are drawn up in accordance with accepted standards. Further, the requirements are tested by the project team for comprehensibility, completeness, non-inconsistency - in general, a quality check. Some doublet.
    • 6. Based on the results of the review, the requirements receive a repeated upgrade from the customer.

    As a result, we get:
    1. A personal knowledge base in Evernote , filled with many artifacts for a specific task.
    2. A handy tool for aggregating all work tasks based on Wunderlist .
    3. Tool for maintaining the rhythm of work - Calendar .
    4. A communication tool with the project team and the customer that does not disperse your attention - Mail and filters .
    5. Convenient pace of work throughout the day - Pomodoro Timer .

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