POSTSCRIPT WHICH TECHNIQUES
DO I REALLY NEED?
Having completed the rest of this book, we had a thought. If we were new
business analysts and had just read, or even scanned, through the book,
would we now be in a state of panic, worried that we needed to master all of the
techniques described – all 72 of them – before we could perform any worthwhile
work? The answer, clearly, is ‘no’; business analysts develop their skills and
acquire their ‘toolbox’ over time, learning new techniques in response to the needs
of their assignments. However, we thought there might be some interest in our
own favourite techniques – ones that we’ve found indispensable and return to
over and over again in our business analysis work. So here, in no particular order,
are our ‘ﬁrst eleven’ for you to consider.
CATWOE (Technique 27)
It’s hard to exaggerate how useful this is. So often in organisations problems are
caused by diﬀerences of Weltanshauung (worldview) between key stakeholders.
In a business, one person thinks they should pile high and sell cheap; others
think they should aim for high net worth customers. In government, one minister
believes that the state should intervene more; others think less. In a charity,
some supporters think they should stick to relieving poverty directly, while others
believe that political activism is part of their role. Unless these diﬀerences are
brought out into the open and discussed explicitly, they will bubble away under
the surface and undermine any eﬀorts by business analysts to introduce new and
better processes and systems. The BAM (Business Activity Model) developed from
the CATWOE enables the organisation’s managers to see how the diﬀering
perspectives would pan out as alternative conceptual models.
Business process modelling (swimlane diagrams – Technique 37)
The only real way to understand how business processes work is to model them.
Models reveal the inconsistencies, loops, delays and bottlenecks involved in a
process and also show how many ‘ﬁngers are in the pie’. A systematic analysis of
‘as is’ process models provides a business analyst with the opportunity to think
analytically and creatively about what the organisation really needs to do to
achieve a better ‘to be’ situation.
Use case diagrams (Technique 62)
In trying to scope the boundaries and functions of a proposed system, the
business analyst needs a technique that is simple to understand and accessible
to the business actors, and use case diagrams ﬁt the bill perfectly. A use case
diagram can model an entire business system or can show the boundary of a
proposed IT system. They can be created quickly and easily in a workshop, and,