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support) to be considered compliant (noting that
changes to corporate policies can often take months to
be approved and issued).
Ask management (or the project executive) to permit
an exception to the corporate policy, based on the
estimated delivery cost of this feature.
Depending on the nature of the organization, it may be
possible for the Agile team to recommend an approach that
adheres to the spirit of the corporate policy (i.e. its intent),
even if it does not adhere to the letter of the policy (i.e. the
exact wording). The Agile business analyst can work with
the business users on positioning an appropriate argument
to the decision makers to get approval for alternative
approaches that achieve the organization's customer-service
objectives without handcuffing the capabilities in the
solution.
6. Reviewing and refining existing business processes
The two previous sections identified situations where a
requested capability was being driven by corporate policy
or by regulatory compliance and where there appeared to
be limited opportunity for the Agile team members to use
their discretion in excluding this capability, even if
delivering it would use an inordinate percentage of the
available project resources.
This section deals with a somewhat different challenge: a
capability requested to address an internal business driver
in the organization. The two drivers identified in the
previous example are based on the following:
Feedback received from the customer-service
department that customers are unhappy with how
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difficult it is to identify what checks have and have
not – been cleared against their accounts.
A management directive based on operational reports
that identified it takes 320 staff hours per year to
address customer questions about which specific
checks have cleared against their accounts.
The Agile business analyst can help the business users get
to the heart of the business drivers, and separate the
originally requested capability from other available options
that may be able to equally (or possibly better) address this
business requirement. For example, it may be possible to
provide customers with scanned images of their checks
without needing to display these images as part of the
online banking screens. Two alternative ways to achieve
this could be by:
Providing a report that the customer can link to which
summarizes all of their processed checks for the stated
period.
Proactively including scanned check images in printed
statements, which can minimize the need for customers
to get this information from the online system.
The organization may also be able to reduce the overheads
associated with processing checks by making their internal
workflows more efficient, for example:
Changing the incoming mail procedures to make it easier
for checks to be scanned, and for the scanned check
images to be automatically uploaded to the server that
hosts the online banking application.
Although this business process change would not fulfill the
requirement for providing customers with the ability to see
their posted checks, it could reduce backend operational
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costs. Having the scanned images directly on the server can
also make it easier for the Agile development team to build
capabilities to access these images without needing to build
(and test) separate interfaces, which can reduce the amount
of effort required for the team to deliver this capability.
The involvement of the Agile business analyst in
addressing these business drivers may also result in
proposed business changes that have little to do with
building capabilities in the software solution or with
changing the internal business processes, for example:
Recommending that the organization encourages more
customers to use electronic funds transfers for bill
payments, etc. to reduce the volume of paper checks
processed overall.
All of the preceding options can allow the organization to
achieve its customer service and operational cost
management objectives without depending upon the
software solution as the only mechanism for delivering
these outcomes.
Skilled Agile business analysts can use a number of
techniques to identify where existing business processes
can be made more efficient, including:
Business process modeling and business process
optimization, which involves documenting the current
business processes an organization uses and assessing
them to determine where inefficiencies exist. One of
the most effective ways of modeling business processes
is by using business process modeling notation

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