Is it enough to say that the BA is the “universal translator” between business and IT?

I often hear that we need a business analyst to translate what the business people say, so that technical people understand them. Then, I am told we need the BA to then translate what the technical people say, so that the business people understand them.

I guess it goes something like this:

It sounds good, but actually I don’t think it is true.

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Can I still use a use case on my agile project – even if the cool kids don’t use them anymore?

I have been told that use cases are very old fashioned now and that all the cool people have moved onto agile user stories.

But I am old school and I still like to pull the old approaches out every now and then and take them for a spin.

I found myself explaining use cases in both a lecture (where the company wanted me to explain them to the BA teams) and a small team where people had been doing use case diagrams but not really use cases. Then I got asked in a BA course – “do you use stories for agile projects and use cases for waterfall ones?”

My answer was “it depends – probably just ask the BA”. But the student responded that she was a BA and that all the other cool BA’s would make fun of her if she wore the wrong clothes to school or used the wrong tool on the wrong project.

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The humble trade-off matrix

I have been doing some business analyst training recently and I spoke about a “trade-off matrix” a couple of times. A couple of people have asked for a good link to explain what one is and why they are so cool. So I looked on the web and couldn’t find anything decent enough to send through.

So I thought I would describe what a trade-off matrix is here. I will also briefly mention why they are useful and then mention a couple of variations that people might not have heard of.

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Analysing stakeholders – beyond the basic communication plan

A basic map of our stakeholders

Quite some time ago, I wrote an article on “creating a basic communication plan” and for many projects that is all you need.

But sometimes it is worth analysing your stakeholders in more detail. This article explores a couple of approaches that I like to use when I need to understand more about my end users or more about my “project stakeholders”.

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