Software Applications - Business Analyst

General-Purpose Applications

1. Purpose

Business analysts use office productivity applications to document and track requirements.

2. Definition

These applications generally consist of three components in a suite of tools: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software. The documents produced by these tools are the primary way in which information is stored and distributed in many organizations, and business analysts need to be proficient with their use even where more specialized tools are available. They have the advantage of being low-cost or even free, and almost every stakeholder will have access to them. Word processors are commonly used to develop and maintain requirements documents.

They allow a great deal of control over the formatting and presentation of a document. Standard requirements documentation templates are widely available for word processors. Most word processing tools have a limited capability to track changes and record comments, and are not designed for collaborative authoring.Spreadsheets are often used to maintain lists (such as atomic requirements, features, actions, issues, or defects). Spreadsheets are the tool of choice for the capture and rudimentary algorithmic manipulation of numeric data. They can also be used to support decision analysis and are very effective at summarizing complex scenarios.

Spreadsheets also support limited change tracking, and can be shared among multiple users in much the same way as a word processing document.Presentation software is commonly used to support training or to introduce topics for discussion among stakeholders. While some of these applications can be used in a very limited way to capture requirements or simulate a low-fidelity prototype, their primary purpose is to support the structuring and delivery of verbal information.

Collaboration and knowledge management tools are used to support the capturing of knowledge distributed throughout an organization and make it as widely available as possible. They enable documents to be made available to an entire team and facilitate collaboration on those documents, enable multiple users to work on a document simultaneously, and generally support commenting on or discussion about the documents or their content as well. These tools may take the form of document repositories (which integrate with office productivity software), wikis (which allow easy creation and linking of web pages), discussion forums, or other web - based tools. They can vary widely in cost.

Communication tools, such as email and instant messaging applications, are used as needed to communicate with stakeholders who are remotely located, who cannot respond to queries immediately, or who may need a longer-term record of a discussion. They are generally available to almost all stakeholders and are very easy to use. However, they are generally not effective for long - term storage or retention of information. Their primary use is to facilitate communication over time or distance.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Measures of skill with general - purpose applications include:

  • Ability to apply an understanding of one tool to other similar tools.
  • Able to identify major tools in the marketplace and describe how they are used in any given situation.
  • Understands and is able to use most of the major features of the tool.
  • Able to use the tools to complete requirements - related activities more rapidly than is possible without them.
  • Able to track changes to the requirements made through the tools.

Specialized Applications

1.Purpose

Business analysts use modeling tools to support the development of formal models, and in some cases, their validation and implementation as well.

2. Definition

Diagramming tools are designed to support the rapid drawing and documentation of a model, typically by providing a set of templates for a particular notation which are used to develop diagrams based on it. They generally do not enforce or verify compliance with the notation standard, or do so in a limited fashion. They are generally low - cost and relatively easy to use, and the resulting diagrams can be integrated into a word processing document.

Modeling tools facilitate the conversion of the model into an executable form, either by use of a proprietary engine for executing the model or by generating application code which can be enhanced by a developer. The tool will verify compliance with the notation. Some modeling tools support the creation of executable models, such as business process management systems (which allow for the creation of executable process models) and business rules management systems (which allow for the enforcement of captured business rules). They are medium to high cost and often require some specialized training to use.

Requirements management tools are used to support change control, traceability, and configuration management of requirements and requirements artifacts. Some tools are also capable of linking requirements to software code. They are designed to ensure that a reason is recorded for any changes to the requirements and to help to rapidly identify any impacts from those changes. They are medium to high-cost and often require specialist training. They are most commonly used by large and/or geographically dispersed teams.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Measures of skill with specialized applications include:

  • Ability to apply an understanding of one tool to other similar tools.
  • Able to identify major tools in the marketplace and describe how they are used in any given situation.
  • Understands and is able to use most of the major features of the tool.
  • Able to use the tools to complete requirements - related activities more rapidly than is possible without them.
  • Able to track changes to the requirements made through the tools.

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