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Analysis for Good, BRDs, and Machine Learning

3 Key Takeaways from BA Digest (Q2 Edition)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the perspectives of IIBA.
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The Q2 edition of BA Digest was recently released, which contains seventeen diverse articles. If you’re short of time, here’s an espresso-sized summary of three.

1. Machine Learning in the Real World

In "Aggregating Chaos: Where Machine Learning and the Real World Collide," Anna Rajander explores the relevance of machine learning (ML) to business analysis practitioners. With the advent of “big data,” the use of ML models has become more prominent in organizations looking to utilize their vast data for predictive analytics.

When applying these models to the real world, it’s crucial to consider the data on which they’ve been developed. This allows us to identify any limitations or risks associated with their application. Business analysis practitioners should consider factors such as appropriateness, representativeness, and any changes in the real world that may impact the fitness of the model.

Developing a new ML model requires both an ML algorithm and data, with the algorithms finding patterns, correlations, and anomalies in existing datasets to create models that can be applied to new information. It’s important to recognize that the same ML algorithm applied to different datasets will produce different models, so careful consideration of the data used is crucial for accurate results.

It’s also important to ensure that unintended consequences are avoided and that the algorithm doesn’t inadvertently disadvantage any stakeholder groups.

2. Do Business Requirements Documents (BRDs) Have a Place in Agile?

In "BRDs in Agile," Thomas Bowskill discusses whether traditional documentation has a place outside of a waterfall lifecycle. Agile backlogs are typically populated with user stories, and these artifacts are undoubtedly useful for articulating stakeholders’ needs and getting the work done.

Yet when the memory of a sprint fades, it might be necessary to understand not just how an application works but why it was built that way. A repository of delivered stories is unlikely to be useful in answering these questions.

Thomas argues that a lightweight BRD can go some way to filling this gap. He advocates for a balance that brings the value of a BRD without sacrificing the flexibility of user stories. He also highlights that a BRD can be produced iteratively and can help enhance consistency and cohesion of requirements.  There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and the right one will depend on context.

3. Thinking Differently About Business Analysis

In "Business Analysis for Good," Victoria Banner explores the application of business analysis skills to support charitable and non-profit organizations. While many of us work for large organizations, smaller charities often lack the resources for effective business analysis. And although we often volunteer for good causes, they don’t always use our professional skills and expertise.

Victoria encourages practitioners to actively volunteer their business analysis skills. By combining professional skills with a passion for charitable causes, individuals can make a meaningful impact beyond their day-to-day work commitments.

Business Analysis Is Broad

As business analysis is a diverse profession, it’s important that we don’t stand still. There are so many opportunities to learn and network with others. Remember that there’s a global network of business analysis professionals out there.

Be sure to engage with your local IIBA chapter and keep an eye on IIBA’s KnowledgeHub. You can even try its new AI tool!  
For more thought-provoking articles like the ones mentioned above, be sure to download your copy of BA Digest—a free, open access, quarterly magazine published by Blackmetric that focuses on all things business analysis.   

About the Author

Adrian Reed is a true advocate of the analysis profession. He acts as Principal Consultant at Blackmetric Business Solutions, where he provides business analysis consultancy and training solutions to a range of clients in varying industries. He is editor-in-chief of the quarterly open-access magazine BA Digest, and he speaks internationally on topics relating to business analysis and business change. Adrian wrote the 2016 book Be a Great Problem SolverNow and the 2018 book Business Analyst

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