Book Reviews for BAs
Book Reviews for BAs
Get a head start on your New Year's resolution. Hone your business analysis skills or learn new ones, and make 2012 the highlight of your career.
Professionalizing Business Analysis
Author: Kathleen B. Hass, PMP
Publisher: Management Concepts
Reviewed by: Stuart M. Miller
Professionalizing Business Analysis is a good read for someone interested in becoming a business analyst or someone who is already working in the field and wants some guidance on furthering their career. It outlines the responsibilities of an analyst at every level of the organization.
The author, Kathleen B. Hass, PMP, breaks the book into three sections. The first gives some background on how the business analyst role has evolved through the years. The second introduces the reader to the functions of a business analyst in today's workplace. Finally, Hass discusses how issues like organizational structure and development methodology can impact the role of a business analyst. In each section, table inserts help the reader understand the activities expected of an analyst at each level (associate, intermediate, senior, strategic).
Many of the activities listed in the book seem to assume a waterfall development methodology; however, Hass does touch on the role the analyst plays in an organization using agile development.
The title of this book suggests it contains strategies for business analysts to use, that would help them overcome challenging projects. That isn’t the case. Instead, the book focuses on the role definition of a business analyst. There is still value, as anyone in a BA role who performs the activities described for their level will likely overcome many failures that others might not.
I found the end of the book slightly disappointing, as it concluded with the introduction of a business analyst's capability maturity model created by the author.
If I were to rewrite this book, I would have included strategies for overcoming common BA hurdles in projects. I also would have included real-world examples and more information about the value of measuring and improving your company's capability as defined by the model.
Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis
Author: Barbara A. Carkenord
Publisher: J. Ross Publishing
Reviewed by: Cathy Bell
Barbara A. Carkenord does a great job of helping to define the skills of a professional business analyst and also helps to explain why a business analyst wears many hats throughout his career. Mixed in with these essential skills is sage advice including "case-in-point" snippets, real-life examples that enforce the lesson at hand.
The International Institute of Business Analysis is a nonprofit organization that is striving to develop standards for the business analyst profession. The organization wrote A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), to which Carkenord says her book is an additional tool. She provides a chart that shows what pages contain sections covering the BABOK. Yet Carkenord covers the knowledge areas from a different perspective by grouping together topics from the various BABOK areas to help teach the concepts of business analysis.
This book also serves as a mentor, since the author tells us how to advance in the ranks of this profession by asking to be assigned to different business units, different applications, and different software development teams. For readers wondering if they could become good business analysts, the author provides a "suitability questionnaire." The questions, to which you answer either agree or disagree, include, "I am good at negotiating solutions between two other people" and "When I give a formal presentation, attendees understand my message." The author explains that although this is not a scientific assessment, it should help you decide to pursue—or not—a career in business analysis.
The book covers the basics and defines key terms so that readers build and work from a common foundation. Then Carkenord moves into the day-to-day activities of a business analyst and how we can hone our skills to improve the outcome of our projects and careers. The subject matter of this book is treated with an honesty that is refreshing, which is why I say this book could serve as a mentor for those who feel they are on their own. The author talks honestly about responsibilities, such as giving the sponsor bad news or no news at all. Other issues she tackles include how to handle the delicate situation of being on a project that is initiated to eliminate costs, which sometimes means eliminating someone's job, and being able to see the overall impact our project will have on the entire organization instead of just how it will affect our small world.
Supplemental content is available on the publisher's website. It contains templates for business analysis work plans, a list of deliverables to consider when planning a project, and a stakeholder analysis worksheet that could help you see clearly the role of the stakeholders in your project.
Overall, the book is easy to read, is a valuable tool for any organization, and should be added to your library.
A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge
Author: Barbara A. Carkenord
Publisher: International Institute of Business Analysis
Reviewed by: Vivek Vaishampayan
The primary purpose of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge is to define the profession of business analysis, not only for the business analysts but for everyone. This book is published by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), and it is an excellent book for helping businesses do business better.
This guide contains descriptions of generally accepted practices in the field of business analysis. Its current version, 2.0, has become a widely accepted standard as well as an essential reference for business analysis professionals. The guide will have a very long shelf life until another major advance in BA standards emerges.
The book follows the same pattern as A Guide to the Project Management Institute Body of Knowledge. It is a very well organized book is packed with diagrams, tables, and figures. The IIBA has done a marvelous job keeping the writing style interesting and presentation pleasant throughout the book. This is a must have guidebook for those who are preparing for IIBA's Certified Business Analysis Professional certification.
It also is an important handbook that will help non-BA professionals, like project managers, developers, systems analysts, testers, and QA practitioners, understand the BA profession and communicate more open mindedly with BA professionals. I strongly recommend that everyone who interacts with BA professionals read this guide.
The most interesting fact about the book is its success among readers in creating and developing awareness and recognition of the value and contribution of the business analyst in businesses. The book has nine chapters describing key concepts, tasks that a business analyst must be capable of performing, and competencies and generally accepted techniques in the practice of BA.
It would have been nice if the authors had included some of the possible shortcomings, challenges, caveats, and hurdles a business analyst may encounter.
The description and diagrams of various business-management-related processes with nice diagrams, explanation of inputs and outputs, as well as techniques blend very effectively in this guidebook. The book serves as a baseline that practitioners can agree upon to effectively perform the role of business analyst. The practices need to be adapted to each business based on its nature, risk, and doing business as is. The book provides guidelines but can’t teach the best course of action for an individual business, which comes only after years of experience.