Steven Gara

As a practicing Business Analyst for over 13 years with a CBAP certification from the IIBA and a Master's Degree from Cornell, Steve has been working most recently for a large company in the healthcare field. In whatever small spare time he has, he usually plays musical instruments or hangs out at the local gym, keeping himself in shape for whatever challenges come his way.

Setting Quality Requirements With ‘Planguage’

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Everyone wants software that is user-friendly, robust, fast, and secure. Everyone also agrees that a failure to establish the right requirements often prevents software from fulfilling that wish. Business analysts often end up writing fuzzy requirements for developers and testers because they haven’t explored the users’ needs to sufficient depth. Details go missing in conversations; feature requests are left vague. And the problem with vague quality requirements, of course, is that you can’t verify or test them; they’re no better… continue…

Revealing a Project’s Missing Requirements

Sergey Nivens sketch on wall
No matter how good a job you think you’ve done on eliciting project requirements from a client, there will always be gaps; nobody really knows when one is done gathering all requirements, because new wishes and demands continue to trickle in throughout a project’s lifecycle. A project with an excessive rate of change suggests that important requirements may have been overlooked during the elicitation phase. But how do you keep missing requirements to a minimum? Click here to find business… continue…

How BAs Can Manage Stakeholder Expectations

Expectations
As business analysts, we often get involved with stakeholder meetings only to find out they have unrealistic expectations or needs. Let’s look at some of the reasons why this happens and what can be done to resolve or mitigate this common challenge. Problem #1: We Don’t Understand Their Priorities Probably the most common issue is a lack of understanding when it comes to the stakeholder’s needs and interests. While business analysts are often well-versed in a company’s needs, often they… continue…

Why a Business Analyst’s Role Is So Hard to Define

Multiple Responsibilities
It’s common to see many organizations using business analysts in different ways, which is one reason a BA’s skill set has to be so versatile. But why is it BAs don’t always drop neatly into a single, pre-defined role? The nature of business analysis itself has a lot to do with it. Generally, business analysis comprises some parts of these three areas: Click here to find business analysis jobs. Strategic Analysis Because strategy is by its nature high-level, analysis is… continue…

The Tech Skills Every Business Analyst Needs to Know

Finding Trends
Even in a period of high demand, it’s important to have a diverse skill set. That means business analysts with a solid knowledge of technology have an advantage over their competition when they’re looking for a job. Creating a sense of confidence among, and gaining the respect of, IT and business end users requires you to speak their languages and demonstrate a strong technical aptitude. So, a BA needs to know what IT applications are being utilized, what options can… continue…

Brainstorming and Mind Mapping for Business Analysis

Meeting Overhead
There is no more need to have long and boring meetings with analysts and stakeholders to encourage them to come up with new ideas and strategies—at least not if you can make your meetings more engaging, interactive and, dare we say it, fun. For this, you might want to consider brainstorming as a way to bring in a breath of fresh air. Click here to see business analysis jobs. What Is Brainstorming? I’ve seen brainstorming described as a “process for generating… continue…

How to Apply BA Skills to Business Process Management

Business Process Management
If you’re a business analyst with experience in variations of process improvements, you might want to consider a changeover to business process management. Working in BPM provides you with a deeper understanding of business domains and can be viewed as a solid background for development into a department or operations leader, or an executive or consultant. Let’s look at the roles of BA and BPM, compare and contrast them, and highlight how a BA can enter the field of process… continue…

6 Skills a Great Business Analyst Should Have

Business Analyst
Succeeding as a business analyst requires experience, domain knowledge and sometimes certifications, but it helps if you develop several general skills, as well. It’s valuable to recognize them because they’ll help you thrive in a role that often comes with lots of autonomy, constantly evolving demands and priorities, and tons of ambiguity. These skills don’t necessarily determine whether you’ll be a competent business analyst. But if you’re aware of them, you’ll have a leg up in selling yourself as someone… continue…

Big Data Widens Opportunities for Business Analysts

Data Opportunities
One of the newest trends in business analysis is the melding of the BA and BI roles – where BAs become more like data-centric business intelligence analysts, similar to data scientists. As more companies jump onto the Big Data wagon, the widening need for data may breathe new life into the business analysis role, opening more avenues of responsibilities — and corresponding increases in salaries as a result. Click here to find business analyst jobs. Most BAs have technology and… continue…

Business Requirements Are the Foundation of a BA’s Success

Presenting Business Plan Thumbnail
Teams sometimes gloss over a project’s business requirements in their haste to begin development. They do this at their peril, and it’s often up to the business analyst to lead them away from danger. The term “business requirement” describes a need that leads to one or more projects meant to deliver solutions and result in desired business outcomes. Business opportunities, business objectives, success metrics and a vision statement are key elements. Without them, it’s impossible to clearly decide what should… continue…