About Analyze

Analyze Consulting was founded in 2007 with the purpose to help businesses get to the bottom of and solve business inefficiencies. The cornerstone of this dream is a passion for quality business analysis and project management.

We are motivated and rewarded by helping businesses be more efficient and solve problems.

We believe that the best way for us to do this is to start with a deep and thorough understanding of the problem or opportunity. The discipline and insight that we apply to this enables us to be confident and truly objective about defining the best possible solution.

Our vision is to be the partner of choice in solving business challenges through the appropriate use of technology, process and people.

Get In Touch

Email: info@analyze.co.za

Tel: +27 (0)21 447 5696

Cape Town Office:
The Studios – Unit 314
Old Castle Brewery Building
6 Beach Road
Woodstock
7925

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Block A
Homestead Park
37 Homestead Road
Rivonia
2191

Analysis

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Is it really only a choice between waterfall and agile?

In today’s project world, you’re either waterfall or agile.  Never both.  Never something in between.  But why has it become such a big waterfall vs agile debate?  And do we fully understand the two extremes these two methodologies present? Over the past few years, waterfall as a project methodology has definitely taken a back seat in favour of the new, cool kid on the block – agile.  Throwing around terms like scrum, lean & extreme programming has certainly become very on trend.  Unfortunately, most companies don’t quite “get it”.  They like the thought of getting things done faster and being more flexible, but they don’t actually want to align with all the principles that go along with being fully agile. What companies should be asking themselves is:  What is waterfall not giving us? And what can we do to improve on those things?  Therefore, we’re no longer seeing waterfall as the enemy and agile as the magic wand, but instead taking a closer look at what it is we actually want to achieve and then making changes to help get there. We’ve found that most companies actually just want to be more adaptable, and in order to achieve this goal, an iterative approach has proven more likely to lead to success.  You want to be in a position where you can test a new product, service or concept as quickly as possible to confirm whether it’s going to work or not.  Prototyping, as an example, is a great way to test something quite quickly, then make changes & test it again.  In this way you’re also ensuring that you’re getting real customer input from very early on. We’re not saying that going agile is wrong in any way.  We’re just saying take a step back & try to understand why you feel you need to go agile.  The following questions should help to identify your main areas of concern: What makes your projects difficult to manage? Why do project end results miss the mark in terms of customer value? Are there processes that run up costs unnecessarily? How good is your quality assurance?  Have you considered using test automation to assist? What is the general feeling towards the project methodology currently in place? A full agile adoption requires a company-wide culture change.  By understanding your core issues, you can take smaller steps towards where you want to be without having to jump from one extreme to the next.  A project methodology on its own is not the be all and end all.  It’s purely a structure that can help shape your actions, but it’s not your only option for getting things done.  The key is to find the right fit for your specific company needs, be it a blend, a purist view, or something quite custom to you. Want to talk to us about how your company can become more adaptable? Get in touch.  Share this:

Delivering value to your customers: 4 business analysis obstacles to overcome

We all know the saying “customer is king”.  It’s a motto that was popularised within the retail industry, but today holds water for pretty much any industry you can think of. With this move to a customer-centric world, developing any new product or service without a clear understanding of your customer’s needs is like serving the perfect steak at your dinner party but then realising that your guests are all vegetarian. Great business analysts understand the importance of the customer within the broader context of any change.  In many ways, they become the voice of the customer, thereby playing a vital role in ensuring that customer value is achieved.  Unfortunately, this can be a very challenging undertaking, especially when the pressures of getting things done as quickly and cheaply as possible come into play. To ensure that you’re not missing the mark from a value perspective, take note of the following analysis obstacles that need to be overcome: Obstacle # 1:  Defining who the customer is Look beyond the obvious.  Customers can be both internal and external as well as directly or indirectly linked to your service or production chain.  Start with a list of direct consumers, then flesh this out by looking at their consumers, and so forth.  Once you have a comprehensive list, the next step is to get an understanding of each party’s needs and how they may be inter-connected. Obstacle # 2:  Constantly evolving customer needs In today’s fast-paced world, customer needs are constantly evolving as technology continues to advance and competitors continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.  If you don’t want to get left behind, you need to have your finger on the pulse.  Ongoing market & customer research should be at the top of the priority pile, ensuring that you’re able to track how customer needs are changing and then adjust accordingly. Obstacle # 3:  Listening for the unsaid Good analysis stems from not just implementing what someone says they want, but from pulling that idea apart and understanding all of the supporting factors that have led to this request.  In most instances, there’s more than one way to satisfy a need, and it’s the BAs role to attack an issue from all angles to get to the best solution possible.  Imagine being able to take someone’s request and then not just delivering to their expectations, but creating something even better than they had imagined… #priceless Obstacle # 4:  Adapting to new requirements gathering techniques Gone are the days where the BA is simply seen as a documenter of what people want.  You know, that person that joins the project early, produces a whole bunch of documents and then leaves.  Requirements gathering has become a far more interactive and iterative process, with analysts playing more of a consultative role throughout the lifespan of a product or service.  BAs today need to bring their own ideas to the table, they need to challenge the status quo & they need to encourage new ways of thinking. When it comes to delivering value to customers, experience goes a long way.  If you feel you may benefit from supplementing your BA competency, Get in touch Share this:

Creating context for The Context Diagram

Often, when business analysts start projects, they are required to define the scope of work that will be involved in implementing a new system. One way to do this, is to draw up a context diagram that graphically illustrates the full scope of the system. What is a context diagram? This is a simple but powerful tool that clearly shows the system under consideration and the various external entities that interact with it.  A context diagram shows at a very high level: The system boundaries The external enties – these could be people or other systems The information that flows between the system and these external entities External entities may include various stakeholders and systems that have direct interactions with the system under consideration. It is not to be confused with the use case diagram which is more detailed and includes detail down to the process level. Why is it important? This very useful tool is often overlooked by business analysts as they believe it does not add much value. The team at Analyze, however, believe that it is a critical step in the initiation phase of a project. The context diagram is a tool that will be a central reference point for scope. How to draw one up? The key is to ensure that the context diagram depicts the project scope simply but accurately. Here are our top tips on drawing the context diagram: Start by drawing the main system under consideration in the middle of the page. List all external entities around the system. NB. Only list those external entities that have direct contact with the system. Taking each external entity, describe the relationship it has with the system. This relationship includes – what kind of information the entity will require from the system and what their main interactions with the system will be. Represent this relationship with a line between the entity and the system. Use an arrow on each line to indicate the direction of the information flow, either towards the external entity or towards the system. Describe the information that moves between the entity and the system. Information may only flow in one direction. Follow step 3 and 4 again for the opposite relationship i.e. relationship between the system and the external entity. An example? Take for example a new e-commerce website being developed for a retail chain. The main system under consideration will be the e-commerce website. The various external entities may include customers, staff, management and payment system. Customers can register on the system, view different goods for sale, place orders, make payments, track orders etc. Staff can update inventory (prices and goods) on the system, view customer orders, track customer orders, process orders placed by customers etc. Management can access reports on goods sold, user statistics, stock levels etc. The payment system can process payments, send notification of successful/failed payments etc. Ecommerce Website Example You can see from the example above, that the context diagram is really valuable in defining the scope of a project at a high level. This ensures that all project stakeholders are on the same page from the get go. Having problems defining scope? Contact us today to find out how we can help you in defining the scope of your project. Share this:

Linking to Trends – Trend 4: The changing role of the BA

 If you missed parts 1, 2 & 3 of our “Linking to trends” series, you can read all about the key technology shifts for 2017 over here, the focus of product over projects  here, and the continued use of agile and lean  here.  This week we’re looking at our final trend prediction for 2017:  The changing role of the BA. Traditionally, the role of the Business Analyst (BA) has centred around requirements management, typically governed by specific analysis methodologies.  Key skills include the ability to interpret, summarise and document business requirements in a way that would drive the fulfilment of the project lifecycle while also ensuring that there is a golden thread between technology and people as businesses look to streamline their processes.  BAs are the glue that ensures alignment between what the delivery team is delivering and what the business units would like to achieve. They do this by asking the following core questions: Understanding a business to this degree allows the BA to develop a deep organisational knowledge of businesses and complex industries. This knowledge often leads to longstanding careers in organisations that may progress into project and programme management as the BA moves along their career path. However, we are seeing that with the trend towards more technology-focused solutions, more empowered and informed customers, a need to become more lean and agile, and a stronger emphasis on multi-skilled team members means the title “Business Analyst” is becoming less formal as emerging processes look at alternative approaches for gathering the intel they need. That said, the skills a BA brings to the table can’t be ignored.  Therefore, it’s not about removing the role of the BA completely, but rather looking at how their skillset can be tweaked to better service fast-paced, technological environments where customer needs are more difficult to articulate. To align with Design Thinking and Lean Start-up approaches, the following customer-focused questions need to be thrown into the mix: Fundamentally, business analysis is becoming less of a documenting & requirements management skill as used in traditional change initiatives, and more of a problem solving & customer-focused skill which ensures business value across all types of change initiatives. But what does this mean for the traditional BA? It will become more important than ever before to design holistic business solutions that truly tap into the mind of the customer.  Delivery teams will continue to need business analysis skills to ensure the balance between people, process & technology, but they will also be looking for that “something extra” to elevate their delivery capability.  With this in mind, BA practitioners may need to consider more specialised roles. Business architects and product owners will become more popular choices.  At Analyze, this shift is something we’re excited about.  It opens new opportunities for growth and innovation while also pushing analysis, as a key competency, to keep evolving.  To find out more about our thoughts on the topic, please get in touch. Share this:

The importance of effective requirements elicitation

Effective requirements elicitation is an area that is critical to the success of projects. Ironically, it is a process often overlooked by many analysts. This oversight can be costly to the project in terms of time and budget but, more importantly, could lead to incomplete requirements or, even worse, a failed project. What is project requirements elicitation? Elicitation is an active effort to extract project-related information from all relevant stakeholders. The objective is to clearly define the business or project objectives. Requirements elicitation uses various analytics and techniques that allow for complete, concise and clear requirements to be gathered. Why is it important? A Standish Group report lists “incomplete requirements” as the leading cause of software project failure and reveals that poor requirements account for 50% of project failures. Poor requirements are a result of sub-standard elicitation which may also lead to scope creep, budget overrun and inadequate process redesign. Elicitation is important as many stakeholders are unable to accurately articulate the business problem. Therefore, analysts performing the elicitation need to ensure that the requirements produced are clearly understandable, useful and relevant. A well defined problem and clear requirements will go a long way to creating the correct solution that adds value to the business. How to perform requirements elicitation? Business analysts often think requirements gathering is like collecting sea shells, fairly easy to identify and collect. However in reality, requirements gathering is much like archaeology, the real value is hidden deep down and takes real, active effort to find. The type of elicitation technique used can dictate the thoroughness of the search and the value of the information found.  It is therefore important for analysts to use the most appropriate techniques to gather complete, concise and clear requirements from all relevant stakeholders. We have outlined a number of situations and techniques to ensure quality information gathering and effective requirements elicitation: Existing artefact analysis can be used when a business has an existing system and keeps documents up to date. This technique is useful for when you are unable to engage with stakeholders, allowing you to get a head start on understanding the business processes. Root cause analysis using the “5 Whys” helps to ensure that the underlying cause of a problem is identified, rather than simply correcting the output. This can be achieved, during a requirements workshop, by asking stakeholders to explicitly state what the main business problem is. Once this is agreed upon, the analyst asks the group of stakeholders why this problem occurs. Usually after asking “why” 5 times, the analyst is able to uncover the root of the problem within the organisation. This technique helps to fully understand a business problem before moving into solution mode. Observation is useful if aspects of a system are overlooked. Observation allows you to watch how the stakeholder interacts with the system from beginning to end. Brainstorming is a good way to come up with multiple ideas, as generally stakeholders will try to give their input and perspectives. It is the most effective method to receive a vast amount of information at once. This method also helps you to uncover the unknown information such as processes that have not been mentioned or requirements and processes that have not been thought through. Interviews allow you to gain an in-depth understanding of the business need and creates the opportunity for a discussion and clarification on any statements made by the stakeholder. Surveys allow for information to be elicited from multiple people, which is necessary if the project has many stakeholders. Requirements workshops are one of the most effective techniques in requirements elicitation. Gathering requirements can be done quickly, it is the most powerful way of gaining group consensus on requirements and it can help with team building. Prototyping is a useful tool for business analysts to determine if the solution being designed is really what the stakeholders need. Stakeholders can offer suggestions or improvements on the prototypes before the design is implemented. We hope that you found this article useful and that you have gained some valuable insight into the importance of requirements elicitation. Are you struggling with requirements elicitation? Our team of professional consultants have extensive experience with requirements elicitation. Contact us today to find out how we can help. Share this:

How to drive innovation in your business through design thinking

How do you plan to keep your business ahead of the curve and continuously remain relevant to your customers’ needs? The answer: innovate. In the words of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” But how does one achieve innovation in your business? Or better yet, how does one become inherently innovative? “The most secure source of new ideas that have true competitive advantage, and hence, higher margins, is customers’ unarticulated needs,” says Darden School of the University of Virginia Strategy Professor Jeanne Liedtka. The path to innovation begins with developing an appreciation of customers’ unmet or unarticulated needs. Here design thinking emerges as a driver of innovation through its emphasis on a good understanding of the problem; a deep sensitivity to stakeholders needs; and a willingness to experiment, learn and refine. Design-led organisations such as Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool, have all used design thinking to differentiate themselves and become industry leaders through gaining an intimate understanding of what it is that their customers really want/need. What is design thinking? Design thinking is a co-creative, collaborative process that helps people and organisations become more creative and innovative by applying design principles, approaches, and tools to problem-solving. It has become essential to effective strategy development and organisational change. In an organisational context, design thinking often drives innovation through customer as well as employee engagement which helps to refine concepts, reduce wastage, cost and time to market. It improves performance and changes organisational culture to create a more collaborative, inclusive and effective workplace. Here’s how you can apply design thinking techniques in your organisation to become more innovative: Focus on user needs: Start with the world of users. Develop a deep understanding of your customers by understanding the hopes, fears and goals that motivate them. Develop all offers and solutions with the user in mind and involve them in prototyping and idea generation. Experiment: Test and try things out iteratively. Test ideas and solutions as soon as possible to obtain user feedback. Don’t fear failure, encourage risk taking. Diversify: Diversify your teams by incorporating individuals with different perspectives and from different fields. Create room for different personalities, and hire individuals with different backgrounds and of different ages. Don’t jump to solutions before understanding the problem: Widen, challenge and reframe the problem. Repeatedly question and reformulate the initial problem until you have a crystal clear understanding of it; identifying a larger problem space helps create a larger solution space. Visualise and prototype: Make ideas tangible through low resolution visual representations. Use rapid prototyping to test out your ideas quickly and cheaply in order to get feedback and learn. Design thinking isn’t just a process for innovation, it is a way of doing business and creating value for customers and employees alike, it is a great approach to problem solving and certainly worth a try. At Analyze, our goal is to provide innovative business solutions by having an appreciation for the business problem first. Does your business need someone to help you become more innovative, let us apply design thinking techniques to help get you there? Get in touch to find out how we can assist you in this process. Share this:

Great Project Management, great business analysis

For successful project delivery, collaboration between project roles is key.  This is particularly relevant when looking at the role of the project manager versus that of the business analyst. Traditional thinking dictated that project management was seen as a higher evolution of systems analysis and design, and likewise, that systems analysis and design was a higher evolution of programming and so forth.  But in reality, it simply can’t be about the perceived seniority or importance of roles.  All project roles exist because they serve a vital purpose in achieving the project objectives, therefore each role has equal importance from a delivery perspective. At Analyze we believe that Business Analysis and Project Management (along with other key projects roles such as Quality Assurance, Systems Analysis & Design and Change Management) are professions in their own right.  Each has its rightful place within a greater team that comes together with a shared vision to achieve a particular goal. Looking at the relationship between the project manager and business analyst, results are optimised when a project manager is able to also analyse business challenges and when a business analyst is able to project manage.  We like to say that great Project Management starts with great Business Analysis and great Business Analysis is followed by great Project Management.  But how does this work in practice? Let’s think about it this way:  A project exists because there is a key business problem that needs to be addressed.  This is where things could start to become a “chicken and egg” scenario.  You cannot begin to plan and execute on your project until a true understanding of the problem at hand is achieved. It is important to know what the objectives are and why the challenge is being addressed.  Great analysis unlocks the mysteries of the project, often before it is a project.  It also provides the clarity to the project team on what problem they are solving, providing guidance around next steps and the needed action plan.  Then again, if this piece of work is not expertly managed and carried through, great analysis quickly falls by the wayside in the face of the many challenges projects have to face. At Analyze we believe a great Project Manager, by nature, needs to be highly analytical.  Without this trait, the project management role is reduced to note taking, box ticking and reactive and disempowered leadership. On the flipside we believe a great Business Analyst needs to be highly organised, must be able to play a leadership role and has to keep a firm grip on the project scope.  As you can see, both the Project Manager and Business Analysts are leaders in their own right.  At times, their roles may overlap or even provide healthy competition for each other to ensure that the right questions are being asked, but at the end of the day the most important thing is that these two roles should complement one another. We’ve taken great care to foster these kinds of symbiotic relationships amongst our team members at Analyze.  For us it’s certainly not a question of which role is more crucial than the other.  It’s really more a question of finding the right people who can work together to accomplish great things. If you’d like to tap into this pool of professional collaborators please do Get in touch. Share this:

How to achieve organisational agility

American businessman, hedge fund manager & billionaire, Paul Tudor Jones, once said: “You adapt, evolve, compete or die”. Very strong words indeed, but in today’s constantly evolving business market, this is a harsh reality that all businesses need to face up to. Organisational agility is defined as a company’s ability to rapidly change or adapt to market changes. The higher your degree of agility, the better your chances of successfully reacting to new competitors, new technologies and ideas, fundamental shifts in the market and changing customer demands. But to achieve organisational agility, you have to take a long, hard look at your business by answering the following key questions: Does your organisational structure allow for agility? Complex hierarchies and organisational silos typically do not promote agility. Agile organisations tend to have flatter more matrix style structures which encourage cross-organisational collaboration, improved transparency and more streamlined, direct & informal communication. Do you have the right change leaders in place? Fast and effective decision-making is critical within an agile environment. The right leadership will be able to drive change forward without any hesitation or attachment to the old. Great agile leaders are also able to foster trust, particularly in situations where there may be a relatively high level of uneasiness about a new direction a company is taking. How well is innovation encouraged and supported? The generation and execution of new ideas is a crucial part of staying competitive in an agile world. Employees should feel encouraged to constantly challenge the norms in order to find smarter and better ways of doing things. If an idea shows promise but there’s a certain level of risk involved, try to be a bit more courageous in your decision making. As the saying goes “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Is your company culture open to change? If your company culture is change averse, you’ve got a bit of an uphill battle on your hands. Most of the time this type of culture is the result of current policies and practices which do not promote change as something positive. If your company is averse to change, it’s time to do a deep dive, some reshuffling and perhaps even a bit of education in order to remove your organisation’s barriers to change. What’s your strategy around managing talent? Innovation is of course impossible without innovative people. Talent management is all about recruiting and grooming those who not only have the right skills to drive your organisation forward, but who are also flexible, mobile, strong collaborators and agents of change. Agility is as much about your ability to react to changing conditions as it is about being able to take proactive steps in order to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. It is important, therefore, to incorporate an agile way of thinking straight into you organisational core. Worried that your business may not be as agile as you’d like it to be? Contact Cathy at Analyze on 021 447 5696 or email her on cathy@analyze.co.za to discuss how our team can help to bring more flexibility and adaptability into your business operations. Share this:

Every business should conduct regular business process improvement – follow these 6 steps

Business processes, whether formal or informal, have a direct impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of your business. When business processes fail to deliver they not only waste time and money, they can also lead to poor service delivery and substandard product quality. Business process improvement focuses on improving the quality, productivity and responsiveness of business processes by removing activities that do not add value and implementing process changes that clear the way for various forms of enhancement. If you have a business process that’s raising some red flags, it’s time to take action.  Follow this simple 6 step guide to get back on track: Step 1:  Map it out Use information gathered from those who know the process best to document the steps and sub-steps of the process. Also consider using a mapping tool, like a flowchart, to create an easy to understand, visual representation of the process and its interdependencies. Step 2:  Identify the core issues Do this by asking the following questions: Where in the process do things start falling apart? Are there any bottlenecks or roadblocks? Is there any duplication or redundancy? Which of the process steps take the longest to complete and why? Where are the dips in quality? Which of the process steps are the most costly? And can things be done in a more cost-effective way? Without understanding the root cause, you run the risk of treating the symptoms of a problem instead of the problem itself. Step 3:  Change things up  Now that you know what the core issues are, you can redesign the process to eliminate them. However, you can’t do this alone. You need to collaborate with the people who are involved in the process. Conduct brainstorming sessions to come up with a list of ideas. Then, critically evaluate each idea by looking at the possible risks and issues, the up- and downstream impacts, and by assessing how realistic the idea is within your business context. Once you have a full understanding of each idea, choose the one that’s best suited to your needs. Step 4:  Define the resourcing requirements  Involve other departments to help you identify what you’ll need to bring this new process to life. HR will look at it from a people & skills perspective, while IT will confirm the technology changes that may be required.  The wider your reach, the better informed your recommendation will be. Then put all of your findings into a business case and use this to drive buy-in and support. Step 5:  Be the agent of change Implementing a new process can be challenging, even if you’ve involved the right people and secured senior buy-in and support. You have to accept that some people are just going to be resistant to change. Minimise the resistance with good planning and clear communication.  You want to ensure that everyone understands why the change is needed, how it will benefit them and what will be needed of them (and others) to achieve it. Step 6:  Don’t stop there… improve! Once you’ve finally managed to roll out your newly improved process, don’t just stop there.  Remember to check in on how things are going. Create a regular feedback forum where people can discuss challenges or suggest ideas to further improve, or consider implementing monitoring tools which can help you identify areas of ongoing concern. Analyze is also able to assist you in significantly improving your business processes.  Get in touch today to find out how.  Contact Cathy at Analyze on (0)21 447 5696 or email her on cathy@analyze.co.za. Share this:

How to avoid the analysis paralysis trap

Analysis paralysis is defined as a state of over-analysing or over-thinking a situation to the point where a decision is never made or action is never taken.  Sound familiar?   With growing pressure to get things right the first time, many businesses are finding themselves in this difficult situation when evaluating new initiatives.  But there are ways to avoid the analysis paralysis trap.   Here are our top tips: Keep the number of options in check – Too many options lead to clutter and unnecessary noise.  Create a set of non-negotiable base requirements and use these to eliminate the unrealistic or undesirable options very early on.   Create a firm deadline (and stick to it) – The biggest mistake is to leave things open-ended.  In the absence of a deadline everyone can work towards, you and your team will easily come up with a host of excuses as to why additional time is required.  Sometimes a bit of pressure is needed in order to move forward.   Don’t strive for perfection up front – Accept that you can’t plan for every possible permutation or unknown risk up front.  Your direction may need to change as you progress and more details are uncovered, but that’s OK.   Focus on what you can control – Global warming, the political climate and ever-changing customer trends are all examples of factors which are out of your control.  The trick, however, is to not use these as reasons for inaction.  If you’ve got a business issue that needs solving, focus on your people, process and technology to find a way to improve the situation instead of waiting for a larger external factor to correct itself.   Break it down into manageable pieces – If the overall task seems too daunting to solve, break it down into manageable pieces or project phases. Being able to achieve smaller milestones towards a bigger goal will create a feeling of accomplishment while also increasing confidence in yourself and your team.   Stick to your core values – If an initiative doesn’t align with your core business values, scrap it immediately.  There’s no point in investing further energy into something that just doesn’t feel like the right fit from the start.   Plan for the worst – Ask yourself:  What’s the worst that could happen if this initiative failed?  By understanding the worst-case scenario you’ll realise that either A) It’s not a train smash, or B) You can put some preventative or protective measures in place in case things do go wrong.     Make the circle bigger – It’s always a good idea to include subject matter experts and/or leaders from different areas within your business in the decision-making process.  They will assist in seeing gaps, issues or even hidden potential that perhaps you were too close to see.   If you’re struggling to keep momentum going within your business, there could be a need for an objective outsider’s perspective or a specialised team who can help you drive your decision-making process.   Contact Cathy at Analyze on (0)21 447 5696 or email her on cathy@analyze.co.za to discuss the ways in which we can assist.     Share this: