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.

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Email: info@analyze.co.za

Tel: +27 (0)21 447 5696

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Technology

/Technology

5 Top tips for improved innovation

To survive and grow in today’s cutthroat business world, innovation, which previously may have felt like just another catchy buzzword, has become an absolute necessity. If you look at start-ups as an example, you’ll find that many manage to grab market attention initially due to an innovative idea, but soon after they find themselves in hot water as competitors, some who have been in the game a lot longer, take that idea and develop even better ones. If a company is not constantly raising the bar by trying to find faster, better and more cost-effective ways of doing things, they will eventually lose their competitive advantage and blend into a background. To avoid this situation, we recommend that you employ the following 5 strategies for promoting innovation within your business: Tip #1: Create a culture of innovation Innovation needs to be encouraged at all levels.  To do this, ensure that your employees understand how their ideas can help your company achieve that competitive edge.  Create a “safe space” of sorts where ideas can be shared and discussed.  We recommend a regular brainstorming slot where teams can come together to share their ideas.  Sometimes an idea might not be quite the right fit from the onset, but when discussed with a broader forum it can develop into something of great value to your organisation. Tip #2: Ensure that you have the right people and the right skills on your team Your hiring processes should be on the lookout for passionate people who love what they do and share in your company’s vision. If people feel a sense of purpose and believe in the greater good of their day-to-day tasks, they’ll be more likely to be on the lookout for ways to continuously evolve and improve.  You should also look at upskilling your current employees with brainstorming and other creative problem-solving techniques. Tip #3: Make innovation a rewarding experience Encouragement on its own won’t always be enough.  Human nature dictates that your employees will likely be thinking: “But what’s in it for me?”  Therefore, don’t expect them to be the source of new ideas to push your business forward without at least giving them some form of recognition.  Recognition of course does not have to mean a monetary reward, it can take many forms.  You could look at giving someone increased responsibility, the opportunity to lead a team, some time off or even something for them to enjoy with their family outside of work. Tip #4: Be open to taking some risks along the way Innovation doesn’t come without a price.  Risk plays a big role and therefore you must also be open to failure.  If an idea was approved and does fail, you can’t hold the employees who came up with the idea responsible.  Promote the understanding that failure is OK.  If you don’t, people will be too scared to pitch their ideas due to fear of being persecuted later. Tip #5: Be prepared to implement, learn, adjust and implement again It’s important to understand that innovation is an iterative process.  It’s about taking an idea, testing it, learning from that testing, making some adjustments and then testing it again.  Great ideas don’t always happen with the first try, but they can certainly be developed over time. Sometimes innovation can also benefit from an outside perspective.  Supplementing your team with individuals who have different skills or experience can help get the creative juices flowing.  This is where Analyze can help.  To discuss consulting options 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:

Trend 1: Technology Shifts – Linking to 2017 trends article

Each year, new industry trends emerge which end up impacting not only on the way we do business, but also on the way we analyse problems and implement new ideas. At Analyze we decided to do a bit of market research to identify the trends that we think will be making waves in 2017.  We looked at everything from technology innovations & product developments to evolving project methodologies and changing project roles and have come up with a list of 4 trends which we’ll be covering in a “Linking to Trends” series. The first trend we’re looking at is the key technology shifts for 2017.  Terms like machine learning, the cloud, DevOps & the Internet of Things (IoT) have emerged, but what exactly do they mean?  And how do they impact your business? Let’s look at each one of these in a bit more detail: Machine Learning: Machine Learning is defined as a type of artificial intelligence which gives computers the ability to “learn” through exposure to new data.  Now this is the stuff sci-fi movies are made of, isn’t it?  Imagine a piece of software that’s able to identify patterns and adjust its behaviour accordingly?  Not such a farfetched idea when you consider that Facebook’s been using it for quite some time to customise your feed. Cloud computing:  The “cloud” refers to a network of remote servers used to store, manage & process data which instead of being hosted locally is hosted on the Internet.  Why is this becoming such a favourable trend?  Cost cutting and flexibility are the two main contributing factors. With cloud services, companies do not need to invest in expensive hardware and archiving or data centre facilities, time to market is reduced and solutions become far more scalable. DevOps:  DevOps is a complete IT culture change.  It strives to improve collaboration and communication between various software development, information technology & operational teams to streamline and automate software delivery & infrastructure changes.  If executed correctly, the result is the ability to deliver products & services rapidly, more frequently and most importantly, more reliably. Internet of Things (IoT):  Sounds a little mysterious, doesn’t it?  Basically, IoT refers to connecting any device, whether it be a smartphone, Apple watch, laptop, high-tech home appliance or even your car to the Internet, creating this network of “things” that can collect and share data to create synergies between them.  Think, for example, of home automation innovations where your fridge can order milk from Woolies if you’re running low.  Many other applications have already surfaced across a multitude of industries, but if we really think about it, we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s truly possible. As you can see, these are exciting times.  The key, however, is not to get left behind.  In order for your business to benefit from these trends, you will need project professionals who have a solid understanding of these concepts and how they can be applied within your business context. Don’t have the right skillset in-house?  That’s where consultants can be hugely beneficial.  If you have a specialised need and you’re struggling to get the right team together. Contact us to discuss the skills & expertise our team has to offer. Share this:

IT Projects #thingsthatshouldbeleftin2016

So, it’s that time of year again when we reflect on the previous year, what made us happy, what made us sad, how could we change things for the better, how to gear up and be on the positive side of life for the new year etc. Since we live in the world of hashtags, #thingsthatshouldbeleftin2016 has been trending in the past while…appropriately so! This inspired me to think about what I wanted to leave in 2016 from a work and career perspective which then led to thinking about what I wanted to leave in 2016 from a project perspective. During my career in IT, I have been fortunate enough to work in most of the major roles involved in the project life cycle; development, project management, business analysis and in my most recent project even testing. I wish I could claim this makes me somewhat of an expert in all things IT project related but alas, that would be #nottrue. Though not an expert, I have learnt a great deal by being involved in these various roles. A lot could be said about what makes IT projects successful or not successful and there have been many articles written on this topic. In my experience, these are some of the major project #thingsthatshouldbeleftin2016: (in fact we should have left these things long before 2016) Initiating IT projects without proper analysis of the business problem it is aimed to solve: We’ve all heard the expression “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Although planning is the first phase on the project lifecycle, many organisations rush this step and do not put enough focus on analysis or unpacking the problem upfront. Planning may seem to be a waste of time and people tend to rush into implementing so they can have something ‘tangible’ to show for their efforts. However, by putting in a bit more effort or more rigid stage gate requirements, you reduce the risk of merely implementing a system instead of solving the problem. Under resourcing projects and expecting no impact on delivery and quality: Under estimating resource requirements can be detrimental to project success. It is very important to have the right resources at the right point throughout the project’s lifecycle. Not all resources need to be 100% allocated throughout the project, however, they do need to be allocated and available at certain critical points depending on the function. For example, not having a business analyst available when testing resumes could have a negative impact on testing when requirements need to be clarified. Involving key stakeholders too late in the process: Buy-in from stakeholders is one of the most important aspects of project success. Even when things are not going well, if stakeholders have been taken along on the solution journey they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for the success of the project.  Insufficient allocation of testing time: In most projects, I have been involved in, testing is usually the last component to be considered and allocated limited time. As the project schedule gets even tighter, more time may be taken from the testing allocation. As often as this may happen, it is very counter intuitive, why do we sabotage the one stage gate that is put in place to test the solution for real world readiness? By considering testing early in the process – as early as design or requirements gathering, you reduce a lot of uncertainty and risk when actual testing resumes. There are many more project #thingsthatshouldbeleftin2016 I could think of, but these are the issues that I have noticed occur more frequently. All of this is easier said than done, however, being mindful of the project implementation process and remembering why we are doing each step, would be a step in the right direction. For more information on our service offerings or to arrange an introductory meeting please 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:

Questions to ask when selecting a software vendor

With continuous improvement being the key to maintaining a competitive advantage, many companies are turning to software solutions to help streamline their business processes. But as much as software can help to reduce costs and improve productivity, selecting the wrong software vendor can have quite the opposite effect. Here are 7 questions we suggest you ask during your vendor selection process: 1. What are your credentials? It’s important to do a bit of background research on each vendor you’re considering. You want to be sure that the vendor is well-established with solid plans for future growth and development. New start-ups introduce a lot more risk, so be sure that’s something you’re willing to accept before proceeding. Also ensure that the vendor has all the necessary credentials and certifications relevant to the type of solution you are looking at implementing. If they are not able to provide these, back away immediately. 2. What do others have to say? Reference checks are an absolute must, just be sure that you’re getting a true reflection. Customer references from companies within the same industry are key. Also be sure to ask how long they’ve been a customer as new customers may not have hit any real issues just yet. Casting a wider net to online reviews, published articles and industry expert opinions can also be very telling. 3. What after-sales support do I get? Sales teams are notorious for telling you exactly what you want to hear in order to seal the deal. This is why a carefully considered project & post implementation Service Level Agreement (SLA) becomes crucial. You want to ensure that any issues or defects are dealt with timeously and with minimal impact to your business, and that the vendor’s maintenance & support teams are available exactly when & where you need them. 4. To what extent is the solution scalable/customisable? Predicting the future is a challenging task. This is exactly why the software you choose needs to have the ability to grow and adapt along with your business. You do not want to find yourself in a position where you have to change your software solution a couple of years down the line because it can no longer support your business needs. 5. Are there any hidden surprises? Be sure that you have the full picture when it comes to fees payable. Vendors do have a tendency to be less forthcoming about extra fees relating to items such as software modules that may carry an additional cost, onsite training or support costs, ongoing maintenance fees, etc. The rule of thumb is: When in doubt, ask more questions. 6. What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)? You have to consider all of the direct & indirect costs related to the software you’re purchasing. This includes not only the actual software cost but also the associated hardware & data centre costs, the implementation cost, end-user licencing, patch / enhancement / upgrade costs, as well as ongoing support & maintenance costs. 7. What if things don’t work out? Two things you have to be clear about up front are: 1) Who owns what? and 2) What are the costs & criteria related to cancelling the agreement? By getting these items out of the way early you can avoid lengthy & costly arguments later on. Is your business embarking on a Request For Proposal (RFP) process? We can assist with vendor selection and critical assessment. Contact Cathy at Analyze on 021 447 5696 or email her on cathy@analyze.co.za to find out more.   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: