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Analyst / Programmer? Four Questions you Should be Asking!

Are you a Business Analyst, System Analyst, Test Analyst or Programmer? These are four (4) fundamental questions you should be asking when making or testing changes to existing software.

Interestingly these four questions apply equally to every role, each from their own unique perspective.

Diagram

In general the questions around how the solution currently works is asked and confirmed first by each role player, followed by the questions and answers around the change required.

Interestingly I have seen many analysts / developers try to spec, change or test a solution without thoroughly understanding how the existing system was put together in the first place – often due to incomplete requirements, overzealous deadlines, lack of skill or just plain laziness. Without this basic understanding, the journey to a successful implementation becomes fraught with unknowns and often results in rework, frustration and errors.

The more complex the system or change the more likely the risk of failure if the current terrain is not understood. Imagine trying to implement a new exit strategy on an aircraft when you don’t know where the existing exits are or how they operate (system set 1) – never mind the devastating impact on air pressure when exits are opened (system set 2 dependency). No one would make it out of your solution alive!

Each role player is required to assess each question from their perspective and ensure that the questions have been answered adequately. Is the proposed solution the best possible option – with the lowest risk and highest reward? Has the requirement been adequately specified to allow for accurate coding and testing?

All of this ensures that the solution is developed and tested in the most optimal manner and that all stakeholders can be identified and managed when it comes to implementation – including the handling of solution failure and ongoing support. Any gaps in logic or requirement need to be raised to ensure that the integrity of the solution can be maintained. Risks should be highlighted and alternative solutions considered where necessary.

All of this of course relies on COMMUNICATION across teams, divisions and suppliers. A topic that will be covered in a future article!

Go Well

J

Great Documentation – Go On Make the Effort!

One of my passions is great documentation. I take pride in my work on this front!

A lot of people simply hate the idea of having to write anything let alone an entire document. For me it is a place of calm, where I can structure my chaotic thoughts into a smooth and understandable picture regarding a particular topic.

As a reader, the first thing that strikes me when I look at any document is how it makes me feel. Corny maybe but this is the initial impression your work gives and provides the reader with a sense of comfort or discomfort around its content! Much like a first date, you would be less likely to accept a second if he/she arrived looking like they had spent little or no effort to look the part on meeting you!

So what is it that makes document great? Check out a few tips below:

1)      Firstly, does it look good?

As I eluded to earlier, your document is a representation of both your personal and company brand. Is it neat, well-structured and formatted OR sloppy, unstructured and all over the place. Try to avoid the following at all costs:

  • Use of multiple fonts and font sizes;
  • Unprofessional fonts;
  • Misaligned paragraphs;
  • Incorrectly numbered headings or items;
  • Different table styles;
  • Use of multiple colors. Use of color is great but stick to the color that resonates with your brand or logo.

2)      Is your use of language and the way you communicate good enough?

Nobody wants to read a 300-page document and often we can oversize a document by religiously following certain methodologies. Methodologies are great and each have their place but if you can say what you need with one diagram, for example, just do one. Likewise, keep your sentences as short as possible and stick to the point.

Double check your document for the following:

  • Bad grammar and incomplete thoughts or sentences (it happens more than you think!)
  • Spelling! There is spell check for a reason 🙂
  • Is there a better, more simplistic way to say or demonstrate the same thing?
  • Are there gaps in your logic?

3)      Does the information provided in your document have a natural flow?

It is highly likely that the person reading your masterpiece may not have any background into your industry, department, product or solution. This makes it important to provide detail in layers, starting with very high level to give context and then slowly breaking it down into more and more detail.

4)      Watch out for common template mistakes!

Whilst I am an advocate of using a good template where you can (it gives the writer the upper hand regarding content) watch out for the following:

  • If you are using a document that was initially for another client / service make sure that you remove EVERY instance of the previous naming. Failing to do so gives the reader the impression that you didn’t really have them in mind and this is a slap dash “copy paste” rendition.
  • Don’t just stick to the standard headings. Change them, add to them, they are unique – just like you and what you are communicating;
  • Be sure to update those pesky headers and footers.

Lastly, get someone you trust to proof read your document. A fresh pair of eyes can provide very useful insights.

Go Well

Janine

Where it all Began – Staying Positive!

This seems like the most appropriate first blog to give you, the reader, an insight into why I started. Writing has always been therapeutic for me and this is a fantastic outlet to share my thoughts, opinions and ideas!

Hope you enjoy the site!

November 2016…….

The last few years have been extremely tough. Seemingly wrong decision followed by wrong decision career wise and massive shake-ups in relationships, each resulting in severe blows to self confidence levels but duly followed by a period of frantic rebuild and repair.

Now, once again, I find myself faced with yet another career melt down.  Due to a merger of sorts, my current role, with all its promised future potential, has suddenly become redundant. Three steps forward, ten steps back it would seem, despite all the effort and personal sacrifice. For the last few weeks I have been wracked with feelings of resentment, anger, sadness and a multitude of other emotions – none of them good I’m sorry to say. Whilst I have done my best to manage these emotions for the sake of my team,  I am certain that there were days where I may not have been pleasant to be around.

As with most things in life there are always valuable lessons to be learned and it struck me that this kind of thing happens throughout every part of our lives not just our careers. Anyone who has been on a health and fitness journey or been in a difficult relationship of any kind would know what it feels like to work really hard at something only to feel like they are getting absolutely nowhere or, in some cases, further away from their goals! Frustrating right?!

In both cases we haven’t actually gotten ‘nowhere’. Its actually an amazing teaching ground. We learn about ourselves, our bodies, human behavior and emotion, our desires, our needs and our own limits. These times test our inner strength and resilience and equip us with new skill sets to meet new challenges in the future. Who has met someone really successful that hasn’t fallen a few times, if not more? Maybe it’s the universe pushing us to grow, to learn, change paths, find other ways to do things, become more human or seek new opportunities to reach our true potential.

I know that trying to keep a smile on your face when times are tough is really really hard  but consider how having a permanent bad mood could affect how you see a new opportunity or approach.  Consider how you feel about “Mr. Grumpy” for a second. Would you offer him an exciting new challenge? Would “Mr. Grumpy” even be able to hear it?

So to everyone going through a hard time of any sort – Chin Up and Stay Positive – Your Time is Coming!