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Software Theory

When in a inception…

Everyone is an analyst Don’t get bound by role boundaries. Everyone needs to understand the system. Talk to the clients, ask questions, draw diagrams, make suggestions, understand problems and solve them. Make sure everyone facilitates sessions at least once Especially the BAs since they have to interact the most with the clients. Clients need to feel confident about the BAs on the team. Other members should also be actively involved. Don’t let a single person be the scribe all the time. The client might ask “why am I paying for this guy” at some point. Have an intent for each… Read More »When in a inception…

Number Lust

I am an amateur photographer while I am not not hacking project teams and building custom software at ThoughtWorks. Photographers are known to have bouts of lens lust* time and again, especially at the beginning. I realize that some managers seem to have similar urges when it comes to numbers, metrics. They suffer from acute number lust. In ThoughtWorks, we believe in and encourage self organizing teams. BAs gather requirements, developers write code, QAs test and automate and the customer signs stories off in a flow. The Project Manager role is therefore reduced to making sure that nothing obstructs this… Read More »Number Lust

Onsite Business Analyst

This has come up in various discussions recently and I want to put down my thoughts about the role and responsibilities. For a ThoughtWorks team in India (or China) most of the work is offshore agile development. Clients are usually in the UK or the USA. The team is structured as follows: Offshore PM Offshore Devs Offshore QA(s) Offshore BA(s) Onsite BA(s) This is how the communication works. Of course there are other exchanges that take place but the Business Q & A and the Technical Q & A are the most important pieces of concrete information exchanged. Other companies,… Read More »Onsite Business Analyst


I have recently come out of a consulting assignment which has given me loads of time to read and think about processes, improvements and effectiveness. (People who follow me on google reader must have noticed). It also had me thinking about introduction of agile into a traditional IT outfit and what would make it more effective. Top -> Down The Top -> Down approach is where someone in the top management realizes (or is convinced) that agile is the solution to all their problems and goes on to “mandate” agile. This is not necessarily bad. If the organization hires the… Read More »Metrics

Testing considered wasteful??

@silvercatalyst posted on twitter a few days back that one of the trainees in his session counted testing as waste. I retweeted with a #funny but @silvercatalyst said he actually agreed with it. So we twiscussed it for a while. (By the way twitter is just the wrong tool for discussing interesting things). Back to the story. Here’s what we ended with after a few emails had been exchanged: Testing is not wasteful. But testing as an activity after development (especially after a time gap) is wasteful Some types of testing can be done upfront but other types still have… Read More »Testing considered wasteful??

Features V/s Sophistication

Usefulness of software:Letting the user do what s(he) wants easily and fast. Features:Number of activities a user can perform with the software. Sophistication:Software intelligence which simplifies user interactions. Software, like anything else follows the laws of Diminishing Marginal Utility. Here are the graphs as per my experience with software (Not as a software professional but as a simple user) FeaturesI think the marginal utility of adding more “features” to the software diminishes at a much higher rate. Firstly because individual users don’t use all the features but have to pay the price, in terms of money as well as processing… Read More »Features V/s Sophistication

What are we doing?? – Part Three

This is what got me thinking about “What (the %*&$) are we really doing?”. Are gazillions of dollars being invested in IT, by organizations just trying to maintain their status quo? As the study shows, this is partly true. Businesses require to grow for survival. Growth requires accommodating more and more people and systems into your business. It is very natural (and useful) to be paranoid of these new people / systems. As businesses grow they have to become more or less bureaucratic. Bureaucracy requires additional processing power. This power can either be man OR machine If the business chooses… Read More »What are we doing?? – Part Three

What are we doing?? – Part Two

Any system is inherently trust based but always tends towards being distrustful. Consider a prisoners’ dilemma example. (A) = A crook with a bag of jewels(B) = Another with $100 (A) needs the money and (B) needs the jewels. Now they are both “if you see my face, I’ll have to kill you” kind of guys. So they develop a simple system. (A) leaves the money a designated place in the forest and (B) leaves the bag of jewels at another designated place. If they both co-operate, they leave happy. But life is not so simple, is it? Once they… Read More »What are we doing?? – Part Two

What are we doing?? – Part One

I am doing what we call an Inception for a new project. The situation is not at all unusual. The Constraints An Organization with a bunch of generic e-commerce platforms Live customer sites on each of these platforms One of these platforms particularly painful Integration with proprietary back-office operations software The RequirementsBuild a custom platform that will replace all the existing ones, support all the customer sites and have a bunch of unique features. And BTW we need to go live in 2 months.How?The only way to do this is build a bare bones application that can take a couple… Read More »What are we doing?? – Part One

Business Analysis and Quantum Physics

I recently read In search of Shrödinger’s cat. It’s a wonderful introduction to quantum mechanics; The basic (and intriguing) problem of the elusive electron acting as a wave and a particle at the same time. Analysis is very much like observing the electron in the classic two slit experiment. The business domain is like a wave traveling through the two slits. But the moment we analyze, we make it boil down to one reality by asking it How, What, When and Who. Waves give you a probability distribution, while particles give you one of the possibilities as a reality. Looking… Read More »Business Analysis and Quantum Physics