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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

Cumulative Flow Diagrams

Once you have your wall in place, it’s time to start monitoring your progress through the project. Best done on a daily basis and best done with a “Finger Chart”. Here’s an example. A finger chart is basically your wall turned sideways so that your swim lanes are horizontal rather than vertical. Now what you track is the number of stories in each state (finger). This chart may not make sense to you immediately but there’s a lot of useful data hidden in here. Here are the different inferences you can make by looking at a finger chart. 1) BottlenecksThe… Read More »Cumulative Flow Diagrams

Choose your lanes

Starting a new project is always fun. For Agile/Lean teams setting up the story wall is a part of the fun. Some would say you are defining the process that you want to follow. The life-cycle of the user stories from being analyzed to delivered. But there’s more to a wall than defining the story lifecycle. In its wall the team chooses what it wants to monitor. The lanes on the story wall are statuses in which the story can be. An agile team wants to track these statuses to quickly find problems that are slowing the team down. These… Read More »Choose your lanes

Can’t negotiate size… and a good thing too

In many companies the Business Analyst or the Project Manager “estimate” the project and bind developers on the project to that estimate. This is an absolutely brutal thing to do to your project. But even within agile teams where the developers estimate, the Business Analysts or Project Managers sometimes tend to challenge and negotiate developer estimates. Not because they don’t trust the developers but merely out of selfishness. Because it gives a tremendous kick to deliver something that a client wants faster. Now if the team is “estimating” in a “time based” unit such negotiations make some sense. Because a… Read More »Can’t negotiate size… and a good thing too

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

End of a good project

For the past 8 months I have been working on omio. We got it from being just a mobile deals aggregator (for the UK) to also being a social network around mobile phones with reviews, ratings and stuff. Ruby on Rails was fun too… but then, that’s always true, isn’t it. Today was the last day of the project. I have to say it’s been a blast all throughout. First in Chennai with a new office and an extremely smart and totally insane team. Then in Pune with Sid, Aman, Deep and Anand… lot of fun. Sid is rolling onto… Read More »End of a good project

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

Smart Business Analysis

A bunch of business analysts have started this blog recently. I hope to contribute to it more regularly than I update this blog. I will keep cross-posting here and linking good articles. I hope to save smart business analysis from some of my more weird philosophies and analogies in the future. I thought I’ll pick up a good practical BA problem for the first post there but ended up writing about “Business Analysis and Quantum Physics” for some reason.