Data handling – know when to bring the experts on board.

We all know about the Y2K incident with the 2 digit year however there are still examples of data storage length being inappropriate for the data to be stored.

If you are a Business Analyst that deals with data then it is important to always be questioning the data requirements to ensure that they meet the need of the business / application now and especially in the future.

Industries where data is critical to their function will probably leverage Data Modelers / Engineers / Scientists to manage data definition. As a BA we should not be afraid to state when the  data knowledge is beyond us and ask for the project to employ one of these specialists. Do not try and wing it because the end result can be expensive to the company.

To read up on some of the impacts of data, see this article below from the BBC:

Data Handling that led to disasters

When selling changing products, filters have to be continually reviewed – BestBuy.com example

The other day I was looking for a new laptop computer on BestBuy.com and I have to say with all the features on a laptop computer, this is one of those tougher filter opportunities for companies to present the choices.

If you look at the basic purpose of the filter, it is to allow a user to filter the results displayed on screen to be exactly or as close to what they desire to see. In terms of ecommerce web store fronts, this ability to give the customer what they are looking for, can make or break a sale.

Now if you look at the complexities of computer purchase, this can get into a very difficult situation. There is a reason why people can get a degree in being a librarian. Content Taxonomy is dedicated to providing content in a way that users can find what they are looking for. In this case, the Content Taxonomists have to consider the filter terms for each possible variation in a computer, the Tech guys have to build a system that can cope with all the filters applied and the UX guys have to find room on the screen to display the choices.

Overall I think BestBuy.com does a great job with a Laptop search however there are some opportunities for improvement.

I am going to use an example of what I found when looking on BestBuy.com for a Laptop and what additional filters could be added:

1 – Ability to select SSD instead of standard disks since Solid State Drives are becoming more common.

2 – Battery life expectancy – since some laptops will put in 8+ hours but others will not even be close

3 – Weight for ultraportable is set to one value (around 5.4 lbs) even though laptops can be almost 1/2 this weight today

4 – Graphic Card MB is important but not an option to filter by

The above is just some samples of how product changes can render an existing filter list short of choices. BestBuy.com has done a good job at staying with the trends “Touch Screen”; “Blu-ray player” to name just a few filters they have added as products change.

A company that is selling changing technology has to continually review their products to see if new filters will need to be created and old filters removed to maintain a strong ecommerce shopping experience.

 

5 Common Types of Business Analyst

November 11, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Business Analyst Skills 

A lot of people these days call themselves Business Analyst (BA) but put them in a room to talk and you will soon see they are quite different.

This difference also creates problems for employers as they need to find the right BA for their role.

For this post I have broken the types of BA’s into 5 distinct groups that require unique talents to be successful. I am sure that there is more and feel free to comment with your suggestions. It is quite possible for a BA to have been in all 5 roles but the longer they are in one role, the weaker their skill become in the others. In later posts I will go into depth on each role so you can gain an understanding of what the pro’s and cons are.

1 – Business Process Analyst

The focus of the Business Process Analyst is to look at Business Process and see opportunities for improvement beyond the limitation of IT. They may suggest hiring additional people in a role, timing changes of process events and even communication methods. May even suggest IT solutions. Note however that they are not limited to just Information Technology. Generally a Business Process Analyst is knowledgeable about the business to the point that they could perform tasks within the business realm. In fact a lot of Business Process Analysts once worked on the business side, even gaining licenses in the chosen field. Think about Nurses or Doctors advising on business process because they know the role very well. It is unusual for an IT Business Analyst to end up in this role for they do not know the business from not having worked in it. Business Process Analysts, generally are the highest paid of the Business Analyst roles.

2 – Business Data Warehousing Analyst

Data Warehousing is all about data and to be in this role, you need to be comfortable spending you days looking at data elements, tables and database structures. This is a great role if you don’t like interviewing people to understand their job so that you can capture requirements. Most of the focus of this job is gathering data to store in the Data Warehouse and responding to request for data from the Data Warehouse. My friends in this role like it because it does not change much and they don’t have to deal with business users as much.

3 – Business Reporting Analyst

Sometimes this role is included with the Data Warehousing role but other times it is not. These BA’s spend their time pulling data and formatting it for report generation. Knowledge of databases, reporting tools and ways to slice and dice data is usually a requirement for this job. As well as a keen understanding of the requirements that go along with reports – summary fields, paging, sort order etc.

4 – Business Infrastructure Analyst

They gather the requirements around IT infrastructure upgrades. It is a technical role (at least you have to understand technical jargon relating to networks, servers and software upgrades) and rarely involves direct business involvement. Focus is more about making sure IT projects have their infrastructure requirements documented and met. Think along the lines of a Windows Upgrade project and you will get the idea.

5 – Business Application Analyst

Consider this role the more traditional IT BA role however it is going through some changes which I will discuss in a later post. These BA’s work closely with the business to provide IT solutions that tie in with their business process. Generally they are approached by the Business to provide an IT solution or enhancement to their existing business process.

So there you have it, 5 possible BA roles that you may end up in. Each role requires different skills to be successful in and I look forward to discussing them with you at a later date.