Certifying as a Google Design Sprint Facilitator

I’ve recently completed the Design Sprint 2.0 Facilitators Masterclass, the most up-to-date and improved version of the Design Sprint developed by AJ&Smart and the original creator Jake Knapp.

The Design sprint is a four-day workshop process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. Developed at Google Ventures, and largely credited to Jake Knapp who authored the book “Sprint” in 2016.

In the book Knapp emphasises that he applies design philosophy, thinking, and approaches to solve various organisational challenges such as the launch of new products or features, growth, improvement of internal processes, innovation, and development.

Combining the best practices of Design Thinking, Lean UX, and Agile Knapp created a clear, efficient, rapid, and adaptable framework to reduce risks of innovation, align teams on the same vision, and eventually save money and time.

Design Sprint 2.0

There are a number of changes in the 2.0 version of the design sprint that make it more efficient and flexible, allowing you to achieve the same outcomes in less time.

The Sprint takes 4 days. Originally it was 5. This became possible by improving the general flow with some new elements (User Test Flow), changing the order of exercises (starting with Expert Interviews) and their structure (Mapping the System). This is really helpful for those that deliver sprints to customers, as Friday can be used as a write-up day.

Senior stakeholders are involved for just 2 days. In the first version of the Sprint your ‘Decider’ (CEO, senior executive, director) was required for the entire duration of the Design Sprint. This was a serious bottleneck as often executives weren’t able to clear their schedule. In Design Sprint 2.0 you can leave the last two days to the designers and interviewers and let the CEO and management go. They will receive the report with all the insights afterward.

Expanded organisational focus. The initial version of the Sprint was very much focused on delivery benefits to tech start-ups. However, Design Sprint 2.0 expands this framework making it accessible and relevant to large and small businesses across different sectors, not for profits, government departments, and NGOs.

What next?

I’ve already delivered my first Design Sprint and have supported the delivery of some great remote sessions, while not working in the office. I’m looking forward to sharing more about them in the coming months.


Featured photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash

BA Resources: Lockdown Learning

With the UK going into lockdown this week, I thought I’d list some of my favourite BA resources here. I’ll continue to revisit this page and add to it – recommendations welcome.

Virtual Meet-ups & Events

IIBA UK

Th International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) is the membership organisation for business analysts in the UK and is run entirely by volunteers. They’re an independent body, run by business analysts for business analysts.

The IIBA team host a pack calendar of events all year round, but seems to be doing more than usual (virtually).

Checkout their full list of events here: https://www.iibauk.org/events

BA Slash (BA/)

A great new meet-up perfectly timed for locked down, running on Zoom. Their first couple of events look great:

The team always make their recordings and content publicly available after the events, so certainly one to bookmark.

Online Learning

AssistKD

The team at AssistKD, the people behind the Business Analysts Managers Forum, have some great free video content available on their website. They have new videos on everything from:

  • Rich Pictures
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Agile and much more!

They also off some free-learning course including :

  • Introduction to Agile Systems Development
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Facilitation Skills and
  • Presentation Skills and more

Podcasts

IIBA Global

IIBA podcast series, hosted by BA Times, brings together leaders from a wide range of business analysis disciplines to share stories, tips, and advice.

Mastering Business Analysis

This incredible podcast, blog and resource by Dave Saboe is a must. Marketed at the “key to leveling up your skills and advancing your career” could be just what you need to use you time in lockdown for the best.

Books

Tribal Unity by Em Campbell-Pretty

I tell everyone to read this book. While you’ll get loads out of it if you are working in Agile, especially SAFe, Tribal Unity: Getting from Teams to Tribes, is really about scaling culture and leading people in a smart and effective way.

Agile and Business Analysis: Practical guidance for IT professionals by Lynda Girvan and Debra Paul

I’m a real fan of the authors of this book and so it’s easy to recommend Agile and Business Analysis. The reviews speak for themselves:

  • “This book is invaluable to anyone undertaking agile analysis, illustrating that by using new techniques to supplement and extend the BA toolkit, and adopting a “just enough, just in time” philosophy, a truly agile delivery approach can be supported.”
  • “The complex world of Agile made relevant for BAs.”

Featured photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

BA Managers Forum: Tools and Techniques Triage – Technique Matrix

BAMF events are held twice a year, with the agenda for the day being set by those who regularly attend. The format of events are typically a mix of presentations, workshops and a networking lunch. Events are supported and sponsored by the staff of the BA training and consultancy company – Assist Knowledge Development www.assistkd.com

The November event saw 150 BA Practice leaders gather to attend four workshops and swap notes on BA best practice. 

Ayo James and I led two 90 minute workshops of about 65 practitioners per session.

The workshops were based on a triaging technique I created, based on the BCS book 72 Business Analysis Techniques and updated to reflect the latest addition of the book “99 Business Analyst Techniques”.

The documents and artefacts for the workshop can be found below:

TitleFormatDownload
99 BA Techniques [Slides]PDFDownload here
99 BA Technique [Triage/Importance Matrix]PDFDownload here
99 BA Techniques [Triage Spreadsheet]XLSXDownload here
99 BA Techniques [Mailmerge Labels]DOCDownload here

I have had fantastic feedback from BAs all over the country about the usage of the technique and a number of BAs have reached out to me to tell me that they have translated the technique into different languages, for use with their colleagues around Europe.

The Laterooms BA: A day in the life

Last week I was invited to chat to Vicki, one of the Laterooms Talent Managers, to talk about the role of the BA at Laterooms.com and what we get up to on a day-to-day basis.

It was a great opportunity to explain to her what it is we look for in great BAs at Laterooms to help her support some of the hiring we’re doing at the moment to grow our capability internally.

If you’re interested in finding out more about being a BA at Laterooms checkout my “Day in the life” post or have a look at our careers site for more info.


careers We’re hiring! at Laterooms.com
Click the link below to find out more information about who we are and how you can join the team.
LateRooms.com Jobs

IIBA UK Tour

One of the great things I get to do as the Principal Business Analyst at Laterooms.com is attend events and engaging with the BA community, promoting the great work that we do here and identifying quality people who share a passion for analysis and want to join our growing BA Practice.

I’m doing a bit of a tour of the country to attend some of the IIBA branch events and meet more of the community, learn some new skills and get inspired by some of the amazingly talented Business Analysts up and down the country.

If you’re about for any of the following events, come and find me and have a chat:


careers We’re hiring! at Laterooms.com
Click the link below to find out more information about who we are and how you can join the team.
LateRooms.com Jobs

BA Conference Europe: Going beyond what success looks like

Later on this month I’ll be attending Business Analyst Europe 2015 to present “Going Beyond ‘What Success Looks Like’ – Using Data to Achieve Successful Projects” with my colleague Joanne Latham.

We’re really excited for the opportunity to present and to represent Laterooms.com at such a great event. Previous years conferences have been critical in my development as a BA and I’m thrilled to be speaking there for the first time this year.

If you’re going to be attending, give me a shout!

Synopsis

Delivering value is at the heart of the Business Analyst role, but how easy is it to identify tangible value and prove the success of a project or program?

In agile projects we’ll often define a “definition of done” or ask the question “what does success look like”. At LateRooms.com, we’ve developed a toolkit for our Business Analysts to support the business in using data to define what success looks like, and track it throughout the project lifecycle.

This presentation will look at the ways LateRooms.com collects, analyses and uses data to better define the problem space, setup up KPI driven Critical Success Factors and present Benefits Realisation.

The session will cover:

  • Leveraging the most out of the data you already have
  • Setting up baselines and real-time KPI dashboards
  • Making better decisions from your data
  • Presenting Benefits Realisation in a way the business will understand

Presentation

[slideshare id=54838749&doc=iiba-presentation-linkedin-151106215935-lva1-app6891]

Senior Business Analyst: Laterooms.com

So I’ve not had chance to update my blog recently. A lot has changed in the months that I’ve been away…

laterooms_logoEarlier in October I took up a new and exciting role at Laterooms.com, the UK’s leading hotel booking company. It’s an exciting role for a number of reasons:

  • I’ll be joining a team of 10 other great BAs, so expect more posts and maybe even some collaborations
  • It allows be to focus on a single product, or at least a single organisation for a while
  • It’s based right here in Manchester, so I can balance work and home life a little better

The job move coincides with a house move too. Then family and I have moved to a larger house with plenty of room for the kids to grow up in. We’re still surrounded by boxes but as soon as we’re settled I’ll be blogging again.

Some blog posts coming up include:

  • Paper prototyping with the UX stencil
  • Writing effective User Stories for backend systems and APIs
  • Defining success and measuring business benefits
  • Decoupling UX from Development in Scrum

If anyone has any blog requests please let me know.

Thanks,
Jamie

Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)

Last month I attended a fantastic course to become a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) with the legendary Mike Cohn.

What are Product Owners?

To quote the Scrum Alliance:

“Certified Scrum Product Owners® have been taught the Scrum terminology, practices, and principles that enable them to fulfill the role of Product Owner on a Scrum team. CSPOs are typically the individuals who are closest to the “business side” of the project. They are charged by the organization to “get the product out” and are expected to do the best possible job of satisfying all the stakeholders. CSPOs maintain the product backlog and ensure that everyone knows the priorities.”

The course covered

  • Overview of Scrum
    • Scrum is empirical
    • The Scrum project community
  • Roles and Responsibilities
    • Team / ScrumMaster / Product Owner
    • Your role in the four Scrum meetings
    • Things that are not your job
  • Chartering the Project
    • Creating an “Igniting Purpose”
    • Five techniques
  • Estimating
    • Estimating the size of work
    • Planning Poker®
  • The Product Backlog
    • Emergent requirements
    • User stories on the product backlog
    • The product backlog iceberg
    • User stories in a formal contract
  • Sprints
    • What is potentially shippable?
    • Changes during the sprint
    • Sustainable pace & over commitment
    • Abnormal termination
  • Tracking Progress
    • Burndown charts
    • Taskboards
  • Prioritising
    • The proper level for prioritizing
    • Four factors to consider
    • Kano analysis
    • Theme screening and scoring
    • Relative weighting
  • Release Planning
    • Extrapolating end dates
    • Fixed-scope and fixed-price projects
  • Scaling the Product Owner
    • Sharing one product backlog
    • Visualizing a large product backlog
    • The scrum of scrums meeting
    • The chief product owner

Conclusions

I loved the course and would highly recommend it. I particularly found the session on Prioritisation one of the most valuable with the section on Kano Analysis being used in my recent presentation. I’ve also taken what I learnt in the Estimating session and delivered something internally with colleagues at Sigma to help the whole team to estimate better.

Camp Digital Bite Sized

sigma-campdigital-bitesized

Last week Sigma hosted the first in a series of mini or ‘bite sized’ Camp Digital events in the run up to next years annual conference. The event at MMU’s mew business school explored emerging trends, best practices and real world advice for the digital and UX community.

The evening of presentations and networking was a great success with colleagues, peers and students from across the digital industry. The three presentations covered the topics of:

  • Guerilla UX Techniques
  • Using Analytics to Drive UX Strategy
  • The Creative and Innovative Business Analyst

Chris Bush – Sigma

Guerilla UX Techniques

Chris has developed Sigma’s services in user research, testing and user experience consulting. As well as heading up Sigma’s UX practice in the UK, he is often the Lead Designer on many projects, helping to shape a project from the initial pitch, through user testing to the final release.

Chris presented some tips, tools and techniques used in iterative, guerrilla UX testing. Reviewing which of these activities gave the best ROI against more formal testing strategies.

Simon Wharton – PushON

Using Analytics to Drive UX Strategy

Simon is managing director of award-winning digital marketing agency, PushON and a founder of the market leading SASCon conference. Since its launch in 2005, PushON has grown into one of the most highly regarded digital agencies in the UK with a team of 25 digital experts and an annual turnover in excess of £1m.

Simon presented some tips and techniques of using analytical tracking tools to give meaningful insight to user behavior and how to use data to validate your iterative UX strategy. Based on a case study from alternative music news website, Louder Than War.

Ian Richards – Serco

The Creative and Innovative Business Analyst

Ian has over 15 years worth of experience in the business analysis field with many large Blue Chip Companies, including Fujitsu, IBM, The AA and British Steel. However, he is currently a Principal Business Architect within Serco’s public and private sector, involved in both bid and transitional work in the services industry.

Using thought provoking material, Ian’s presentation examined how “unleashing the potential of the mind” can bring about new ideas which can be applied in the world of analysis. Using examples, quotations and different perspectives, Ian showed how analysts can still be creative, even when restricted by numerous constraints.

Sigma Camp Digital 3D Shadows
Camp Digital – Manchester, UK

Camp Digital is a free, one-day event in Manchester exploring some of the most important and emerging themes in the digital industry.

Why not check out some more presentations and videos here?

VIDEOS: IIBA NW&E April 2013 Meetup, MediaCityUK

Back in April the IIBA NW&E branch, in partnership with the BBC Academy, ran a successful event for over 100 Business Analysts at the BBC’s new MediaCityUK building in Salford. The presentations on the evening were recorded and made available via BBC Academy’s YouTube Channel.

Niko Vijayaratnam, BBC Future Media – News

The Business Analyst (aka. The Generalist-Specialist)

Most products in BBC Future Media are built by teams implementing Scrum yet Scrum doesn’t define a BA role… so what exactly does a BA in a Scrum team do? Niko Vijayaratnam, Senior Business Analyst in BBC Future Media – News, explores this subject looking at the work that BAs in BBC FM produce and discusses their importance to the success of recent projects.

Niko has been a Senior Business Analyst at the BBC since 2010 working on a range of projects from developing new in-house facing tools for editorial to audience facing products to cover events like the 2012 London Olympics.

John Taylor, ITV

Facing the challenge of working in a virtual office

John started his career 12 years ago working in an IT role, before moving into management accounting and finance. Eventually John found an ideal role to combine both of these areas working as a business analyst, specialising in ERP/corporate systems, which unknowingly his previous roles and experience had provided him the skills for.

Angela Stevenson, BBC Technology Solution Design

Angela is new to Business Analysis, or is she…

Angela began her journey into projects twelve years ago in the IT department of a car manufacturer, where the analysis phase was comprehensive, the objective closely guarded and the requirements rigorously tested.

Being an impressionable apprentice Angela believed all projects must be this way and so set off through a decade with variable success before finding the term ‘Business Analysis’ to neatly describe the way she worked.

Having just studied the academic side of the discipline in recent months Angela presents a light hearted look at how she is reconciling wearing both the BA and PM hats in her current role and how she aims to make the two happy bedfellows for successful projects.

iiba
UK Chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis

IIBA is a non-profit professional association focused on the development and professional recognition of the Business Analyst.

Why not see what events are coming up near you?