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?

Bringing Projects to Life Through Rapid Prototyping

Last week I presented a breakout session at Camp Digital 2013 on the topic of Rapid Prototyping.

Synopsis

Design and build projects are often difficult to kick-off, especially when you’re struggling to convey your ideas and understand the solutions being suggested. This can lead to delays, confusion and potential rework.

Sound familiar?

Rapid prototyping provides a quick and visual solution to identifying, documenting and validating project requirements in an interactive way.

In this session Jamie will take you through examples of rapid prototypes and show you how this approach can bring your projects to life and reduce development time, costs and help to maintain your relationship with your clients.

The presentation

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?

Applying ‘Persuasion, Emotion and Trust’ PET Design Theory in the Real World

This month I was fortunate enough to have been asked to speak at a conference, alongside my colleague Chris Bush, on the topic of PET ™ Design Theory, “Persuasion, Emotion and Trust”. The conference was being hosted in Gothernburg, Sweden by Maverick, a Swedish based digital agency by Sigma.

So what is PET Deisgn?

Well Human Factors International (HFI), the authors of PET design say:

PET design uses research-based techniques to leverage the science of Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust to make websites more engaging, compelling, and effective. This innovative methodology complements classic usability, empowering companies to achieve their business goals.

Presentations and Resources

We presented two sessions on the topic, an introduction to PET and then a session looking at some examples of the PET design applied.

Introducing (PET ™) Design Theory, “Persuasion, Emotion and Trust”

Applying Persuasion Design and PET ™ Theory in the Real World

Camp Digital 2013 Presentation

At our recent Camp Digital 2013 event, my colleague Chris Bush presented on the same subject, his slides are available here:

Blending Business Analysis with User Experience: the BA/UX continuum

6 Months ago I joined Sigma, a User Experienced design agency. I joined as a BA, to support the team and the their clients, designers and developers to evaluate, specify and deliver successful solutions.Movie Passengers (2016)

I had initially thought that I would be part of the development team, having over 5 years experience of delivering software projects, but I’ve found myself working with the UX designers. While design is not what I would have traditionally called my domain, I’ve been surprised at the amount of cross-over my BA skill-set has with that of a UX practitioner.

Both BAs and UX practitioners use analysis, design and research to identify and document business goals and user needs. While their titles might suggest that their roles are focused on opposing areas there is a great amount of overlap.

Academics at Berkeley have suggested that the overlap can be viewed on a continuum:

The Berkeley Continuum
The Berkeley Continuum

So what competencies and skills do a BA and UX practitioner share?

I’ve attempted to map a number of core competencies and skills against the Berkeley Continuum as a way of illustrating what divides and unites the BA/UX roles. It could also be used to identify who is better placed in your team to undertake certain activities. It could also be used to help individuals who wish to transition between the roles, identify which skills they need to develop.

comps

I should note that these are very general classifications of competencies and are not always strictly followed in practice. Just as an example of my own work experience, as a BA I’ve spent a lot of time working in the area of Interaction design (traditionally a UX competency) and yet I have never done a Business case.

But as it’s often said, “It’s not what you’re called, it’s what you do that counts”.