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20 March 2007

A History of Business Analysis

Andrew Arch is an entrepreneur, software designer, and team leader. He contributed an article to the Business Analysts Handbook which looks at the context of where a business analyst works; the history and convergence of management and quality systems and software engineering. He writes it as a context for what a Business Analyst needs to know in order to be a useful and valuable contributor to the project team.

I asked him why he wrote this long, yet fascinating, history of the world the business analyst inhabits and he responds;

“I have the attitude that to know today, you must appreciate yesterday, and to predict tomorrow, you need to know the trajectory through today, if that makes sense. So in order to write anything on process, or documenting, you need to place what you are discussing in some form of historical context to validate it.

“The idea I vaguely have in my mind is that any processes or methodologies that you document should be either added to this history or not included. That way people can appreciate what its origins, strengths and weaknesses are and potentially what its alternatives are for a particular ideology.

“Then from that historical list you can start organising the wiki against various themes: ideology, historical lines, etc.

“Plus, I have done this exercise in a more limited way a number of times when taking on new graduates and even more experienced developers and BA's when attempting to set the context for why we do or choose certain approaches. To do that, you need to explain what the approach addresses or attempts to, and how effectively it does so against its alternatives and then you are led to why the alternatives exists, and before you know it, you have done some historical lesson.

“So I figured if I did this the once like this, then I could refer to it instead of relying on my hazy memory. So my personal itch.

Thanks Andrew for the contribution.