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13 January 2013

Chess and the Art of Business Analysis - Part 3

This is the third post in a series which compares world of the chess player with that of the business analyst using the BABOK (IIBA, 2009) Knowledge areas as a framework for the comparison. Post 1 looked at the knowledge area of Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring, whilst post 2 focused on Elicitation.

Knowledge area 3: Requirements Management and Communication

This knowledge area is all about managing change in an orderly manner. This applies in projects which are taking an agile approach to the requirements effort as much as it does to traditional approaches. Agile approaches welcome and anticipate change and see change as a normal rather than exceptional; traditional (non-agile IID approaches) still try to avoid change and manage inevitable change by impact minimisation.

For a business analyst, regardless of whether you are working in an agile space, the key skills here are being able to capture sufficient critical detail to maintain progress whilst not embarking down a path which limits your flexibility and traps you in an undesirable space, or which then requires large amounts of rework.

As a business analyst your goal is to communicate the right amount of functional detail about how a given capability must be expressed by the system in two directions at once.  You are often working with the technical team and system end users, working with detailed information at the data or business rule level, as well as business level stakeholders. This group includes sponsors and clients who need to be satisfied that every function can be traced back to the overarching business requirement and from that to the business objective and the business case supporting the project.

In chess it takes a great deal of practice to avoid  becoming so focused on the play in one area of the board, that you end up completely missing a critical flaw in your defences, just because it’s at the perimeter of play.
Chess is all about managing change: the sheer multitude of permutations of possible moves and approaches inherent in the game of chess are precisely what make it so fascinating and valuable an activity. Chess players try to anticipate and prepare for the next (expected) change. Attempting to avoid change and continue on with a strategy, whilst disregarding your opponent’s moves is not likely to result in your desired outcome.