You are a tool minded business analyst, if the first question that comes to your
mind on hearing the words: “Use Cases, UML or User Acceptance Testing” is: “what tool
should I use to create my Use Case / UML / User Acceptance requirements document
Tool minded business analysts are more interested in learning the intricacies, features
or behavior of the software tools used in their requirements elicitation, analysis or documentation tasks than in correctly
analyzing, validating or defining business requirements.
Tool minded business analysts believe that learning a business analysis software
tool is more important than solving real-world business problems!
Tool minded business analysts have a mindset that is similar to that of Computer Programmers’ who are notorious
for being tool minded.
But here is the question, is it OK for business analysts to obsess over their tools
just like software developers do or should they obsess over something else like
being solution minded?
The Tool Minded Software Developer
Most of the tasks performed by Software Developers involves using a tool. The software
developers primary role / responsibility is to create desktop / mobile / web software
programs a.k.a tools.
Software Developers have to and must be competent at developing software applications in at
least, one computer programming language a.k.a tool.
And for software developers, you can make the argument that their compensation or
success depends entirely on how competent or skilled they are at their programming
Software Developers are not solution minded and that is OK because it is someone
else’s job to define or document the solutions that will be implemented by developers.
Software Developers can’t be solution minded because they spend their entire time
learning how to implement business solutions using multiple software
So, they really can’t can’t excel at defining the solutions for a business problem as well
as implementing business solutions using software tools.
The Solution Minded Business Analyst
Software Developers have no choice but to be a tool minded bunch of professionals,
otherwise, who is going to implement all those software based solutions to business problems?
But does it make really sense for Business Analysts to be Tool Minded just like
their Software Developer counterparts?
Should business analysts be gurus in specific software tools and if
so, what are these software tools?
Here is another really good question: if business analysts become tool minded, just like
software developers, whose job will it be to come up with the solutions that businesses
Don’t get me wrong, their is a place for tools in the Business Analysis world.
example, you can learn Rational and become quite good at writing Requirements and/or Use Cases with
Rational’s Requisite Pro.
However, your skills in Rational does not make you a better Business Analyst. Rather, what really matters
is your abilty to write Use Case in such a way that it really captures business requirements
and then conveys the right information in a clear, concise manner to Software Developers !
A business analyst skilled in writing Use Cases (for example) with Microsoft Word
is as good as a business analyst who knows how to use an enterprise requirements
management tool, the point being that the tool dos not make the business analyst
These Exceptions Prove The Rule!
For the solution minded business analyst, I am recommending a great set of tools
for analyzing or documenting business requirements.
These software tools are frequently used in the day to day tasks of Business Analysts
everywhere and they are required for business analyst positions whether they are
clearly stated on the job description or not.
The business analysis tools I am referring to are the ubiquitous office productivity
software tools: Microsoft Word (documentation), Microsoft Excel (analysis), Microsoft
PowerPoint (presentation) and Outlook (communication).
These software tools are so easy to work with and they are so effective, they can be used as
a stand-in for every named / nameless / branded business analysis tool without getting
in the way of getting work done.
In other words, these ubiquitous software tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) pose little
or no challenge in the way of a steep learning curve or training budget. So, you
don’t need to waste your time mastering a set of software tools before you can get
any work done
One of the business analysts I worked with was so focused on getting work done that
he was able to create detailed, complex, sophisticated user interface (UI) requirement
documents using plain, old, boring Microsoft Word!
So, whenever you start talking to a business analyst about getting some requirements
work done and the analyst shifts the conversation to “which software tool should
I use“, beware, for you may be talking to a tool minded business analyst instead of a solution
minded business analyst!