Posts Tagged 'BABOK'

Some Certification Exam Day Tips for Future PMPs and CBAPs

On your certification exam day, you should be relaxed, psychologically prepared, and confident.  Taking the PMP, CBAP or other certification exam can be a stressful event! Try to be well rested and adequately nourished when you take the exam. Staying up all night before the exam for some last minute studying is not a good idea.

Make sure you know the location of your testing center prior to exam day.  Perhaps consider doing a “drive by” of the exam location so you know where you are going and exactly how to get there.  You can also scope out your favorite coffee spots along the route.  Just remember that you can’t take any food or drink into the testing area, so you will need to finish your coffee or snack before you start the exam.

You might call your testing center the day before your exam to confirm your exam date and time and the hours of operation.  I suggest this based upon the experiences of one of my best buddies, Peggy.  She made it through a surprise and unpredicted Colorado spring snowstorm, which included 8 inches of fresh snow in the early morning hours and many car accidents on her way to get to her early morning PMP exam. The story gets even better. When Peggy showed up at her testing center to sit her certification exam she discovered that the location of the testing center had moved the week before. Luckily, the new address of the exam site (handwritten, no less) was taped to the front door.

Peggy rushed to the other location and then begin her exam. Almost everyone, including the exam center staff, was late to work that morning so the damage was minimal.  However, the stress spike caused by this situation made Peggy have to sit at the computer for about 30 minutes before she could calm down and focus on the exam itself. This is when you discover the power of preparation, since she passed her exam with flying colors. The testing center staff told her that she had been notified of this relocation by email, but she could find no message from them in her inbox.

When you arrive at the testing center, you will have to lock up your personal belongings in a locker or leave them in your car for the duration of your exam.  The testing center staff will provide you with pieces of scratch paper and pencils, which you will need to return to them after your exam.  They will also take you into the testing area, seat you at your computer, provide you with headphones to muffle the noise, and confirm that the correct exam is being provided.

You have some time before the exam must start if you take the tutorial on how to use the exam software.  I recommend that you run the tutorial and then use this time to jot down any “cheat sheet” notes on the scrap paper that you have prepared prior to the exam.  Of course, these notes and reminders must all be in your head as you can’t take your own paper into the testing area.

Be aware that there could be other folks in the testing area taking a wide variety of exams, so people may come and go during your testing interval.  If you are easily distracted, this activity may take your attention away from your exam and its questions from time to time.  You may take a break during the exam; however, the timer keeps going while you are away from your seat.

Any other tips and tricks to add to the list? Please share.

Happy testing!

Susan Weese

Reprinted by permission from Susan’s exam crammer book blog located at

Are You Participating in the BABOK® Guide v3 Public Review?

Hello everyone and Happy Memorial Day weekend!  Did you know that version 3 of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK® Guide v3) is currently under public review around the world? Project managers and business analysts may want to join in and participate in the review period, which runs from May 12 to July 11, 2014.  This is an opportunity to get a sneak peek at the new draft standard and provide feedback on its contents.

According to the IIBA, participants can review the entire document or focus only on their areas of expertise. The international, volunteer Core Team working on this revision is interested in your contributions.

In a nutshell, the BABOK® Guide v3 reflects the evolution and expansion of the business analyst role.  Like it’s predecessor, this revised standard outlines the skills and knowledge business analysts need to create better business outcomes and drive business success.  The IIBA website outlines the major changes made to the standard, which include the new Business Analysis Core Concept Model (BACCM).  The BACCM uses six terms that have a common meaning to all business analysts and helps those analysts and other project team members discuss business analysis with a common terminology or lexicon.

The new revision also expands and adds five new views of where business analysts add value to the business and to its projects:  Agile, Business Intelligence, Information Technology, Business Architecture, and Business Process Management.  The techniques and underlying competencies of business analysts are also enhanced and updated.

To participate in this public review, please go to the IIBA website and link to the public review.  I would be very interested in hearing your comments, opinions and suggestions about this latest version of IIBA’s business analysis standard.  Please provide a comment on your reviewing experiences and your perspective on the changes, thanks!

Happy reviewing!

Susan Weese

If you are considering sitting the CBAP or CCBA certification exams for business analysts, check out our study guide (for version 2!) that can help you prepare to pass the test, the CBAP/CCBA: Certified Business Analysis Study Guide by Susan Weese and Terri Wagner! It’s a great place to learn more about each of the 6 knowledge areas and everything else you need to know to successfully pass the certification exam.

Building a “Just Right” Set of Project Requirements

How hard can building a complete, comprehensive, consistent, and understandable set of project requirements be? We all know that our project requirements should not just be a jumble of information.  The trick is making sure that we structure and organize those requirements properly so they define what is needed at the correct level of detail. Effective business analysts are masters at defining the level of abstraction or detail for their project’s requirements and then using that information to select the right requirement modeling technique or techniques.

The BABOK® Guide can help you get this job done as part of structuring and organizing requirements. This standard defines business, stakeholder, solution and transition requirements, which provides you with a starting point and a set of “buckets” for the different levels of abstraction or detail found in your project requirements. For example, business requirements are high-level and focus on the big picture of what an organization requires in order to address a business need. Solution requirements are far more detailed, providing a basis to design and develop the capabilities needed in a new solution and its components.

Business analysts can then factor in their selected levels of requirements abstraction and the names of those levels into their requirements elicitation and analysis activities.  Once you know what you need and the level of detail you are seeking, you can also determine what requirements modeling approach and techniques will support your requirements development efforts.

Remember, models are abstract and simplified views of what capabilities are needed in your project’s solution. There are five general modeling concepts that the BABOK® Guide recommends you consider using as part of your requirement modeling activities. Each concept  or area of focus has one or more specific modeling techniques that can be used.

User Classes, Profiles, or Roles. These models categorize and describe the people who directly interact with the solution, grouping them by their needs, expectations and goals for that solution. Roles often correspond to project stakeholders, and are identified during stakeholder analysis. User classes, profiles and roles are used by a number of common requirements analysis models, including organization models, process models, and use cases.

Concepts and Relationships. Concepts show us something in the real world, such as a person, place or thing. They define facts relative to that something and its relationships with other concepts. Business analysts can take this approach one step further, using data models as part of requirements analysis modeling to describe the attributes associated with a particular concept or set of related concepts.

Events. Events are triggers that prompt the business or a solution to respond to the event and do something, such as processing a customer order that has just been placed online. Events can be internal or external to the business, and can occur randomly or at regularly scheduled times. The stimulus-response flow of events is used by a number of common requirements analysis models, including scope models, process models, state diagrams, and use cases.

Processes. Process models are like a series of events without any trigger. Processes are series of repeatable activities performed by an organization involving its people and systems. Processes describe who does something and when that something must be done. Processes are used by a number of common requirements analysis models, including organization models, state diagrams, and use cases.

Rules. Rules guide how people make decisions within an organization. They guide how information about something can change and define the range of valid values it can change to. Rules often reflect organizational priorities, and are often embedded in process models, state diagrams and use cases.

Check out Learning Tree’s introductory business analysis course if you are looking for a great way to get started or fine tune your skills as a business analyst on your projects.  This course allows you to practice and fine tune your skills in writing and modeling the requirements for your projects and their proposed solutions.

Happy requirements modeling!

Susan Weese

Three Business Analysis Techniques for Solution Validation

If you find yourself performing solution validation as part of your project, remember that there are three general techniques that the BABOK® Guide  recommends that you use when validating that solution and addressing any defects or issues that you might find. Some of these techniques occur early in the project life cycle when you are defining what you will validate, while others are used closer to the end of the project life cycle when you are actually performing your validation efforts. Let’s step through each of those three techniques in a bit more detail.

Acceptance and Evaluation Criteria Definition. Early on in your project, you and the team need to make sure that you define the set of requirements that will be used to validate the resulting project’s solution. This set of requirements must have defined, measurable acceptance criteria for you to use in your validation efforts.  If you can’t measure these acceptance criteria, it will be difficult to prove that the solution is delivering what was promised.  I always tell my project teams to think about the end of the project when our key users and stakeholders are tired of us, and to put together measurable and objective acceptance criteria that we can use to prove the solution performs as defined.  That way, we are good to go whether our stakeholder love us or dislike us at the end of the project. If you are interested in learning more about defining these criteria, check out my previous post about acceptance and evaluation criteria.

Problem Tracking.  Never, ever forget that problem tracking is your formal vehicle for identifying and tracking identified defects in your solution. This technique ensures that the defects found during solution validation are addressed and resolved. It is funny how the problems, defects or issues that get written down, analyzed and have agreed-upon fixes actually get fixed, isn’t it? I find myself using this technique later in the project life cycle, but the mechanism for identifying, logging and tracking project problems, defects or issues should be available very early in the project life cycle, just in case.

Root Cause Analysis. Root cause analysis allows you to determine the underlying reason for a problem or defect in your solution. Identifying the real cause of the problem is a significant step in addressing and fixing that problem. This straightforward and effective business analysis technique allows you to correct the actual cause of the defect versus correcting a symptom of that defect and not the defect itself.  It can be all too easy to fix the symptom of a problem and miss the real problem that is causing your solution to behave badly.  You can read more about this technique in one of my previous posts on using root cause analysis .

Happy solution validation!

Susan Weese

Successful Business Analysts: How They Avoid the Five Most Common BA Mistakes

Business analysts are increasingly becoming the critical liaisons between business and solution development (oftentimes IT), so they must communicate and relate with equal effectiveness throughout all levels of an organization. Download this free White Paper to see which five common obstacles business analysts face and how to address them to ensure success.

Closer Look: Validating Your New Solutions

As discussed in my previous post, the BABOK® Guide’s Solution Assessment and Validation knowledge area asks business analysts and project teams to compare their solution and its capabilities against the project’s business, stakeholder and solution requirements that were created earlier in the project life cycle. One key aspect of this activity is that you then need to document and ultimately address the problems or discrepancies that you find.

The solution you are validating may or may not be in operational use, but it needs to be constructed and functioning. According to the BABOK® Guide, you have two different tasks to do when you are validating a new solution relative to its requirements. Those tasks are: (1) investigating defective solution outputs, and (2) assessing any defects and issues.  Let’s look at each task in a bit more detail.

Investigate defective solution outputs.  Defective solution outputs occur when the outputs are below the previously defined acceptable level of quality for that output. Defective outputs require investigation and resolution as part of your solution validation activities.

Assess defects and issues.  Any defects that are identified during solution validation need to be reviewed and assessed. Some defects require immediate resolution while others may be mitigated using a workaround or accepted for the time being. There are several ways to mitigate the impact of a defect using a workaround.  Common workarounds include activities like performing additional quality control checks, creating and implementing new manual processes (at east in the short term), and removing support for exceptions and errors.

Don’t forget that key areas to consider when assessing solution defects include the severity and probability of each defect and the business impacts that the defect might have over time.

Happy solution validation!

Susan Weese

If you are considering sitting the CBAP or CCBA certification exams for business analysts, check out our new study guide that can help you prepare to pass the test, the CBAP / CCBA: Certified Business Analysis Study Guide by Susan Weese and Terri Wagner!  It’s a great place to learn more about each of the 6 knowledge areas and everything else you need to know to successfully pass the certification exam.

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