In the last article from the PMI-PBA® Certification Domain series, let’s look at the fifth domain – Evaluation. So far we discussed Needs Assessment, Planning business analysis activities, Elicitation and Analysis, and Traceability and Monitoring, but how do we know we are on the right track and are building the right product that would satisfy the business needs as defined by the stakeholders?
The way to achieve this by evaluating a solution or a segment of it – early and often. The evaluation results provide comparison between the planned and actual values, facilitates go/ no go decision and may lead to may lead to solution refinement or new solutions.
Evaluation does not start when the solution is ready – you need to plan early enough what you have to evaluate and how you will perform evaluation, because your infrastructure may not support built-in functionality for that. For example let’s say you have to implement a new warehousing solution that needs to reduce the time it takes to accommodate goods from trucks, into different storage locations to their final destination. Elapsed time may be sufficient evaluation metric, but what if you need a further breakdown of the time spent in each location? In this case you need to plan what additional data must be captured i.e. include this as requirement in the scope early enough, so it is incorporated on time (as opposed to redo part of the code to include this functionality at later time and stand its consequences).
A summary list with important factors to consider when you plan for evaluation is presented in the list below:
One of the most important aspects is – what to evaluate? What is really valuable and important? What metrics to include? When considering the different factors that will influence your project evaluation criteria you can take into account the following list:
- Business goals and objectives
- Organizational KPIs
- Customer metrics
- Sales and Marketing metrics
- Operational metrics
- Outcome measurements and financial calculation of benefits
- Functionality evaluation (results from surveys and focus groups, exploratory testing and user acceptance testing, day-in-the-life (DITL) testing, integration testing, expected vs. actual results)
- Non-functional evaluation (some of them may already be included in the KPIs definition)
Don’t think that you as a business analyst are alone in the process of solution evaluation – you need to work closely with project managers and testers to ensure consistent and complementary approaches to analysis, testing, and evaluation. Testers are excellent at validating completeness and consistency of all forms of requirements and evaluation criteria, so make sure you involve them early on in the project. As for the project manager, he is your “best friend” along the way, so the Evaluation domain is no exception.
Evaluation does not always end with all the software working perfectly correct – in fact it never does J. What happens when the actual results of an evaluation of a solution do not match the expected results or when during evaluation defects are found? In the first case we need to perform analysis for the situation and identify the reasons for the discrepancy. In the second case we need to address these defects and perform requirements analysis, impact analysis, and if necessary change requests.
So what are the next steps when evaluating a solution? As business analyst, you need to facilitate the Go/No-Go decision – a “go” permits the release of the solution. A “no-go” either delays or disapproves the release of the solution. Next, you need to obtain sign-off of the solution and eventually get involved in the evaluation of the long-term performance of the solution (only when negotiated and approved). As last a last step, don’t forget to celebrate your project success J.
As this is the last article from PMI-PBA® Domain series, I would like to wish good luck to everyone preparing for the certification exam and if you plan to take a training check our course schedule.
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