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Thursday, November 1, 2012

The business analyst and ITIL production requirements

I spend a few weeks in London in September and October capping a year long project that involved both analysts and production and operations managers. I had assumed over the years that the physical move into production was a project manager's responsibility. The PM was the one working with the production people to ensure a smooth transition into production, usually while the developers, business analysts, QA and users are completing the acceptance testing and getting final sign off of the product. In this particular company which follows ITIL it turns out that there are a number of standard procedures (which I helped initiate many years ago and are now refined into smoothly running processes) that are more business-related than project related. As we worked on various projects and processes I began to realize that the business analyst can actually do a lot during the project to make the transition easier for production. I talk a lot about the business analyst making the transition easier for the users, which does not go away, but there are also tasks the business analyst can do to ease the flow of the application into operations. It turns out that the overall business requirements do not only come from the users and business stakeholders. It is not enough to just make sure the problem is solved and the requirements are met. It’s not enough for a business analyst to ensure the described well enough for the developers to build. The business analyst also needs to work with the production people to make sure that the application moves smoothly into operations. There are requirements from production, for example ITIL standards to meet, that have to be defined as well. While these are not necessarily business requirements, they do affect the business in that they affect the ultimate delivery and use of the application in the operational environment. Since the business analyst is responsible for solving the business problem, the business analyst should be aware of requirements for that solution to go live. The guiding principle is always: if the users (customers, stakeholders) are not using the solution to solve the problem, the problem is still not solved.

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