Monthly Archives: July 2016

Recommended Reading: The Problem with Requirements – Why is there still a problem?

I came across a white paper today called “The Problem with requirements: Why is there still a problem?“.  It was done by The Performance Institute and was sponsored by Robbins-Gioia and BluePrint (of BluePrint Requirements software).  I remember hearing about this when it came out in 2014 but for some reason or other didn’t read it at the time.

You may not find the results to be too surprising, but I think it is definitely worth a read if you are a business analysis.  It’s available from the Robbins Gioia web site and the link above goes directly to the report.

Happy reading.

New Wiki Page: Five Why’s

As a follow-up to the new wiki page on the Fishbone Diagram a few weeks ago, I have added another new wiki page on the Five Why’s technique.   I probably should have done them in reverse order since Five Why’s is in many ways the foundation of the Fishbone Diagram when it’s used for root cause analysis.  But what can I say, I sometimes do things in a strange order here.  🙂

As always, comments and feedback are welcome on any of the site content.

Thoughts on Leveraging OneNote Folder Structure for Searchability and Business Analysis

If it’s not obvious from my prior posts on this subject, I’m a fan of Microsoft OneNote.  I think it’s a fantastic tool for business analysts, but it definitely has its quarks and limitations.

This post will explore OneNote’s various search functions and discuss two ways you can structure your OneNote content to take advantage of its strengths while working around its limitations.  Specifically, using one notebook per project or effort; and defining a reusable folder structure that enables you to best leverage OneNote’s searching and tagging functions.

The Mystery of the Many OneNote Search Functions

The reasoning behind both of these recommendations has to do with limitations of the OneNote search and tag functions, and the fact that these functions are spread out across multiple access points within OneNote.  For example, the Search function (via the Search box) will let you limit the search results by the following criteria (in OneNote 2010 and 2013, which are the versions I have access to):

  • This page
  • This section
  • This section group
  • This notebook
  • All Notebooks

But the “Find by Author” search (which is accessed only via special button under the History tab) will only let you limit the search by:

  • This section
  • This section group
  • This notebook
  • All notebooks

Meanwhile, the “Recent Edits” function (also on the History tab) will initially let you narrow your results by all of the following options:

  • Today
  • Since Yesterday
  • Last 7 days
  • Last 14 days
  • Last 30 days
  • Last 3 months
  • Last 6 months
  • All pages sorted by date

And once you have selected a time period, the list of “Recent Edits” can be further narrowed by selecting from among the following options:

  • This section
  • This section group
  • This notebook
  • All notebooks

Lastly, there is the “Find Tags” function (discussed in the “Using OneNote Tags” article on this blog).  In that function, you can choose to limit the results by selecting from all of the following options:

  • This page group
  • This section
  • This section group
  • This notebook
  • All Notebooks
  • Today’s Notes
  • Yesterday’s Notes
  • This week’s Notes
  • Last week’s notes
  • Older notes

So depending on what type of content you are looking for, you may be limited by different search capabilities within OneNote.  And this is on top of fact that OneNote will not let you combine search times (no ‘AND’ in text or tag search) or combine search terms with other parameters (e.g. search for all instances of ‘Marketing’ in notes that have been updated in the last 7 days).

Given this current set of limitations, how can you structure your OneNote content best?
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Recommended Reading: The Breakdown Model Software Lifecycle

There is a short but interesting article in the January/Februart 2016 issue of CrossTalk magazine titled “Breakdown Model” that I thought was worth sharing on this site.  The link is to the mobile version of the article so if opened on your desktop you may need to ‘swipe’ with your mouse to flip pages.

The abstract describes the focus of the article like this:

“Here we present a variant of the Harmony process, the breakdown model which focuses on not only developing software but deleting all possible scenarios for failures in each phase of the development process.  This framework is adaptable with existing software development lifecycles.”

The article is actually quite short at about two pages.  The idea it presents is quite interesting I think even if you don’t have a dedicated team as they propose, because it presents a different way of thinking that a BA can take to all of their requirements work.