Craftsmanship In Business Systems Analysis

Recently I wrote a paper on the general state of craftsmanship which was geared more for public consumption as opposed to any specific industry. To my way of thinking, craftsmanship is a universal concept that touches all industries, regardless if they are product or service related. This resulted in a flurry of e-mails to me questioning how it pertains to specific types of work, including Business Systems Analysis (BSA) which, of course, is applicable but I question whether we have truly realized craftsmanship in this field.

From the outset, let me say unequivocally that BSA is not a new concept and has been with us for a long time, actually predating the modern computer era of the 20th century. Prior to this, companies had formal “Systems & Procedures” departments with analysts focusing on streamlining business processes and primarily using paper and manual procedures. As tabulating and other office equipment emerged, they were responsible for their integration into the business. But as computers were introduced, a new function was devised that greatly impacted the future of analysts, namely programmers. Slowly but surely analysts were replaced by programmers. By the end of the Structured Programming/CASE mania of the 1980’s and 90’s, BSA was phased out almost to the point of extinction. In other words, companies were more concerned with programming as opposed to grappling with enterprise-wide systems. Consequently, systems were attacked in piecemeal, usually one program at a time, which resulted in fragmented and disjointed systems, erroneous information, and redundancy in terms of data resources and work effort. Slowly, companies began to realize that a higher level person was needed who understood the business and could engineer integrated systems to serve it. Hence, the rebirth of the Business Systems Analyst as we understand it today.

Several of today’s BSA’s came up through the ranks of programming and are actually programmers in sheep’s clothing, and tend to see things only from a computing point of view. However, there are many others whose roots can be traced to today’s business schools. I view a true Business Systems Analyst as the intermediary between the end-users and the programming staff. This means they have the ability to understand both business and technical concepts and communicate them effectively with both the end-users and the programmers. In other words, one of the key roles the analyst plays is that of translator.

THE ROLE OF CRAFTSMANSHIP

In my article, I defined craftsmanship as…

“The practice and pursuit of excellence in building/delivering superior work products by workers.”

By this definition, craftsmanship and quality are not synonymous. Whereas quality is primarily concerned with zero defects, craftsmanship implies a human trait in “pursuit of excellence.” To better describe the concept, I came up with the following formula:

“Craftsmanship = (Knowledge + Experience + Attitude) X Success”

This itemizes the variables associated with craftsmanship. Before we discuss “Knowledge,” let’s consider the others first. “Experience” means the worker has been able to apply the knowledge he/she has learned, not just once, but repetitively. “Attitude” addresses the person’s sense of professionalism and dedication to his/her craft, that they possess an intellectual curiosity and continually strives for improvement. And “Success” means the worker has demonstrated he/she can produce products to the satisfaction of both the client and the company he/she works for, not just once but routinely. Regardless of the person’s knowledge, experience and attitude, if the worker cannot successfully deliver the work product, it is for naught.

To me, the “knowledge” variable is the Achilles’ heel to craftsmanship in Business Systems Analysis. As mentioned earlier, BSA is not a new concept, but was almost made extinct. Fortunately, it is beginning to rebound and, as part of its resurrection, the industry is reinventing systems theory with programming muddying the waters. For example, how BSA is taught at the college level is certainly not uniform. Sometimes it is taught in the business schools and others in the computer science schools. Further, how one professor may teach it will not be the same as the next. I have seen this not just in this country but overseas as well. In other words, BSA is not yet a teachable science. To qualify as a science, there needs to be a governing body of knowledge consisting of proven and accepted concepts and principles. This includes a standardization of terms in order to avoid a “Tower of Babel” effect. Unfortunately, uniform standards are few and far between in the BSA field. To illustrate, there are numerous interpretations of what a system is, or what information is, or even data.

There are two parts to the “knowledge” variable: initial education/training, and continuous improvement. In terms of initial education/training, you can either learn BSA through the “School of Hard Knocks” or from an accredited institution. I will not digress into the specifics of what a BSA curriculum should include other than to highlight general areas:

* History of BSA.

* General business courses, including such things as general management, organizational analysis, work simplification, industrial engineering, industrial psychology, corporate law, statistics, etc.

* Communications courses; e.g., speech, persuasion, negotiation, corporate and technical writing, interviewing, etc.

* Basic math to calculate such things as return on investment and cost/benefit analysis.

* Project Management.

* Introduction to computer technology (including operations and networking).

* Principles of software design.

* Principles of data base deign.

Aside from the initial education/training, the “Knowledge” variable requires a program of continuous improvement. This can be done by attending supplemental training, by reading and researching articles and books, and active participation in trade groups, such as the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

As an aside, the forerunner of the IIBA was the Association for Systems Management (ASM) which went defunct back in the 1990’s (another indicator of how BSA almost became extinct).

Certification in a chosen profession is also useful for continuous improvement, but without an industry accepted body of knowledge it is pointless. And being certified does not automatically make you a craftsman, but rather it is indicative of your desire to seek further knowledge and improve yourself.

IMPLEMENTING BSA CRAFTSMANSHIP

In my earlier craftsmanship article, I described how a company should devise a suitable corporate culture to embrace craftsmanship; to summarize:

* EMPOWERMENT OF THE WORKER to make certain decisions regarding development of the work product. This involves less micromanagement and more participation by workers in the planning process. In other words, managing from the “bottom-up” as opposed to “top-down.”

* CREATION OF A MORE DISCIPLINED AND ORGANIZED WORK ENVIRONMENT promoting a more professional attitude amongst the workers. This includes a corporate position of zero tolerance in defects and inferior workmanship and the adoption of standard methodologies thereby defining best practices for building/delivering work products.

* PROMOTE A PROGRAM OF CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT to sharpen worker skills.

* ESTABLISHMENT OF THREE CLASSES OF WORKERS to denote the level of expertise, such as “Apprentices” (novices requiring training), “Intermediate” (educated and experienced, but not yet expert), and “Master” (expert craftsman).

* ESTABLISH A LINK BETWEEN WORKERS-PRODUCTS-CUSTOMERS to establish a feedback loop to judge satisfaction with a specific product and to the exact worker(s) who produced it.

This approach to implementation is just as applicable to BSA as it is to any other profession.

CONCLUSION

There are undoubtedly craftsmen in the BSA industry; people whose companies and clients have supreme confidence in their ability and trust their expertise unquestioningly. These are people who should be recognized by the industry in order to become models for others to emulate.

But the biggest problem with craftsmanship in this industry is the lack of uniform standards by which we can teach others in a consistent manner. Without such governing standards, BSA will continue to be viewed more as an art as opposed to a science, and true craftsmanship in this field will not be realized.

Ireland Shoots To Become Shared Services Center Of Europe

Ireland isn’t going to be the next Calcutta or Mumbai. It isn’t trying to be the back office customer care contact center Mecca of the Western world. Which is probably just as well.

What it does want to do is build its position as a leading European provider of the next business stage up from contact centers – contact center plus, if you like – offering serious technical support and a whole range of services way beyond giving simple solutions to straightforward customer inquiries. Some are operated by outsourced suppliers but most in Ireland are managed by the companies they serve.

Here, staff are dealing with the entire internal communications system for vast, multi-national operations. They are handling not only traditional Helpdesk calls, but providing technical support to their own staff and business-to-business, dealing with HR issues like recruitment and sick leave, payroll systems, company accounts as well as in-company communications about policy and strategy, staff and customer information and the intranet function.

In its now sophisticated telecoms sector, Ireland boasts 66 contact centres for a range of companies that include 3Com, American Airlines, AOL, Dell, eBay, GE Insurance, Google, Hewlett Packard, IBM, MBNA, Oracle, Starwood Hotels, Symantec and Xerox – and that’s just an arbitrary sample.

These centres – Europeans call them Shared Services Centres, but most Americans will be more familiar with the term Managed Services – are where Ireland sees its growth potential, though the Irish have no intention of turning their backs on ordinary contact center investments serving banking and catalog customers for example.

Technology is changing the product. Just answering the phone isn’t enough these days. To be successful, the centers need to serve the world in a host of functions.

A Customer Backlash May Boost Ireland’s Efforts

A recent survey of 1,000 UK adults by contact center industry analysts ContactBabel found that 142 had switched supplier because their existing one used an offshore service, while three in four said they felt more negatively towards their supplier if they used offshore agents.

Steve Morrell, principal analyst at ContactBabel said in the report: “If UK businesses do not address the concerns of their customers, the level of customer defection will increase and their profits will decline further. ”

Therein lies a problem – and for Ireland, an opportunity. In India, university graduates, attracted by the prestige of contact center jobs, earn perhaps ten times the average wage but still cost their employers only a tenth of a European or US-based operation.

Hypothetically, that means a typical bank with 12 million customers and revenues of $400 per customer each year would save over $17 million by replacing 1,000 of its expensive call centre staff with 1,000 in India. The downside is that same hypothetical bank would need only about one per cent of its customers to defect to another bank in protest to have lost all those savings instantly.

“Ireland is the only native English-speaking member of the Eurozone,” points out Brendan Haplin, International Media Manager at the IDA, the Irish government agency which seeks inward investment from around the globe. “Ireland offers a first class advanced telecommunications infrastructure that includes vital bandwidth and hosting capacity, and we back this all with solid IDA support, both financial and practical.”

The Appeal? Language and Low Taxes?

The landscape in Ireland – corporate and cultural – has attracted far more than its fair share of not only European but US business as well. “Ireland has changed radically from 10 or 20 years ago,” Haplin says. “We now have between 60 and 70 shared services centers that are multi-lingual, pan-European and trans-Atlantic.”

We’re talking about major companies the size and scale of IBM or Dell. On the whole, these organisations are extremely happy with the quality of staff, the quality of life and the delivery of service they have found in Ireland. They bring in selected technical experts from the States and then use locally selected personnel to develop and expand the skills base.

These big operators are evidence of success, not only because they stay there but because they can point to significant cost reduction, increased efficiencies, better quality customer service and a real drive in sales which ultimately delivers better returns to shareholders.

Ireland, adds Haplin, offers an appealing package, complete with low corporate tax of just 12.5% It works hard to minimise bureaucracy and instead to engineer a low-risk, quick start-up, high-performance knowledge economy. “We have a well developed environment for call center and shared services operations because we have all the basic ingredients in place: the skills and knowledge, the experience and availability of IT-literate and multi-lingual staff and the global strategic fit that provides facilities for companies to ‘follow the sun’ on a 24-hour model.”

A Population Increase Bodes Well for Employers

While Ireland may merit a spot on a company’s shortlist of potential offshore locations today, what about tomorrow? Will the right talent – an enough of it – be available? According to Dr William Harris, Director General of the Science Foundation of Ireland, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ “The key element in creating knowledge is intangible assets such as expertise, insight, talent, passion, imagination and persistence.

“Investing in such abilities, we believe, is the best predictor of success Ireland could have,” Harris adds. “Ireland has a wealth of young talent ready to make science and engineering the next great wave of Irish innovation.”

Ireland is one of very few European countries showing an increase in its population, and some 260,000 people, 12.6% of the total workforce, are employed in business services. While the population of workers declines in other countries, boding real problems up ahead, Ireland looks to growing a youthful talent pool on a par with that of the US.

[SIDEBAR] The Irish Landscape: Poised To Compete

Ireland has changed and changed dramatically. Gone are those sad depictions of lovelorn girls waving their tearful goodbyes to men who were set for a life in the New Worlds of America or Australia? They’d make their fortunes and return to build a castle and raise a family in Kilkenny.

In the last couple of decades the Celtic Tiger has been thrusting its way through the jungles of the world economy. He’s getting plumper, healthier and more voracious with every paw print he makes.

The Environment Is Hospitable

The quality of life is a fabulous balance of stunning scenery and great leisure options. Golf courses, angling, cycling, camping, hiking and finding deserted bays along the rugged coastline are just a few possibilities to ponder.

Real estate is cheap (except in central Dublin) and land plentiful. Gasoline is about half the price it is in the UK and corporate tax of 12.5% sits alongside the US’s 39.5% or the UK’s 30% Though Value Added Tax runs at 21 per cent, it won’t have much of an impact on companies whose profits are based on export outside the EU and the government has simplified the paperwork. If 85 per cent of your goods or services are for export, then you will be exempted, so you don’t have to fill in forms to reclaim VAT.

The Irish are renowned – and rightly – for their warm welcome, and that extends not only to a pint of Guinness with a passing stranger but to those who have come to stay longer.

Unlike some of their European neighbours, the Irish don’t resent the arrival of migrant workers but welcome them with open arms as a real and useful addition to the native skills base.

Location and Politics Provide a Counterbalance

Air travel is reasonable but needs more development. The main airport is close to Dublin and offers about 100 direct destinations worldwide. There is a second international airport at Shannon and smaller mostly short-haul facilities at Cork, Belfast and Londonderry. Most international flights are out of Dublin or Shannon.

In terms of moving goods, ferry services are strong but the distance from mainland Europe makes them slow. Although a crossing from Dublin to Holyhead on the Welsh coast is less than two hours, Normandy is 19 hours away. From Belfast and Larne in the north, there are faster crossings to Scotland and England.

A long history of a sluggish, agricultural economy meant Ireland was slow to move into the 20th, never mind the 21st, century. Outside of a few main cities, it remains a wonderfully unspoilt but also under-developed rural society.

Ireland came into the European Union with Objective One status, meaning that its under-developed economic state entitled it to a whole package of major infrastructure grants to help it move forward rapidly. Its heavy rural culture saw the benefits of the Common Agricultural Policy, instantly enabling farmers to access guaranteed markets and guaranteed prices for their produce, even if a lot of it did end up dumped on butter mountains and in milk lakes. Almost half of the EU’s entire 44.5 billion Euro budget is spent on agricultural subsidies of one kind or another.

The maze of minor country roads lend Ireland much of its charm but aren’t much use for heavy lorries carrying large loads of produce to marketplaces across the world. European Union money helped extend a main road and motorway infrastructure that was essential for economic growth.

All of this helped encourage new investors from other countries to set up facilities in Ireland. The government encouraged them with appealing packages that drew in the likes of Dell, Xerox, Baxter International, Hertz and a host of others before they even got onto contact centers.

But all that Eurozone assistance has gone now. The surge of the Celtic Tiger, the reality of economic growth, has forced Ireland to move from being subsidised by the European Union to being a subsidy provider to other emerging nations, including some of the 10 new countries whose joining has taken the European bloc to 25 in total.

What is a Business Analyst? (Part 3)

Today the term Business Analyst is synonymous with a career in the IT industry but the most successful and valuable analysts are those who understand the “business” rather than those who understand IT.

So what exactly is a Business Analyst? What is the Business Analyst’s role? What is the best background for this job? What skill set is required? What type of person is the best fit? What training is required and available? Each organisation seems to have its own ideas about the role, skills, responsibilities and expectations. Given the importance of the job, a common definition would assist both practitioners and employers. In this third and final part we look at modelling and requirements specification tools.

Current technology – modelling tools

It can be extremely difficult to agree on what and how things are done now in a large organisation, even more so to agree on what and how things should be done. Modelling tools are a critical element in this process. A recent Australian survey (based on 300 responses from practicing computer professionals) revealed the top 4 modelling techniques currently in use:

Entity Relationship diagram 39%, Data flow diagram 34%, Systems flowcharting 31% and Workflow modelling 24%.

Software tools are widely available to support these techniques. In our observations however, the most commonly-used tool remains the whiteboard. The growth in the use of CASE tools has been much slower than predicted, with auto code generation, while available for ten years or more, still not widely in use.

The survey goes on to say that OO (object oriented) analysis, design and programming has been the predominant systems development paradigm over the last decade. However, some 64% of respondents either did not know or did not use UML (Unified Modelling Language) and 74% of respondents did not know or use object modelling.

Today UML is making the transition to business process modelling with software vendors supplying extensions and enhancements to cater for the needs of the Business Analyst. But this comes at a price – there is a corresponding need for structure, process and discipline in the development team. For organisations developing new, large scale systems e.g. defence and health, UML offers a clean sheet approach but brings with it the need for investment in disciplined processes and procedures, plus up-skilling and staff (re)training.

Current technology – requirements specification tools

Although software tools are available for specifying requirements, they are not in wide use in the commercial computing world. These high-end software tools enable users to track requirements from original specification down to code level and are useful for the large, complex industries like
the defence and telecommunications sectors where rigorous requirements specification and zero software defects are daily objectives – and where the high cost of implementing rigorous processes and procedures can be justified. In these industries, the boundaries on requirements are often easy to set in that they typically define a product (e.g. weapons system, mobile handset) which will be designed, manufactured then shipped. Once in the field, their function doesn’t change.

In the commercial and government sectors, requirements relate more to business services and business processes both of which can be in a continuous state of flux throughout their lifecycle. Business Analysts work closely with clients and development teams, refining, changing and sometimes re-defining requirements. The humble word processor becomes an easy-to-master and effective communications tool to represent a
requirement (a statement of what’s needed) and even state-of-the-art requirements templates use Microsoft Word as the underpinning technology.

So where should today’s Business Analyst focus and what are the best training strategies to pursue?

There is no substitute for practice and the B.A. evolves into a highly skilled practitioner of immense value to their organisations. Those working in the field either become very proficient technically or move into management positions, or a combination of both.

Today’s business analyst will have in depth expertise in some of these domains – and just as importantly will have a conceptual understanding of all of them.

As long as companies and organisations want to add new capabilities or improve existing business processes, there will be an ongoing need for professional Business Analysts. The deeper and broader the range of a Business Analyst’s skills, the greater will be the return to their employer and the further their own individual career will take them.

What Exactly Is a Business Analyst, Anyway?

To start things off; let’s say that, if you where to ask ten different HR Professionals what a Business Analyst is, that you would probably get about 10 different answers. Well that is basically the problem that the emerging field of “Business Analysis” is facing. So, to get a little clarity on the matter, let’s start by dividing all analysts into the two major categories; business (non-technical) and technical. These will be the two main divisions within the title. This is not to say that one isn’t able to or on occasion required to work on both sides of the fence. This only goes to prove how confusing the title “Business Analyst” really is.

The first side of this very broad coin is the business side. This will be those professionals who apply a specific methodology to provide solutions that increase the value of a company or a business.

The opposite side of the coin is going to be the IT or Technical side. Now, this side has a basic function of applying specific methodologies to provide “technical” solutions to problems, which increases the ability of the company, which in turn increases the value of a company. Confused yet? OK, moving on.

Many times analysts are hired to not only find the problems but to also provide solutions. This is a completely different role than a project manager. As a general rule a company will acquire the services of an analyst or a firm to address a particular issue or problem that it is facing. The analyst will then go to the business, collect data, apply methodologies and principles, and create a solution. At this time a requirements analyst will assess the needs and requirements (this may or may not be included in the solutions initially provided). This information is then passed on to a Project Manger. The PM will then follow his/her proven methodologies and techniques to produce the final product on budget and on time, hopefully.

Basically to describe what a business analyst is, we have to describe the work that a business analyst does. Because it doesn’t matter if the title is business analyst, process analyst, requirements analyst, operations analyst, business systems analyst, systems analyst, consultant, programmer/analyst, etc; the only thing that makes an analyst an analyst is the systematic approach to problems and solutions through predefined methodic principles.

Just a few of the characteristics of a BA will be that the analyst;
• Works with businesses to identify improvement opportunities within processes or operations
• Gathers, documents, and analyzes needs and requirements that a business may have
• The BA solves problems that companies have

There are different organizations that create or adhere to accepted standards of practice in the field of business analysis. One of which would be the certifying agency of the International Institute of Business Analysis another would be the Object Management Group. These organizations will adhere strictly to certain methodologies that when properly employed will lead not only the analyst, but their clients, to a successful outcome regardless of current situations.

Methodologies can vary greatly depending on the disciplines of the particular analyst or firm. No single methodology is right or wrong; however do keep in mind that there are several well defined sets of disciplines that can be verified with a simple internet search. If an analyst claims to use a particular system or discipline, check out.

So just to sum everything up, a business analyst is basically defined as somebody who performs certain tasks to make your business better. Like it has been said before, if you have a problem with your car, you find a mechanic. If you have a problem with your health, you find a doctor. If you have a problem with your business, you find a business analyst.

How to Get New Business From Your Client Base

Everyone loves a mystery. Whether it be a Sherlock Holmes story or a police drama on television, they captivate us. What holds our attention is what we don’t know. If the writers have done their job, they plant the fear in you early. That fear keeps you wondering how it is all going to turn out.

The mystery of how clients feel about your products or services is often one we don’t want to figure out. As a sales and business development analyst, I’m often asked, “How do I drive new business opportunities from my client base?”

The Source

And the answer is really simple. Just ask your clients. Many Sales Leaders and Sales Professionals are fearful of this and they have a bunch of excuses as to why they shouldn’t do it:

They don’t want to bother their clients.
They feel if their clients like what they’ve done for them and appreciate it, they will refer them business.
They don’t want to make their clients uncomfortable.

Those questions are just the beginning; I could go on. Remember, your clients are busy. They have to run their businesses and thinking about referring business to you doesn’t always enter their minds, even if they would make a referral in a heartbeat. Most times, all they need is a little prompting from you and they are happy to see who they can refer to you.

How Do I Ask?

First, you need to set up an appointment. This must be done in person! Don’t send an email or put it in the envelope with their bill. Ask the question the next time you’re in front of them and say, “Is there anyone else you know that could benefit from our product or service?” And you’ll be surprised the answers that you’ll get and the number of referrals you will receive!

What is the Value?

The best part about those referrals is there is no gate keeper, no rfp or long relationship cultivation cycle. You are referred in as a trusted advisor and now have the inside track to closing new business. The sales process will be faster, the value will be maximized and the chances you will have another source of referrals will be high!

So don’t be afraid to solve this mystery. If you get past the fear you will deepen your client relationships and close more business, pushing you well above quota and continuing to elevate you as a Sales Pro!

Get Your Business Out of the Dark With These Tools

Have you all heard about Ashers? yes, I am talking about one of the biggest clothing line in Nigeria. They got their business out of the dark and now they are doing well. How many people know how to do that? well that is still a mystery. But following the tips below will help you get your business out of the dark and into the light.

1. SELL OUT YOUR BUSINESS TO THE WORLD.

When I say “SELL OUT YOUR BUSINESS TO THE WORLD”, I don’t mean sell your business to a buyer. what I meant was aggressive marketing. That is the kind of marketing that makes your clients (Customer) want more from you. Tell them the best part and the advantages of doing business with you. Show them that you are better than the rest. Give that secure felling so that they feel secured doing business with you. also give them warranties, as this will give them the chance to try your business and see the benefits of doing business with you.

2. GET A PROFESSIONAL ANALYST

Getting a professional analyst will help you keep track and records of your business. An analyst will tell you when and how to invest, when and reasons why you should pull back and a host of others. He also give you detailed report on the Profits, Losses and margins in your business.

3. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL GRAPHICS DESIGNER

I know this sounds some how awkward but it is super helpful. Graphics, as it sounds, give clients a pictorial info of your business. check out Companies like Coke and the rest, even after gaining worldwide recognition, they still create better graphics for adverts. So, this simply implies that graphics should not be left out of your business. Do you know that many businesses are growing rapidly because of the services of a graphics designer

4. GET A WEBSITE/BLOG

A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. Your Blog/Website is your online office. People that are not in your region or place of residence can still reach you and find out more about your business on your blog/website. Also ensure you put you contact on the website and also offer them 24/7 response service that will enable them reach you if they have any problems. This will make them come back for more. If don’t know how to, you can use free blogging/publishing tools like Blogger and WordPress.

A Look at Financial Analyst Jobs

All major business decisions are made with finance in mind. The role of a financial analyst is to provide financial support to clients and fellow colleagues that will help them make sound business decisions and set strong forecasts for the future.

The exact nature of the role itself will vary depending on the size of the organisation, with larger ones, the analyst will be dealing with strategic analysis whereas in smaller business, the analyst might also look after preparing and collecting accounts.

They will be asked to set financial budgets for the long term and short term plans of an organisation and will need to advise on decision making in regards to financial implications before decisions are made. All the plans, advice and practices will be scrutinised to ensure they are inline with financial regulations and legislation which the analyst will be expected to keep up to date with as changes are made.

Financial analysts will also be required to monitor and interpret cash flow while predicting any upcoming future trends that will affect business decisions. They will look at existing processes and try to streamline them so that value added analysis and insight can be incorporated. As well as looking at their own organisation, analysts will need to look at competitors in the market and identify market trends that can be used to push their own business forward.

Good communication is key within the role as the analyst will be expected to liaise with auditors to ensure the correct monitoring is carried out and talk to external contacts such as solicitors, bankers and statutory organisations. When it comes to personal skills a financial analyst will be expected to be very results driven. This means that they will be expected to not only be proactive but hit all deadlines while remaining calm under pressure. An analyst will need to have very clear views on how to prioritise things and be able to drive relevant changes.

There are many industry sectors that a financial analyst can work within including Telecommunications, Consumer Products, Media, Retail, Business Services, Professional Services, Pharmaceutical, Advertising, Public and Not for Profit.

How To Find The Business You Want Online

In the 1990s, when we wanted to know who was playing at the Key Club, we just picked up a copy of LA Weekly or cruised down Sunset Boulevard to gawk at the large billboard out front, if we had the time.

Sometimes we just showed up, hoping for the best.

If we wanted to know what movies were playing, we grabbed the yellow pages and phoned the nearest movie theater to listen to automated recordings of all the film titles and times.

Service based businesses were discovered in the yellow pages or the classified section of the newspaper and new restaurants were discovered by word of mouth or a spontaneous “this place looks good” impulse.

It seems like eons ago when this world existed in the “land before the internet.” Today, if you need to locate anything that is happening in your area like events, goods, or any essential business services, you need only check an online local guide or local business directory.

It Has Never Been Easier To Locate A Business

It’s never been easier to find local events, restaurants, show times and services. The popularity of the online yellow pages has finally surpassed its printed counterpart for a number of obvious reasons.

First, it is convenient. Imagine trying to lug that oversized five-pound book around with you to work! Now you can just look things up on your Blackberry or iPhone that is connected to the internet, which is a service that has gotten much cheaper over the past decade, by the way.

Secondly, it is quick. Remember when we had to spend five minutes listening to a phone recording of all the show times and titles just to get to the information we actually wanted? Now we can see the exact theater, title and time we need in less than a minute.

The world of local business directories is rapidly evolving. Who knows what new features will be available to help us find local goods and services in the future?

Mobile Growth On The Internet Has Increased Dramatically

Web analysts predict that everyone will be accessing business directory listings from their mobile phones. They also suspect that online video and consumer reviews/rating systems will become a more prominent component.

Another new innovation is the window-within-a-window interface, which allows web users the option to stay on the webpage but view other information by scrolling over or clicking on a button.

The other windows then pop up like a speech bubble for quicker loading times and more rapid page views.

Perhaps browsers will even be able to read a company’s blog or instant message someone from customer relations via the business directory listing.

The learn more about finding businesses online we have some great resources available such as how to market a Small Business Online.

Business Analyst Finance Domain Sample Resume

This is just a sample Business Analyst resume for freshers as well as for experienced job seekers in Finance domain of business analyst or system analyst. While this is only a sample resume, please use this only for reference purpose, do not copy the same client names or job duties for your own purpose. Always make your own resume with genuine experience.

Name: Justin Megha

Ph no: XXXXXXX

your email here.

Business Analyst, Business Systems Analyst

SUMMARY

Accomplished in Business Analysis, System Analysis, Quality Analysis and Project Management with extensive experience in business products, operations and Information Technology on the capital markets space specializing in Finance such as Trading, Fixed Income, Equities, Bonds, Derivatives(Swaps, Options, etc) and Mortgage with sound knowledge of broad range of financial instruments.
Over 11+ Years of proven track record as value-adding, delivery-loaded project hardened professional with hands-on expertise spanning in System Analysis, Architecting Financial applications, Data warehousing, Data Migrations, Data Processing, ERP applications, SOX Implementation and Process Compliance Projects.
Accomplishments in analysis of large-scale business systems, Project Charters, Business Requirement Documents, Business Overview Documents, Authoring Narrative Use Cases, Functional Specifications, and Technical Specifications, data warehousing, reporting and testing plans.
Expertise in creating UML based Modelling views like Activity/ Use Case/Data Flow/Business Flow /Navigational Flow/Wire Frame diagrams using Rational Products & MS Visio.
Proficient as long time liaison between business and technology with competence in Full Life Cycle of System (SLC) development with Waterfall, Agile, RUP methodology, IT Auditing and SOX Concepts as well as broad cross-functional experiences leveraging multiple frameworks.
Extensively worked with the On-site and Off-shore Quality Assurance Groups by assisting the QA team to perform Black Box /GUI testing/ Functionality /Regression /System /Unit/Stress /Performance/ UAT’s.
Facilitated change management across entire process from project conceptualization to testing through project delivery, Software Development & Implementation Management in diverse business & technical environments, with demonstrated leadership abilities.

EDUCATION

Post Graduate Diploma (in Business Administration), USA
Master’s Degree (in Computer Applications),
Bachelor’s Degree (in Commerce),

TECHNICAL SKILLS

Documentation Tools UML, MS Office (Word, Excel, Power Point, Project), MS Visio, Erwin

SDLC Methodologies Waterfall, Iterative, Rational Unified Process (RUP), Spiral, Agile

Modeling Tools UML, MS Visio, Erwin, Power Designer, Metastrom Provision

Reporting Tools Business Objects X IR2, Crystal Reports, MS Office Suite

QA Tools Quality Center, Test Director, Win Runner, Load Runner, QTP, Rational Requisite Pro, Bugzilla, Clear Quest

Languages Java, VB, SQL, HTML, XML, UML, ASP, JSP

Databases & OS MS SQL Server, Oracle 10g, DB2, MS Access on Windows XP / 2000, Unix

Version Control Rational Clear Case, Visual Source Safe

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

SERVICE MASTER, Memphis, TN June 08 – Till Date

Senior Business Analyst

Terminix has approximately 800 customer service agents that reside in our branches in addition to approximately 150 agents in a centralized call center in Memphis, TN. Terminix customer service agents receive approximately 25 million calls from customers each year. Many of these customer’s questions are not answered or their problems are not resolved on the first call. Currently these agents use an AS/400 based custom developed system called Mission to answer customer inquiries into branches and the Customer Communication Center. Mission – Terminix’s operation system – provides functionality for sales, field service (routing & scheduling, work order management), accounts receivable, and payroll. This system is designed modularly and is difficult to navigate for customer service agents needing to assist the customer quickly and knowledgeably. The amount of effort and time needed to train a customer service representative using the Mission system is high. This combined with low agent and customer retention is costly.

Customer Service Console enables Customer Service Associates to provide consistent, enhanced service experience, support to the Customers across the Organization. CSC is aimed at providing easy navigation, easy learning process, reduced call time and first call resolution.

Responsibilities

Assisted in creating Project Plan, Road Map. Designed Requirements Planning and Management document.
Performed Enterprise Analysis and actively participated in buying Tool Licenses.
Identified subject-matter experts and drove the requirements gathering process through approval of the documents that convey their needs to management, developers, and quality assurance team.
Performed technical project consultation, initiation, collection and documentation of client business and functional requirements, solution alternatives, functional design, testing and implementation support.
Requirements Elicitation, Analysis, Communication, and Validation according to Six Sigma Standards.
Captured Business Process Flows and Reengineered Process to achieve maximum outputs.
Captured As-Is Process, designed TO-BE Process and performed Gap Analysis
Developed and updated functional use cases and conducted business process modeling (PROVISION) to explain business requirements to development and QA teams.
Created Business Requirements Documents, Functional and Software Requirements Specification Documents.
Performed Requirements Elicitation through Use Cases, one to one meetings, Affinity Exercises, SIPOC’s.
Gathered and documented Use Cases, Business Rules, created and maintained Requirements/Test Traceability Matrices.

Client: The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation, Parsippany, NJ May’ 2007 – Oct’ 2007

Profile: Sr. Financial Business Analyst/ Systems Analyst.

Project Profile (1): D&B is the world’s leading source of commercial information and insight on businesses. The Point of Arrival Project and the Data Maintenance (DM) Project are the future applications of the company that the company would transit into, providing an effective method & efficient report generation system for D&B’s clients to be able purchase reports about companies they are trying to do business.

Project Profile (2): The overall purpose of this project was building a Self Awareness System(SAS) for the business community for buying SAS products and a Payment system was built for SAS. The system would provide certain combination of products (reports) for Self Monitoring report as a foundation for managing a company’s credit.

Responsibilities:

Conducted GAP Analysis and documented the current state and future state, after understanding the Vision from the Business Group and the Technology Group.
Conducted interviews with Process Owners, Administrators and Functional Heads to gather audit-related information and facilitated meetings to explain the impacts and effects of SOX compliance.
Played an active and lead role in gathering, analyzing and documenting the Business Requirements, the business rules and Technical Requirements from the Business Group and the Technological Group.
Co – Authored and prepared Graphical depictions of Narrative Use Cases, created UML Models such as Use Case Diagrams, Activity Diagrams and Flow Diagrams using MS Visio throughout the Agile methodology
Documented the Business Requirement Document to get a better understanding of client’s business processes of both the projects using the Agile methodology.
Facilitating JRP and JAD sessions, brain storming sessions with the Business Group and the Technology Group.
Documented the Requirement traceability matrix (RTM) and conducted UML Modelling such as creating Activity Diagrams, Flow Diagrams using MS Visio. Analysed test data to detect significant findings and recommended corrective measures
Co-Managed the Change Control process for the entire project as a whole by facilitating group meetings, one-on-one interview sessions and email correspondence with work stream owners to discuss the impact of Change Request on the project.
Worked with the Project Lead in setting realistic project expectations and in evaluating the impact of changes on the organization and plans accordingly and conducted project related presentations.
Co-oordinated with the off shore QA Team members to explain and develop the Test Plans, Test cases, Test and Evaluation strategy and methods for unit testing, functional testing and usability testing

Environment: Windows XP/2000, SOX, Sharepoint, SQL, MS Visio, Oracle, MS Office Suite, Mercury ITG, Mercury Quality Center, XML, XHTML, Java, J2EE.

GATEWAY COMPUTERS, Irvine, CA, Jan 06 – Mar 07

Business Analyst

At Gateway, a Leading Computer, Laptop and Accessory Manufacturer, was involved in two projects,

Order Capture Application: Objective of this Project is to Develop Various Mediums of Sales with a Centralized Catalog. This project involves wide exposure towards Requirement Analysis, Creating, Executing and Maintaining of Test plans and Test Cases. Mentored and trained staff about Tech Guide & Company Standards; Gateway reporting system: was developed with Business Objects running against Oracle data warehouse with Sales, Inventory, and HR Data Marts. This DW serves the different needs of Sales Personnel and Management. Involved in the development of it utilized Full Client reports and Web Intelligence to deliver analytics to the Contract Administration group and Pricing groups. Reporting data mart included Wholesaler Sales, Contract Sales and Rebates data.

Responsibilities:

Product Manager for Enterprise Level Order Entry Systems – Phone, B2B, Gateway.com and Cataloging System.
Modeled the Sales Order Entry process to eliminate bottleneck process steps using ERWIN.
Adhered and practiced RUP for implementing software development life cycle.
Gathered Requirements from different sources like Stakeholders, Documentation, Corporate Goals, Existing Systems, and Subject Matter Experts by conducting Workshops, Interviews, Use Cases, Prototypes, Reading Documents, Market Analysis, Observations
Created Functional Requirement Specification documents – which include UMLUse case diagrams, Scenarios, activity, work Flow diagrams and data mapping. Process and Data modeling with MS VISIO.
Worked with Technical Team to create Business Services (Web Services) that Application could leverage using SOA, to create System Architecture and CDM for common order platform.
Designed Payment Authorization (Credit Card, Net Terms, and Pay Pal) for the transaction/order entry systems.
Implemented A/B Testing, Customer Feedback Functionality to Gateway.com
Worked with the DW, ETL teams to create Order entry systems Business Objects reports. (Full Client, Web I)
Worked in a cross functional team of Business, Architects and Developers to implement new features.
Program Managed Enterprise Order Entry Systems – Development and Deployment Schedule.
Developed and maintained User Manuals, Application Documentation Manual, on Share Point tool.
Created Test Plansand Test Strategies to define the Objective and Approach of testing.
Used Quality Center to track and report system defects and bug fixes. Written modification requests for the bugs in the application and helped developers to track and resolve the problems.
Developed and Executed Manual, Automated Functional, GUI, Regression, UAT Test cases using QTP.
Gathered, documented and executed Requirements-based, Business process (workflow/user scenario), Data driven test cases for User Acceptance Testing.
Created Test Matrix, Used Quality Center for Test Management, track & report system defects and bug fixes.
Performed Load, stress Testing’s & Analyzed Performance, Response Times. Designed approach, developed visual scripts in order to test client & server side performance under various conditions to identify bottlenecks.
Created / developed SQL Queries (TOAD) with several parameters for Backend/DB testing
Conducted meetings for project status, issue identification, and parent task review, Progress Reporting.

AMC MORTGAGE SERVICES, CA, USA Oct 04 – Dec 05

Business Analyst

The primary objective of this project is to replace the existing Internal Facing Client / Server Applications with a Web enabled Application System, which can be used across all the Business Channels. This project involves wide exposure towards Requirement Analysis, Creating, Executing and Maintaining of Test plans and Test Cases. Demands understanding and testing of Data Warehouse and Data Marts, thorough knowledge of ETL and Reporting, Enhancement of the Legacy System covered all of the business requirements related to Valuations from maintaining the panel of appraisers to ordering, receiving, and reviewing the valuations.

Responsibilities:

Gathered Analyzed, Validated, and Managed and documented the stated Requirements. Interacted with users for verifying requirements, managing change control process, updating existing documentation.
Created Functional Requirement Specification documents – that include UML Use case diagrams, scenarios, activity diagrams and data mapping. Provided End User Consulting on Functionality and Business Process.
Acted as a client liaison to review priorities and manage the overall client queue. Provided consultation services to clients, technicians and internal departments on basic to intricate functions of the applications.
Identified business directions & objectives that may influence the required data and application architectures.
Defined, prioritized business requirements, Determine which business subject areas provide the most needed information; prioritize and sequence implementation projects accordingly.
Provide relevant test scenarios for the testing team. Work with test team to develop system integration test scripts and ensure the testing results correspond to the business expectations.
Used Test Director, QTP, Load Runner for Test management, Functional, GUI, Performance, Stress Testing
Perform Data Validation, Data Integration and Backend/DB testing using SQL Queries manually.
Created Test input requirements and prepared the test data for data driven testing.
Mentored, trained staff about Tech Guide & Company Standards. Set-up and Coordinate Onsite offshore teams, Conduct Knowledge Transfer sessions to the offshore team.

Lloyds Bank, UK Aug 03 – Sept 04
Business Analyst
Lloyds TSB is leader in Business, Personal and Corporate Banking. Noted financial provider for millions of customers with the financial resources to meet and manage their credit needs and to achieve their financial goals. The Project involves an applicant Information System, Loan Appraisal and Loan Sanction, Legal, Disbursements, Accounts, MIS and Report Modules of a Housing Finance System and Enhancements for their Internet Banking.

Responsibilities:

Translated stakeholder requirements into various documentation deliverables such as functional specifications, use cases, workflow / process diagrams, data flow / data model diagrams.
Produced functional specifications and led weekly meetings with developers and business units to discuss outstanding technical issues and deadlines that had to be met.
Coordinated project activities between clients and internal groups and information technology, including project portfolio management and project pipeline planning.
Provided functional expertise to developers during the technical design and construction phases of the project.
Documented and analyzed business workflows and processes. Present the studies to the client for approval
Participated in Universe development – planning, designing, Building, distribution, and maintenance phases.
Designed and developed Universes by defining Joins, Cardinalities between the tables.
Created UML use case, activity diagrams for the interaction between report analyst and the reporting systems.
Successfully implemented BPR and achieved improved Performance, Reduced Time and Cost.
Developed test plans and scripts; performed client testing for routine to complex processes to ensure proper system functioning.
Worked closely with UAT Testers and End Users during system validation, User Acceptance Testing to expose functionality/business logic problems that unit testing and system testing have missed out.
Participated in Integration, System, Regression, Performance, and UAT – Using TD, WR, Load Runner
Participated in defect review meetings with the team members. Worked closely with the project manager to record, track, prioritize and close bugs. Used CVS to maintain versions between various stages of SDLC.

Client: A.G. Edwards, St. Louis, MO May’ 2005 – Feb’ 2006

Profile: Sr. Business Analyst/System Analyst

Project Profile: A.G. Edwards is a full service Trading based brokerage firm in Internet-based futures, options and forex brokerage. This site allows Users (Financial Representative) to trade online. The main features of this site were: Users can open new account online to trade equitiies, bonds, derivatives and forex with the Trading system using DTCC’s applications as a Clearing House agent. The user will get real-time streaming quotes for the currency pairs they selected, their current position in the forex market, summary of work orders, payments and current money balances, P & L Accounts and available trading power, all continuously updating in real time via live quotes. The site also facilitates users to Place, Change and Cancel an Entry Order, Placing a Market Order, Place/Modify/Delete/Close a Stop Loss Limit on an Open Position.

Responsibilities:

Gathered Business requirements pertaining to Trading, equities and Fixed Incomes like bonds, converted the same into functional requirements by implementing the RUP methodology and authored the same in Business Requirement Document (BRD).
Designed and developed all Narrative Use Cases and conducted UML modeling like created Use Case Diagrams, Process Flow Diagrams and Activity Diagrams using MS Visio.
Implemented the entire Rational Unified Process (RUP) methodology of application development with its various workflows, artifacts and activities. Developed business process models in RUP to document existing and future business processes. Established a business Analysis methodology around the Rational Unified Process.
Analyzed user requirements, attended Change Request meetings to document changes and implemented procedures to test changes.
Assisted in developing project timelines/deliverables/strategies for effective project management.
Evaluated existing practices of storing and handling important financial data for compliance.
Involved in developing the test strategy and assisted in developed Test scenarios, test conditions and test cases
Partnered with the technical areas in the research, resolution of system and User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

Environment: Windows XP/2000/NT, SOX, MS Office Suite, SQL, MS SQL Server, XML, HTML, Java, J2EE, JSP, Oracle, WinRunner, Test Director

Author Mr.David is a experience Business Analyst and System Analyst with more than 15 years of experience in finance domain. For more Business Analyst material visit his website.

The A B C D of Data Mining Services

If you are very new to the term ‘data mining’, let the meaning be explained to you. It is form of back office support services that are being offered by many call centers to analyze data from numerous resources and amalgamate them for some useful task. The business establishments in the present generation need to develop a strategy that helps them to cooperate with the market trends and allow them to perform well. The process of data mining is actually the retrieval process of essential and informative data that helps an organization to analyze the business perspectives and can further generate better interests in cutting cost, developing revenue and to acquire valuable data on business services/products.

It is a powerful analytical tool that permits the user to customize a wide range of data in different formats and categories as per their necessity. The data mining process is an integral part of a business plan for companies that need to undertake a diverse research on the customer building process. These analytical skills are generally performed by skilled industrial experts who assist the firms to accelerate their growth through the critical business activities. With a vast applicability in the present time, the back office support services with the data mining process is helping the businesses in understanding and predicting valuable information. Some of them include:

Profiles of customers
Customer buying behavior
Customer buying trends
Industry analysis

For a layman it is somewhat the process of processing some statistical data or methods. These processes are implemented with some specific tools that preform the following:

Automated model scoring
Business templates
Computing target columns
Database integration
Exporting models to other applications
Incorporating financial information

There are some benefits of Data Mining. Few of them are as follows:

To understand the requirements of the customers which can help in efficient planning.
Helps in minimizing risk and improve ROI.
Generate more business and target the relevant market.
Risk free outsourcing experience
Provide data access to business analysts
A better understanding of the demand supply graph
Improve profitability by detect unusual pattern in sales, claims, transactions
To cut down the expenses of Direct Marketing

Data mining is generally a part of the offshore back office services and outsourced to business establishments that require diverse data base on customers and their particular approach towards any service or product. For example banks, telecommunication companies, insurance companies, etc. require huge data base to promote their new policies. If you represent a similar company that needs appropriate data mining process then it is better that you outsource back office support services from a third party and fulfill your business goals with excellent results.

Katie Cardwell works as a senior sales and marketing analyst for a multinational call center company, based in United States of America. She takes care of all the business operations and analysis the back office support services that power an organization. Her extensive knowledge and expertise on Non -voice call center services such as Data Mining Services, Back office support services, etc, have helped many business players to stand with a straight spine and thus making a foothold in the data processing industry.