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Casestudy: Integrated Library System Let's consider the example of an integrated library system (ILS), which is much like the library community's equivalent of an enterprise resource planning system. An ILS is a large enterprise software that drives a lot of the library's business operations. In this example, a public library system was migrating to a new ILS from its previous administrative system, which combined a vendor-supported and customized system with the library's original homegrown system.

The library's acquisitions staff was responsible for purchasing and acquiring books, movies, periodicals, and other items that constituted the collections, as well as entering all of that information into the ILS and establishing a unique barcode for each item. Under the old system, the staff members would barcode all copies of a single item, such as all copies of a particular book, at the same time, with each copy receiving a sequentially numbered barcode. For example, 12 copies of the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird might be numbered 101-112. During implementation of its brand-new ILS, the library discovered a significant and show-stopping difference in how the ILS handled the process for barcoding multiple copies of the same item.

The Acquisitions module of the new ILS required the information for each unique item to be entered individually—meaning that the information for the library's collection of To Kill a Mockingbird would have to be entered 12 times—once for each copy of the book. If the library staff had to enter all the information for each acquisition one at a time, coding all the countless newly acquired items per year would simply be unachievable. According to the ILS vendor, reworking the Acquisitions module to allow multiple items to be barcoded collectively—like the way that the library's old system worked—would necessitate customizing the module. You (as an experienced business analyst) have been asked to facilitate the customization of ILS module. As a part of this assignment, your task is to present an abstract level view of activities that should be performed in six of the Core Knowledge Areas of Business Analysis - as listed below. You are also required to highlight the underlaying competencies and tools appropriate for conducting each of the knowledge areas. 

1. Business Analysis Planning & Monitoring

2. Elicitation and Collaboration

3. Requirements Life Cycle Management

4. Strategy Analysis

5. Requirements Analysis and Design Definition

6. Solution Evaluation 

Tasks for Identifying Future Steps of the Analysis Process

Bringing change in an existing product due to some inherent issues calls for strategic evaluation of gap between the product offered and the expectation of the consumer. In this assignment, the student has assumed the role of an experienced business analyst, who is assigned the task of facilitating the customisation of an ILS module, which due to the lack of collective barcoding facilities has been sent to the vendor for customisation, by the library. This study avails an abstract level view of the activities that need to be performed according to the six knowledge area of business analysis prescribed by BABOK.

Tasks that business analysts need to undertake to identify the future steps of the process of analysis are identified here. The analyst identifies measures to organise and coordinate between the efforts of different stakeholders and the business analyst to ensure that they lead to desired outcomes (Carnall 2018). This knowledge area involves the following tasks:

This task involves gathering information on the level and target area of the business analysis (Alvarez-Dionisi, Turner & Mittra 2016). Based on the acquired information requirements are to be prioritised through communication with stakeholders.

Applying stakeholder mapping in this task the analyst can identify the relevant stakeholders (Carroll, Brown & Buchholtz 2017). While the primary stakeholders, in this case, are the library staffs, members, owners and the programme developers the stakeholder analysis and stakeholder mapping would help in identifying the most relevant one for this analysis.

In this task, the deliverables of the analysis, such as the specific features to be added to the ILS module, need to be identified along with the scope for the analysis and work estimation is to be developed.   

Different levels of achievement are to be recorded along with the risks based on which corrective actions would be taken (Hailes 2014). Based on the feedback from the relevant stakeholders a plan is to be generated to manage the targeted change in the ILS module.

The entire process of customisation of ILS module would involve a number of requirements seeking prioritisation based on their urgency and relevance. Different attributes of these requirements would also be marked for the ease of monitoring.

The core competencies would include subject matter knowledge on ILS development and business analysis, while the skills concerning software development, project management, quality evaluation and business analysis would also be essential for planning process (Bobkowska 2016). Process modelling tool is to be used for completion of this area to find the error in the existing module, compare it with the stakeholder’s requirements and deliverables and to suggest the best possible approach.   

Tasks for Information Acquisition and Confirmation

This knowledge area involves determination of the process of information acquisition from the stakeholders and confirmation of the acquired results (Park & Jeong 2016). The main purpose of this area is to elicit the most appropriate requirements using right techniques. The following tasks are to be performed to complete this knowledge area successfully:

Using support material gathered from documents scope and techniques of analysis would be clarified (Jonasson 2016). In the given case such this list might include feedback from the stakeholders, information on previous ILS module with the feature of barcoding collectively and the available skills and resources for module development.  

Track requirement attributes through direct interaction with the stakeholders like staffs of the libraries or studying the previous module.

Information gathered through elicitation sessions such as interviews and observations would be checked and verified in this task, for consistency and accuracy.

Relevant information acquired through the elicitation could be communicated, using this task, to the stakeholders such as the client and developers of ILS module depending on need, to ensure shared understanding.

Skills such as data collection, evaluation and interpretation along with information communication are required for completing this knowledge area successfully. This area would require data acquisition tools like interview, secondary data observation and market analysis. Applying ground theory the identified data might be evaluated to deduce specific strategic conclusion (Nenickova 2013).

To complete this knowledge area successfully for the given case the business analyst needs to identify the different stakeholders of the library that are affected by the ILS module under consideration. For this, stakeholder analysis and stakeholder mapping tools are to be used to identify the levels of authority and involvement that different stakeholders of the organisation share in relation to the new ILS module and the manner in which it affects those stakeholders (Carroll & Buchholtz 2014).

In this knowledge area the tasks that need to be performed during the business analysis to manage as well as maintain requirements and design information from the initiation of the business analysis process till its end would be identified (Piney 2017). The following tasks would be undertaken to meet this target:

The requirements identified through elicitation and collaboration would be defined through this task (Weese & Wagner 2017). In the present case, requirements related to research and development, finance and human resource might be identified through the completion of this ask. Multiple complementary or contradictory requirements might arise in terms of techniques, methods and resources. Such steps are essential for maintenance of relationship among requirements, designs and components of solution.

Tasks for Requirements and Design Management

This task should facilitate selection of requirements, repeated use of those requirements and enable the analyst to reuse them in similar issues in future. After tracing requirements, successfully, and identifying the subject matter experts on the ILS module development the analyst might assign the similar requirements for other projects.

This task should identify, value, risk and urgency of a requirement or design, so that the most important or urgent features of the module could be customised first or are given maximum priority (Aven 2015). This would reduce the amount of effort that the library staffs need to put into barcoding every unit of each item individually.

This task monitors changing requirements of the stakeholders. Thought the initial issue is related to the lack of collective barcoding facility, the requirement throughout the process of analysis might change. As the new ILS module differs in structure and function from the previous one the features of collective barcoding of the earlier module might not be compatible with the new one, which the stakeholders might find out later. Such change in requirement needs assessment on if such requirement is within the scope of the already determined changes.

This task enables communication of requirements and scopes for solutions to the stakeholders such as the module developers, subject matter experts and the clients of the ILS vendor to acquire approval and to identify the feasibility of the determined requirements and solutions in every step of analysis and even after its completion.

Skills concerning development of the communication plan, interpretation of the stakeholder requirements and evaluation of validity of the requirements along with analytical qualities are the core competencies required for this knowledge area. Data analytical tools such as comparison of variables based on ratio analysis and interpretation should be used for this section to reach a decision concerning the prioritisation of requirements.

This is the section would indicate towards the work that would be undertaken by the business analyst to collaborate with the stakeholders to identify the needs that triggered the strategic analysis (Wheatcraft & Ryan 2018). The following tasks need to be undertaken for successful completion of this knowledge area:

By studying the existing ILS module and evaluating its limitations the need for the analysis was found. For instance, while the new ILS lacks the multiple entries barcoding system of the earlier module it might be better in tracking processing or retrieving data. Therefore, through application of this task a better process of addressing the identified need might be determined.  

Tasks for Collaboration with Stakeholders

Through this task the changes in people, technology and process required for the development of the new module should be examined and defined. The valid drivers for the achievement of the target are to be marked and benchmarks need to be determined for the systematic evaluation of the proposed design.  

Through initial risk assessment based on the estimated cost and profit, feasibility of the project might be identified (Chernysheva et al. 2017). For instance, if the ILS vendor had received AU$30,000 for the entire module in which the profit was AU$5,000 and the customisation of the module, according to the requirement, costs AU$8,000 then the project risks loss of AU$3,000. In this case, ordering customisation of the system, without additional compensation from the library owner, would cause loss for the vendor.

However, if the library owner pays additional AU$5,000 or if the cost of customisation of the module remains within AU$3,000 then the customisation still remains profitable for the vendor, in which case the decision of customisation is more likely to be welcomed.

This task should be completed by identifying the gap between the needs and the existing capabilities of a system, examines scope to address the gap and proposes solutions to mitigate the gap (Wheatcraft, Ryan & Dick 2016). The new ILS’s inability, to barcode multiple items collectively, cause a gap between the need of the library and the service offered by the new ILS module.

Skills concerning financial analysis and risk management are required. Moreover, the core competencies for this area also include knowledge related to the software and information system programming and management and financial analysis.

The tools such as brainstorming, benchmark analysis, gap analysis, risk analysis and swot analysis should be needed for this particular section to examine existing system, defining the need, assessing risk and evaluating the gap between need and available facilities (BABOK Guide n.d.).  

This knowledge area concerns with organisation and structuring of the project requirements found through the elicitation activities. It validates the acquire information through evaluation and identifies the probable solutions to the needs and estimates their value (Babar, Bunker & Gill 2018). The basic purpose of this knowledge area is to understand the requirements for development of solutions.

This task allows defining, verifying and comparing requirements with designs to recognise the improvement opportunities (Cappel & Huang 2018). For instance, the design options of ILS module generated during the previous levels of analysis, through this task are compared to the requirements to identify the best-suited solution.  

Tasks for Gap Identification and Solution Proposal

In this task, both the requirements and the designs need to be verified to examine if they are detailed enough to address the need or problem (Huang & Cappel 2018). For instance, without the consideration of potential bugs in the customisation options of ILS module, the system might mot successfully run despite adding customised features related to collective barcode entry. Therefore the analysis should involve verification of requirements along with the designs.

The analyst needs to clearly define the desired outcome and evaluation criteria in this stage and confirm alignment of the analysis with the case under consideration to ensure that the analysis proceeds towards the achievement of targeted goals. Therefore expected outcome of the analysis is to be defined tallying it with the problems that triggered the analysis in the first place, which in this case is the issue of collective barcoding.

It often happens, that project analysts lose track due to lack of benchmarks linking the analysis with specific issues. To avoid this, structuring the requirements exhaustively in a list along with the relevant solutions might be helpful. In this analysis, the desired outcome would be a sound and detailed design for ILS module customisation aligned with exhaustive list of requirements.

Constraints to the proposed solutions need to be assumed and assessed. This helps in choosing the solution with the least amount of constraints.

Based on the identified value and constraints the solution with the maximum value and least amount of constraints should be should be given the maximum priority.

The core competencies required for this section are skill of business analysis and quality evaluation. Analytical tools like hierarchical decomposition, checklists, process modelling and matrix documentation might be utilised in this area.

This knowledge area is targeted to analysis and assessment of solution performance and determination of cause behind the unacceptable performance of solutions. Unlike the other sections, tasks in this knowledge area are engaged to evaluate an actual solution and not a mere set of features.

The performance of the chosen solution needs to be evaluated as a pilot solution or prototype solution based on some key performance indicators (Hassan & Mathiassen 2018). For the given case, time consumption of the customised ISL solution, quality of the multi-user interphase and its ability to multitask while barcoding collectively might be the performance indicators.   

Assessment of the performance of the chosen solution based on the predetermined milestone and the value that it generates would help in marking the readiness of the solution (Nenickova 2013). Along with the values assessment, evaluation of the defective outputs of the chosen solution is also needed to identify the system bugs and remove them efficiently.

The limitations of the modified ILS module are also to be observed through repeated testing of the solutions. The analyst, to identify the issues in the solution might run it as a pilot software within the ILS vendor’s firm or run it as a prototype in the library to acquire feedback on its limitations.

Through running the solution in the library the analyst might also identify the readiness of the user for the technology used in the customised ILS module. The dependency on support and training requirement concerning the use of the module marks if the solution is user-friendly (Paul, Yeates & Cadle 2014). This test would indicate if the solution needs simplification.

Skills concerning quality analysis, project analysis and management of conflict of requirement are needed in this area along with the knowledge of programming and evaluation of integrated library system. For collection of feedback on performance of the solution data collection tools such as interview or survey might be used.

Conclusion: 

The six Core Knowledge Areas of Business Analysis mark the tasks that need to be performed for effective project analysis. This assignment has evaluated the manner in which these tasks might be used in the given case to suggest viable action for the analysis and ILS customisation. Completion of this assignment has availed the insight into the importance of identification of requirements exhaustively, tallying the solution with the identified requirement, value evaluation and risk analysis.

Reference:

Alvarez-Dionisi, L.E., Turner, R. and Mittra, M., 2016, ‘Global project management trends,’ International Journal of Information Technology Project Management (IJITPM), Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.54-73

Aven, T., 2015,  Risk analysis, 2nd edn, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, United States

Babar, A., Bunker, D. and Gill, A.Q., 2018. ‘Investigating the Relationship between Business Analysts’ Competency and IS Requirements Elicitation: A Thematic-analysis Approach,’ Communications of the Association for Information Systems, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 334-362

BABOK Guide n.d., viewed 30 August 2018, < https://www.iiba.org/babok-guide.aspx>

Bobkowska, A.E., 2016, ‘Talents, Competencies and Techniques of Business Analyst: A Balanced Professional Development Program’. Position Papers of the Federated Conference on Computer, Vol. 9, No.1 pp. 259-263

Cappel, J.J. and Huang, Z., 2018. ‘The Alignment of Professional Business Analysis Techniques with Sa&D Sources: Research Results’. Journal of Business and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp.4-13

Carnall, C., 2018. Managing change, 1st edn, Routledge, London

Carroll, A., Brown, J. and Buchholtz, A., 2017. Business and society: Ethics, sustainability, and stakeholder management. 10th edn, Nelson Education, Boston, USA, viewed 30 August 2018, < https://books.google.co.in/books?id=TeLdDQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Business+and+society:+Ethics,+sustainability,+and+stakeholder+management&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwig876i4ZTdAhVEQI8KHZtiDzQQ6AEILzAB#v=onepage&q&f=false>

Chernysheva, Y.G., Shepelenko, G.I., Gashenko, I.V., Orobinskaya, I.V. and Zima, Y.S., 2017. ‘Business Analysis as an Important Component of Ensuring Enterprise's Economic Security,’ European Research Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3B, pp.250-259

Hailes, J., 2014. Business Analysis Based on BABOK® Guide Version 2–A Pocket Guide, 1st edn, Van Haren, USA

Hassan, N.R. and Mathiassen, L., 2018. ‘Distilling a body of knowledge for information systems development,’ Information Systems Journal, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.175-226

Huang, Z. and Cappel, J.J., 2018. ‘A Critical Analysis of an Entry-Level Information Systems Certification,’ Journal of Business and Educational Leadership, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.30-41

Jonasson, H., 2016. CBAP® Certification and BABOK® Study Guide. Auerbach Publications, Boca Raton, Florida

Nenickova, H., 2013. ‘Business analysis methodology in telecommunication industry–the research based on the grounded theory,’ Journal of Systems Integration, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp.39-48

Park, J. and Jeong, S.R., 2016. ‘A Study on the Relative Importance of Underlying Competencies of Business Analysts,’ Transactions on Internet and Information Systems, Vol. 10, No. 8, pp.3986-4007

Paul, D., Yeates, D. and Cadle, J. eds., 2014. Business analysis. 2nd edn, British Computer Society, Swindon, Wiltshire, London

Piney, C., 2017. Earned Benefit Program Management: Aligning, Realizing, and Sustaining Strategy, 1st edn, Auerbach Publications, New York

Weese, S. and Wagner, T., 2017. CBAP/CCBA Certified Business Analysis Study Guide, 2nd edn, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, United States

Wheatcraft, L.S. and Ryan, M.J., 2018, ‘Communicating Requirements–Effectively’ INCOSE International Symposium, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 716-732

Wheatcraft, L.S., Ryan, M.J. and Dick, J., 2016. ‘On the use of attributes to manage requirements,’ Systems Engineering, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp.448-458

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