This article discusses the software tools a business analyst uses in his daily tasks to increase productivity and efficiency while on the job. Here are some of the most popular tools:
Diagramming: Microsoft Visio
What activity does a business analyst spend a significant amount of time on? Perhaps your first guess is communication. Microsoft Visio is a software application for capturing and presenting ideas to stakeholders. You can use Visio for:
· Preparing UML diagrams such as use case, activity and sequence diagrams.
· Preparing process flow charts.
· Creating data models.
· Creating architecture diagrams, amongst other functions.
Visio is easy to use and provides features for creating templates, applying themes and embedding models in other documents.
Word Processing: Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is another important and popular software application in the business analyst’s toolkit. For organizations not ready to acquire Requirement Management Tools, Microsoft Word can be used as a substitute for preparing requirements specification documents. You can create new templates using Microsoft Word or use existing templates for the documentation of software requirements. Microsoft Word allows you to set preferred fonts, apply your company’s theme, embed external objects such as a Visio diagrams or Excel worksheets, create visuals and track changes where collaboration has taken place.
Analysis & Data Crunching: Microsoft Excel
When you require any kind of data analysis on the job, Excel is one powerful tool that can come in handy. If you want to create pivot tables, examine trends in the data, sort and filter data, create charts or graphs, Microsoft Excel can fulfil that purpose and more. Excel provides many built-in mathematical and financial functions that can aid analysis.
Many a time, you will be working with stakeholders who need more than requirements specification documents or use cases. You need to learn how to use wireframing applications to create mockups of how your proposed system will look/work. Wireframes focus on content, user interaction and but not on internal processing. Balsamiq is a useful tool for creating wireframes quickly in brainstorming sessions and for getting immediate feedback from stakeholders. Business analysts and designers use this category of tools for creating mockups which once signed off, can be converted into actual designs.
Requirements Management: Rational Requisite Pro
One of the most popular Requirements Management Tools is Rational Requisite Pro. If you are part of a team of business analysts working on a large project, you are likely to require a more robust solution like this for managing your requirements. Requirements Management Tools provide the functionality of Word processing along with the capability to sort and query data using a dynamic database. This makes it easy to trace requirements along with their changes and prioritize them for implementation. Requirements Management Tools also have features for conducting impact analysis and managing an audit trail of changes.
Collaboration: Google Docs
More often than not, Business Analysts will need to share documents with team members and stakeholders. Google Docs is a very useful tool for sharing non-confidential work online, chatting and collaborating with other stakeholders on the project.
This article has listed some of the most popular software tools used by Business Analysts. A decision on which tools to go for would depend on your requirements and budget.
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