C1 - The Lego Approach: capturing requirements as reusable components

Most businesses are faced with the pressure of delivering new or improved business services, products and applications without having to substantially grow its human resource base or negotiate time, cost and quality. Yet the backlog keeps growing while operational functions monopolise the time of project teams. Both business and technical stakeholders dream of deliverables that re-use existing capabilities as a base, tweaking new requirements on top: a little bit like Lego blocks. The concept of finding patterns, encapsulating them into specialised components and putting them back together in a re-usable format is not new. In the 18th century, Adam Smith, the Father of Economics, presented the assembly line with its specialisation through division of labour as the secret to mass production. Then, the assembly line workers were the Lego blocks. Today, it extends to components within infrastructure, software, storage, interfaces – the list is endless. Enterprise architects whisper the benefits of component and services based architectures into the ears of CIOs, leading to extensive, big-budget projects but often ending in vague, academic paper-deliverables and, at best, a prototype technology deployment.
The concept is good, the implementations are possible, yet on the ground, where the deliverables are assembled, adoption is poor. Where is the missing link to making this dream come true, then?

The business analyst: Following traditional models of requirements elicitation, caught up in writing heavy, template driven BRSs while keeping on strict technology blinkers, business analysts are missing a golden opportunity of contributing to clean business and technical architectures while growing a vault of components, whether business processes, interfaces, functions or services, from where new and improved business capability can be assembled.
The Business Analyst has the opportunity to engage with business and implementation teams on a daily basis, on actual implementations. That places them in the front line for identifying patterns and being pro-active in defining the re-useable building bricks of the business’s systems. This session will motivate this central position of the Business Analyst and discuss practical tips and tools on spotting and communicating re-usable requirements.

Main takeaways:

Adeleida Bingham’s interest in Business Analysis started when working at IBM in the late nineties as a consultant. Over time, her focus switched from the technical to the business side and this approach was cemented after completing an MBA in 2003 and starting her own business, Autumn Leaf, a bespoke software development firm based in Cape Town. Adeleida has since consulted across various organisations including Vodacom, Old Mutual, Western Cape Government and Metropolitan. She is currently based at Clickatell as the lead business analyst in their mobile transactional services unit.