BA hacks to steer towards a zero-defect delivery

To stay relevant and flourish in tough markets and times, most system integrators (SIs) strive to achieve a stellar client delight index (CDI) and net promoter score (NPS). While these are critical to grow business, objectives like profitability and predictable delivery are fundamental from an operations perspective. On-time delivery is an output of judicious planning and meticulous execution, and it relies on a mature delivery process.

Starting off a project right puts it on a course of success. Business analysts have a very important role to play in this, especially because it is with them that this journey starts. Building on my previous article about best practices in requirements gathering, this article focuses on how requirements management can be formalized and measured using relevant KPIs. Here you can find the top 5 BA hacks that can take you closer to a zero-defect delivery.

 

ROI measurement related metrics should be identified and baselined

Return on investment (ROI) is the differential gain realized over a cost of investment. A higher value is an indicator of an expense that will garner more benefit than what it costs and vice versa.

  • How to compute?

Decisions needs to be made in concurrence with the customer as to which key performance indicators (KPIs) are apt to be used as a measure of success.

Return on Investment Index = (Gain from investment – Cost of investment) / (Cost of investment)

    • Examples of tangible and quantifiable KPIs are Full Time Employee (FTE) reduction, volume of calls to support desks, % of resolved queries, average handling time, improvement in net promoter score (NPS), % decrease in operational expenditures (opex), % decrease in total cost of ownership (TCO), decreased time to market (TTM)
    • Examples of soft or hard-to-accurately-quantify KPIs are improved user experience, better brand recall, increased customer loyalty, positive brand perception, and improvement in mind share of the consumers
  • When to compute?

The baselining of KPIs needs to be done right at the onset of a program. Actuals should be measured post-delivery by the time when the benefits are expected to be realized.

  • Why to compute?  From a business’s perspective, it helps in:
    • Decision making about whether an IT initiative should be undertaken/continued or not
    • Gauging the delivered benefits vis-a-vis the forecast
    • Calculating payouts for output based pricing type engagements
      From a service provider’s perspective
    • It provides an opportunity to reassure the client and establish credibility
    • These quantified benefits can be used in future sales pursuits

 

Agreement on use of requirements stability index (RSI) should be reached

During a project, the requirements are likely to change. While you can’t always avoid it,you can certainly measure the volatility using the requirements stability index (RSI). A higher index indicates unstable requirements.

“That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially – Karl Pearson”.

  • How to compute?

Requirements Stability Index = (Total number of original business requirements + Number of requirements modified + Number of requirements added + Number of requirements deleted) / (Total number of original requirements) Note: Changes to both functional and non-functional requirements should be considered.

  • When to compute?

Every time there is any change in the signed off requirements.

  • Why to compute?
    • Defining a threshold and options for course correction if the threshold is breached helps avoid schedule slippage
    • Keeping scope creep in check helps maintain a healthy work environment for the delivery team

 

Requirement Clarity Index (RCI) of 4 should be ensured for entire delivery team

RCI is an assessment of comprehension of the requirements. A higher index indicates mature requirements. A lower value requirement (<=3) should be elaborated before being picked for development.

Sample interpretation of RCI: 1: No clarity 2: Functional clarity is missing 3: Minor details missing in functional flow 4: Functional flow clear; Configurable details missing 5: Absolute comprehension

  • How to compute?

This is a subjective assessment done by designers, developers, and testers. The idea is for them to rate the requirements individually.

  • When to compute?

At the end of requirement elaboration phase, the BA should do an assessment of the documented requirements. Only the ones with RCIs higher than 4 should be progressed. Once the knowledge transfer is done, each group should do another round of assessment before commencement of their respective tasks.

  • Why to compute? RCI calculation and tracking:
    • Provides an early indicator of gaps in team’s understanding, if any
    • Instills a sense of accountability within the team
    • Ensures higher quality of delivery
    • Minimizes chances of re-work, effort variance and delayed delivery

 

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tool should be setup for requirements traceability

Deliverables from every SDLC phase, after requirements analysis should be traceable back to project requirements.

  • How to use?
    • Based on the service provider’s or customer’s preference, identify a tool like JIRA, QC, VersionOne, Rally, etc
    • Train the team on the usage of the tool and ensure compliance of the agreed upon processes
  • When to use? Throughout the lifecycle of a project
  • Why to use? Tracking and managing requirements using ALM tools improves delivery efficiency on multiple fronts by providing a collaborative environment for:
    • Documentation of detailed and unambiguous requirements
    • Performing thorough impact analysis due to view of linked requirements
    • Achieving effective change/release management

 

Test pack review by BAs

Despite all the precautions some details inadvertently get lost in translation from requirement workshops to test case design. It is therefore advisable to have the test pack proofread by various actors.

  • Who, other than BAs, can review the test packs?
    • From service provider’s side
      • Architects/Tech Leads
    • From client’s side
      • Business Analysts/Quality assurance/Design authorities
      • Product Owners
  • When to get a sign off?

Any time before the start of execution of each testing phase. E.g. System/Integration / User Acceptance Testing

  • Why to do this?
    • Highlights the gaps in understanding of various actors
    • Increases the chances of “First time right” delivery
    • Minimizes chances of re-work, effort variance and schedule slippage

While there are a lot of variables that might be out of your control, it certainly helps to keep the ones you can, in check.

Gurpreet Singh Kharbanda

Senior Consultant - Business Consulting Group, Virtusa. Gurpreet has a rich consulting experience, having served the needs of global clients across different industry verticals including telecom, insurance and logistics. At Virtusa, Gurpreet has been playing an active role in the development of the Consulting practice by building processes, capabilities and best practices. Having led a number of client facing initiatives and being exposed to all the stages of SDLC, he has developed deep insights and skills in helping clients to effectively leverage IT to drive business outcomes. Gurpreet has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai. A theatre admirer, music fanatic and an enthusiastic table tennis player, Gurpreet has recently taken to writing and wants to learn and grow from this.

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