Common Sense Analysis

Common Sense should be the root of all analysis. 'Should'.

Posts tagged consulting

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The goldilocks zone

There are a lot of frameworks out there to help us define, categorise, structure and deliver. The issue I see here, is that in most cases, a lot of knowledge is required to actually understand the work done.

Also, assuming that your company/client hired you to ‘augment’ their skills, they probably dont have the experience/interest to build their expertise in your field. So, then, how do we add value using methodologies, frameworks and other tools while not over-complicating issues?

For me, at the moment, a lot of this is a bit of a soft-skill. I try to:

  • understand my audience
  • identify their preferred communication styles
  • review the most relavent work that exists
  • outline high level plans and gauge buy-in

That should give one a good ‘feel’ for what is appropriate.

I think what we need, though, is a quick diagram to outline what is the ‘goldilocks zone’ for documentation and formality. Onward and forward into some research, then!

Filed under BA Consulting documentation ITIL IIBA

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I have been called many things in my life, but one particular bug-bear is ‘the documentation dude’. It irritates me because it shows a particular lack of understanding of what i do.

Granted, the end result is documentation, but the documentation is just tip of the iceberg. What is the point of documentation, then?

Within the context of enterprise business transformation, documentation can:

  1. help illustrate a common goal
  2. document the common understanding
  3. highlight and reduce assumptions
  4. clarify roles and responsibilities

With more thought I am sure i can come up with more, but the point I want to make is that the real value of documentation is the journey required to gain approval. A document without approval or ratification, then is useless.

The journey that should be undertaken when defining any document is the real value in defining common views. These views are written in black and white and should be unambiguous answers to specific questions.

Dont call me a documenter - call me a problem solver.

Filed under consulting documentation BA

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Process, Procedures and Workflows

There is a propensity in our industry to get confused between process, workflows and procedures. There are a lot of words out there describing this, but here is the way my mind works. This mental model has held up pretty well when used in anger, so see if it helps you…

Note: workflow and procedures can also sit in process - it is the linking bit between people, process and tools… but I couldn’t make it pretty enough. B-)

Filed under consulting business analysis ba process workflow

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everyone likes a good story

There are very few places where a narrative wont help. one example i can think of is a dictionary… and… nothing else comes to mind…

In my role of consultant, I come across a great many documents… most of them dry, badly structured and hard to understand. I reckon it is due to bad story telling. because they stick to the facts and nothing else, it is hard to really remember what they are talking about.

Narrative is the fuzzy side of the velcro. It is the emotional connection a reader needs to really relate to what you are writing. I am not suggesting that you have to dramatize a business case for effect, but to ensure that there is some story for the reader to cling on to and come back to when they get confused. Context, people, context!

Whether you are writing a business case, requirements doc or a research paper, the narrative is paramount. Narrative gives context, makes statements less ambiguous and increases readability.

So make the effort to add a bit of story to your documents. it will be more successful.

Happy documentation, webizens.

Filed under story telling consulting business analysis documentation

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Social Media Policy for Enterprises

Recently I was asked to participate in a group to define the social media policy for an organisation. So, I thought I would form some thoughts on it, and might as well publish those to see if it would help anyone else.

So, social media policy. Many enterprises are still stuck in the old age where they block access to Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and so on due to the belief that it is personal time they are spending there. This, as I have discussed extensively in previous posts, is not true. In fact, there is a very strong case for B2C and B2B social media.

  • Sales and Marketing need to use Social Media for, well… sales and marketing. This includes (but not exclusive to) Facebook, Twitter, a great variety of blogs and, of course LinkedIn.
  • Support staff need access to Social Media to engage and support our customers. Engaging with them on, say, twitter will help adapt to the new world  - using Customer Defined Processes.
  • Staff need to contribute knowledge and support back to the community through a company Blog. This will help an active engagement and show a willingness to help.
  • Snr. management can use Social media to find trends, hot topics and for other networking. Recommend that daily, localised reports be offered for time-poor management to scan. 
  • Follow your competitors. Find out what they are talking about, you will get a lot of tips from them. 

Guiding development of social media is more ‘nurturing’ and less ‘constructing’. These are some Do’s that can be in the policy:

  • Always be helpful, polite and respectful towards the community.
  • ALWAYS cite your sources - if you are re-posting some helpful stuff you found online, ALWAYS give a pointer to the original author <— its a big deal, and its the right thing to do.
  • Include your employer in your business comms (a link in your online profile is fine). Anyone who finds your help honest will always look up your employer, trust me.
  • Try to stand for something - a cultural or ethical ambassador, if you will…it has to resonate with you, but it will keep your involvement with community motivated and consistent.
  • Find online communities in your domain of expertise that need help, and offer it honestly and with integrity

Remember, our competitors can follow us as well, so as you would imagine, there needs to be a list of ‘dont’s’… these can be set out in the General Guidelines for Social media use:

  • Don’t discuss client information on public channels
  • Definitely don’t give out personal information about the company or clients - funnel any requests through the reception or other formal contacts
  • Don’t discuss any RFQs, Upcoming work, contracts or anything that might expose your employer commercially

You are not anonymous, and you represent us as a whole, so behave as if you are at work, because YOU are liable.

  • Dont insult or harass anyone
  • Sexist, racist or other types of offensive behaviour is also a big no
  • you are being watched, so act like you would at work.

As a basis for a formal policy, 5 minutes of googling found me this, a policy for social media and internet from International SOS. Has a few good points, but equally might be missing a few things… but it’s a start!

Filed under social media policy consulting CIO CTO

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What is the aim of Social Media - PRINT

So what is the aim for a business? what is the goal to get involved in social media? What does success taste like?

Sociagility offers a nice model here to guage success in Social Media - summarised by the acronymn PRINT:

  1. Popularity - being well liked and followed
  2. Receptiveness - willingness to listen and engage with the community - not just broadcast
  3. Interaction - willingness to engage regularly and consistently with community
  4. Network Reach - actual and potential audience reach
  5. Trust - influence and authority within the community

This infographic shows how the world’s most recognisable companies performed in their studies.

It is a great indication of the minefield that businesses need to navigate in Social Media. Being an authority means nothing if you are not popular. Being an authority needs to be complimented with being receptive and interact with the community - which can be viewed as arrogance.

On the flip side, it also offers a great stretegic perspective to understand failings. If you have the knowledge, but are not getting your message, it might be your reach that is suffering a little. Defining and understanding these metrics will be a key win for any Social Media enabled (or to-be enabled) business.

Filed under Social Media business analysis consulting

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Social Media leads to better decisions

Over the last couple of days, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few new people and get their opinions on Social Media.

One particular point that kept coming up was “Yes, I have an account, but I dont know how to use twitter”. This was consistent and across the board.

Well, there are several aspects to using twitter, which can be seen below:

Using twitter is not the same as contributing to twitter. In fact, just being on there and listening to the trends and topics that are being discussed is of huge value to your business. Just listening to what is out there is information.

Let’s say you are a product manager looking to white-label a Cloub based Retail Banking offering. Why not go to twitter and check out who is talking about products like yours? any competitors? check their activity out on twitter.

Check out - it is a good tool to see what is trending where - using location based analysis to see who is talking about what where. Some fascinating data.

On your twitter dashboard, you also have a list of trends - check them out to see what people in your location are talking about.

Now back to the topic of this blog… it’s simple really - it has been well established that the more information you have, the better the decision you can make. Twitter and social media provides free, easy to find information. It is not just market research, but also for key business decisions.

Filed under Social Media business analysis consulting

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Engaging Customers and Curation

There are a great many things that can be done with Social Media. In the context of a business, I reckon the following is a good list, in no particular order:

  1. Locate new employees
  2. Find new customers (marketing)
  3. Customer Service (twitter, etc)
  4. Product research (what customers want)
  5. Perception research (what customer think of us)
  6. Content Curation (Pintrest)
  7. Content Creation & build traffic (white papers, etc)
  8. Thought leadership (blogs, twitter)
  9. Critical Evaluation of others’ products and services (blogs)
  10. Build Company Credibility (Creation, aggregation, thought leadership and critical evaluation)

From the plethora of information on the web, marketing via social media is the major topic of discussion. There are a few ways to increase your market presense, which I will look at discussing later on (if I can add value to the great blogs out there already).

There are other topics that I suspect you already have a good handle on, like using SM for research, or posting thought leading blogs (like Forrester or Gartner). Of course, there is the all important Customer Service aspect. It is a large topic to cover, so I will leave that to another blog.

The really interesting emerging market is content curation. Pinterest is an emerging social media site that describes itself as a way to “organise and share the things you love”. Put simply, it is a way to easily share the interesting things that you come across on the web.

Tumblr (which this blog is built upon) is also a great way of sharing content IN YOUR OWN SPACE. The content is free - and sharing is a click away. You build a collection of work from other people that can showcase your identity. (incidentally, while Blogspot is a clear market leader, Tumblr has caught up to Wordpress for popularity - source CompetePulse).

Let’s apply this to a busienss context. Every good CIO, CTO, Exec Mgr and those with aspirations read blogs, articles on the market, etc. If you think some content is good - reblog it. This allows easy engagement not only with your future customers, but also your business collaborators, peers and competitors. Market-wide reach and collaboration and you make your site a great place for your customers to frequent - you are pre-assembling subject specific content for your customers.

Let’s look at it from the point of view of a customer - a CFO is looking to invest in some BPM work in your organisation. Before you engage the board or even your direct reports, you do a quick google. Among the individual articles, you come accorss a site which presents a well constructed, impartial list of articles that educate you and allow you to sound well researched and versed. Is this a site you would bookmark? Is this a company you would take note of?

Filed under CIO CTO Business Analysis Social Media customer relationship Consulting