Category Archives: Business Analysis

Articles of interest to business analysts, or otherwise specifically about business analysis. Topics are mainly about business process analysis, business requirements analysis, and how to be a good business analyst.

Outside-In User Story Example

thumbnails in a messaging app identifying conversation members

Being “outside-in”, “outcome-based”, and “market-driven” is particularly important for creating successful products.  The problem is that just saying the words is not enough to help someone shift their thinking.  For those of us who are already thinking this way, the phrases become touchstones or short-hand.  For folks who are not there yet, these may sound like platitudes or empty words.  I know many people who want to switch their roles from “do these things” to “solve these problems.”  They have to change their organizations.  This example may help get the point across.

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Minimum Valuable Problem

redacted use case dependency thumbnail

Defining and building a good minimum viable product is much harder than it sounds.  Finding that “one thing” you can do, which people want, is really about a lot more than picking one thing.  It is a combination of solving the minimum valuable problem and all of the other things that go with it.  Solving for both the outside-in needs and the inside-out goals is critical.

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Professional Services and Improving Your Product

Prioritization at whiteboard

How do you work with professional services, consulting, field engineers, etc. to make your product better? Do you just treat their inputs as yet another channel for feature requests, or do you engage them as an incredibly potent market-sensing capability?

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Product Owner Survival Camp

Product Owner Survival Camp 19-20 May, Cambridge, MA

Product owners are likely to find themselves alone in the organizational wilderness. Their organizations expect them to connect the towers of long-term strategic planning with the frontiers of great new products. Iterative and incremental development of solutions can bring these two worlds together. There’s always a gap between strategy and execution – and product owners are ideally positioned to help fill that gap.

What we need is a survival guide – a set of principles, tools, and techniques; learned and applied in a two-day “camp” with industry-leading experts in agile product management and product ownership.

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Why Not What – An Example

Obscenely complicated WW2 U-Boat controls

Forbes quoted Steve Jobs as saying “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”  This is a really enlightened perspective – and a way to enforce focus from the top down.  Before you can drive a “this goal is more important than that goal” focus, you have to make sure you’re actually focusing on the goals.

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Why Do Products Fail? – Picking the Wrong User Goals


Continuing the series on root causes of product failure, this article looks at the impact of focusing on the wrong user goals.  Even if you have picked the right users, you may have picked the wrong goals – creating a product your customers don’t really need, or solving problems that your customers don’t care about solving.
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Why Do Products Fail? – Picking the Wrong Users

Exploring the reasons that a product might fail in the market is a useful way to triage and assess what you need to do to prevent the failure of your product.  Instead of taking the “do these things” approach as a prescriptive recipe for product managers, I’m approaching the exact same topic from the opposite direction.  I was inspired in part to explore this approach when thinking about the Remember the Future innovation game.  Instead of asking “What will the system have done?” in order to gain insights what it could be built to do, I’m asking “Why did your product fail?” in order to prevent the most likely causes of failure.

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Why Do Products Fail – Solving the Wrong Problems

There are many reasons that a product might fail in the market.  One of those reasons is that your product solves the wrong problems.  There are many ways to solve the wrong problems.  This article continues the series on sources of product failure, exploring the idea that your product may be trying to solve the wrong problems.

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Who Are Your Customers – Comparing Products Part 2

The first step to comparing products is understanding your customers.  This may seem counter-intuitive, but your product’s capabilities are meaningless unless you are comparing them from your customer’s point of view.  This article is part 2 in a series on comparing products.  Check out part 1, then continue with this article on the first steps of comparing products.

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