ANS does stand for ANSWER!
Being a Business Analyst at heart I strongly believe in a tool called A.N.S. Let me explain.
A – APPLICABLE
I always advocate that while doing any business analysis, the information gathered, analysed and kept on record must be applicable to the topic that is being discussed or investigated. Anything outside of this is superfluous and irrelevant. The beauty of this is that it allows for the necessary focus on the topic.
N – NECESSARY
Everything that we do in business analysis should be based on this also, “Is this necessary?” If it is, then it must be included in what we are investigating, if not then LEAVE IT OUT!
S – SUFFICIENT
Once we have sufficient information, STOP! We are now in a position to build our system. This is easier said than done and will take quite a bit of practice to get used to. The main problem is our own depth of involvement in what we are doing. It requires that occasionally we step out of this focus and have an overall look at what we are doing. Normally it comes as an “AHA!” moment when we realise that we have arrived and the system is ready to be done.
This ANS tool or acronym will prevent what we all dread.
ANALYSIS PARALYSIS or documentation overload!
All too often the Corporate Environment implements a methodology and allows this to lead a self limiting situation by insisting that “This type of project MUST have the following in it:” They then go ahead and present the shopping list of what they insist on, without considering ANS. This leads to extreme bloating of the business analysis results and in many case facilitates the usual breakdown in communication between all the team members.
ANS also provides a self-cross-check. An example would be that it will not allow for anything to be left out, because if the information is not yet SUFFICIENT, then it cannot be seen as finished. It furthermore forces the information to remain in context by being Applicable.
Our lives as Business Analysts and the rest of the ‘Associated Project People’ can be made so much easier by applying this tool to our everyday work.
ANS is an ANSWER to a really difficult problem in our professional environment!
About the Author: Vernon Zwiers, founder of DenVer Project Management, is a Versatile and very successful Project / Programme Manager Professional (PMP®) and Business Analyst (IIBA) with a wealth of technical and commercial skills acquired across a wide range of demanding roles with over 20 years experience within the IT industry.