As a practicing business analyst, trainer and consultant for last 25 years, I have come across many business analysis tools. I was forced to use some of these tools because my clients and organization mandated some of them. I do read about a lot of blogs and articles about which business analysis tool is used extensively by industry. Many of them appear to be simple marketing propaganda by the tool vendors (or copy paste from someone else’s blogs) saying the particular tool is the greatest tool for business analysis.
Fundamentally, we need following types of business analysis tools:
- To track requirements
- Describe requirements in certain detail
- Model requirements wherever feasible
- Collaboration tools
One can get a tool set literally free for all these 3 types of requirements. Here is it true list of the tools that I have used extensively. I have no intent to please or promote any specific tool or organisation.
I am going to start with number 10 and go down to number 1.
#10 Star UML
The tool I look forward to for any UML diagram is StarUML. I have a version on my system which is free which I believe is no longer free on the net. StarUML is pretty simple software to learn to draw use case diagrams such as the Class diagram, State diagrams etc. In case your company is still in the waterfall world, you will find StarUML pretty useful tool to develop any kind of UML diagrams.
YouTube video links on Star UML:
9 Google Voice typing
Google voice typing is indeed a boon for me. I am a pretty bad typist and I used to have a terrible experience in trying to create documentation. With Google voice typing that pain is gone. In fact, this blog you are reading was created using Google voice typing. The same amount of documentation if I would have tried to do using MS word or any other tool, probably would have taken me 4 times more time and 10 times more pain.
8 Google drive
Another neat software from Google which allows us to share documents in a secured manner. It practically offers unlimited storage capability and for about $3 per month. You get humongous space to store and share your project artifacts.
Screencast-o-matic is a very little known tool but I found it extremely helpful. As business analysts, we need to ensure that all the discussions that we have with our stakeholders are recorded and kept for future reference. Screencast-o-matic does a fantastic job of recording our discussions and keeping them stored in a place like YouTube which we can access anytime later. One can make the YouTube videos private so that only your team members and stakeholders are able to access the videos. No more missing discussion points and no more worrisome fact that we missed something to note down during a discussion.
Skype is again a wonderful tool for remote working and collaboration with stakeholders. Today end users, developers could be in any part of the world. A tool like Skype allows us to coordinate and collaborate seamlessly irrespective of where we work.
BizAgi is another free tool that I really love. It’s very simple to use and is extremely powerful when you wish to draw business process models. The good part about BizAgi is, it also generates a fantastic documentation in MS Word.
4 MS PowerPoint
You will read lot of people saying death by PowerPoint and all kinds of stuff as how evil PowerPoint is. The fact is MS Office is not going to go away from corporate life in near future. Businesses need communication and presentation. Nothing beats PowerPoint at this time to share our ideas to our stakeholders.
3 MS Word
Among the Microsoft tools, I possibly hate the most is MS Word. I somehow find it extremely hard to work as effectively with MS Word is I can work with MS Excel on MS PowerPoint. Still MS Word is the most popular word processor that are stakeholders continue to use and hence we must be familiar in creating documentation using MS Word. The amount of BA documentation that we do using MS Word has come down dramatically over last 20 years but still there will be enough times when MS Word will be a good tool capture ideas, notes and discussions.
2 MS Excel
This is my most favorite MS tool. I do my entire BA documentation using MS Excel. I create wireframes using MS Excel. I use extended data matrix to understand UI requirements. If you learn use Excel well, I bet you definitely fall in love with Excel. It’s quite a powerful tool for many things that any BA wishes to do including requirements management, user interface development, traceability matrix etc.
Article on Excel Prototype: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/struggling-user-interfaces-try-little-secret-tool-dreamer-and-doer
Video on Excel Prototype:
1 Google search
Finally nothing beats Google search. Anytime you get stuck as a BA, you need some help, you need a particular template, just do a Google search. Anyone who learns to leverage Google will be a Super BA.