Beyond Requirements: Analysis with an Agile Mindset

Kent J. McDonald  
Total pages
September 2015
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Beyond Requirements: Analysis with an Agile Mindset
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Beyond Requirements shows how to use business analysis practices and techniques to identify key business problems, find optimal solutions, and successfully implement them. Unlike most business analysis texts, it places analysis techniques in context, positioning them as a "means to the end" of solving organizational problems, not as an end in themselves.


  • Integrates up-to-date analysis best practices with actionable ideas from other domains
  • Shows how to systematically evaluate how project impacts the business model
  • Helps readers understand project risks and opportunities more clearly, assess tradeoffs, and promote more informed decision-making
  • For both professional business analysts and other managers who want to leverage business analysis techniques to improve their own performance

Table of Contents

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xxv

About the Author xxvii


Part I: Ideas 1


Chapter 1: Guiding Principles 3

Introduction 3

Deliver Value 4

Collaborate 5

Iterate 7

Simplify 8

Consider Context 9

Decide Wisely 10

Reflect and Adapt 11

Conclusion 12

If You Remember Nothing Else 12


Chapter 2: Helpful Concepts 15

Introduction 15

Needs and Solutions 15

Outcome and Output 19

Discovery and Delivery 20

If You Remember Nothing Else 23


Chapter 3: Influence of Lean Startup 25

Introduction 25

Customer Development 25

Build-Measure-Learn 29

Metrics 31

If You Remember Nothing Else 38


Chapter 4: Decision Making 39

Introduction 39

A Structure for Decision Making 39

Real Options 46

Cognitive Biases 48

If You Remember Nothing Else 53


Chapter 5: Deliver Value 55

Introduction 55

Feature Injection 55

Minimum Viable Product 63

Minimum Marketable Features 65

If You Remember Nothing Else 67


Chapter 6: Analysis with an Agile Mindset 69

Introduction 69

What Is the Need? 71

What Are Some Possible Solutions? 71

What Should We Do Next? 72

What Are the Details of This Part (i.e., Telling the Story)? 73

If You Remember Nothing Else 73


Part II: Case Studies 75


Chapter 7: Case Study: Conference Submission System 77

Introduction 77

The Need 77

The Possible Solution(s) 78

The Deliveries of Value 79

Lessons Learned 92


Chapter 8: Case Study: Commission System 95

Introduction 95

The Need 96

The Possible Solution(s) 96

The Deliveries of Value 97

Lessons Learned 98


Chapter 9: Case Study: Data Warehouse 101

Introduction 101

The Need 101

The Possible Solution(s) 102

The Deliveries of Value 103

Lessons Learned 110


Chapter 10: Case Study: Student Information System 111

Introduction 111

The Need 111

The Possible Solution(s) 114

Lessons Learned 118


Part III: Techniques 121


Chapter 11: Understanding Stakeholders 123

Introduction 123

Stakeholder Map 124

Commitment Scale 129

User Modeling 133

Persona 138


Chapter 12: Understanding Context 141

Introduction 141

Purpose-Based Alignment Model 142

Six Questions 147

Context Leadership Model 150


Chapter 13: Understanding the Need 159

Introduction 159

Decision Filters 160

Project Opportunity Assessment 163

Problem Statement 167


Chapter 14: Understanding the Solution(s) 171

Introduction 171

Impact Mapping 173

Story Mapping 177

Collaborative Modeling 182

Acceptance Criteria 188

Examples 192


Chapter 15: Organizing and Persisting Solution Information 199

Introduction 199

Discovery Board 200

Definition of Ready 204

Delivery Board 206

Definition of Done 211

System Documentation 213


Part IV: Resources 219


Glossary 221

References 245

Index 249


Kent J. McDonald uncovers better ways of delivering value by doing it and helping others do it. His years of experience include work in business analysis, strategic planning, project management, and product development in a variety of industries, including financial services, health insurance, performance marketing, human services, nonprofit, and automotive. He is active in the business analysis and agile software development communities helping people share stories about what does and does not work.


Kent has a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State University and an MBA from Kent State University.


Kent is also a coauthor of Stand Back and Deliver: Accelerating Business Agility.