More pictures please ! the problem with words

I am sure we have all done this, you are sitting down to watch a film, it’s a film based on a book you have read. The characters appear on screen and they look and sound nothing liked you had imagined. When reading the book you had built up your own imagines and sounds and now when you see it on the big screen it completely different!

Does this remind you of anything in the business analyst world ? Without visuals the message can be lost, people interpret words their own way and this can lead to some unexpected results.

The problem with people interpreting words their own way is the false sense of understanding that is created between the author and the stakeholders. For example :

At the requirements stage of a project a business requirements document is usually created and after a few walkthroughs and revision this is approved by the stakeholders.

At this point everyone would consider there is an agreement between all parties. However the author had one thing in mind, the business imagined something else and the developer looked at the exactly same text in yet another way!

Documents and specifications need pictures to clearly communicate with the reader. Here are some of the common diagrams I use.

  • System Architecture
  • Functional organisation diagram
  • SIPOC
  • Rich Picture
  • Flowcharts (process flows or data)
  • State diagrams
  • Example documents from current state
  • Reuse diagrams from other project presentations
  • Screen Mock ups
  • Mock ups of any future system outputs e.g formatted reports.

One of the key other benefits of the diagrams above is the process of creating them often makes me pick up other requirements that may have otherwise slipped past me. That’s before I start to work with the other stakeholders

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