2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,800 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Agile IT Fixed Price Projects – Paradoxon or Best Practice?

Joined in businessNowadays “Agile” is in everybody’s mind. It has all started in the nineteen’s with first attempts to follow early agile methodologies in the area of software development, and it was finally set in stone by the agile manifesto in 2001, published by the Agile Alliance.

In the light of the increasing popularity of Agile approaches, not only in software development but generally regarding multiple changes in enterprises,  an important question pops up here and there. Can Agile be combined with Fixed Price projects? This question is very valid as more and more software development projects are in FP mode, with a huge portion of the risks transferred to the vendor.

At a first glance you may think that the character of an FP project always demands to have the deliverables clearly described, down to the detail, with models, mock-ups, lots of documentation and with plenty of non-functional requirements to fulfil the acceptance criteria fixed in the contract.

In contradiction to that, Agile appreciates changes throughout the development phase, even late changes are welcome if they deliver value. This is the keyword: value has to be delivered, and this justifies or is sometimes only possible by having an agile attitude towards changes. So, simply saying we will not do it Agile is not an option.

If we are asked to combine both elements, Agile and FP, we are in a dilemma: Agile leaves the doors open for (even late) changes while in FP projects contracts are “closed”, i.e., deliverables are definitely fixed with the closure of the contract. More often this can happen simply because different cultures meet: e.g. Business  is used to and insists to have contract in place while development and project teams more and more want to go for Agile as they see that more value can be delivered. How can we escape from this?

The key is the structure of the requirements. In order to close a reliable FP contract, at least the Business Requirements need to be fixed. According to the BABOK® the Business Requirements describe the “Why” and major parts of “What”, while they shall not deal with the “How”. If you consequently restrict the contract to Business Requirements and probably a selected set of Non-Functional Requirements (aka Quality Requirements) there is enough room beyond the contract to apply an Agile methodology.

Let’s look at a scenario where Waterfall-minded Business people meet a vendor with SCRUM development teams. How could a FP contract look like? A Business Requirements Specification  (BRS) needs to be created by Business Analysts, of course in close collaboration with the Business, somehow satisfying one of the twelve principles behind the agile manifest “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project” but with the slight difference that there are no developers in the early phases of a project. Business Analysts are asked to elicit the Business requirements, performing all tasks described in BABOK®’s Enterprise Analysis (e.g. determine Business Need – What does the company really need?) and finally deliver the most important element of the FP contract, the BRS. And to be in-line with SCRUM, a BRS can consist of Epics, can use Personas and more elements of SCRUM which makes it easily usable by agile developers who step in later.

If the Business accepts a closure of a FP contract with such a Business Requirements collection but without a detailed description of the solution, the major pre-conditions for an Agile development based on a FP contract are given. But, there’s one important ingredient which I think is needed in each and every Agile project: Trust. Only with a significant portion of trust (in what will be delivered without having a clear imagination of it) Business will be willing to release the budget which is needed to set up an agile project organisation and to start with the development.

Quintessence is that as every Fixed Price contract needs to have some concrete content. The BRS can be used for this purpose, preferably adapted to the agile style which will be used by the development team after the FP contract has been closed.

For those who want to deep dive in agile Business Analysis and Project Management we offer a 2-day course http://www.masventa.eu/en/academia/agile-business-analysis-and-project-management/ which gives you 16 PDU or CDU for PMP or CBAP Re-certification.

Apologies, but the following two events are  only for German-speaking folks:

If you are interested in agile Business Analysis and Project Management you may want to join a Webinar http://www.masventa.eu/sub/gratis-webinar-2510-1500-agile-business-analyse-und-projektmanagement-nach-babok/

This topic will be discussed by some BA and PM experts on the 1. Business Analysis Summit in Salzburg, October 11th 2013, please refer to www.business-analyse-summit.com. Do not miss to join!

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Friday, 27/09/13 Business Analysis according to BABOK® – Online Crash Course in 90 minutes – 49 Euro

The term Business Analysis can be understood in various ways, similar to Project Management. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) in Toronto, Canada, defines Business Analysis as a collection of approaches and techniques to understand the structure and the rules within an organization as well as its employees and then to suggest solutions in order to help the organization. 

This Crash Course introduces you into the world of Business Analysis according to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®) published by the IIBA. You will understand why Business Analysis is much more than Requirements Engineering and how you can deliver more value to the Business by applying these best practises. Agile aspects are taken into account following the Agile Extension of the BABOK®.

Rainer Wendt, CBAP, PMP, Managing Director of masVenta Business GmbH, will guide you through the 90 minutes. He has more than 25 years experience in Business Analysis and Project Management and he will share his experiences on this particular subject with you.

Ask the expert:

During the course you will have the opportunity to ask question by using the Chat functionality. Questions will be collected and answered from time to time.


 Friday, September 27th, 2013

English: 9:00 − 10:30 Uhr

German 11:00 − 12:30 Uhr



After this registration you will be forwarded to a safe website for payment. After payment, you will get you individual course link within 48 hours. Do not hesitate to contact us under training@masventa.de oder +49-2404-91391-0 in case of questions.

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Salience Diagram – A rarely used but bright tool for Stakeholder Assessment

Stakeholder Management- Salience Model_o Titel Kopie


Have you ever heard about the Salience Diagram? It is not that popular and rarely used but despite this I find it very useful to perform a quick assessment of stakeholders which are not in the core team of a Project. Imagine to be in the following situation: You are at the coffee machine when a director approaches you to place some additional “must-have” requirements. First of all you should understand whether this director is legitimated to provide you with new requirements, maybe he just wants to load his requirements as a free rider on your project….probably he will be a dangerous guy…

So, the Salience Diagram is perfect assistant to help you categorizing the stakeholders quickly. If people who are not legitimated to provide you with new requirements (Dormant, Dangerous, Demanding or even Non-Stakeholder) are approaching you, you should have some techniques to explain that they should not try to place requirements now. Of course, you always need to understand whether these stakeholders can develop themselves into legitimated people, a stakeholder assessment is a continuous exercise.

Finally, if you have Dominant or Dependent stakeholder, or especially with Definitive (e.g. the director who sponsors your projects), you should listen carefully and potentially revisit the priority of the requirements in your project.

All this is common for both Project Managers and Business Analysts. They just have a different view on the things as explained in earlier posts. PM’s responsibility is more on the “Project-side” of the Project while BA’s responsibility is on the “Product-side”, i.e. the PM manages the project as a whole while the content (the product of the project) is something the BA is mainly responsible for. Of course this different view might slightly shift the circles of the Salience situation you are in, but however, the approach remains the same. Good luck by always having the right view on your stakeholder, stay tuned….

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1. Franco-Swiss IIBA Symposium in Geneva

Travelling back from Geneva in Switzerland by train I am reporting here some impressions from the 1. Business Analysis Symposium in Geneva. First of all I have to congratulate the organization team of the IIBA Geneva Chapter for the excellent work. The event was perfectly planned and conducted; there is nearly nothing what I could criticize. Despite the fact that this was the first event of its kind in Central Europe (the same event was held in Paris and Geneva within one week), there were more than 100 attendees which clearly shows the emerging demand and the high interest of and for Business Analysts. For me it was very interesting in two ways: As a CBAP and PMP, Business Analysis and Project Management are my favourite things and I am always hungry to learn more in order to teach an apply new and old best practises and techniques; but a second aspect is actually becoming even more important: As Vice President Events of the IIBA Germany Chapter I am assigned Project Lead for the first Business Analysis Summit for German speaking professionals in Salzburg, scheduled for October 11th (www.business-analyse-summit.com). So you can imagine that I was very curious to see how the Swiss and French colleagues were holding this event. By the way, if you consider coming to Salzburg, do not miss to register until July 31st until then there is a reduced rate for early birds. We will have sufficient tracks in English for the non-German-speaking folks.

ImageBut back to Genève: After a smart introduction by Cedric Berger (President IIBA Chapter Genève) the CEO of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) , Mrs. Kathleen Barret delivered a speech which was outstanding.  It was really an eye-opener for many of the attendees and as well for me it was a highly interesting to listen to this well-structured and rhetorically brilliant Imagepresentation.

The number of various job roles which require Business Analysis skills and knowledge is impressive. At a first glance you may not think about Management Consultants or CXOs but looking closer it becomes obvious that Enterprise Architects, Strategic Planners and even Account Managers (i.e Sales people) need Business Analysis Know How, always depending on the context and the Business they are working in (Click on the photos to enlarge them, the slide with the different job roles in the Business Analysis discipline will become readable then).

By the way, Kathleen Barret will speak as well on the above mentioned 1. Business Analyse Summit in Salzburg, October 11th, register here if you do not want to miss the Special early bird rate until July 31st.

ImageIn the next main presentation Christel Joly from the National Bank of Canada reported about the introduction of a Business Analysis Center of Excellence (BACoE) which I personally have followed with greatest interest as I am continuously working on best practises to create such organisational structures. Comparable to a Project Management Office (PMO) which is well established in many companies, a BACoE provides all services around Business Analysis if its document standards, best practises for elicitation, modelling or management of requirements or even measures to assess the quality and performance of the Business Analysis work itself. Very interesting, indeed!

Christel continuously switched between English and French in her presentation which she did in a very professional and smart way. Even that I cannot really understand French I could perfectly follow her explanations about pains and pitfalls of such big organisational changes and the success factors a company can benefit from if it is implementing such things in structured, well planned way.

There were a couple of other interesting presentations e.g. about the relationship between Project Management and Business Analysis, PMBOK and BABOK, PMPs and CBAPs, and Project Managers and Business Analysts in general. Michele Maritato, Director IIBA since 2012, brought elements from both PMBOK and BABOK together in a very nice way, emphasizing that only an integration between the two disciplines boosts a project towards a new level of success and value. I am strongly believing in this as I already mentioned some time ago in my book review of Elizabeth and Richard Larson`s Requirements Management.

The IIBA Germany Chapter and the IIBA Austria Chapter are exited to have both, Elizabeth Larson, CBAP, PMP and Richard Larson, CBAP, PMP as speaker on the Salzburg Business Analysis Summit. Elizabeth and Richard have done a couple of books, besides Requirements Management there is the Watermark Learning CBAP Study Guide, which we are using at masVenta Business GmbH for our CBAP/CCBA Prep courses.

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CBAP® vs. CPRE – What are the best certificates for Business Analysts and Requirements Engineers?

The most established certificates for Business Analysis are CBAP®, CCBA® and CPRE (Foundation and Advanced).



Published by


(w/o details)

Cost in Euro (ca., w/o courses)


Certification of Competency of Business Analysis


3750 hours BA experience

21 hours BA-relevant Courses



Certified Business Analysis Professional


7500 hours BA experience

21 hours BA-relevant Courses




Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering – Foundation Level

IREB e.v.





Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering –

Advanced Level

IREB e.v.

CPRE Foundation Level



While the mainly Germany-based CPRE certificates are focussed on software development and the related practises, the CBAP® and CCBA® are much broader regarding knowledge and international acceptance. As CCBA® is very similar to CBAP® we will be mentioning the latter one only. The same applies for the different levels of the CPRE.

Requirements Engineering is a part of the larger Business Analysis which comprises extended areas like Planning and Monitoring, Enterprise Analysis and Solution Assessment and Validation. Thus the CBAP® certificate much more proves knowledge and expertise than the CPRE certificate, especially in non-technical areas.

Typically, a CBAP®-like Business Analyst is closely working along with the Business, actively asking about the Business Need of each initiative. Besides gathering requirements, he or she is responsible for shaping the scope of the projects and for choosing solution approaches. Solutions can comprise of everything like process improvements, business rules, not necessarily (but mostly) including IT.

He or she is reporting to either IT or Business, depending on the organisational structure of the company.

The CPRE is embedded in the IT organisation and thus responsible for the documentation and analysis of IT related requirements. He is usually not primarily involved in project decisions related to solutions approaches but more focussed on working out requirements to make them ready for development and testing. Many Requirements Engineers have formerly worked as developers or testers and are still part of these technical IT teams.

The differences between CBAP® and CPRE are becoming clearer when looking on the requirements for the exams. While the IIBA® only approves a CBAP® exam application of candidates with a specific and proven professional experience, a CPRE exam requires no preconditions; everybody can sit for the exam. Thus a CPRE exam cannot be considered as prove of expertise; it is more a certificate of participation.

The CBAP® exam is a comprehensive one (150 questions in 3.5 hours) and can be compared with exams at universities. It demands a significant study and preparation time, typically some weeks up to several months, depending on how much time the candidate is able and willing to dedicate.

The CPRE exam typically takes place in the afternoon of the third day of training, comparable to the ITIL® Foundation exam.

The CBAP® certification is based on the The Guide to the Business Analysis Body Of Knowledge (BABOK® Guide) which is available Version 2.0 in four languages (English, Portuguese, German and French). However, as of today the exam itself can only be written in English. Only accredited examination centres like Castle Worldwide Inc. are allowed to provide the examination services; after candidates have sent their application to the IIBA® the candidate has to pass the exam within one year.

CBAP® on one hand and CPRE on the other hand are playing in completely different leagues. While CBAP® can be considered as a world-wide accepted prove of expertise and professional experience, CPRE is an entry-level education for software-centric requirements analysts, open for everybody and very easy to accomplish.

There are currently more than 10,000 certified CPRE worldwide (a few CPRE-AL) while we have around 2,500 CBAP® (and a few CCBA®). At first glance it seems as if the CPRE is more popular, but taking into account that no preconditions have to be met and that CPRE exams are relatively easy to pass it becomes obvious why the IREB certificates grow much faster than the IIBA certificates.

However, the more Business-related CBAP® and CCBA® certificates provide consultants and analysts with a sought-after skill rather than a common one more or less owned by everybody who is somehow experienced in working in IT projects.

Read the full White Paper at http://www.masventa.eu

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Lost in Translation

As a Business Analyst you are somehow used to translate, it is part of daily job to build bridges between Business and IT as they are using different languages. Today morning I have made a very interesting personal experience. Being in Moscow my first day to deliver some Business Analysis and Project Management training sessions, I was trapped by wrong directions from Google maps. So after I have left the protected zone of my hotel (they speak English there…) I walked with my Google maps plan some hundred meters to find the training office.  Intentionally we have booked a hotel nearby so it seemed to be very easy….Finally I was completely lost: I could not find the office and virtually nobody on the street was able to explain where I was and where my client’s office could be. So I entered an office building to approach the receptionists, but even they knew some English words rather than being able to form sentences and provide me with a real help. So, finally I went back to the protected zone (my 5* Hotel) where they could explain what went wrong after I have shown them the written adress of the client location. Somehow it was funny to experience this because it was no stress at all – as I had considered this risky to walk I have planned some 30 minutes buffer on my critical path, so I arrived in time 😉

Seriously, not being able to talk to someone else or not understanding what is told to you is really “strange”. Maybe sometimes Business stakeholder have difficulties to understand IT people talking about “strange” things and they give up and walk back into their protected zones. Common languages make collaboration possible and where collaboration is a must to achieve good requirements language problems have to be bridged by Business Analysts. 

Moscow is an adventure, not having local language skills and walking on your own puts you in a very special situation which is a somehow a valueable experience – if you are able to take it easy 😉

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