Storytelling In Business Analysis – Venkatesh P

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Storytelling In Business Analysis – Venkatesh P

People have been using stories for centuries in all cultures and walks of life to convey a message, a lesson or impart knowledge because it has proven to be the best tool for retention and understanding. From childhood to adulthood, something about stories captivates us, be it in the form of books, articles, audios, movies, or shows. This is probably why businesses also use stories in one way or another to put across a point. We’re going to talk about the use of storytelling in business analysis in the IT industry.

Every development project begins with a requirement gathering process from the client. While there are many techniques for this, most of them do not provide full particulars which results in the poor delivery of business value, damage in reputation and project overruns.

But luckily, there is a solution to this problem. It’s called Story boarding.

Story boarding

This technique refers to using visuals to address requirements and to help the business understand our proposed solution. The concept was originally developed and used in the film industry to visualise the script in a sequential order and help the film-makers chart their plan of action.

How is it done?

Using stories in some form is a well-established practice in the industry, like the use of user stories. A storyboard is made using a sequence of wire frames either sketched or digitally made with an explanation of the process alongside it. When put together, these wire frames provide a sequential flow that addresses the problems of the business or client, their specific requirements, and the team’s proposed system for a solution. It is simple to create, understand and also has room for suggestions and further brainstorming.

Why do we need a story?

The idea behind using this technique is the understanding of how compelling a well-structured narrative can be. People get engaged in the story which deepens their thought process, focus and retention capacity.

Most business analysts use a combination of written stories as well as visuals in different stages of the process. For example, for the initial requirement gathering stage, it would be a simple written document in the form of a story which contains the business problem, solution and implementation process. Once the project is finalised i.e. the client is on boarded, in the business requirement document, visuals will be provided to the client along with an explanation of the process that will be followed, for a better understanding of our proposed solution.

What are some of the benefits of this technique?

  • For starters, it helps clients understand the look and functionality of the proposed system, and get a feedback for improvement from them.
  • It works as a referral document throughout the project life cycle as well as for future reference.
  • It involves more real-world elements like people, problems and place which when embedded into the design helps the team stay grounded to the reality of the users’ lives, their exact requirements and business scenario. It allows developers to put themselves in the user’s shoe which provides them opportunities to devise better solutions to their problems.
  • Using storyboards help keep the design as well as the context in mind giving the team a definite flow so they don’t get lost in the design as a sole artifact or over-emphasise on the context giving little importance to the UI. It helps the team strike a balance between the two elements and stay user focused.
  • The stories strengthen user experience due to the incorporation of specific personas and contexts and not an abstract, feature-oriented description that would make it more ‘generic’.
  • Every client comes up with a unique requirement so creating a well-documented story out of this process ensures that all the parties involved (project team and client) are on the same page. It eliminates gaps in understanding.
  • Every client comes up with a unique requirement so creating a well-documented story out of this process ensures that all the parties involved (project team and client) are on the same page. It eliminates gaps in understanding.
  • The sketches/visuals can prove to be an invaluable tool while building prototypes as they provide design insights.
  • Storyboards can also prove to be a sales tool as they paint a picture of the end value that will be delivered to the user. It can be shown to potential clients as hearing similar stories can evoke similar situations faced by them in the past or even currently.
  • It is an inexpensive technique that is simple to execute, easy to understand and modify.

Story boarding and user stories are extensively used techniques by agile practitioners because they add more value than a generic requirement statement to the life cycle of a project. It all narrows down to one underlying notion- when there’s a person involved, there’s always a story to tell and that story will get more people involved. More on this in the forthcoming articles!

People have been using stories for centuries in all cultures and walks of life to convey a message, a lesson or impart knowledge because it has proven to be the best tool for retention and understanding. From childhood to adulthood, something about stories captivates us, be it in the form of books, articles, audios, movies, or shows. This is probably why businesses also use stories in one way or another to put across a point. We’re going to talk about the use of storytelling in business analysis in the IT industry.

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