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2019 Business Analysis on Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Projects in Albany, NY


2019 Business Analysis on Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Projects in Albany, NY

The Albany Capital District IIBA Chapter is excited to host a professional training event taught by Billie Johnson.  This event will consist of three days of training focusing on business analysis on a commercial off the shelf (COTS) project.

Organizations are relying more and more on commercial applications to enhance, supplement or replace existing systems. These commercial applications provide a means to exploit new opportunities that might not have been feasible if a custom build approach had been utilized.

Having the solution delivered off the shelf doesn’t mean business analysis is not needed.  It is still critical to understand what the business needs from the solution.  No matter how good the product or how impressive the company and their support, if the solution doesn’t address the business problem; it is not the right solution.  And the only way to know how well the product aligns to the business’ needs is to know the business needs. 

There is a broad spectrum to approaching COTS implementations from plain vanilla (out of the box) to highly customization of the COTS solution, and the business analysis deliverables will not only vary from an in-house custom build; but they will need to be tailored based on the implementation approach. 

Topics will include understanding what is a COTS solution, how to justify the need for business analysis on COTS projects, considerations while scoping the solution, business analysis needed to support the vendor selection process, COTS take on solution requirements, and evaluating the impact on current business processes and procedures to align with the solution. 

The class combines interactive lecture and practice sessions to help reinforce the lessons.

Course Outline:1. What is a COTS solution?• Buying solutions versus custom build solutions• Spectrum of COTS Solution implementations• Terminology around COTS Solutions• Roles of the Business Analyst on a COTS Solution projectPractice Sessions:• Terminology exercise• Requirement type exercise• COTS Business Analyst Role Brainstorm

2. The Business Case for business analysis on COTS projectsCOTS solutions can open new possibilities for organizations but are many times advertised as deceptively simple. Hence, the business analysis effort is many times rushed to just start building the software. Failure to successfully select, control, and implement critical components continues to result in projects that are delivered late and over-budget or that fail entirely. Then, if we consider the price of meeting only the short-term goal/problem; business analysis becomes increasingly important to look further into the future. The COTS solution may solve the problem today, however if it cannot be easily modified or designed to meet future needs, it is not the right solution.• Increased Value• Risk Mitigation• Profound Benefits to IT OrganizationPractice Sessions:• Assess readiness to increasing organizational value through COTS

3. Understand the Problem and WHO is ImpactedThe golden rule is that the solution must solve the business problem; otherwise it is not the right solution. The ideal situation when working on a COTS project is one in which you elicit and analyze business requirements before selecting a solution. Too often you are faced with a pre-determined purchase of software packages and then your team is asked to implement the software after the fact. In any case it is never too late to ensure we understand what problem we are trying to solve and who is expected to be impacted.• Problem Statement Discovery• Developing Business Requirements (Goals and Objectives)Practice Sessions:• Develop stakeholder analysis using a stakeholder map• Develop problem statement using a situation statemen• Develop a value proposition canvas to model value• Develop a vision board to serve as an abbreviated business case

4. Scoping the SolutionAfter we have a clear understanding of the problem to be solved with the expected benefits, we can scope the solution. With the decision of a COTS solution approach, the stakeholders’ expectations must be set of trade-offs that are likely down the road and how much time and money the organization is willing to invest for a user-centric approach. Developing just enough documentation to provide scope in the form of Stakeholder Requirements will be practiced in this section.• Setting Stakeholder Expectations• Stakeholder Requirements• Scope DefinitionPractice Sessions:• Facilitate consensus on approach• Develop functional decomposition to depict ex-pected functionality to fulfill• Develop context diagram to understand expected actors• Prioritize functional "chunks"• Develop high-level conceptual data model and state diagram for important object• Brainstorm collections of business rules• Identify non-functional aspects to be supported• Develop scope definition to guide vendor engagement

5. Business Analysis in the Vendor Selection Process• Seeking vendor feedback• Develop business analysis portion of RFPPractice Sessions:• Develop vendor evaluation criteria• Analyze potential offerings developing a list of vendors to send RFP• Perform vendor gap analysis• Make vendor recommendation

6. Solution Requirements - COTS Style• Solution Requirements Development• End User Process Impact AnalysisPractice Sessions:• Develop user stories and story map• Elaborate user stories with solution requirements• Estimate the cost of user impact

7. Working with the Development Team• Transition Requirement Development• Getting Real with Examples• Trade-OffsPractice Sessions:• Develop process models to support process change required• Discover configuration and extension requirements• Model specification by example• Facilitate trade-off by developing options

8. Evaluating the Solution• Success Measurements• Continued Improvement StrategiesPractice Sessions• Refine business case success measurements• Develop continuous improvement plan• Perform root cause analysis using causal tree

Instructor Billie Johnson CBAP®, PMI-PBA, CSM

Billie Johnson is an expert business analysis professional who has been involved in establishing business analysis direction, processes and modeling for almost 30 years – spanning financial, manufacturing, consulting, education, government, retail, and mining industries. She was an early adopter of the IIBA® and Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) certification, receiving her CBAP® certification in May 2007; as well as embracing Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® certification achieved as soon as it was offered in July 2014.  Billie was a review lead for the BABOK Guide® version 3.0 and speaks at IIBA® and PMI® events.  For the last ten years, she has been teaching and consulting with large organizations and Fortune companies. As a business analysis instructor, course developer, author, coach, and mentor she enjoys furthering the field of business analysis by touching those in the field with tools to face their unique problems and opportunities for organizations today.  Billie is a premier sponsor to the Albany IIBA chapter through The Business Analysis Journey.  Check out the offerings at

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