Business Analysis Tools: Storyboards

What are Storyboards?
Storyboards are graphic organizers such as a series of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of previsualizing a motion graphic or interactive media sequence, including website interactivity. [Wikipedia]

How Storyboards are used by the Moviemakers and Business Analysts?

Movie makers use the storyboards to illustrate the story better. They break the story into scene and then they work on the details of one scene at a time. It is not necessary that they do the storyboarding of each and every scene. Sometime movie makers do the storyboarding of only few important scenes. In the software industry we learn from a variety of fields and storybording is something that we have picked up from movie makers. As a Business Analyst we try to see the bigger picture of the business problems of the client. To get it right storyboards help a lot.  Just like movie makers we break the bigger picture of Business into smaller sections and then focus on one section at a time. This way we enrich our knowledge of client's business piece by piece, section by section. We can easily identify where we need to more research, where we need more analysis. Storyboarding not only helps BA in creating a bigger picture but a High Definition bigger picture where you can zoom to finer details.

Uses and Benefits of using Storyboards:

  1. Helps a BA in identifying the areas where more information is needed.
  2. Helps a BA in identifying the areas where more analysis is needed.
  3. View the bigger picture (in High Definition)
  4. Easy to communicate the understanding to clients
  5. Helps in organizing the work.
Storyboards The Business Analysis Blog Tarun Chandel
Storyboards help a Business Analyst in creating a High Definition Bigger Picture of client's business.

Where do BAs use the Storyboards:
  1. In the Enterprise Analysis Phase, for creating the Business Case.
  2. In the Requirement Elicitation Phase just before the Prototype is created.
Views of other BAs
CGarison: I only use story boards when mapping processes in realtion to new software implementation. Yes, before proto as well. But only for new processes (screens/systems) into existing flows.
Ranjan: I used storyboards after the use cases were written. Prototyping and story boards go in parallel. It can only be done after the detail requirements are written. It takes a lot of skill to do it, MS-Visio is a great tool to use for Storyboarding.

How much should a Business Analyst Storyboard?
Ranjan also shared a very important point that, Storyboards are good only if your project needs it and you have to decide to what extent you want to do it. I completely agree with him on this point depending on the time at hand, the complexity of the business problem, the budget and the resources, you take a decision to go for detailed Storyboarding. You can make your picture as High Resolution as you want but, there is a cost involved to it. So decide in advance when you want to go for detailing. May be you can pick certain areas and go for detailing of those. What I typically do is I use the brown paper wall and story cards to make a quick storyboard and then decide which section to detail right now and which section to pick up later.

Business Analysis Tools Storyboards Tarun Chandel Business Analysis Blog
Creating a Storyboard on a brown paper wall with help of Storycards and Post-its helps in identifying the right sections to focus on. I use legend post-its (notice pink one) to identify sections where I need to do more analysis (dark pink) and where I need input from the client (light pink). Also I keep myself reminding about the Horizontal Analysis and Vertical Analysis.

Points to keep in mind while Storyboarding:
  1. Keep it simple: Keep the story simple, do not make it complicated. 
  2. Break the story into scenes: Breaking the story into scenes or sections will help you to organize the story better. It will also help you in identifying the shortcomings, if any, in the story. While making a Storyboad, do the Horizontal and Vertical analysis of storyboard, that will ensure completeness of the story.
  3. Make it collaborative: The idea behind storyboarding is to make the complete picture clear. To make sure that you have covered every aspect of the story, involve your clients in the storyboarding session. Check the logic flow (“necessary and sufficient” arguments)
  4. Tell a good story: In the end keep in mind to tell a good story.
Tarun Chandel
The Business Analyst

8 comments:

  1. Ben Warsop

    I'm a big fan of all visual aids - for some people pictures really are worth a thousand words.

    The key thing about story-boards is the story. They contribute the most to situations where there's a sequence to be described: describing a process is one example, but I used them to plot the journey through a web site in the days when sites were built by hand.

    Ben


    Tarun Chandel

    --> Ben: I agree with you that pictures depicts much more than words. And Storyboards helps us in creating High Definition pictures where we can zoom to see the details :)

    Ben, you don't use the Storyboards now?


    Anonymous

    examples of what your talking about and why would be great...put all this in some context


    Anonymous

    Its nothing but agile technique.


    Putcha

    I am coming from software engineering / requirements engineering. Storyboarding for movies / plays is understandable but how is it applied to Businesses. Is it applied to the existing businesses or TOBE Businesses?

    Does it present the scenarios in picture or in some other form? I see that "UML Use Case Descriptions" are scenarios of how named services are delivered to Actors in non pictorial / graphic form.

    What are the forms of storyboards of Business. How have they helped. Let me have the examples with explanation.

    Thanks and regards,

    putchavn@yahoo.com


    Anonymous

    get me some templates which can be used to write a story board


    Anonymous

    hi everyone, i have assignment to do in which I have to use 6 business analysis tools and techniques and I have to tell how and why to use those...can you ppl help me please....thanks in advance


    Nathan

    Story Boards are a great tool if used properly by a Business Analyst. The places I found this a good technique was for gathering UI requirements but it was also useful to get the clear flow of the business needs.


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