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:
- Helps a BA in identifying the areas where more information is needed.
- Helps a BA in identifying the areas where more analysis is needed.
- View the bigger picture (in High Definition)
- Easy to communicate the understanding to clients
- Helps in organizing the work.
Storyboards help a Business Analyst in creating a High Definition Bigger Picture of client's business.
Where do BAs use the Storyboards:
- In the Enterprise Analysis Phase, for creating the Business Case.
- In the Requirement Elicitation Phase just before the Prototype is created.
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.
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:
- Keep it simple: Keep the story simple, do not make it complicated.
- 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.
- 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)
- Tell a good story: In the end keep in mind to tell a good story.
The Business Analyst