Using LucidCharts for Business Analysis
I had an opportunity try out a LucidCharts team account and evaluate how effective I think it is for a business analyst. Right from the start, I had a good impression.There is an entire category dedicated to business analyst. You'll see later in the article that it provides far more for business analyst, but it is fairly rare to see a generic modeling tool pay attention to business analyst specifically. It is nice to see that we are being thought about.
Diagramming and modeling
First thing I wanted to check out was the ability to actually diagram and model. Everyone has heard the saying A picture is worth a thousand words, and it is absolutely true for business analyst. When you make any requirements more visual, you are inviting faster comprehension and more complete feedback. Why? It's a lot easier to see if an activity is missing in a process flow than a paragraph and it also much easier to remember you need a delete function when you are looking at a mock up.
LucidCharts delivers here on multiple acccounts. In addition to the standard BA artifacts shown above, it even has models and diagrams less commonly known, but quite effective in their own right. Many are listed in the BABOK as business analysis techniques for specific needs. These includes sequence diagrams, use case diagrams, ERD diagrams, SIPOC diagrams, etc. (FYI: If you plan to take the certification exam, it would benefit you to know all of these)
Easy to Use
I gave wireframing a shot to get a feel for how easy it is to navigate and use the actual functions in LucidCharts. It took me about 1 minute to make a rough mockup of the MetaBusinessAnalyst.com. One minute! Imagine how long it would take for you to describe all the different features of functions required and make sure none get missed.
For me, any tool I use to manage my work needs to have an easy way to keep organized. LucidCharts allows you to create folders of work keep the managable. For different people this might mean different things. You could potentially use folders for each individual's work products, different projects, different phases, or different teams. Obviously you should do what works best for you and your situations.
Collaboration: Working With Your Team
The feature that tends to set tools like this apart from desktop tools like MS Powerpoint, or Visio is real time collaboration. I have had the opportunity to use a few different online tools and when you remove work products from people's desktops and put them where anybody can view current work products, magic happens. Long story short, the feedback cycle shortens, so you can do your job way more efficiently.
In order to really foster collaboration, good online tools also need to have the ability to communicate about work products along side the work products themselves. Chat features, like the one in LucidCharts, allow everyone to see the whole communication history of a work product. This communication is usually lost in emails in most workplaces. The worst position to be in, is when you join a project late and never even have a chance to see all of that history.
Bonus Features: Integration!
For me, the features listed above are enough to sell me on a tool for businss analysis, however, LucidCharts does have a few additional integration features to make your life a little easier.
First, easy integration with Google Drive. This means if you need to create and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, or other non-visual business analysis artifacts, you can use one account for all of it. You can even create a LucidCharts account with an existing google account. It also integrates with Slack, JIRA, and Confluence, so if your team or company already uses any of those tools, then you are good to go.
The other nice integration is the ability to import from different formats. If you start with artifacts that might have been created by someone else, or you just want to transition your old stuff into LucidCharts, they make it pretty easy.
So here is the recap for those of you considering different tools for business analysis. LucidCharts is great for...
- ...basic business analysis diagrams
- ...advanced business analysis diagrams
- ...keeping your documents, projects, and teams organized
- ...sharing those documents and projects with your teams
- ...collaborating with your team members
- ...and finally, it integrates well with existing tools