A few tools to boost your business analysis potential
As many of you already know, tools and software for business analyst is NOT always a top priority for most companies. In most cases, MS Word, MS Excel, and MS Powerpoint are the only business analyst tools your company provides you along with an out-dated requirements template, that is most likely in MS Word. Unfortunately, our jobs as business analyst can become complex and when certain valuable aspects of our deliverables become "difficult"... in most cases we elect not to do them, and I can't blame you. So, until Microsoft Comes Up With MS Business Analysis (PM's Already Got MS Project!), here are some requirements management tools to bring some sanity to your everyday life.
Tools Your Company Might Already Have (Civilian Gear)
Sharepoint: I've said this before, but I'll say it again, "SharePoint is not a requirements management tool". HOWEVER. It does have a lot of powerful features that can bring some ease to traceability, approvals, collabaration and the organization of your requirements. Of course it will take some knowledge of Sharepoint, but your a smart BA, and you can do it. For tips, check out Sharepoint Requirements management. I personally have used it to make my job and life a whole lot easier.
Requirements Management Software for the Business Analyst Mercenaries Out There
If you are a consultant or contractor, than sometimes it's appropriate to bring your own tools to the fight and Gatherspace might be the right pick for you. The quality of requirements play an enormous role in the success of a project, and yet many companies still leave you hanging when it comes to providing tools specific to the requirements analysis activities. You, however, should not wait for someone to else to get you what you need, sometimes you have to go out there and get it yourself! Gatherspace is the most affordable for a single business analyst and can be scaled to a larger group.
Enterprise Requirements Management Tools for Business Analyst Armies
If you have the backing and the budget for an enterprise level initiative, then I would check out, Jama and Blueprint. There are plenty more than these two, but these are my top picks. Mostly for the user experience factor. They just look and work great. I even had a chance to play in the environments and get live demos. I was pretty impressed. The tracing capability alone sold me for each of these (one of the hardest things to keep track of). These tools really simplify impact analysis and change management. These tools not only ease the create and documentation of deliverables, but they also make the collaboration and approval process a breeze.