BEAM and the Agile BA

Daniel Reed
October 29, 2014

A while back we had a problem, a disconnect between what people were asking for and what they really wanted. At Optimal we’re all about data but more importantly how people get insight from it, if a customer doesn’t get value from what we’ve provided then we’re not happy. We needed a solution that helped developers and business users speak the same language, the solution we found was BEAM (Business Event Analysis and Modelling) – it helps join the dots between the data warehouse and business teams, in an agile and easily understandable way.
One thing we’ve learnt is that delivering value to the business is the intent of nearly all projects and to do this you need to really understand what their core functions are, this is where the Business Analyst (BA) comes in. BAs are problem solvers and lean, mean process designers, the BEAM framework utilises those skills to create a data model without the need for technical expertise, based completely on the business process and functions.
Good BI relies on getting the data structured in the way the business thinks. E.g. We have a Customer who Purchases a Product. They understand this concept, there’s two business aspects; Customer and Product and the interaction between them. This is the basis for where we start.
BEAM relies on 7 W’s (or really 5 W’s and a couple of H’s); who, what, when, where, why, how and how many. These simple questions will give you all of the detail you need. The process is simple, you take a business event like Customer Purchases Product and ask these questions to understand the aspects which are important to that process.
Who? – In this case we have Customer and probably an Employee who are involved in this event
What? – The Product is our what, it’s the item that’s involved.
When? – The date/time this happened.
Where? – The shop this occurred in.
Why? – This can be interpreted in different ways but I’d suggest the method as to why this happened. E.g. Promotion,
How? – This could be the method, e.g. In shop or Internet
How Many? – These are the values that you know. E.g. How many products were purchased and what were their costs.
Using this straight talking methodology, you can understand the data behind every business event and enable the reporting to support it. It gives you a structured set of questions that enables a business focused analyst to deliver technical requirements and getting started is easy.

Keep exploring! Daniel.

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