An example of Blueprint in Use on an Agile Project

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I attended a talk by folks from BluePrint and Lexis Nexis at BAWorld on Tuesday at BAWorld: Boston called “Requirements Definition for Agile Projects”. The first bit of the talk was just an intro to agile and why it is useful on the projects. The part that I found most interesting was from Kathleen McGoey who owned business analysis on lawyers.com – she effectively gave a verbal case study of their team using agile and Blueprint to deploy this site. This was refreshing because she was brutally honest about the state of their organization 2 years ago, some of her dislikes about other tools, and their experiences with agile not going well. However, she also then talked about how their culture is changing now and what is working really well. This talk was great because it was effectively a great sales-pitch for Blueprint, but it was given by an actual user….and you could tell she was being honest about it.
Blueprint is meant to be a BA tool. They are closely partnered with HP and it integrates to Quality Center for QA use as well. From a quick glance of things she mentioned or showed, it looks like it allows you to manage the list of features in a backlog, low-fidelity wireframes, diagrams that look a lot like visio, export to Word, and import from Excel. We are still using Borland’s Caliber happily, but I’m obviously always looking at all the tools on the market to see what people are really liking and/or disliking, what new features are coming about, what’s easy to use, etc.
A bit about the lawyers.com project – they were executing 3-12 week sprints and the requirements definition is about 2 weeks ahead of sprint cycles. She made a very wise comment – templates and processes are good to an end, but only if the BA knows what they are doing already. She spoke of junior analysts who are given templates and when you look at their work products you think “Oh no! what are you doing!”. I think we’ve all probably seen that. You can use the templates and processes to train them, but they aren’t enough, but they aren’t enough.
Another neat thing she briefly mentioned was the idea of doing something like pair-programming, but where the pair consists of a BA and a user experience expert – so together they are designing the wireframes. I haven’t tried it, typically our individuals are doing both activities.
Anyway, it was good to hear the “how it works” story from Lexis Nexis. And I haven’t used Blueprint myself, but I am certainly interested to hear others’ experiences with the tool, so please comment if you have used it.

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