Business Analyst Tip: Visualizing Your Completed Document Using Fillers

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Whenever I’m in the beginning stages of working on a lengthy requirements document I like to get an idea of how the document will actually look at the end. A lot of the time this helps me put the pieces together in my head to help me figure out how to format my document, or what sections to put in, or how to organize the sections as a whole. To help me accomplish this, I do two things that I’ll share with you.

The first thing I like to do to bulk up a document to make it look similar to what the end result may be is to insert example visual models found in ArgonDigital’s requirements templates. If I know a document is going to be structured by process flow, I can copy and paste the images of the example into any section I know will contain a process flow. This goes similarly for BDDs, Ecosystem Maps, or any other model you already know you’ll have to use in the document.

Lorem-IpsumThe second thing I like to do is to use Lorem Ipsum to fill up space in my document with text. “Lorem Ipsum” is essentially a generated block of text with random Latin phrases. It has the effect while scanning a document of making it seem like something is actually written so it helps you get a picture for the look of your document before you start filling in the heavy details. It also helps me keep track of sections that I have yet to fill out as I can CTRL+F for “Lorem” and be able to find anything I may have missed. This helps with requirements documents that may require boilerplate explanations for sections.

There are different ways of generating Lorem Ipsum. For instance, generates Lorem Ipsum with filler words related to meat products, or if you feel you have a sweet tooth. If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to copy and paste from a website, and you’re using Word 2007 or newer, you can type “=Lorem()” and hit enter and a paragraph of Lorem Ipsum text will be generated. It even works in Outlook, though I wouldn’t recommend it for emails.

Using placeholders like these can help give you an eagle-eye view of how you’ll be building and shaping your document as your complete your requirements elicitation and research into whatever you are defining.

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