Business Analysts: Don’t Miss the Immense Power of Color Coding
LN Mishra, CBAP, CBDA, AAC & CCA
Color coding has been used by humanity for ages. The most famous one is possibly the traffic light indicators used across the globe to assist motorists and people. Unfortunately, most Business Analysts don’t use the power of color-coding. Here is our attempt to showcase a few use cases where color-coding can be immensely valuable to business analysts.
We all requirements analysts have been taught that models always convey more with less text. Models also improve requirements clarity. We all know how to model processes, activities, entities, and states. However, when the time comes to model scope, we all develop cold feet.
Most guide books say, try use-case diagram or functional decomposition. We can use these 2 techniques for in-scope items. What about out of scope or items whose status is undecided? decided?
Why not use the RAG indicators which almost everyone in the business can easily understand? Green (G) for in scope, Amber (A) for yet to be decided and Red (R) for what is out of scope. Here is one worked out example.
Use Case Diagrams
For a long time, we, requirements engineers and business analysts have been using use case diagrams. Use case diagrams are pretty useful to indicate system features, actors, scope, and reusable functionalities. However, they all have been colorless - all black and white.
Let’s color the use cases to make them more intuitive. The color scheme proposed is as below:
Out of scope: Red
RAG color scheme can also be quite effective in process models. Here in this high-level process model, we understand 2 processes are performing well, Identify Prospects and Support Prospects, one process is performing not so great, Convert prospects and one process is under-performing, Nurture prospects.
Business model canvas
We also can use color-coding to indicate aspects of the business model canvas where the organization is performing satisfactorily, areas where it needs improvement and areas where it is performing poorly.
In this blog, we have attempted to demonstrate the utility of the color-coding technique. We are absolutely sure there will be many more techniques where color-coding can be very helpful.
Do share your inputs on where else color-coding can be effectively used by business analysts.
LN is an astute business analysis & management consultant with 25+ years of professional experience across various industry verticals. He is involved in strategy and curriculum development in his current role of Co-Founder & COO of Adaptive US, the World's #1 IIBA Training Provider. He has transformed the careers of 5000+ BA professionals and is a coach and mentor, having helped 1000+ BA professionals to achieve the coveted IIBA certifications. LN is an avid blogger, author, conference speaker and writes regularly on Business analysis, Project management, and process improvement topics.