The Solarity Group is a professional change, project, program, and portfolio management and business consulting and training services firm based in Kentucky. Solarity provides certified, experienced change, project, and program managers and business consultants to assist government agencies and businesses with specific efforts to enable them to focus their resources on what they do best. Solarity also provides business consulting in strategic planning and business analysis. Additionally, Solarity is a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) for the Project Management Institute (PMI) and a Microsoft Partner specializing in Enterprise Project Management (EPM) using Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Server.
Solarity’s mission is to help people, organizations, and communities THRIVE. Our commitment is to provide our clients with the ability to move toward quality lives and outcomes. We work to help our clients envision a better future through strategic engagement, strategic planning facilitation, and selective training. We then can help our clients advance their strategic goals by defining the right work, planning that work, and working the plan, adjusting as necessary until we achieve success.
Our niche is “building success by doing the right things the right way for the right reasons.” It is easy to be busy doing things and not accomplish the desired outcome. That is why we always seek to ensure we all have the same vision of what the right things are for us to accomplish, and then bring our collective experience to bear to ensure we’re doing them the right way.
Our primary business focus is to assist organizations with strategic changes that require the synchronization of people, processes, platforms, and content. We do this using the disciplines of engagement, change management, coaching, project management, and business analysis.
All our people and practices are centered on our core values, which help us ensure we provide our customers with the highest quality work in the best possible manner, continuously improving our ability to deliver sustainable results over time:
All of our values are interdependent: Quality comes when we maintain wellness by practicing healthy behaviors, which lead to good relationships that are open and honest. When we hear truth from one another, we can continuously improve, focusing on sustaining what works and addressing areas that don’t. That focus leads, in turn, to a higher quality of service for our customers and a better quality of life for ourselves.
Written by: Cory Camic, PMP®, The Solarity Group, Lexington, KY
The Bluegrass IIBA Chapter is a non-profit professional association established in August 2013 to serve the business community of central and eastern Kentucky. We welcome professionals of all disciplines who deliver organizational change including business analysis, business management, project management, product management, quality assurance and control, change management, consultants and recruiters.
We offer a plethora of opportunities for starting and advancing your career. As Vice-President of Membership for the chapter, I have had the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally along with some of the best and brightest professionals in the central Kentucky area. I have benefited from many of the offerings and encourage you to gain the maximum value from your membership with us.
Here are some tips to help you get the most from your membership.
Bluegrass Chapter website http://bluegrass.iiba.org/
Click the Subscribe button on our home page
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We hope you will take full advantage of your chapter membership. Feel free to contact us with any questions, help shape future activities and events, and/or get involved.
Joann Sims, CBAP
Vice-President Membership, Bluegrass IIBA Chapter
The Bluegrass IIBA Chapter is pleased to announce we now have the capability to send SMS text message to you as an event notification option. You will be able to register for our events directly from your mobile device. To opt in to our new SMS text messaging service, view our homepage, or scan the QR code below. There is an OPT IN option on the the bottom right-hand side of the homepage.
Justinmind did a Q&A session with our very own Aaron Whittenberger earlier this month. Check out their website for Aaron's commentary on how prototyping helps streamline software development lifecycles. Click the link to view the full article.
Congratulations on passing the CBAP® exam James Haner!
James Haner was one of the first to take the Certified Business Analysis Professional® (CBAP®) in September 2016. International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) has just completed the process of determining the passing score from the experience of the first group of people taking the exam. IIBA has informed James that he has passed the exam and is now a Certified Business Analysis Professional. James credits recordings from the 2015 BABOK Study Group provided by the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter, saying that they were very helpful.
The Chapter's heartfelt congratulations to James on this distinguished achievement. Way to go James!
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Previous Chapter Position:
Director of Marketing Strategies
LeShai Phelps joined the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter a few years ago in hopes of networking with other analysts in the Lexington area and to obtain knowledge to help her to learn BA practices.
LeShai graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Early on in her career, she was on a path to be a call center manager. Starting off as a customer service representative at a major communications company. The company was purchased by an even bigger company and her job was no longer available. This led her on a job search, where she found her niche at Tempur-Pedic, where she has been for the last 12 years. Within a few short months, she became an account manager, and was promoted to a supervisor. During this time, she collaborated on several IT projects to help upgrade and enhance the current ERP system. This included composing process maps of current and future state processes, information gathering, composing training documentation, and training users. She was recruited by the IT Department to join the company’s ERP implementation team, where she became very familiar with the business analyst role and realized she had been doing the function for several years.
In 2015, she was recruited by the Director of Marketing Strategies to fill the role, so the current position holder could accept the role of Vice President of Marketing and Communications. In 2016, the VP resigned, allowing LeShai the opportunity to fill the position. One of the first contributions LeShai made, in collaboration with Aaron, the current VP of Professional Development, was the creation of the Chapter’s quarterly newsletter, Bluegrass BA Connection.
LeShai currently lives in Richmond, KY. In her spare time, she loves to cook, travel, and spend time with family and friends. She is currently studying for the CBAP certification, which she hopes to obtain by Fall of 2017. She looks forward to working more with the Bluegrass Chapter and determine ways to increase engagement in the Chapter and attendance to meetings.
According to Wikipedia, a business analyst is someone who analyzes an organization or business domain (real or hypothetical) and documents it business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes the role as "a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals. In our organization, we ask our BAs to do much more than that!
BAs act as the focal point for key organizational knowledge about business processes and IT systems. They are subject matter experts!
As a manager, it is important to support the BAs with both their business contacts and the rest of the IT organization. As their knowledge and skillsets grow, they become more in demand and it is up to the manager to help prioritize their work and give them the tools they need to be successful. Managers must create the opportunities for them to become engaged with their business partners, and monitor that relationship to ensure it is healthy and productive. It is the manager’s job to create an environment where the BAs can work collaboratively and share their experiences with each other, even if they are working in different areas of the business and on different projects. They learn as much from each other as they do from any other source!
Managers should ensure that the BAs have the opportunity to dig into the applications beyond the basic functional processes so they can be that “business Architects and subject matter experts” who are needed to make sure solutions will work within the environment. Help them develop closer working relationships with the technical teams. If the BAs have a better technical understanding of the solution, it will be much easier to discuss solutions with the developers and make the documentation easier to understand. Give them the training they need to be able to do a thorough job at gathering and documenting requirements, designing solutions, and creating training documents, test cases, as-is and to-be process maps, and anything else they are asked to produce.
Today we are asking our BAs to be much more flexible in what their duties entail. They have become a very important resource to the Business and IT. As managers, we must help mentor and support them and allow them to grow into productive and successful members of the organization!
Background about Tempur+Sealy
Tempur-Pedic began making Mattresses in the U.S. in the early ‘90’s using a special material that was originally created by NASA, who was trying to develop a cushioning material for aircraft and spacecraft that would help astronauts better cope with the enormous G-forces they experience, especially during lift-off. Over the years, the original formula has been improved to create the special feel and support of the Tempur material. Today, Tempur-Pedic has joined Forces with Sealy to become one of the world’s largest Bedding companies.
As Tempur-Sealy has grown, the IT organization has aligned with the business areas to provide support and expertise which help to move the company forward. It became very apparent a few years ago that IT needed liaisons between the IT department and various areas of the business. These Business Analysts needed to have a deep understanding of what the business area does, and how IT can help. We created Business relationship managers to support the Corporate functions, Sales and Marketing, and Operations. Each of these managers has a team of BAs with deep knowledge in that specific part of the business. Some of the BAs came from a technical background and learned the business, and others came from that business area and learned the technology. It has been a very good mix for us.
The BAs work closely with their business partners to understand what their plans are and how IT can support their needs. They become an important part of the Business team. As the business looks at new vendors and new functionality, the BA helps make sure things being considered fit within our technology stack, or brings in the Architects to determine if IT needs to make changes to the standards. This avoids a lot of surprises and the need to support multiple redundant platforms.
We also have BAs that work across the business areas on specific platforms. Today we have a team of dedicated BAs working on our global ERP implementation, and another team working on Business Intelligence and Reporting. These teams are instrumental in keeping all areas of the business using the same processes and toolsets, and protecting our enterprise data.
As the company continues to grow and evolve, the flexibility of our BA team allows us to support the business and be a trusted partner in all their planning and projects.
Written By: Marlene Gaidzik, Director at Tempur-Sealy, Int, Lexington, KY
Bluegrass IIBA Chapter welcomes Justinmind as our newest chapter sponsor.
Established in 2014 in San Francisco, CA; Justinmind offers tools that can vastly improve your project requirements lifecycle. The tools can be used for any type of project methodology, but have unique advantages that provide extreme value to Agile processes.
The prototyping tools allow analysts, designers, and other stakeholders to easily create, share, and modify wireframes and mockups for various products, such as websites, mobile apps, and wearables (think Fitbit and Google Glass.) The WOW factor comes when the wireframes and mockups are then turned into interactive prototypes, which can then be shared with/demoed to the stakeholders.
Justinmind offers a 30 day trial download of their Prototyper for PC/MAC. Justinmind Prototyper app comes with a 3 minute training for beginners, plus an option to learn more and become an expert. Justinmind also provides a user community, where users of the Prototyper can ask questions and get answers. The community is monitored by Justinmind tech support, so that real issues get fixed quickly.
Justinmind helps in collaboration by offering integration with Team Foundation Server (TFS), JIRA, and Doors, as well as secure enterprise collaboration and requirements management tools.
Visit Justinmind.com, where you can take a tour, ask questions, download the app, read the blog, and share your own experiences.
To introduce the Justinmind prototyping tool to our community, Bluegrass IIBA Chapter will host a webinar on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at noon ET. We will highlight the many advanced features of Justinmind Prototyper so you can determine how to put it to use for you and your organization.
While working as a client, I needed to understand and document our internal business processes in order to effectively communicate with outside ERP consultants. I would spend a lot of time with different personnel throughout the organization trying to understand their processes. This included a lot of asking “Why?” in order to truly understand what the business needed. I would then write up flow charts in Visio detailing the business process. I found these to be much more effective than long text documents as people could much more easily follow the flow.
After a couple years of this, I switched to the opposite side of the same coin. I am now on the consultant side working with businesses. The toolset is exactly the same and there is still a lot of asking “Why?”. The only difference is that my area of expertise has shifted from trying to completely understand a single business to understanding a piece of ERP software. I have to work with internal business analyst to help understand their business as quickly as possible. The object is to seamlessly blend the software with the business processes.
As a closing note I would say, after working with many different businesses on both sides, most companies overestimate their complexities and differentiation. It’s just that most companies are mostly the same with mostly the same processes.
Written by: Will Lavery of eBECS , Atlanta, GA
The Bluegrass IIBA Chapter would like to thank Jim and Bev Taylor of Cork & Barrel for hosting an excellent kick-off to our new Small Business Speaker Series, masterminded by our very own Judeth Tarter, Vice President of Community Outreach. Ideally, the series will help small business owners in the Bluegrass area, like Jim and Bev, understand the similarities of being an entrepreneur and the career of business analysis.
Judeth did an excellent job of preparing questions related to business analysis, quality analysis, quality control, and other questions that identified what techniques The Taylors are currently using, as well as past practices, to successfully operate a small business in this area. While Judeth interrogated (I mean questioned-lol) our panelists, we were able to partake and analyze their products (wines, cheeses, and crackers).
Overall, we all walked away with an understanding that, like Business Analysts, small business owners wear many hats. We analyze the business for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). We analyze quality of our products and services and make modifications where needed. We prove out our solution(s), which can mean in a Test environment, or in real life.
Click here to view pictures from the event.
Visit Jim and Bev’s website for more information on Cork & Barrel
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Based in Lexington, Kentucky and serving all interested Kentucky Business Analysts
Mailing address: Bluegrass IIBA Chapter | 1588 Leestown Road, Suite 130-111 | Lexington, KY 40511