Agree/Disagree? Deep Subject Matter Expertise Irrelevant

Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal , and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

Let's put you on the hot spot.  You are forced to agree or disagree with the following statement and defend your answer.

Deep subject matter expertise is irrelevant for a business analyst, especially in agile business analysis.

What would you say?

Here's how I answer:  I disagree.

My reasoning:  Actually I agree that deep subject matter expertise is generally irrelevant for a business analyst.  Where I disagree (strongly) is that it's especially true for agile business analysis.

Agile business analysis is no silver bullet.  It doesn't imbue you with magical powers to learn faster.  Failing faster to learn faster is simply churn.  There's no end to it.

We're missing the big picture.  Exploring 'deep subject matter expertise' you're not familiar with is a matter of having the right architectural tools to probe knowledge.  It's that deep operational business knowledge that makes subject areas hard.

So you simply need the right architectural techniques to map the knowledge of a domain explicitly.   You need to be able to ask probing questions about the domain intelligently without wasting SMEs' time.

The architectural techniques you need are true business rules and concept modeling (structured business vocabulary).  By the way, business rules and concept models can be made to work equally well for both agile and waterfall — and anything in between.

For further information, please visit BRSolutions.com     

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Standard citation for this article:


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Ronald G. Ross , "Agree/Disagree? Deep Subject Matter Expertise Irrelevant" Business Rules Journal Vol. 19, No. 1, (Jan. 2018)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a2018/b936.html

About our Contributor:


Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal , and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the IPSpeak methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:


Ron serves as Executive Editor of BRCommunity.com and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997., now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on http://www.brsolutions.com/category/blog/. For more information about Ron visit www.RonRoss.info. Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

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