Career changes are daunting – I know, I’ve been through a few. In my previous blog I mentioned my interesting career path from pharmacist to business analyst to lecturer, so dealing with change and the feeling of being overwhelmed in a new environment is nothing new to me. And once again, I have made a hairpin-bend turn in my career. No longer in the protected world of Academics, I find myself out in the real world of IT. Right in the middle of advancing the Healthcare industry into the 4th industrial revolution. I am the Operations Manager and Business Analyst of Stone Three Healthcare!
Classic waterfall training
My academic background as well as experience is founded solidly in the Waterfall methodology. I was fortunate enough to operate in a Waterfall environment when I first started out as a BA. We had all the pomp and ceremony of true waterfall, but also experienced the challenges that comes with it. I must admit that the discipline of Waterfall suited me just fine – it linked nicely with the FTI training that I was undergoing and tied into the highly regulated environment of the Healthcare industry.
Fast forward 3 years, and now I have to apply the academic principles in a workplace where the favorite phrase is “death by documentation”.
But here’s the catch – and the reason why the classic training is still so valuable. Being a technology provider in the healthcare industry means that there are strict requirements in terms of product registration. Our products are mostly used in the USA, and guess what the FDA requires for a submission?
A full product master file that contains all the documents produced in classic Waterfall methodology, and then some!
And guess what the FDA requires when you make any software changes?
Yes, full updates to the product master file that contains all the documents produced in classic waterfall methodology.
The repeat of that sentence is a metaphor for the fact that all documentation has to be updated. Not just a set of project related documents, but a full update of the whole product master file.
Even though this feels like a slow death by documentation, it does ensure that requirements and risks are thoroughly investigated and understood before a product is developed. Which is pretty important in the healthcare industry.
How to find balance.
Like most places, our developers are fully Agile – well, our version of it. And while the purists might judge me, it works for us. It’s a small team of highly skilled (read genius) individuals working closely together with constant communication.
And while we might not have a daily stand-up every day, we are committed to the Principles of Agile according to the Manifesto.
But this is exactly where the balancing act starts getting relevant.
It is very obvious that the development factory cannot stand still while I go into full Waterfall analysis, but I also need to ensure that all the documents are generated in line with the FDA requirements.
So how do we make it work?
Thinking about it, I don’t quite know how we make it work. And talking to colleagues in other businesses, the Fragile (Hybrid) methodology struggle is definitely is real!
There is a massive amount of work that go into the analysis and the documentation of specifications, and then a lot of this is reproduced as requirement tickets in our tracking tool. I’ve learnt to write requirements as user stories. And some magic happens in technical design sessions that ensures that we are aligned on the requirements and how we will deliver on them.
Planning plays a crucial role in ensuring that specifications are completed before the project starts. So while sprints are underway, I start working on the next set of documents. That way, our product master files are up to date when the product is released.
Not all superheroes wear capes.
Is it an exact science? By no means! Is it perfect? Not by a long shot!
But it is helping my team of developers to build their amazing solutions as fast as possible while not having to read through massive amounts of documentation. I’d like to think so. Some days I feel like Dulaine, The Defender of the Dev-team, protecting them from death by documentation.
Okay, so it’s not flying, but I still believe its a super-power that is under-recognised.
Dulaine is the Programme Manager for Business analysis in Cape Town, where she lectures in Business Analysis. She completed her Advanced Diploma in Business Analysis in 2017 and joined the FTI family as lecturer on a full time bases in 2018.
Dulaine has a strong background in business analysis, having worked on a wide variety of projects and technologies, both from the IT side as well as the business side. She is also a trained change agent with a passion for developing and implementing changes in organisations.
When she’s not lecturing, Dulaine spends time with her family and photography.
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