The Anatomy of a Pre-Analysis Cookbook

Arun Nithyanandam

This is a series of posts, if you haven’t read the earlier ones, please read it here.
The Anatomy of a Pre-Analysis Cookbook – Part 1: Overview

A Four-Part Cook Book

While every cook book will be different, we find that they generally share common core elements.

Below are some of the sections and questions that we have used in the past. Time and again, these tools have proven really valuable for us. In this example, the cook book is organized into the following four parts:

• Contact Information
• Interview Questions
• Conclusion
• Interviewer Notes

You can certainly create your own cook book format. In fact, we encourage you to do so!

Section One: Contact Information
This section covers the stakeholder’s information. This information allows you to code and file the stakeholder’s responses.

• Name,
• Phone
• Date of Interview
• Department
• Organization Name

Sometimes, you will have some follow-up questions for them before you meet them. This is a great means to reach out to them via email or phone before you meet them in person. If you do have questions, or clarifications, you should reach out during the Pre-Analysis stage. This helps in getting the relationship going along even before you meet.

Section Two: Interview Questions

This section serves as the core of the cook book. It is split into sub-sections, based on the domain and the industry. Not every cook book will contain all of these elements. However, here are some common areas:

Technology Wish List

This sub-secton is targeted to the Shared Services or the IT Services team within the company. Typical questions will include:

• Database
• Application Server
• Web Server
• Email Server
• Clustering?
• VMWare?
• Content server

These questions will allow you to benchmark the current state as well as the desired or ideal state.

Business Objects
These questions focus on the core business object(s) of this initiative.

• What are the functional responsibilities of your group?
• Describe the current business object creation process.
• Described how the business object is published/executed.
• Describe how the business object is maintained/managed/purged.
• What types of the business objects does your organization deal with?
• What is the volume by type of the business objects created per month?
• How often do they get modified once executed or published?
• Do you currently have a system that manages this? Please explain.
• Is there any compliance risks involved with the business objects?
• What kind of meta-data would you like to capture about the business object? Please include details and list the fields that you will be interested in capturing.

These questions should be asked for each group impacted by the project. Remember that different groups may have radically different needs and expectations for the system.

We have also seen these questions uncover unexpected differences between how parallel groups use the current system. For example, two groups—one in San Jose and one in Mumbai—perform similar roles for the company, but they have developed different processes. When you capture these differences through the pre-analysis, you (as the project lead) can manage expectations more effectively.


• How many users are currently involved in the process, and what types of users?
• Where are they located? (Provide a list of areas for them to select from).
• How many of these users are involved in creation of the business object?
• How many of these users are involved in maintenance or management of the business objects?
• What level of access would these users require in the system? Examples could be read, write, can access only basic information, can download information, etc.
• Do you need to share the information with someone outside of your organization? List out other organizations or functional groups.


• How many user groups will you want in the system? Examples could be Managers, Approvers, Reviewers, Read only users, Administrators.
• Will some users be wearing multiple hats in the system?
• Will there be segmented users? (users who will only be able to see sections)


• Describe the current workflow process. Typical examples could be creation, lead up to publish (review, approve), publish/execute, Maintenance, management, etc.
• List out the roles that you will see the users performing in the new system.

Next week on these pages : The Anatomy of a Pre-Analysis Cookbook – Part 2: Nuts and Bolts (Contd.)

About the Author

arun_nith_blog.jpgArun Nithyanandam is a Strategy and Management Consultant based in Silicon Valley. Arun has managed multiple multi-million dollar IT projects in US and Europe across verticals. His current focus areas are Enterprise Contract Management Systems (deploying Nextance proposal-to-revenue and source-to-savings solutions to help companies improve financial performance and lower risk) and Enterprise Content Management Systems. Arun works with CIGNEX Technologies, a provider of Open Source based enterprise content management solutions.

During his spare time (if any) Arun enjoys hiking and reading.

Arun is currently working on a book (co-authored with Bill Sherman) code named “Managing Multi-million dollar projects” to be published in 2008.

For the collection of all Arun’s articles, please visit Squidoo Lens Arun Says

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