Sobarc 2019 - Speaker Bios

Session: “Minimum Viable Product: Deliver Great Products with Vision, Simplicity and Focus”
Speaker: Brian Watson, CBAP, IIBA-AAC, PMP, CSM, PSM, SPC, Certified Collaboration Instructor
Location: Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Company: Brain Train, LLC
Title: Agile Coach
Brian is an Agile Coach/Trainer at Brain Train, LLC with more than 22 years of experience in software development and 14+ years practicing agile. Brian has supported enterprise clients across multiple industries including:
Government, insurance, utilities, consulting services, financial services and manufacturing. Previously Brian was a PMO and Director of Project Delivery for a regional consulting company and VP of Professional Services at VersionOne. He has spoken at a number of conferences including: Better Software West, Cincinnati Day of Agile, Path to Agility, Agile Day Atlanta, Keep Austin Agile and Central Ohio PMI Professional Development Day. In addition to the Scrum Alliance, Brian is a member of PMI and President of the Columbus Chapter of the IIBA. He has a Masters of Education from Purdue University. When not coaching, Brian enjoys golfing and drinking craft beer.

In order to build good software, BA's need to help teams have a laser focus on all three of these items.

If we do not start with a solid vision from the product owner/sponsor, it is virtually impossible to keep the effort focused on building only the needs of the customer. If we do not have focus on what is needed, scope creep or feature bloat tend to set in impacting our ROI.
Whether you are focusing on a minimum viable product, minimum viable prototype, or a minimally viable package of code; leveraging a few simple principles allow teams to keep things simple, meet the vision and needs of the customer, while building in smaller batch sizes.
In this presentation we will review case studies, hands on exercises and real life examples to cover some simple techniques to lock in a vision, focus on customer needs and drive to a simple MVP.    

Session:  "Off the Happy Path: Looking at Requirements from a Tester’s Point of View"
Speaker:  Cindy Hufnagle, PMP, PSM
Location:  South Bloomfield, Ohio
Company:  NA
Title:  Software Quality Analyst
Cindy is a business focused versatile IT professional with over 19 years’ experience on software development and business process projects.  She has experience as a lead business analyst, lead quality analyst, technical trainer, project manager, data manager and IT Risk analyst. Her mix of roles provides a unique perspective on the interplay of the business goals and application development. She has a way to explain complex concepts in simple English so that people can understand and apply the knowledge. She has been a presenter at the Columbus IIBA conferences in 2017 and 2018.

Better requirements/acceptance criteria by looking at them from a QA point of view .
Let’s face it, there are more things that you want the application NOT to do then to do. As a tester, it’s my job to figure out how to gain access to all the unmarked paths surrounding the happy path and locate gaps in requirements and those pesky bugs.
As the rest of the team focuses on positive requirements and positive paths through the application, I look at all of the negative requirements and negative paths where the gaps and bugs live.  Come exploring with me as I share tips on how to create requirements that keep your tester (and users) traveling down the happy path.

Session:  "Backlog Refinement and User Story Splitting Workshop"
Speaker:  Dr. Charles (Chuck) Suscheck
Location:  Hamilton, Ohio
Company:  Juniper Hill Associates/Max Technical Training
Title:  CEO

Dr. Suscheck is an agile adoption specialist and technology trainer with experience rooted in development and forged in management.  He is one of the few people in the US certified through to teach scrum master, product owner, and developer classes.  He is also certified through all three major certification bodies (PMI,, Agile Alliance) as a practitioner of agile techniques.

Dr. Suscheck is skilled at enterprise level agile adoption, dealing with all levels of a business from developers to C level executives.  He is experienced in a wide range of industries such as healthcare, telecom, DOD, manufacturing, finance, marketing, casino gaming, shrink-wrapped software, banking, and sales.


When it comes to Backlog Refinement, phrases such as “split the user stories”, “use the three amigos”, and “refine when necessary” are often used to describe ways of doing so, but how can you be sure that you are refining in the most effective way?  


There are many effective patterns and techniques for breaking down user stories. These patterns can be used to vertically slice the business capabilities which leads to a faster path to the minimal viable product.  These patterns can also be used to take advantage of what is learned during sprints.


This presentation and workshop allows the participant to practice a variety of story splitting patterns such as:

• User story maps

• Phrase analysis

• Splitting attributes

• Example mapping


Examples of good user stories will be presented.  Poor user stories will also be presented, along with the reason for their problems. Refactoring of the poor stories will be practiced in the workshop.


At the end of this workshop, the students will walk away with a variety of approaches to backlog refinement that can immediately be applied at the office.

Session:  "Bring Your Data To Life – Become a Compelling Storyteller"
Speaker:  Jeannette Brown
Location:  Mason, Ohio
Company:  Optimum Performance Solutions LLC
Title:  Principal Consultant
Jeannette has spent four decades in the IT industry as a consultant, trainer, instructional designer, developer, project manager, data modeler, and QA lead with the last eleven years as a business and data analyst.   These roles have spanned several industries, including manufacturing, banking and finance, education, retail, and health care.  She has spent over 20 years developing and delivering customized training programs for businesses.  As a pioneer in developing blended learning programs her work led to improved pass-rates on industry certification exams (Oracle DBA certification and Microsoft Office User Specialist).   Jeannette has presented at two national conferences on how to design blended learning curriculum.  This session is drawn from her 12 hour course developed for a large company and addresses
the integration of BA skills with data analysis as the company moves to Implement a fact-based decision making model to solve problems/issues.

In today’s data-driven world, companies are leveraging data and analytics to make better business decisions and drive new initiatives.  The ability to collect and analyze raw data, tell a story, and effectively communicate insights and make predictions are skills that business analysts can hone. This session will focus on how to translate analytical results into a compelling story to create meaningful and impactful insights that will drive business decisions, validate direction, and add value.
Learning Objectives
•       Move from leading with gut instinct to leveraging good analysis to drive better business outcomes
•       Implement a fact-based decision making model to solve problems/issues
•       Select the right data to support analytical requirements
•       Apply data to support predictive and prescriptive analysis
•       Visualize and present the data from a stakeholder’s perspective to support decisions
•       Utilize analytical decision tools and  techniques to best create the story that provides stakeholders a clear path forward
•       Identify the elements of a good implementation plan
•       Monitor and measure the impact of the plan through continuous data analysis

Session:  "Game up your BA Skills"
Speaker:  Jenny Stein
Location:  Fairfield, Ohio
Company:  Cincinnati Insurance Companies
Title:  Business Analyst
Jenny Stein has over 30 years of professional experience in Telecommunications, Government and Insurance work as a business analyst, developer, server and network administrator. Jenny has taught internal BA classes at Cincinnati Insurance and has represented the chapter as a BA Ambassador for students at Northern Kentucky University.

Whether agile or waterfall, games can bring a new level of energy and enthusiasm to your BA meetings.  From Planning & Monitoring to Solution Evaluation, and all stops in between, we will explore the use of games to engage stakeholders in driving out solution needs and have fun along the way.
Participants will learn why game prep is important, how to effectively lead a game,  what games work best based on objectives, see examples of successful gaming and experience a game first hand.

Session:  "Game up your BA Skills"
Speaker #2:  Karen Said, CBAP
Location:  Fairfield, Ohio
Company:  Cincinnati Insurance Companies
Title:  Business Analyst
Karen Said has over 30 years of professional experience in Telecommunications, Financial and Insurance work as a business analyst.
Karen presented at the 2018 BBC Conference in San Antonio and has taught internal BA classes at Cincinnati Insurance.


Whether agile or waterfall, games can bring a new level of energy and enthusiasm to your BA meetings.  From Planning & Monitoring to Solution Evaluation, and all stops in between, we will explore the use of games to engage stakeholders in driving out solution needs and have fun along the way.
Participants will learn why game prep is important, how to effectively lead a game,  what games work best based on objectives, see examples of successful gaming and experience a game first hand.
Session:  "How to Build Shared Understanding with Example Mapping"
Speaker:  Kent J McDonald
Location:  Prole, Iowa
Company:  KBPMedia
Title:  Founder
Kent writes about and practices software product development. He has IT and product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent practices his craft as Content Curator at Agile Alliance and provides just in time resources for product owners and business analysts at  When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.
One of the primary responsibilities of business analysts, product owners, and all other product people is to build and maintain a shared understanding of the outcome your team seeks to deliver. Conversations are an effective way to build that shared understanding.
You may find yourself wondering who should be included in those conversations, when do you have these conversations, what should you talk about, and how do you remember what you said?
Join Kent McDonald as he introduces example mapping, a technique that helps you structure your conversations and build a shared understanding.
You’ll learn how to determine the right people to include in your conversations, when the best time is to have those conversations, how to structure those conversations, and how to remember what you said.

Session:  "Formulating the Experiment: Pilots, Prototypes, and Proofs of Concept"
Speaker:  Laura Fernandes, CBAP
Location:  Columbus, Ohio
Company:  Alliance Data
Title:  Systems Analysis Practice Lead

Laura Fernandes, CBAP, has twelve years’ experience as a practitioner and people leader in the business/systems analysis profession. She is currently the Systems Analysis Practice Lead for Alliance Data’s consumer-facing web applications development team.

Laura is an active member of the Central Ohio (Columbus) IIBA and is an experienced speaker, having spoken at the 2018 and 2015 BA-CON conferences and chapter meetings.   She is a regular speaker as part of Alliance Data's Cultivate Learning educational programs and has previously spoken at research conferences in Greece and Canada.
Experimentation is a powerful tool of product development that can be used to elicit and validate requirements, evaluate solutions, and mitigate risk.  While pilots, prototypes, and proofs of concept are ubiquitous in product development today, their objectives and outcomes are often misunderstood and ambiguously defined, muting their effectiveness.
Enhanced knowledge of experimentation techniques can be a vital resource in a business analyst’s toolkit, especially for those working with emerging technologies and innovations.

This session will cover:

• Characteristics, objectives, and outcomes of each type of experiment
• Critical questions for eliciting deliverable requirements and defining the experiment
• Using experiments as requirements elicitation and solution evaluation techniques
• Tips for maximizing the outcomes of the experiment
Session:  "NoTitles - BAs CAN Succeed on a Scrum Team"
Speaker:  Melissa Keesing
Location:  Columbus, Ohio
Company:  Insight
Title:  Agile Coach
Melissa is an Agile Coach and Scrum Master in Insight’s Columbus office. A committed teacher of individual growth, she delves into the Agile mindset to help people realize their best, with focus on fostering strengths, developing confidence, and discovering courage. Melissa experiences success by openly inspiring others to add value with every single action and decision. Melissa has experience speaking at COHAA and IIBA Columbus events as well as delivering talks through her company’s agile leadership breakfast series.
The Scrum guide says that Scrum recognizes no titles for Development Team members, regardless of the work being performed by the person. But wait!  I’m a Business Analyst, not a developer. This talk will discuss how a BA
fits in and adds value to a Scrum team and what makes a BA a desirable Scrum team member. The 60-minute session includes two activities involving all participants. One activity offers each individual a tool to walk away with to
aid in their career path planning. Another activity offers a glimpse in to the BA role in the Scrum framework and where a BA can offer significant value to their team.
Session:  "The Impact on DevOps on the Business Analyst"
Speaker:  Michael Roberts, SPC
Location:  Cary, North Carolina
Company:  ASPE, Inc.
Title:  Dir. of Customer Engagement
Michael has more than 20 years of experience in project management, application management, software development, business analysis, operations management, and more.  He is a high-performing technology operations-management executive with expertise in building/optimizing organizational processes, measurement systems, and infrastructure to maximize business results in product and service operations worldwide.  He has guided many companies to successful IT and software projects, and become a skilled strategist who transforms strategic plans into workable solutions and benchmarks performance against key operational targets/goals.
Michael is Cisco, ComTIA, Microsoft, and SAFe certified and has a proven track record of delivering optimal results in high-growth environments through initiatives that exceed operational performance targets and yield measurable outcomes.  Michael has spoken publicly at many events and user groups on various subjects including organizational change management, project management, Agile development process, and DevOps transformations.

This presentation discusses the role of the BA and how an organization's shift to the DevOps model will impact them.  We talk about specifics of DevOps in an order to educate the audience on practices, and
impact of DevOps to organizations.  After we discuss the overview of DevOps, we discuss how that impacts BAs in their day-to-day work, and how they can best fit in a DevOps culture.
Session:  "Looking Behind the Process Curtain – Using a Business Process Framework to Transform Your Business"
Speaker:  Sue Knies, PMP, PMI-PBA, CSSBB
Location:  Lexington, KY
Company:  The Solarity Group
Title:  Practices Management Director
Sue is the Director of Practice Management and Trainer with The Solarity Group, headquartered in
Lexington, KY.  She has over 30 years' experience providing Business Analysis and Project Management consulting services to organizations by advising on functional efficiencies, managing key projects, and working with Clients to improve and strengthen their skills. As a trainer, she develops and enhances courseware, teaches and mentors students, and helps translate best practices and principles into approaches that are readily understood and utilized.  Prior to joining Solarity, Sue had a long and distinguished career with IBM, working with worldwide, cross-divisional teams, collaborating with clients, and managing projects.   Sue is an active member of the IIBA® and PMI® KY Bluegrass Chapters having served in various board positions and presenting at chapter meetings.