Assumptions are essential part of requirements and Business Analysts' one of primary tasks is Requirement Management which included eliciting, analysing and documenting requirements.
What is a Risk:
Risk describes an occurrence or uncertain event which may influence the ability to achieve the goal.
In Requirement Analysis, Business Analyst, with the help of other stakeholders, determines the risks. Being said that, it is very critical how a business analyst manages risks to achieve the business goal.
In principal, the project team and stakeholders need to take informed decisions based on the information at hand to achieve the project goal. Hence, it becomes essential to understand what the risk is all about and ways to manage them. Risks, positive or negative, should be understood thoroughly to define the level of tolerance, and to identify the responses.
There is another way to manage the risk by Business Analyst is to engage with Risk Champions.
A way to manage Risks: Collaborate with a Risk Champion:
Risk Champion is a person who by expertise or authority champions an aspect of the risk management process, but who is not the risk owner. They are a bridge to engage the business, to take care of aspects of the risk management process on behalf of the business and to ensure that business is aware about the impact, positive or negative, to the business. They are equipped/impowered to find the impediments available in the different part of the organization which in return helps to identify the strategy to manage the risk. They need to be involved when the business needs to take any big/small decision impacting multiple department of the organization. Many companies assign Risk Champions for each major functional area of the business, including sales, marketing, operations, HR, IT, legal/regulatory and the financial departments. These champions can be charged with assessing risk both in their individual functional areas and as a cross-functional team.
Apart from Risk Champion, there will be a Risk Owner who will be a Business Analyst, Project Manager, Product Owner, or a Process Owner generally.
Risk Champions should have most of following traits to be successful:
- Risk coordinator: Ability to work with multi-functional team for risk management
- Understands risk: A good understanding of risk management concepts, principles, and processes. They need to be aware of the compliance requirements as well if the industry is working under regulations.
- Experts: Expert in their function / process in which they are champions.
- Good soft skills: Strong leadership and motivational qualities; and Good communication skills. Good analytical skills to assist with the analysis of root causes to risk problems.
- Influencers: Ability to influence the decision makers to keep the organizational needs above all. They need to work very closely with the head of the function they represent.
How it all works:
- Business Analyst with the help of Project Manager, Product Owner, or a Process Owner identifies the risks.
- The Business Analyst, who is now the risk owner, engages with the Risk Champion to determine the way to handle the risks.
- Business Analyst and the Risk Champion will work with cross functional Risk Champions & stakeholders, in a workshop, to identify the severity and probability of the risk occurrence and any budget requirement.
- In this workshop, they will decide the action items for all the stakeholders to take to prepare & execute all the risk management plan.
- The Risk Champion, who is working with the Business Analyst, will keep an eye on the progress on all the action items along with the business analyst.
- Another session of workshop will be arranged to take the decision using the identified the severity and probability of the risk occurrence and budget requirements.
- After the decision has been identified, the plan will be sent to the executive body for approval.
- The executive body will evaluate the plan and the champions are required to clarify all the questions raised by the executive body.
- After the approval, the plan will be ready to be executed under the supervision of the Risk Champion, who will keep all other Risk Champions in the loop.
Factors to consider:
- They will provide direct and honest feedback keeping organizational needs in mind.
- A well-designed approach which can work in any cross functional venture.
- Everyone is aware about the plan and the progress.
- Risk Champions will make sure that project team does not deviate from the approved plan.
- The process is time consuming.
- Requires resources with specific skills and dedicated time.
- Business Analyst will have to invest his/her time in the Risk management activities along with the Risk Champion.
- It can reduce the importance of risk champions if he/she does not have required skillset.
The inclusion of Risk Champions has worked in our organization and it has made our decision-making process robust.
However, in my opinion, not all organization needs nor can afford this structure.
This framework will work greatly in those organizations which are working under any regulatory body including, but not limited to, banks, broking companies, financial services companies.
Risk Championship framework can also work outside the project i.e in the BAU environment with great results.
As a Business Analyst, I always believe that the effect of risk management on any project is underestimated. However, at the end, it is just a framework which is as good as any framework if it has resources with required skills and experience.
In my opinion, Risk Champions are not rival to Business Analyst as they are essential Business Analyst themselves with expertise in Risk management.