1. Quantify the results of the survey through carefully crafted questions that would ask stakeholders to rate and rank anything from wants and needs to priorities.
2. Vote on the allocation of requirements based on said data.
The same can be said of requirements analysis—creating the right models, sequences with the right degree of accuracy, plan for activities—these are all technical skills that provide opportunities to show quantifiable impact.
As BAs develop further along they look more at the big picture—how the business runs—and perhaps leave the more technical aspects to another BA or team. Having a mixed balance of both is critical to enable oversight and examination of the work being done, while being able to practically apply career experience based on business skills. So, while the more experienced BA is knowledgeable in both, he or she doesn’t necessarily execute both.
Moving beyond junior technical, worker bee-type of activities, the more experienced BA progresses to the intermediate level where he or she puts a toe in the water with activities such as planning and monitoring. This is where business skills start to come into play to answer questions such as when and what activities need to be done and who are the stakeholders that need to be considered?
Transitioning into a senior role, the BA is acutely aware and well seasoned in technical skills and begins to flex business skill muscle in enterprise analysis-type activities, e.g., writing a business case, understanding business needs, conducting capability analysis, defining solution scope.
What’s the right mix?
It’s helpful to have an idea of the percentage mix of technical and business skills the BA will use throughout the career spectrum:
Ratio of technical to business skills
Competencies of focus
Elicitation and requirements analysis activities and techniques, ability to practice solution assessment and validation activities
Planning, monitoring, and management of requirements + junior level competencies
Enterprise analysis + a high degree of business skills expertise, e.g., critical thinking, problem solving, change management, high impact communication
Given the range of skills sets practiced at each level of experience, the 80/20 rule using a mix of junior, intermediate and senior levels of BAs in the organization is recommended: 80 percent junior and intermediate level and 20 percent senior level. This will create a balance of business analysis capability based on experience, not headcount. It also facilitates a well-rounded BA perspective. For instance, if an organization is top heavy on the senior BA side, there’s the risk of potentially losing objectivity and creativity without junior or intermediate BAs to question or bring a differing point of view.
The levels of experience align essentially with three layers of the BA’s impacts:
- Organizational level – This level addresses issues such as key performance indicators, goals and visions, which are typically manifested by a senior BA conducting senior business analysis type activities. An example would be using enterprise analysis to contribute to the development of a solution that increases profitability by a certain percent.
- Practices, standards, methods and approaches – At this level, intermediate and senior BAs are seeking to create efficiencies within their practices and processes. They address issues such as how can we do this faster, better? How can we refine our approach/methods?
- Activities – This level is task focused, seeking improvement of junior level practices, asking questions such as “can we be more precise?”, and “can we be more efficient with our technical activities?”
The business analyst profession continues to be a work in progress. To keep BAs from going the way of the dinosaur before they’ve had a chance to completely mature takes a balance of skills. With a greater understanding of how BAs can demonstrate their impact and value to the organization with a portfolio of competencies, you’ll better serve your professional development while elevating the business analysis profession too.
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Glenn R. Brûlé, CBAP, CSM, Executive Director of Global Client Solutions, ESI International, brings more than two decades of focused business analysis experience to every ESI client engagement. As one of ESI’s subject matter experts, Glenn works directly with clients to build and mature their business analysis capabilities by drawing from the broad range of learning resources ESI offers. A recognized expert in the creation and maturity of BA Centers of Excellence, Glenn has helped clients in the energy, financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, insurance and automotive industries, as well as government agencies across the world. For more information visit www.esi-intl.com.