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BACoE, Competencies, Best Practices? What Comes First?

Where should an organization focus first? Building a BACoE, understanding the state of business analysis practices as an organization, or evaluating BA competencies? What is the right approach to all of this?

I have worked with a lot of organizations on these efforts and typically advise a handful of organizations at any given time on these topics. I have seen great success with any of the three approaches and even with all of them at once. In reflecting on what really makes the efforts successful, the following themes come to mind:

The History

Has creating a BACoE or assessing competencies or practices been done before in the organization? Has any other type of CoE or assessment been part of the organization in the past or present (PM, QA, Dev, etc.)?

Looking at the history of these types of initiatives can provide a great amount of insight into how the effort may be perceived by stakeholders in the organization. Understanding these perceptions will be crucial to developing support for the CoE. Successful CoE efforts look back at lessons learned and successes of similar efforts in the organizations to leverage the successes and manage perceptions and expectations of past challenges.

The Motivation

Who is motivated to make the CoE and/or assessments successful and why?

Where the motivation is coming from has a strong influence on the approach an organization needs to take. This can determine some of the goals and objectives and ultimately the priorities of the organization. The motivation could come from the top or from a passionate team and/or manager looking to improve a team and with its success influence the broader organization.

The Goals

What goals and objectives is the organization looking to achieve in creating the BACoE or doing as assessment?

Each organization has an interest in these efforts for similar high-level reasons, but typically more specific goals are in play. Putting on our BA hats to truly understand the drivers behind the goals is critical. I find that many teams think they have their goals defined but need another level of detail defined to effectively align to a higher-level strategy and set the path to maximize results.

The Influencers

Who will most influence the stakeholders of the BACoE or assessment and in what ways?

Influencers can be internal or external and have positive or negative influences on the effort.  Use your business analysis and stakeholder analysis techniques to discover and manage the influencers. I like to use a power/interest grid to organize my understanding of everyone impacted and my strategy to involve, communicate, educate and ultimately partner with individuals in executing the plan for the CoE. This stakeholder analysis also sets up the organizational change management pieces to plan on how to engage the influencers in supporting the changes being implemented.

The Pace

Is the pace to achieve goals realistic?

To align pace and goals, BACoEs and assessments need to take a hard look at two things;  the commitment levels of the leadership team and the change management activities to build support.

Leaders’ commitment may exist in thought, but how much time do they really have to focus on the effort vs. managing projects, people and other responsibilities. Organizations that commit more time from leadership make better progress and do so more quickly.

A common barrier to achieving goals at a desired pace is the change management needed to garner support inside and outside the CoE. Without this in place, the changes needed in practices, competency development, attitudes, and process changes will stall due to inconsistent levels of support from those who influence BAs.

Let me know your thoughts on how these factors impact the plans and progress of your CoE efforts.

I hope this provides some guidance and thoughts to consider for those thinking about embarking on or who are mid-stream in managing a BACoE.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.