Business Analysis as a Practice
Business analysis is a broad subject that can cover anything to do with innovation, people, process, and technology—and this is on top of supporting the six knowledge areas that underpin both large iteration and Agile approaches.
It stands to reason that, given the complexity and growing streams of business analysis, no single individual can be an expert in all areas.
So, what can an organization expect when it goes to market for a business analyst? What capabilities do you need to look for? Where will the applicant’s strengths lie? Will their weaknesses be in areas critical to your project’s success? How will you know? At what point might you find out?
More often these days, BAs specialize in a particular aspect of business analysis. They might be an Agile BA, Digital BA, Technical BA, Strategic BA, Finance BA, software-specific BA, SAP BA, Oracle BA, or EDRMS BA. But your organization has budgeted only for a single business analyst, even though you might need assistance in strategic alignment and benefits identification for a web-based initiative to be delivered in an Agile environment.
When you need different areas of business analysis expertise but can’t afford to hire several BAs, which areas should you compromise in? The answer is none.
Why work with a business analysis practice?
Although no individual can be an expert in all areas of business analysis, a business analysis practice can foster expertise. A practice supports a number of business analysts with capability and experience across all the business analysis knowledge areas. By engaging a specialized practice, not only do you get an experienced consultant, you get the sum of experience from all the other members of the practice, the practice team, and service delivery team in the background. One person’s experience will complement another’s, and practice can deliver expert business analysis services and outcomes because of the people and experience it can draw upon. As an organization, you may interact daily with a single BA consultant, but you can have confidence in the support they have behind them.
Finding the right practice
For an individual business analyst, the content of what they do is very important. If they want to develop in their career, they need variety, and they need mentoring. A supportive practice whether internal, external or a blend within an organization provides the breadth and support that propels business analysts to achieve at their best. A supportive practice helps clarify the approach, method, estimates, and necessary detail required to achieve the desired outcome. Individuals may over-document and complicate business analysis, while a supportive practice encourages just enough agility, speed, and quality. Because of its breadth of knowledge and experience, a practice can also be proactive in providing support (i.e. the support is provided without affecting any project delivery timeframes). Practice is structured so that all BAs experiences are continuously fed back into the practice, so all consultants are constantly developing which in turn provides additional benefit to your BAs and your projects.
Copyright © 2006 Business Analysts Pty Ltd
A Business Analysis practice should always have the following key elements to be successful:
- Approaches, methods, techniques, templates, and tools—the ability to adapt to different delivery approaches, customized methods depending on the selected approach, a wide range of techniques to suit a variety of stakeholders and situations and customizable templates and tools for the requirements of analysis and estimation.
- Service and quality—services are defined, and a review process is managed, so the quality of business analysis is validated and verified.
- Career development—there is a career pathway for this role within the organization if performed internally.
- Training and development—business analysts should be continually developing so they can achieve excellence in business analysis.
- Organization—across the organization business analysis maturity is developed, and any external BA sourcing strategy supports this, so there is growth in business outcomes.
So, why risk your project by putting all your eggs in one basket? Engage a practice and share the risk. Work with a specialized business analysis practice and enjoy the outcomes. Remember: It is impossible for an individual to know everything about business analysis, but a specialist business analysis practice can cover all areas.