Business Analysis May Be the Problem
I recently ran across this quote from Marilyn Kennedy a leadership coach, “It’s better to be boldly decisive and risk being wrong than to agonize at length and be right too late.”
Taking a look at her site it appears she is not speaking directly to business analysts, but I can tell you this quote should speak to you as a business analyst. When I read the quote the first thing that popped in my head was “analysis paralysis”.
Often BAs struggle with determining when enough is enough. Even with the great work many of us are doing to help improve project success and business improvements, the need for the right level of business analysis can be a tough sell. In our field, I believe the “Great Perception” is still alive…we don’t need analysis, we need development. The quote got me thinking of a reason why this perception exists.
The problem partly stems from our name. We are business analysts and we perform business analysis. Is that the best name to describe what we do? My BA colleagues everywhere and friends at the IIBA® are probably rolling their eyes…please hear me out. In my opinion the word analysis is kind of fluffy. A Merriam-Webster definition of analysis is, “an examination of a complex, its elements, and their relations”. I see why discussions continue about not needing business analysis. Uninformed about the value of business analysis, managers and executives don’t want an examination of their problem or opportunity. They want solutions. The definition of develop according to Merriam-Webster is “to create or produce especially by deliberate effort over time”. That’s what I want. That’s why development is a must. It sounds more concrete. Analysis alone is not concrete.
I suggest we describe ourselves as Business Advisors. An advisor is someone that recommends, gives advice, and informs. My comparison is a financial advisor vs. a financial analyst. For my retirement fund I don’t want a financial analyst…someone that analyzes the market and trends. I want a financial advisor. I want someone who will analyze my current portfolio (AS IS), work with me to define how much I need to retire (TO BE), and then recommend options to fill the gap. Doesn’t that sound like what we do?
Barring a major change like the IIBA® renaming itself to the international institute of business advisors, what can you do to change the perception? When working with team members and business partners that may not know the value of business analysis, you need make it clear that you are in the advisor or solution business. The best way to recommend solutions is to do the right level of analysis first. This way they know why you are asking the probing questions.
In addition, this is a big reason I advocate for business analysts developing a business analysis work plan. If you lay out what, why, when and how you will be taking on the analysis effort for a project, you now have a negotiation tool with real data to negotiate the necessary time and stakeholder involvement. Your work plan should include a:
- stakeholder communication plan
- list of deliverables
- detailed task list
- time and cost estimates for you and other stakeholders
By discussing your plan with your manager, project manager and business partners you can discuss how these activities will help develop recommended solutions that address the problem or opportunity the business is facing.
What do you think? Are you an advisor?
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