Business Analysis: Sharing Your Knowledge: Why and How
Often, through their normal daily work the business analyst learns new knowledge about systems, business processes or the organization as a whole. In doing business analysis tasks on a daily basis, a business analyst investigates systems; whether through documentation analysis, interface analysis or interviews with system users or subject matter experts (SME), they learn how systems operate and how the business uses the system(s). Business Analysts are often called upon to document business processes, so they investigate those business processes through interviews or surveys of those involved in the process. Through Situation Analysis, Capability Gap Analysis, Feasibility Studies, SWOT Analysis, Market Research or Organizational Change Readiness assessment to implement a new project solution the business analyst learns about their organization and the business environment in which it operates.
All too often what happens when the business analyst leaves the team or organization is all that learned, and now tacit, knowledge leaves with them. Then comes the unpalatable task of replacing the business analyst and bringing the new person up to speed with the team. What can never be regained is that knowledge that left with the previous business analyst. Wouldn’t it be great to keep that tacit knowledge?
As the exiting business analyst how can you leave that knowledge with the team as you move on to other opportunities, especially when those opportunities are outside the organization? Do you want to spend the last two weeks on the team trying to hurriedly document all your tacit knowledge? Where do you store it; in what format? Let’s look at a better way.
An Internal Body of Knowledge
An internal Business Analysis Body of Knowledge is a centralized, electronic knowledge repository from which the entire business analysis team may draw knowledge. Centralized to one business analysis team or across the organization; who is this knowledge base to serve. Once you determine who your customers are, you can determine where to store this knowledge base to be centralized; and you can consider such things as security and access. You can determine if this should be stored on a shared network drive, SharePoint or another document repository.
Start from the beginning
Don’t wait until your final week or two in this role to try to leave all your knowledge with your co-workers. Start from your first weeks on the job. As you investigate and learn these systems, business processes and the organization start documenting what you learn about things. It is very difficult to document years of knowledge in your final week(s) on the team; so start soon after you join the team. Document as you learn. This also helps to ensure that important items don’t get forgotten.
Start Small and Grow
Egypt wasn’t built in a day, so don’t feel that you have to build an entire knowledge base in a week. If you start soon after you join the team then you won’t be rushed to build your internal body of knowledge in a week or two. You can build it over years of learning. Start from the first system or business process that you investigate. Document one system or business process and store that in your centralized place. There is your start. Add each system, business process or piece of organizational knowledge you learn while you are in this role and watch your body of knowledge grow. As the knowledge repository grows, you build the structure of the repository.
You can bring the idea of a centralized knowledge base to your team and try to get buy-in; or you can just start yourself. You may have to determine what the team or corporate culture is to determine if you ask for permission or beg for forgiveness. As a consultant, it is my ‘value-add’ that I provide my clients. I build my internal body of knowledge and as I leave the team I show the team the knowledge I am leaving them.
Invite Others to Join In
Once you have the knowledge base started and others can see the value, invite them to add their knowledge to yours. This can grow the knowledge exponentially. Obtaining their buy-in is much easier when you can show them the value.
So now you know what an internal business analysis body of knowledge is and have a concept of how to build one…get started. Determine who you wish the knowledge base to serve, determine where to store it and get started building it.
By building an internal business analysis body of knowledge for a team or organization that you will eventually leave; face it we all leave at some point whether by choice, retirement or other forces, you can leave behind business, systems and tacit knowledge you have built up over time. The great advantage of starting early is that you don’t have to hurry up, remember everything and build it all in a short timespan as you prepare to leave the team. For a consultant leaving a team, this is a great ‘value-add’ to provide for your clients.
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