Defining a Business Analysis Operating Model
So you have a BA practice (or a team of BAs) in your organization, you may be asking yourself, what is my Operating Model? What should it look like? Do I even need one?
The growing importance of business analysis (BA) in projects and organizations has led to the need for a standardized operating model for BA Practices to have a simplified and common view of BA governance, processes, engagement, services and development. All these areas must work together in unison to provide effective and efficient business analysis and enable successful project delivery.
Related Article: The Teamwork Model
This is the first of two articles in designing and assessing a BA Operating Model. This article focusses on designing the BA Operating Model. A second article to be published later describes the development of a Maturity Model used to measure the areas that make up the BA Operating Model.
Why do you need an Operating Model?
An Operating Model will provide a simplified, clear and common view of your working environment including services, processes, engagement, governance and people. It can be used as an effective strategic planning tool to help you identify key priorities for improvement within your BA Practice . As your organization is evolving, including the project being delivered, the BA Practice needs to be flexible and adaptable to ensure BA professionals are provided the right level of support to achieve value and benefits to the organization and customers. In addition, it serves as an effective communications tool as a common reference for the BA Practice, internally and externally to the BA Practice.
What is an Operating Model?
An Operating Model describes the vision and the value proposition of the BA practice, but also:
- Who you are: the vision of your practice and the value that your practitioners bring to the organization.
- What you do: The analysis services that you offer and the value you provide.
- Who your business and delivery partners are: Who you work within the organization to deliver outcomes for your customers (e.g. Project Management professionals, business stakeholders, etc.).
- Who your customers are, and their needs: Defines to whom you provide your offerings.
- How you are engaged: Details how customers can acquire BA services.
- How you are measured: Key performance indicators for the BA practice and individuals.
- Your cost structure and revenue streams: How the BA services are charged to the projects and BA resources and learning and development costs are funded.
Your value proposition and vision for the BA practice should be a simple but powerful statement that defines what your BA practice is about, to your BAs and to your customers. It will also help you consolidate and create priorities within the areas of the Operating Model.
There are some general assumptions in creating this Operating Model that it should:
- be scalable to accommodate future change and growth
- have the ability to gauge and track maturity of the overall Operating Model and its individual areas
- have the ability to highlight easily any gaps in the current model
Diagram 1 below shows all the components of the Operating Model. These are grouped into four main areas, based on their relevance and relationship within the Operating Model, and is explored further:
- BA Professional Services
- BA Standards and Tools
- BA Development
Diagram 1 – BA Operating Model
- Governance Framework – A governance framework is required to ensure continuous improvements to the Practice. It includes the organizational structure to manage the BA community. This will outline whether your BA Practice structure has a ‘pool’ model or whether your BAs are aligned to a business, or a project, program or portfolio.
- Engagement Model – A single process for stakeholders and customers to engage the BA Practice for BA resource requirements. It outlines roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, customers, and the BA Practice.
- Resource Management – A system to allocate BAs to projects based on skill sets and development needs. This should have the ability to identify and capture skill gaps based on project demand and forecast needs. This area also includes any internal or external recruitment process.
- Cost Model – Standard and appropriate cost model and revenue streams to manage BA Practice. This should include how BA development is funded by the Practice.
BA Professional Services
- Service Catalogue – A core list of BA services that BA professionals offer for projects to ensure consistency in approach and outcomes aligned to agreed standards. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of BA services and should provide flexibility to include other project work to enable delivery of project outcomes.
- BA Competency Model – a clear and defined set of role definitions and proficiencies required for each level of BA proficiency. It provides a method for identifying what capabilities are needed by a BA to be successful in their role. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) sets the standard for the practice of business analysis and technical BA competencies.
- Performance Management – Process for every BA professional’s performance planning, assessment of values and objectives, whether time-based (e.g. bi-annual reviews) or by each project or project phase, depending on the size and duration of the projects.
- Learning – Training Program / Framework that is determined by the context of the BA Competency Model and skills gap identified within Resource Management. Mentoring programs could also be considered to support BA career development and progression.
- Team Community & Culture – The nature and level of community team building and opportunities to maximize capability and diversity. These can encourage collaboration and cohesiveness to deliver more efficient and better outcomes for the project and customer.
BA Standard Practices and tools
- Project delivery methodologies – Methodology such as PRINCE2, Lean Six iSgma, Agile, etc. endorsed for projects within your organization
- BA Frameworks – Mandated BA approach for specific project methodologies e.g. Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK)
- Knowledge Management – Online BA knowledge repository, including a set of references e.g. templates, best of breed examples and other useful information available for the BA community to support projects.
- Quality Control – Quality control frameworks and guidelines to ensure consistent and quality artifacts and outcomes for the customer and the project. This could be in the form of artifact checklists or incorporate quality processes and targets within the project delivery phases.
Decomposing the Operating Model this way may highlight areas of focus, rather than thinking that the entire BA Practice requires transformation. Any changes to align to your Practice’s vision and value proposition will become less overwhelming, easier to design, communicate and deliver. An Operating Model will provide you with the framework of how your BA Practice runs and help identify areas that require improvements – which are described in the next article. That article will help you assess the maturity of your BA Practice through the use of your Operating Maturity Model assessment so that there is an understanding of where you are within the set of defined goals for each area.
About the authors:
Momoko McCartney is a Lead Business Analyst at a major financial institution in Melbourne, Australia. She is a project professional with over 14 years with expertise in the business analysis and delivery of complex IT and performance improvement projects across a range of different industry sectors, including Finance, Energy, Health, Resources & Mining and Higher Education.
Edward Hun is an accomplished Senior Business Analyst at a major financial institution in Australia. He has a 10-year record of delivering BA services and deliverables within at all phases of the lifecycle in the finance and banking industries. His commitment to getting project objectives and requirements right at the start of a project has consistently paid dividends. This commitment has given him a strong passion for learning and advocating Business Analysis best practices and techniques.
If you have any feedback or need any tips and advice on BA Operating and Maturity Models, please feel free to contact us.
This article was developed with the following readily available materials below, as well as the organization’s BA Practice Roadmap
- Strategyzer Business Model Canvas https://strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas
- BABOK Guide http://www.iiba.org/babok-guide.aspx
- Establishing and Maturing a Business Analysis Centre of Excellence, ESI International White Paper
- Business Analysis Center of Excellence, Kathleen B Hass White Paper