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National and Global Identity Systems – An Opportunity for BAs to Make a Social Contribution the Likes of Which Have Not Been Seen in Over 200 Years, and Which Is Now Feasible, Given the Existence of Our Neutral Standards Body, the IIBA.

What contribution, you ask? How about establishing the scope, risks and requirements for Identity Systems?

What’s that you say? This work is being done already?

IT IS TRUE that Amazon, PayPal, Blue Cross, MySpace (and now MySpace lenders), VISA/MC, your local police, and the Transportation Safety Authority, among others, are “solving” the “problem” of identity every day. Did you know that DisneyWorld now takes your fingerprint when you enter their park? I will buy a free dinner for the analyst who can tell me why (I know they do; I interviewed them mercilessly until they admitted it).

WHAT IS MISSING from current identity systems projects (ah, the many thousands) is a committed effort to determine requirements of a whole group of stakeholders – “We, the Identified” (WI).

WI are primary users of Identity! If you doubt this, ask yourself who initiates the transaction requiring “identity”? What do we call it if someone else initiates this transaction instead?

In spite of the clear stake that WI have, the systems focus primarily on the needs of the organizations (understandably), and coincide with ours only where the organization also benefits (sure, we all like fast transactions, even if we are being messed with – just so it’s fast!).

The problem here is partly one of the unintended consequences of otherwise rational economic behavior (I missed this reason last month). It is an example of “hidden costs” like pollution, where no single party has an incentive to make improvements in the absence of any outside duress or any market for trading on the costs. An example of the “hidden costs” of poor requirements is the fact that the potential terrorist list has now exceeded 750,000, AND 60% of all “bombs” actually get through airport security (these are recent TSA tests).

So, given the scope of the enterprise (in this case the People of the United States, their constitutionally elected government, and the multitude of identity systems with which we are currently saddled), I issue the following challenge to all BAs:

  • To perform a volunteer led, BABOK compliant elicitation, analysis and documentation of the many conflicting requirements related to identification systems within the United States of America “enterprise”.
  • To successfully negotiate acceptance of these requirements by all stakeholders, public and private, in such a way that the requirements are adopted into public legislation, practice, and/or the constitution.

Remember that, just as in every project, management (WI, the people?) reserve the right to make any final requirements decisions, and to resolve any disagreements for better or for worse. The political acceptance or rejection of our work will be its acceptance test.

AND – I didn’t forget – we still have an agenda of “BA implementation” problems to discuss. This project will give us PLENTY of opportunity to explore these, in a hands-on way.

We begin next month with a statement of the problem, and an attempt to scope out the stakeholders and their interests.

What do you see as existing issues with personal identity in systems today? How recently have you tried to get your own medical records? Any victims of identity theft out there? Victims of planted DNA?

I, for one, have had enough! How about you?


Marcos Ferrer, CBAP is an experienced teacher, public speaker and instructor with ESI International. He has over 20 years experience in the practice of business analysis and the application of Information Technology for process improvement. Mr. Ferrer began his BA career in 1982. While still a student at the University of Chicago, he developed a consulting practice with local property management and accounting firms. Following graduation in 1983, Mr. Ferrer joined IBM in Chicago, where he worked on requirements and systems implementations in a number of different fields. In 1990, Mr. Ferrer became an independent consultant, again working with a variety of clients, most notably in the family entertainment industry. He has also worked on multiple government systems projects and “business” projects, including.

In November 2006, Marcos Ferrer became one of the first 16 CBAPs certified by the IIBA. He as served as Vice-President for Certification at the DC-Metro chapter of the IIBA.

© 2007 Marcos Ferrer