Secret Public BA Shames

Without naming names I am going to describe a “situation” that I have been aware of as a BA, and the management decisions that were made in spite of any analysis (quick guess, oh brilliant reader – were they good decisions?).  My purpose is twofold:

  1. I hope that the “situations”, though not outed publicly, will recognize “themselves”, and decide to take action.
  2. I hope that BAs who read this column will weigh in on the ETHICS of being a BA in such situations – is there a threshold where “outing” a situation is ethically required?


A certain government agency (un-named) needed a system to collect money from certain parties, to be disbursed to other parties.  The money is real and the rules and laws involving accounting and auditing clearly apply.  The agency already had an accounting based system that performed the functionality, but had no bookkeepers or accountants to run it. The personnel assigned to run it complained constantly, and  the executive in charge decided to replace the system, instead of training the personnel in accounting.

The agency avoided being forced to apply accounting rules and laws by publicly declaring (to the overseeing government agencies) that the system to be built was not a financial system.

When the project began, (I was not involved directly), I was approached by the project manager and asked what I thought of the requirements approach.  I shared the thought that avoiding the overhead of scrutiny was a cost saving strategy in a government project, and the system still needed to perform accounting. Money was being collected and disbursed, and accounting is the name of the correct solution (at least, it has been since the Italians invented it in the fourteenth century).

I was basically kicked out of his office, and had no other involvement in this project, except once, when I was asked to a review meeting, and asked if the “reversal” of a reversal transaction, where multiple parties had already been paid, was actually “reversible” – had anyone tried to do this on paper?  I was told that this was all covered in the requirements (this was not true), so I dropped the questions.

When the project was completed, it did not do accounting, as planned, and the users hated it even more than the old system.  It was found that to issue checks, in many cases a DBA had to “poke” data directly into the system and print a check from that data.

Two Questions

  1. What, if anything, is a BA who is aware of such a situation required to do?
  2. What are the implications and consequences of “poking checks” and printing them in a money system?

NEXT MONTH – another situation – send yours, if you know of one!

Don’t forget to leave your comments below

Marcos Ferrer, CBAP has over 20 years experience in the practice of business analysis and the application of Information Technology for process improvement. Following graduation in 1983 from the University of Chicago, Mr. Ferrer joined IBM in Chicago, where he worked on requirements and systems implementations in diverse industries. His recent projects include working requirements for the Veteran’s Administration, introducing BA practices at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, and creating bowling industry models for NRG Bowl LLC. In November 2006, Marcos Ferrer is one of the first  CBAPs certified by the IIBA. He has served as an elected member of the DC-Metro chapter of the IIBA, most recently as President, and assisted in the writing of the BOK 2.0 test.