The Sadness of the Silo’d BA
Many organizations need to shift how they staff their internal BA resources. These organizations primarily staff one BA to a project. The BAs are out on an island working through the joys and challenges of a BA’s life. On smaller initiatives this is very appropriate, similar to having someone play the PM/BA role on smaller initiatives. For larger initiatives, (multiple stakeholders, larger business areas, etc.) BAs should be paired on projects.
The concept of pairing is discussed and debated in the programmer world, so I thought I would get that debate going in the BA space! I talk to people all the time about the need to come together as a community and support each other, especially when their organization structure has them out on islands. Coming together provides the opportunity to help each other and share stories of success and lessons learned. That is a great first start for learning and growing from each other. Now it is time to make the next step so organizations get the best from their BAs. Here are three key factors why BA pairing is critical.
Skill Set Development
The range of skills required by a business analyst is very wide. Even the best analysts may not have all the skills necessary for every situation. For the purposes of this discussion let’s distill the skills down to four key areas. The BA needs to elicit the business needs, analyze what they elicit, document what is necessary, and communicate what they elicited to ensure they understood the true need, and give the solution team what they need to build the right solution.
How many organizations have business analysts that can do all of these things at a high level, on every project? I think it would be safe to say, zero. So why do these companies staff one BA to every project? There is a huge risk in assigning less than qualified people to projects on their own. It is critical to evaluate the BA staff and identify everyone’s strengths and areas for improvement. Begin to pair BAs on projects to utilize the strength of each BA.
The pairing also becomes built-in training. By working closely with another BA you learn by being part of a real-life example. This is also a great way to help each BA try out new techniques with the help of a mentor.
Two Heads are Better than One
My current assignment has me analyzing business processes for a large business area for four sister companies. The goal is to determine the feasibility of implementing an enterprise technical solution to support all companies. I initially started off this endeavor as the only analyst on the team. I realized quickly that I needed another head to bounce ideas off of and validate my understanding of all the information I was trying to analyze. By pairing in this situation, key points were not missed and healthy debates allowed us to provide clear benefits and cautions for moving forward with an enterprise-wide technical solution. You can not deny that two view points provide a better chance for success than one.
I know many organizations do a great job implementing peer reviews. That only helps resolve a piece of the puzzle. The one doing the peer review does not have enough knowledge of the business area to help with the analysis. They review the end product after analysis was completed.
Increased Knowledge Sharing
The more people that have a deep understanding of a business area reduces the risk of that knowledge walking out the door. The down turn of the economy has slowed down the number of retirees and the amount of attrition due to people switching jobs. Once the economy begins to rebound, both retirement and attrition will start back up. This is the time to pair those BAs and keep some consistent knowledge within the team.
Many customers find it frustrating when the BA gets moved around and new BAs are assigned to each project. They feel they have dedicated a lot of time to getting an analyst up to speed on their business and then have to start over. Pairing helps resolve this by having multiple people with knowledge of the business. New BAs can be brought up to speed without having to take a lot of the business customer’s time.
This is a shift in how many organizations operate. Give it a try; I think everyone will be pleased with the results!
Happy Holidays everyone,
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Jonathan “Kupe” Kupersmith is Director of Client Solutions, B2T Training and has over 12 years of business analysis experience. He has served as the lead Business Analyst and Project Manager on projects in various industries. He serves as a mentor for business analysis professionals and is a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) through the IIBA and is BA Certified through B2T Training. Kupe is a connector and has a goal in life to meet everyone! Contact Kupe at [email protected]