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BA Practice Lead Handbook 1 – Why is Business Analysis taking the World by Storm?

The articles in this series are focused on individual Business Analysts and their managers. 

Global and Local Challenges

Businesses are faced with unprecedented challenges.Kitty Dec11 IMG01

The Integrated Economy

Everyone is feeling the effects of the global integrated economy, and Business Analysts (BAs) are no exception. Many jobs are becoming commoditized, by that I mean they can be performed by internal resources, contractors, or even outsourced resources located anywhere across the globe. Global wage scales have made U.S. employees too expensive to perform standard, repetitive tasks. Many U.S. jobs are gone and not coming back. For these reasons, basic BA tasks are often outsourced or performed by contractors.

Information Technology

IT applications have also impacted U.S. jobs by automating repetitive activities, often increasing the quality and predictability of outcomes. In addition, many IT applications have fundamentally changed the way we live, work, and play. The repetitive BA tasks are now being automated through the use of integrated requirements management tools, thus freeing the BA for higher-level activities.

Social Media and Hyper-Connectivity

Social media has connected us all in obvious and subtle ways, some of which we don’t yet fully understand. As we saw across the Middle East, people are using social media to bring about major changes to social and political systems. BAs are using social media to enhance collaboration among key stakeholders.

Innovation vs. Business as Usual

The call to action for today’s businesses is ‘innovate or evaporate’. For businesses to be competitive, they must be first to market with innovative, leading-edge products and services. It is no longer enough for BAs to ask their business partners what they want or need. BAs must learn to foster creativity and innovation during their requirements sessions.

Business Value Realization

Businesses cannot afford to waste project investments or precious resource time unless there are significant business benefits in terms of value to the customer and wealth to the bottom line. Enterprise BAs understand the business, their value proposition, and focus on value throughout the project.

37% Project Success Rate

With business success riding on innovation and first-to-market speed, we must be able to deliver on project commitments However, according to the CHAOS Report 2011 by the Standish Group, business change initiatives that rely heavily on IT are only 37% successful, as measured by on time, on budget, and with the full scope of functions and features. What is the cost of the other 63%, the failed and challenged projects? According to Roger Sessions, the cost is USD 1.22 trillion/year in the US, and USD 500 billion/month Worldwide. So project success equates to global competitiveness and financial stability.

“If we could solve the problem of IT failure, the US could increase GDP by USD 1 trillion/yr. “
Roger Sessions, Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises


All of these forces are influenced by the enormous level of complexity that exists at all levels, globally, nationally, locally, and within projects. With complexity comes dynamic, unpredictable, adaptive change. Since projects are complex adaptive systems operating within a complex environment, typical plan-based project practices are ineffective when attempting to bring about speed and innovation.

Enter Business Analysis: Changing the way we do Projects

So what does all this have to do with Business Analysis? The root cause of our dismal project performance is twofold: gaps in Enterprise Business Analysis and Complex Project Management. Both of these disciplines are emerging to address our 21st century challenges. Complex Project Management will be addressed in future articles. In this article we define the need for and the elements of Enterprise Business Analysis.

What is Enterprise Business Analysis?

Enterprise Business Analysis focuses on strategy, enterprise capabilities, and innovative products and services. It is very different from what we think of as Requirements Analysis, or typical Business Analysis defining and managing requirements. Enterprise Business Analysis demands different BA practices, those that are more mature and focused on adaptive change and innovation. Higher BA maturity levels are directly correlated to more effective business alignment of projects, higher quality business solutions, increased customer satisfaction, increased creativity and innovation, and an increase in the business benefits that result from implementation of new business solutions. Consider the following BA Practice Maturity Model.

Kitty Dec11 IMG02

Most of us think of Business Analysis as the capabilities needed to successfully manage requirements at Level 2, the project level. To succeed at this level, a basic BA Framework needs to be in place, containing all the elements listed above for Level 2.  And remember, we are only successful 37% of the time at project execution.  And we don’t even measure business benefits.  Enterprise Business Analysis involves capabilities at Levels 3 and 4.  The BA practices required for each level are described in more detail below.
Kitty Dec11 IMG03


Putting it all Together

What does this mean for the Business Analyst?

Traditional BA note-taking jobs are being outsourced, and are not coming back. BA tools are growing up, and typical BA tasks are being automated and commoditized. BAs will no longer be “documenters”. BAs will focus on strategy and innovation vs. business as usual; leadership vs. requirements management.

How are we doing transitioning to Enterprise Business Analysts? Unfortunately companies can’t find the BAs they need. According to Tom Friedman, author of That Used to be Us, companies are looking for critical thinking, the ability to:

  • Adapt, invent, and re-invent
  • Collaborate, create, and innovate
  • Leverage complexity to compete

So, work with your organizations to adopt a mature tool that supports the BA of the future. Become expert at collaboration, creativity, innovation, and value realization. Then, you will truly be a vital asset to your organization.

What does this mean for the BA Practice Lead?

For the BA manager, the implications are pretty obvious. Take these steps immediately to begin to build your BA team of the future.

1. Make it a priority to acquire and implement an integrated requirements management tool with a knowledge repository. Sophisticated BA tools are finally available. They provide support in so many ways:

    • Educate your BAs on leading BA practices
    • Prompt BAs on the questions to ask
    • Forward engineer BA deliverables into commonly used desktop tools
    • Keep all BA artifacts up to date and in sync so they are accurate and can be reused
    • Free your BAs from being buried in documentation creation and maintenance

2. Build an Enterprise BA corps consisting of individuals who possess higher-level thinking capabilities. Look for BAs who:

    • Thrive when dealing with ambiguity and complexity
    • Build strong, high-performing teams
    • Ignite creativity and innovation
    • Experiment, learns, experiments more
    • Predict trends
    • Think outside the box
    • See the big picture
    • Have credibility and influence

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