Tuesday, 20 October 2009 00:00

Why on Earth Would You Promote a Business Analyst?

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We have a recommendation.  Whether their official titles are Business Analyst, Product Intelligence Analyst, Requirements Analyst or something else, if they define and manage requirements as a core function of their jobs, then they are strong candidates for a promotion.  Think this is a crazy request during this bad, but they tell us, improving, economy?  Maybe it's not such a bad idea at all!

Read on to understand the five reasons why senior executives at innovation-driven organizations are realizing how strategically important business analysts are to the overall success of their companies.  And, they are rewarding those who excel in this role.  We'll leave it to the bosses to decide exactly how they want to spread the love - bonuses, parking spots or other perks are always nice.

In many places the Business Analyst role doesn't get much appreciation, because its value is misunderstood or viewed just as a tactical role.  Let's debunk those myths here by examining the important role the BA has throughout the organization.

They are Shepherds of Innovation

As you know, innovation isn't just a hyper-buzzword.  Innovation is what customers demand, it's what shareholders expect.  And it's what helps fatten the coffers of most successful corporations. How many nights do you lie awake thinking about how to more effectively deliver innovative products to market faster than the competition?

As unsexy and tactical as "requirements management" sounds and maybe is perceived, it is the foundation of an organization's ability to innovate.  As business analysts, these employees are your shepherds of innovation.  Try that sound bite out at your next company meeting and see how the morale and company culture changes to embrace this important function.

 Project Success Lives or Dies by Requirements Management.

This isn't meant as a statement to create dramatic effect - study after study shows that the management of requirements is a top success factor.  If you work in an industry such as Aerospace, Medical Devices or Healthcare where safety isn't optional, then requirements management is itself a mandated requirement.  Based on that, it seems reasonable to suggest that anyone who manages a function that's this critical to the success of your company deserves some kudos.  For example, the newly published Business Analysis Benchmark Study by IAG Consulting highlights several major findings, including:

  • Companies with poor requirements, on average, spend $2.24 million more per project on strategic projects than those that employ requirements best practices.
  • Companies with poor requirements and business analysis capability have three project failures for every one project success.
  • Only 32% of companies employ practices that make the likelihood of project success "Probable." The remaining 68% enter every project with an "Improbable" likelihood of success, even before they begin the project
  • Over 40% of the IT development budget for software, staff and external professional services will be consumed by poor requirements at the average company using average analysts. This requirements premium is avoided by organizations that consistently use best practices in business requirements when completing projects.

An Idea is Worth $0 Until it Becomes a Well-executed Requirement.

We see requirements as the glue that holds the entire innovation process together - from ideas to requirements to products.  So, without well-defined, well-managed and well-executed requirements, innovation simply doesn't happen.  Good ideas don't materialize, R&D investments go to waste and smart people get frustrated - all things that paralyze an organization.  Thus, an investment in requirements management and in this key role will yield a higher Return on Ideas - think of it as a new kind of ROI to go with the financial one.

They Save Your Company "a lot" of Time and Money.

Call it productivity. Call it efficiency.  Call it failure avoidance.  Whatever you want to call it, your business analysts save your company a lot of time and money.   How much is a lot? It can be a difficult thing to quantify precisely, but a lot is somewhere between "oodles" and "a truck load". And we all have an idea how much that is!  How ever you measure it, when requirements get done properly, projects get delivered on time and products go to market faster.  And, last time we checked, those were two things that great companies and senior executives valued. A lot!

Chief Business Analyst Sounds Pretty Nice.

Meet the new Chief Business Analyst, time to make room at the executive table!  Should we get new business cards printed up?  We're not kidding.  By championing the development of thousands of well-written requirements and collaboratively managing them throughout your innovation process, your staff of business analysts significantly impact the performance of your company every day.  And, that makes them a strategic asset.  Hmm, that sounds like a function worthy of a C-level executive.  We think CBA sounds pretty nice too.

References: http://www.iag.biz/resources/library/business-analysis-benchmark.html A summary of the Business Analysis Benchmark appeared in a recent Business Analyst Times. To reach it click http://www.batimes.com/component/content/article/106-articles/517-business-analysis-benchmark-the-path-to-success.html

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John Simpson is director of customer outreach and marketing at Jama Software. John represents the voice of the customer in Jama's product strategy and communications. He has over 12 years experience working at software technology companies including Microsoft, WebTrends and Omniture. In his spare time, he chases his three kids around and raises awareness for cancer research in his local community, Portland, OR. You can reach John at http://www.jamasoftware.com or follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jamasoftware

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