Author: Edward Hun

Maturing a Business Analysis Practice Operating Model

Operating Model for Business Analysis Practices

The growing importance of Business Analysis in projects and organizations has led to the need for a standardized operating model for…

Business Analysis Practices to have a simplified and common view of Business Analysis governance, processes, engagement, services, and development. All these areas must work together in unison to provide effective and efficient business analysis and enable successful project delivery.

Related Article: Defining a Business Analysis Operating Model

This is the second article of a two-part series; the first is to introduce the Business Analysis Operating Model which defines what an operating model is, and how you run your BA practice to align with your vision. This article describes the development of a Maturity Model used to measure the areas that make up the Business Analysis Operating Model.

Maturity Model for Business Analysis Operating Model

The purpose of a maturity model is to understand the current and future maturity of the practice and measure the progress the BA Practice has made in reaching its objectives at a point in time. It allows the BA Practice to:

  • have its methods and processes assessed against a clear set of criteria for each area of the BA Operating Model (refer to Diagram 1 below)
  • have a benchmark to measure the performance of its operating processes internally and externally
  • use a framework to develop a strategy for envisioning the future, desired state and the development of improvement plans
  • ultimately deliver better outcomes and benefits for the organization

112416 1Diagram 1: BA Operating Model

The Five Levels of Maturity

The Maturity Model is defined as five levels ranging from Informal to Optimising. A lower level of maturity indicates a lower probability of success in consistently meeting BA Practice objectives and project outcomes. A higher level of maturity indicates a higher probability of success. Provided that the criteria do not change for levels 1 to 3, work to uplift the maturity in a particular area will always loop on levels 4 and 5 as we continually define the metrics on an area and utilize it to implement maturity uplift initiatives.

The table below describes each of the levels and how it relates to the BA Practice overall:

112416 2Table 1: Five Levels of Maturity – BA Practice

Development of Business Analysis Maturity Model

112416 3Diagram 2: High-Level Process in BA Maturity Model Development

For BA Practices to measure its maturity consistently, a set of standardized criteria must be established. Each area of the BA Operating Model has criteria defined at each level of maturity. This will allow you to assess the level of maturity the BA Practice is at for each area of the BA Operating Model. Once the current maturity assessment is done for all areas of the Operating model, work can be prioritized to focus and uplift the maturity based on the BA Practices and organizational objectives.

Criteria Definition

Criteria are to be defined for each level of maturity for each area of the BA Operating Model in order to evaluate whether the BA Practice is achieving the desired outcome. The criteria determine the conditions that need to be satisfied to reach the particular maturity level.

As part of this process, it is important to not only engage the staff involved in the area of the BA Operating model but also the wider the BA community in the Practice in order to gain consensus and encourages involvement in subsequent activities to improve the maturity. The table below is an example of the criteria defined for the “BA Roles and Responsibilities” area of the BA Operating Model:

112416 4
Table 2: Five Levels of Maturity – BA Roles and Responsibilities

Maturity Assessment

Once the criteria have been defined, an assessment exercise can begin to determine which maturity level the BA Practice is at for each area. As with the criteria definition, the assessment should involve BAs who is working closely in the area but also the wider BA Community to support a more realistic assessment, gain consensus from the BA community and ultimately empower the BAs to improve the maturity.

Diagram 2: Current Maturity Assessment of BA Operating Model

Maturity Uplift

The Maturity Model allows the prioritization of which, where and how the critical work gets done across the BA Practice. It serves as the vital link between the Practice’s strategy and the execution plan that it puts in place to deliver on the strategy (refer to diagram 3 below). The BA Maturity Model, in turn, provides a reference on the progress made at a point in time, in relation to the objectives desired. For example:

  • One of the strategies is to leverage BA resources and maximize resource management capability
  • That strategy maps to the “Resource Management” area in the BA Operating Model which has a maturity model level 2
  • That defines the execution plan which is to develop a framework and leveraging existing resources across the enterprise

112416 5
Diagram 3: Operating Model linking strategy and execution

Tailoring an Operating Model and Maturity Model towards the strategy of the BA Practice provides a consistent and standardized approach to improving the governance and management of a BA Practice as well as delivering high-quality BA services and deliverables. Regular re-assessment on both models is also equally important in order to adapt to organizational and strategy change, and industry trends.

About the authors:

 batimes momokoMomoko McCartney is a Lead Business Analyst at a major financial institution in Melbourne, Australia. She is a project professional with over 14 years with expertise in the business analysis and delivery of complex IT and performance improvement projects across a range of different industry sectors, including Finance, Energy, Health, Resources & Mining and Higher Education.

 

 

EdwardHun2.jpgEdward Hun is an accomplished Senior Business Analyst at a major financial institution in Australia. He has a 10-year record of delivering BA services and deliverables within at all phases of the lifecycle in the finance and banking industries. His commitment to getting project objectives and requirements right at the start of a project has consistently paid dividends. This commitment has given him a strong passion for learning and advocating Business Analysis best practices and techniques.

If you have any feedback or need any tips and advice on BA Operating and Maturity Models, please feel free to contact us.

 

References
1. Capability Maturity Model (CMM) – Wikipedia
The CMM model was used as a basis to define the 5 levels of maturity for the BA Operating Model.
2. Kathleen Hass – Business Analysis Practice Maturity Model
Kathleen Hass has also defined a Maturity Model for BA Practices, with a focus on value-added services provided by BAs. Whilst we have not used any techniques from her model, it is another good model you can have a look at to uplift the maturity of your BA Practice.

Defining a Business Analysis Operating Model

So you have a BA practice (or a team of BAs) in your organization, you may be asking yourself, what is my Operating Model? What should it look like? Do I even need one?

The growing importance of business analysis (BA) in projects and organizations has led to the need for a standardized operating model for BA Practices to have a simplified and common view of BA governance, processes, engagement, services and development. All these areas must work together in unison to provide effective and efficient business analysis and enable successful project delivery.

Related Article: The Teamwork Model

This is the first of two articles in designing and assessing a BA Operating Model. This article focusses on designing the BA Operating Model. A second article to be published later describes the development of a Maturity Model used to measure the areas that make up the BA Operating Model.

Why do you need an Operating Model?

An Operating Model will provide a simplified, clear and common view of your working environment including services, processes, engagement, governance and people. It can be used as an effective strategic planning tool to help you identify key priorities for improvement within your BA Practice . As your organization is evolving, including the project being delivered, the BA Practice needs to be flexible and adaptable to ensure BA professionals are provided the right level of support to achieve value and benefits to the organization and customers. In addition, it serves as an effective communications tool as a common reference for the BA Practice, internally and externally to the BA Practice.

What is an Operating Model?

An Operating Model describes the vision and the value proposition of the BA practice, but also:

  • Who you are: the vision of your practice and the value that your practitioners bring to the organization.
  • What you do: The analysis services that you offer and the value you provide.
  • Who your business and delivery partners are: Who you work within the organization to deliver outcomes for your customers (e.g. Project Management professionals, business stakeholders, etc.).
  • Who your customers are, and their needs: Defines to whom you provide your offerings.
  • How you are engaged: Details how customers can acquire BA services.
  • How you are measured: Key performance indicators for the BA practice and individuals.
  • Your cost structure and revenue streams: How the BA services are charged to the projects and BA resources and learning and development costs are funded.

Your value proposition and vision for the BA practice should be a simple but powerful statement that defines what your BA practice is about, to your BAs and to your customers. It will also help you consolidate and create priorities within the areas of the Operating Model.

There are some general assumptions in creating this Operating Model that it should:

  • be scalable to accommodate future change and growth
  • have the ability to gauge and track maturity of the overall Operating Model and its individual areas
  • have the ability to highlight easily any gaps in the current model

Diagram 1 below shows all the components of the Operating Model. These are grouped into four main areas, based on their relevance and relationship within the Operating Model, and is explored further:

  1. Organization
  2. BA Professional Services
  3. BA Standards and Tools
  4. BA Development

Hun110816Diagram 1 – BA Operating Model

Organization

  • Governance Framework – A governance framework is required to ensure continuous improvements to the Practice. It includes the organizational structure to manage the BA community. This will outline whether your BA Practice structure has a ‘pool’ model or whether your BAs are aligned to a business, or a project, program or portfolio.
  • Engagement Model – A single process for stakeholders and customers to engage the BA Practice for BA resource requirements. It outlines roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, customers, and the BA Practice.
  • Resource Management – A system to allocate BAs to projects based on skill sets and development needs. This should have the ability to identify and capture skill gaps based on project demand and forecast needs. This area also includes any internal or external recruitment process.
  • Cost Model – Standard and appropriate cost model and revenue streams to manage BA Practice. This should include how BA development is funded by the Practice.

BA Professional Services

  • Service Catalogue – A core list of BA services that BA professionals offer for projects to ensure consistency in approach and outcomes aligned to agreed standards. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of BA services and should provide flexibility to include other project work to enable delivery of project outcomes.

BA Development

  • BA Competency Model – a clear and defined set of role definitions and proficiencies required for each level of BA proficiency. It provides a method for identifying what capabilities are needed by a BA to be successful in their role. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) sets the standard for the practice of business analysis and technical BA competencies.
  • Performance Management – Process for every BA professional’s performance planning, assessment of values and objectives, whether time-based (e.g. bi-annual reviews) or by each project or project phase, depending on the size and duration of the projects.
  • Learning – Training Program / Framework that is determined by the context of the BA Competency Model and skills gap identified within Resource Management. Mentoring programs could also be considered to support BA career development and progression.
  • Team Community & Culture – The nature and level of community team building and opportunities to maximize capability and diversity. These can encourage collaboration and cohesiveness to deliver more efficient and better outcomes for the project and customer.

BA Standard Practices and tools

  • Project delivery methodologies – Methodology such as PRINCE2, Lean Six iSgma, Agile, etc. endorsed for projects within your organization
  • BA Frameworks – Mandated BA approach for specific project methodologies e.g. Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK)
  • Knowledge Management – Online BA knowledge repository, including a set of references e.g. templates, best of breed examples and other useful information available for the BA community to support projects.
  • Quality Control – Quality control frameworks and guidelines to ensure consistent and quality artifacts and outcomes for the customer and the project. This could be in the form of artifact checklists or incorporate quality processes and targets within the project delivery phases.

Decomposing the Operating Model this way may highlight areas of focus, rather than thinking that the entire BA Practice requires transformation. Any changes to align to your Practice’s vision and value proposition will become less overwhelming, easier to design, communicate and deliver. An Operating Model will provide you with the framework of how your BA Practice runs and help identify areas that require improvements – which are described in the next article. That article will help you assess the maturity of your BA Practice through the use of your Operating Maturity Model assessment so that there is an understanding of where you are within the set of defined goals for each area.

About the authors:

 batimes momokoMomoko McCartney is a Lead Business Analyst at a major financial institution in Melbourne, Australia. She is a project professional with over 14 years with expertise in the business analysis and delivery of complex IT and performance improvement projects across a range of different industry sectors, including Finance, Energy, Health, Resources & Mining and Higher Education.

 

 

EdwardHun2.jpgEdward Hun is an accomplished Senior Business Analyst at a major financial institution in Australia. He has a 10-year record of delivering BA services and deliverables within at all phases of the lifecycle in the finance and banking industries. His commitment to getting project objectives and requirements right at the start of a project has consistently paid dividends. This commitment has given him a strong passion for learning and advocating Business Analysis best practices and techniques.

If you have any feedback or need any tips and advice on BA Operating and Maturity Models, please feel free to contact us.

References

This article was developed with the following readily available materials below, as well as the organization’s BA Practice Roadmap