Author: Elizabeth Larson

From the Archives: Influencing the Project Manager

Much has been written about how business analysts can effectively influence subject matter experts, sponsors, vendors, and so forth.

I thought it might be interesting to relate how a BA influenced me when I was a project manager I had started a job as a project manager in an organization in which the project managers, almost all of whom rose through the technical ranks, were expected to gather (yes, gather, not elicit) requirements. There was no formal definition of requirements, let alone any pretense at doing business analysis. Project managers all had their own way of documenting requirements, most of which was brief and folded into the design specification. Each project manager was expected to meet with SMEs, but not spend too much time. They weren’t productive, of course, unless they were working on “the important stuff.” I was lucky. When I started at this company, I was “given” the organization’s first BA as an experiment to determine if this new position of business analyst added value to the project and to the organizations.

I choose the word “given” carefully. The powers that be said something to the effect of “Starting on Monday, Kristin (not her real name) will join your team. Let’s see what she can do for you. Good luck.” I’m not sure what they were expecting. It turned out, however, that Kristin was a gift, indeed. She had many talents, one of which was to subtly but effectively give me work direction and she quickly became my trusted advisor. Here are just a few examples.

A new team member, Joanne, showed up unannounced and unexpected one day to work on our project. The project was undefined and the only thing we knew about it was its name and the name of our sponsor. Well, here came Joanne out of nowhere, asking where she should sit and what she should start working on. She said that she had seen a yellow sticky on her phone directing her to join our team (this is not just urban legend. It really did happen). I was at a complete loss. I was about to ask her to wait until we had more definition of our project, but Kristin gently urged me to find a spot for Joanne, and suggested that she start analyzing the current documents and interfaces. This work was important would keep her productive while we tried to get the project more structured.

Another instance occurred at a cross-functional requirements meeting. Several SMEs were unhappy about the direction of the project. Conflict arose between two business areas, both of which were vital to the success of the project. I was about to make a decision in favor of the area funding the project when Kristin suggested that perhaps I should meet with the sponsor, which I did. Such advice, while in all honesty was not completely welcome at the time, turned out to be well-advised. It didn’t take me long to realize that she was absolutely right. The decision was not mine to make.

Yet another time I was ready to recommend a change in project scope. One of the business SMEs requested an enhancement, insisting that he could not use the system unless this enhancement was added to the project. Kristin researched alternatives and suggested that the request had some pretty significant business and technical impacts. She recommended that the request be its own separate project. She convinced me that trying to add it to the current project, even if the sponsor authorized it, would not only cause the baselined scope, time and budget to change dramatically (my main concern), but more importantly that the request didn’t align with the business problem or project objectives we had defined. She explained this to the requester, who withdrew the request. I updated the project sponsor with the good news.

One last example; It was Kristin who taught me the importance of defining the business problem. I had always documented the project solution without much thought given to what problem it was solving. However, one time a sponsor wanted “just a little enhancement” on a project. After Kristin convinced me of the benefit of defining the problem, we realized that the enhancement would not solve the problem. Kristin was able to convince me and I was able to convince the sponsor that to solve the problem the current system needed to be scrapped and replaced.

These are just a few examples. It seems that she constantly persuaded me to take some kind of action. Her suggestions were always based on her experience and research, as well as her good analytical and critical thinking skills. I quickly came to trust her suggestions. Although I didn’t always want to listen to her advice, I almost always did and almost always with a good outcome.

This article was originally published December 22, 2009

Don’t forget to leave your comments below


Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CEO and Co-Principal of Watermark Learning (www.watermarklearning.com) has over 25 years of experience in business, project management, requirements analysis, business analysis and leadership. She has presented workshops, seminars, and presentations since 1996 to thousands of participants on three different continents. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes, PMI North American, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific Global Congresses, various chapters of PMI, and ProjectWorld and Business Analyst World. Elizabeth was the lead contributor to the PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition in the new Collect Requirements Section 5.1 and to the BABOK® Guide – 2.0 Chapter on Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring. Elizabeth has co-authored the CBAP Certification Study Guide and the Practitioner’s Guide to Requirements Planning, as well as industry articles that have been published worldwide. She can be reached at [email protected]

Realizing Value:The Latest Trend or Here to Stay – Part 2

In January we published our annual article about the seven trends in business analysis and project management. In Part 1 of this article we discussed the relationship of value to all of the trends. We also defined that very ambiguous term.

We showed how innovation for the sake of being innovative and Agile for the sake of being Agile was meaningless as ends in themselves. Finally, we looked at the first two trends through the prism of adding value to the organization. In Part 2 we will discuss value in relation to the other 5 trends.

Trend #3 Moving beyond our traditional PM and BA roles

We predicted that traditional BA and PM responsibilities would be augmented by involvement in strategic activities. This strategic focus is needed to ensure that our initiatives bring value to the enterprise as a whole, not just segmented interest groups. We said that project managers would be increasingly focused on delivering the benefits and value outlined in the business case and charter and that business analysts who can question the strategic implications of projects and facilitate understanding the real business need behind stated needs will provide increased value to the organization and its customers. In other words, both project managers and business analysts will be expected to add value by ensuring that they deliver it.

Trend #4 Lightweight practices are not just for Scrum anymore

We emphasized that project managers and others are finally making peace with the idea that delivering value is what matters, not whether or not they’re Agile or how Agile are they. As we said, the angst increasingly is no longer about whether organizations or teams can call themselves Agile; but rather whether what they’re doing benefits the organization. We are happy to see that the industry conversation has already begun to shift from being Agile to providing value “agile-y.”

Trend #5 Certifications – and the winners are. . . .

Certifications and professional designations are almost always obtained to provide value. Sometimes the value is to the organization. For example, hiring certified PMs, BAs, or scrum masters means that the hiring organization can rely on a level of knowledge and consistency, thus avoiding training and onboarding costs. Sometimes the perceived value is to the individual who feels that the designation will increase their value to a hiring organization. We do not know which certifications will be perceived as providing the most value to individuals or organizations or, for that matter, how much value they provide. However, we do know that the number of PMPs, CBAPs, PMI-PBAs, CSMs, and CPOs continues to increase and will for the foreseeable future.

Trend #6 Designs during analysis bring business value quicker


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To understand how this trend focuses on value, it is helpful to understand the distinction between requirements (descriptions of the business need) and designs (descriptions of the functionality needed to build the solution). Requirements help us understand what problem needs to be solved and/or what opportunity is out there for the organization to take advantage of. Designs are not technical specifications. They are features of the solution which will address the business need. Remember that requirements and designs are not separate phases of the project lifecycle. They are both part of business analysis. So how do designs add value? By developing designs in conjunction with requirements rather than waiting for the requirements to be fleshed out, we enable each feature to be developed and delivered sooner, thereby creating value sooner.

Trend #7 Workforce trends are impacting project work and organizations

There are a number of trends related to getting work done and the need for value.

  • Communication is increasingly becoming less formal and more frequent. Therefore, the cost of meetings, formerly associated with formal, scripted, inflexible agendas is decreasing. That is not to say that we will return to the chaos of disorganized, unproductive meetings. It means that the facilitator as dictator and gatekeeper of a formal agenda is a thing of the past. As part of this trend, we are starting to reclaim some of the connectedness we recently lost working virtually. People now realize that face-to-face meetings are generally more effective and can be shorter than virtual meetings, despite the improved online tools. This translates to lower costs and increased value.

This means that meetings will need to be valuable to the participants. Having short, informal, face-to-face meetings that can quickly get to the desired meeting outcome enables participants to spend more of their time working towards their operational business objectives. It follows that the better they can meet their goals and objectives, the more value they bring to their organizations. Meetings that are “fantastic wastes of time” and which do not add value will no longer be accepted.

  • Similarly, to address the preferences of many younger workers, learning events are becoming shorter and more personalized. Increasingly they need to be seen as highly valuable. Social media will help ensure that large numbers of people become aware of low-value learning events, which will ultimately lead to low attendance and eventually its demise.
  • Organizations are beginning to adjust to the fact that they need to add value to employees if they have any hope of retaining them. Both younger workers with new ideas and older workers with knowledge and experience will present a challenge to organizations who have to continually find ways to provide value to these workers and motivate them to stay.

In summary, the seven trends that we discussed in January are not separate trends. Each contributes to the overall value that PMs and BAs provide to organizations. And, they are definitely here to stay.

About the Authors

Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, PMI-PBA is Co-Principal and CEO of Watermark Learning and has over 30 years of experience in project management and business analysis. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes repeat presentations for national and international conferences on five continents.

Elizabeth has co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation. She has also co-authored chapters published in four separate books. Elizabeth was a lead author on several standards including the PMBOK® Guide, BABOK® Guide, and PMI’s Business Analysis for Practitioners – A Practice Guide.

Richard Larson, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, President and Founder of Watermark Learning, is a successful entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in business analysis, project management, training, and consulting. He has presented workshops and seminars on business analysis and project management topics to over 10,000 participants on five different continents.

Rich loves to combine industry best practices with a practical approach and has contributed to those practices through numerous speaking sessions around the world. He has also worked on the BA Body of Knowledge versions 1.6-3.0, the PMI BA Practice Guide, and the PM Body of Knowledge, 4th edition. He and his wife Elizabeth Larson have co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation.

Realizing Value – The Latest Trend or Here to Stay? Part 1

In January we published our annual article about the seven trends in business analysis and project management. If we examine these trends, we see that they have one theme—they are all about value. We see and hear the word “value” in articles, blogs, on videos, and even in the definition of business analysis: “…analyzing business needs and recommending solutions that deliver value…” (BABOK® Guide 3.0).

ith so much emphasis on value, we wonder whether the term “value” is just the latest buzzword, or if there is enduring significance to the word. This article will examine each of the seven trends, discuss its relationship to value, and explore whether the concept of value is simply a trend or here to stay. 

But what is “value?” It means so many different things to different people. Does it have to be quantified or can it be subjective? One of the authors (Elizabeth) has worked with an equal number of sponsors who required value to be measured and those who inherently understood the value of strategic projects. The latter group didn’t want to waste time quantifying something like “competitive advantage” or how much it would cost to upgrade technology, or although it could be done, measure the cost of risk avoidance. 

So first, let’s attempt to define that very ambiguous word. As we said, it means different things depending on the application of the term to the business at hand. For example, in Marketing, the focus is on the customer perception of the goods and services and their willingness to pay for them. In economics, there are two components—utility and power. In Accounting, it has to do with monetary worth.  We suggest that project managers and business analysts consider all these different aspects. 

In 2015, the central theme of our Trends article was Innovation, without addressing whether innovation delivered value. It seemed that every organization wanted to be innovative, and every person wanted to be an entrepreneur. However, we have seen that innovation, disruption, and entrepreneurship for their own sake is not productive. Organizations now realize that a focus on “disruptive” innovation can indeed be, well, very disruptive. More and more of them are finding that disruption is expensive and that entrepreneurship might better be handled by internal people (intrapreneurs) who have organizational history and knowledge. Said another way, there has to be a business case for innovation, and it must provide enough value to outweigh the costs and risks of disruption. 


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With this in mind, let’s look at first two 2016 trends and the ways in which they bring value to organizations.

Trend #1 Proving our value through Business Relationship Management

As we said in the January article, executives have long been interested in getting the greatest value from initiatives. However, they have struggled with how to determine and measure it, as well as what the term actually means. We suggested that the role of the business relationship manager could work with executives and business managers to help them define value for their initiatives (projects, programs, and portfolios), as well as help them measure the value at agreed-upon intervals. We have seen an uptick in the number of articles, conferences, and webinars on this topic, which indicates an increased awareness of the importance of organizational performance and value. 

Trend #2 Agile is gaining wide acceptance but still faces challenges 

We suggested that although Agile is gaining traction and has reached a level of maturity, there are still significant challenges. If we look through the prism of value, it seems that these challenges have arisen because many organizations view “being Agile” as an end in itself, rather than focusing on how Agile projects provide value. 

In his article published in BA Times on February 9, David Shaffer called this out by saying, “The goal of software development is not to be Agile. …Being Agile is a worthless goal.”

Related Article: It’s Time to put Value in the Driver’s Seat

Let’s look at the challenges we listed and how a focus on value would resolve these issues.

  • Is everyone on board?  We have long talked about how common it is to have a mismatch of goals among the executives, mid-level management, business stakeholders, and team members. The result of the mismatch is unmet expectations and disappointment. However, if every group was committed to providing value rather than becoming Agile, there would be a greater alignment of expectations and reduced conflict.
  • Can teams be truly cross-functional? There are many online discussions about having generalists vs. specialists on Agile teams. It seems that there is a great deal of emotion surrounding the discussions, in which some parties say that if there are specialists, it is not real Scrum while others talk about Scrum having outlived its usefulness. 

Perhaps if we changed the conversation from the makeup of the teams to getting products to business stakeholders sooner, thus delivering value sooner, then the emphasis would be on what is the best makeup of the team to add value, rather than on adhering to Agile/Scrum roles. 

  • How much governance should the team follow? Needless to say, the amount of governance depends on how much is needed to ensure the solution delivers value. 

In this article we discussed the importance of value, we defined it, and described value as a central theme for all the project management and business analysis trends. We suggested that innovation for the sake of being innovative and Agile for the sake of being Agile were not only unhelpful but also meaningless as ends in themselves. Finally, we looked at the first two trends through the prism of adding value to the organization. In Part 2 we will discuss value in relation to the other 5 trends. 

1  Business Dictionary http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/value.html

About the Authors

Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, PMI-PBA is Co-Principal and CEO of Watermark Learning and has over 30 years of experience in project management and business analysis. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes repeat presentations for national and international conferences on five continents.

Elizabeth has co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation. She has also co-authored chapters published in four separate books. Elizabeth was a lead author on several standards including the PMBOK® Guide, BABOK® Guide, and PMI’s Business Analysis for Practitioners – A Practice Guide.

Richard Larson, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, President and Founder of Watermark Learning, is a successful entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in business analysis, project management, training, and consulting. He has presented workshops and seminars on business analysis and project management topics to over 10,000 participants on five different continents.

Rich loves to combine industry best practices with a practical approach and has contributed to those practices through numerous speaking sessions around the world. He has also worked on the BA Body of Knowledge versions 1.6-3.0, the PMI BA Practice Guide, and the PM Body of Knowledge, 4th edition. He and his wife Elizabeth Larson have co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation.

7 Trends in Business Analysis, Project Management, and Agile

Each year since 2009 we have enjoyed reflecting on what’s happened the previous year in the areas of business analysis and project management (including Agile), and making predictions for the upcoming year. To summarize the trends we saw in 2015:

  • Focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, including distributed leadership and the rise of intrapreneurs. This is still hot, hot, hot, but innovation for innovation’s sake is not.
  • Challenges with Agile adoption. For new challenges, read on.
  • What we called a schizophrenic approach to certifications. To learn about what’s happening with certifications, read on.
  • Use of designs during analysis. This was a new concept last year. To understand why it is still important, read on.
  • Struggle with how much requirements management governance is enough.

Here are the industry trends we see happening for the upcoming year.

1.      Proving our value through Business Relationship Management

Executives have long been interested in getting the most value from programs and projects. They want initiatives that show true commitment to value realization. This need is one reason for the increased popularity of Agile. A new trend that is also helping ensure that value is achieved is the emergence of the business relationship manager (BRM) role. BRMs are more than just liaisons between business and IT. They propose and help influence the portfolios, programs, and projects that will deliver the most value. The role is accountable not only for delivering value but also for proving it.

We think this role will begin to gain popularity because too often the responsibility for measuring value has fallen into the chasm between business units and service providers, meaning no one focuses on it. BRMs fill that void, for example, by linking the actual benefits received from an initiative back to the forecasted benefits in a business case. This feedback loop greatly improves initial forecasts, project selection, and leads to quicker decisions to abandon projects that aren’t delivering sufficient value.

2.      Agile is gaining wide acceptance but still faces challenges

As Agile practices gain traction in some organizations and mature in others, some significant questions still remain including:

  • Is everyone on board? For example, some executives want Agile without understanding the organizational commitment and cultural changes required. Some executives are on board, as are the Agile teams, but mid-management resists. Sometimes Agile is successfully adopted by the IT organization, but not by other stakeholders. With this mismatch in acceptance comes a mismatch in expectations that will need to be addressed.
  • Can teams be truly cross-functional? Organizations often struggle with how to incorporate roles that do not clearly fit into one of the Scrum roles of scrum master, product owner, or development team member. Some have found it hard for all team members to effectively do more traditional “specialized” roles like UI/UX, database analyst, business analyst, tester, etc.
  • How much governance should the team follow? Teams are still struggling with such things as how to measure velocity and the associated need for metrics, how much planning is needed, and the age-old how much documentation is enough.
  • Can partial adoption work? We hear client stories about not having time for retrospectives, daily standups, and other ceremonies. Referred to by names such as Scrumerfall and Waterscrum, these methods have both supporters and detractors.

We believe that although these issues will not be solved in the upcoming year, they will be addressed.

3.      Moving beyond our traditional PM and BA roles

Traditionally, Business Analysts have “gathered and managed” requirements and Project Managers have managed a project’s time, budget, and scope. The future is looking very different. The same responsibilities will be needed, but they will be augmented with strategic-oriented duties. Organizations increasingly realize they need to ensure projects actually deliver the benefit value that was stated in the business case. Smart organizations are deploying project professionals more strategically to help them obtain and prove the increased value, including new roles that go beyond the traditional BA and PM (see trend #1).

  • Project Managers are increasingly focused on delivering the benefits and value outlined in the business case and program charter. Plus, there is a growing trend of aligning projects to the strategic initiatives of the organization.
  • Business Analysts who can question the strategic implications of projects and facilitate understanding the real business need behind stated needs are providing increased value to the organization and its customers.

This trend is good news for project managers and business analysts who like to think and contribute strategically.

4.      Lightweight practices are not just for Scrum anymore

Project Managers and others really are finally making peace with the idea that delivering value is what matters, not whether or not they’re Agile and how Agile are they. Yes, people still struggle with organizational change issues around implementing Agile, and yes, team members aren’t always given what they need to make the switch effectively. But the angst increasingly is no longer about whether organizations or teams can call ourselves Agile; it’s (appropriately) about whether what they’re doing benefits the organization, particularly when they’re doing more than is really needed. If doing the right amount of work for the organization manifests itself in some kind of light-weight, Agile-traditional combo practices, then organizations are becoming more OK with that, as long as it delivers value fast and eliminates waste. This is happening outside the boundaries of projects, as well. Whether it’s HR decreasing the frequency of, or even eliminating, regular performance reviews, or organizational metrics around customer or employee satisfaction getting culled back to scales of 1-3 or simply yes/no, it’s not that less is more. Less is the norm.

5.      Certifications  – and the winners are. . . .

As predicted a year ago, there is still no clarity related to industry certifications. There are some changes, though.

  1. Some certifications, once popular in limited geographic locations, are growing significantly. For example, the number of PRINCE2 exams taken in the US grew by 35% in 2015. IREB (International Requirements Management Board) is also gaining momentum.
  2. Despite the predicted demise of associations like PMI and IIBA, both are still here, both are emphasizing business analysis, and both are trying to broaden their reach. IIBA is offering four levels of certifications and PMI not only has a business analysis certification but is currently working on a full business analysis standard.

As a side note and cautionary tale, the Harvard Business Review recently posted an article about the need for all professional associations, not just those related to project management and business analysis, to rebrand, as members find alternate ways to network and learn.

6.      Designs during analysis bring business value quicker

As we predicted last year, the increasing use of business analysis techniques for “non-technical” design work is gaining momentum. This approach is similar to design thinking and moves the focus from product requirements to product features and functions. This trend is popular because it leverages tried and true methods for understanding customer needs and gets them into a buildable solution quicker.

Here are some examples of “non-technical” designs. Instead of listing data requirements in a simple data dictionary, the trend is to create a fully normalized data model. Instead of creating a use case narrative that must be transformed into other objects, the trend is to create them in the form of readily useful acceptance criteria. Instead of ignoring user interfaces, the trend is to create prototypes that reflect business needs. Each of these helps create the solution sooner, thereby helping the organization achieve maximum value sooner.

7.      Workforce Trends are Impacting Project Work and Organizations.

There are a number of trends related to how organizations get work done.

  • There is an increasing comfort level using Skype, IM, and other tools for impromptu, short communications outside the context of actual meetings. Because communication is increasingly becoming less formal and more frequent, we are starting to reclaim some of the connectedness we recently lost working virtually. Engaging stakeholders virtually is also becoming more doable with the online tools.
  • To address the preferences of many younger workers, learning events are becoming shorter and more personalized by incorporating the array of digital learning tools now available. Personalized learning environments are providing workers with an opportunity to think in new ways and continually learn as they adjust and adapt to new technology and evolving processes.
  • Organizations are beginning to adjust to the fact that many workers are not interested in staying in one job for any length of time. This includes not only younger workers but older workers who are looking to expand their skills in the second-half of their work lives. This will increasingly present a challenge to organizations and projects at risk of losing both younger and older workers with valuable knowledge and experience.

 

[i] Harvard Rusiness Review, To Stay Relevant, Professional Associations Must Rebrand by Denise Lee Yohn https://hbr.org/2016/01/to-stay-relevant-professional-associations-must-rebrand, January 5. 2-16. viewed on January 13, 2016.

About the Authors

Andrea Brockmeier, PMP, CSM, PMI-ACP, is the Director of Project Management at Watermark Learning. She has 20+ years of experience in project management and related practice and training. She writes and teaches courses in project management, business analysis, and influencing skills. She has long been involved with the PMI® chapter in Minnesota where she is a member of the certification team. She has a master’s degree in cultural anthropology and is particularly interested in the cultural aspects of team development, as well as the impact of social media and new technologies on organizations and projects.

Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, PMI-PBA is Co-Principal and CEO of Watermark Learning and has over 30 years of experience in project management and business analysis. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes repeat presentations for national and international conferences on five continents.

Elizabeth has co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation. She has also co-authored chapters published in four separate books. Elizabeth was a lead author on several standards including the PMBOK® Guide, BABOK® Guide, and PMI’s Business Analysis for Practitioners – A Practice Guide.

Richard Larson, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, President and Founder of Watermark Learning, is a successful entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in business analysis, project management, training, and consulting. He has presented workshops and seminars on business analysis and project management topics to over 10,000 participants on five different continents.

Rich loves to combine industry best practices with a practical approach and has contributed to those practices through numerous speaking sessions around the world. He has also worked on the BA Body of Knowledge versions 1.6-3.0, the PMI BA Practice Guide, and the PM Body of Knowledge, 4th edition. He and his wife Elizabeth Larson have co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation.

 Susan Heidorn, PMP, CBAP, Ed.D, CSM,  is the Director of Business Solutions at Watermark Learning. Susan Heidorn is an experienced consultant, facilitator, speaker, and trainer, with over twenty years of business experience. She provides project and program management, strategic thinking & planning, leadership development, business analysis, facilitation, process improvement, change management, and team development to her clients based on best practices in the industry.

BABOK Version 3 vs. Version 2 – Taming the new Guide – Part 3: BA CORE CONCEPT MODEL (BACCM) and Perspectives

In our continuing series on BABOK version 3 vs. version 2, we conclude with the two major additions made by IIBA: the BA Core Concept Model™ (BACCM) and an all-new section containing five perspectives on Business Analysis. This article provides a summary of the new BACCM, a practical definition of the six core concepts, and an example of each. This article also describes the new Perspectives and provides examples of the common elements in all the Perspectives.

BA CORE CONCEPT MODEL (BACCM)

One of the key changes in the BABOK® Guide version 3.0 is the introduction of the Business Analysis Core Concept Model (BACCM). This model defines the framework for all business analysis work, and can be applied across industries, methodologies, projects, and organizational cultures. It shows the interrelationships among six core concepts: Needs, Solutions, Changes, Stakeholders, Value, and Contexts. There is no order to these six concepts that can be read in a variety of different patterns. Let’s look at each of these six concepts and then some of the ways each relates to the others.

Figure 1 below, published by IIBA in the BABOK® Guide version 3.0, shows the BACCM.

Needs refer to business problems that require solving or opportunities that can be seized. Needs are satisfied by Solutions.

Solutions are the products and services that provide ways to take advantage of opportunities and solve business problems. Solutions are developed through Changes consisting of one or several projects, programs, or initiatives. Examples include installation of commercial software and changes to the current processes, development of a new medical device, creation of a marketing campaign, or implementation of new regulations.

 LARSON july6Figure 1: Business Analysis Core Concept Model

Changes are the steps involved in transforming Needs into Solutions. Note that the word “Change” is used in the BABOK® Guide in lieu of the terms “Project” and “Program.”

Stakeholders are individuals or groups that have Needs, an interest in the Solution, and/or are affected by the Changes.

Value. Solutions need to provide Value to the organizations and Stakeholders. If Solutions do not provide Value, they have not met the Need. Business analysis is really all about delivering Value to the organization.

Contexts are all those things that affect and are relevant to the Changes. This is the environment in which the Solution will be developed and includes such things as organizational culture, as well as the culture of the various countries that might be involved, languages, organizational process assets and environmental factors, constraints like weather, seasons, or other things happening at an organization or within a division or department.

Let’s look at an example of these interrelationships.

Need. A sponsor is concerned about losing market share to a competitor. One of the problems that contributes to this loss is the limited information provided by the set of Order reports she currently receives. Her Need, then, is the limited Order information inhibiting her ability to make good buying decisions.

Solution. After some analysis and a business case, the business analyst has recommended commercial business analytics software as a Solution. This is a complex Solution that will involve multiple projects addressing such things as processes, software, and new technology to name a few.

Changes. The Changes to the organization will be significant. The analysis of the current state and definition of the future state done during Strategy Analysis will need to be refined and expanded. Some of the Changes include designing new processes, purchasing new software, modifying data structures in existing interfacing applications, capturing new data, building technical ways to transition to the new software, and more.

Stakeholders. Stakeholders including buyers, merchandisers, advertising staff, distribution centers, retail store personnel, customer service specialists, several vendors, and many areas in IT will be affected globally.

Value. This Solution will provide Value to the sponsor, many Stakeholders, and the organization. The business case included a cost/benefit analysis which showed that although the costs were high, the organization would start seeing a benefit within a year. Several solution performance measures were identified during Solution Evaluation to help measure the realized value.

Contexts. Since this is a complex project with globally distributed Stakeholders, there are many Contexts that need to be considered. Each country’s laws and regulations, the various national cultures, as well as the different departmental cultures will affect the development of the Solution. For example and speaking generally, the distribution staff tends to be casual, the buyers more goal-driven and direct, and the advertisers more expressive. In addition, one of the facilities is in central Europe, which has recently experienced massive flooding. Finally, monsoon season is approaching India, where some of the technical and support staff are located.

Understandably not all Solutions and Changes are as complex as this one. This example was meant to provide an understanding of each of these six core concepts and how they fit together.

Perspectives

The BABOK® Guide Perspectives are focused areas that need to be addressed depending on the nature of the project. Each Perspective provides how business analysis work is completed and its unique characteristics on projects with these Perspectives:

  • Agile
  • Business Intelligence
  • Information Technology
  • Business Architecture
  • Business Process Management (BPM)

Some projects will have multiple perspectives. A business analytics application, for example, might have elements from all five perspectives.

Each perspective is organized into five sections:

  • Change scope (think project scope) includes such things as which areas of the organization are impacted and will be affected by the approach taken. For example, the Agile perspective alludes to a constantly changing scope. The BPM perspective contains four typical lifecycle stages and several methods to outline the scope.
  • Business analysis scope includes the scope of the business analysis work, including which artifacts or work products will be produced and which stakeholders will be involved in the change. For example, the Agile perspective notes that the amount of rigor applied to documentation, a business analysis work product, is dependent on the nature of the project.
  • Methodologies, approaches, and techniques. Each Perspectives might have some specific methodologies or approaches that are unique to that Perspective. Scrum, for example, is an Agile Methodology. Information Technology has its own development life cycles. As an example of a technique, Prioritization is listed as a general technique, but in the Agile perspective MoSCoW prioritization is listed as an Agile-specific type of prioritization.
  • Underlying competencies include those that are most relevant to each perspective. They do not have to be unique and might be relevant to other Perspectives as well. For example, the Communications and Collaboration technique is listed as an underlying competency in the Agile perspective. Collaboration Games is listed as a general technique. Communications Skills is listed as a general underlying competency.
  • Impact on Knowledge Areas shows a mapping of specific activities relevant to the Perspective to the BABOK® Guide tasks. For example, the Agile Perspective discusses the relationship to the Requirements Life Cycle Knowledge Area, stating that requirements are defined with increasing detail and that validation of requirements is done at the end of each iteration. The BI Perspective mentions overcoming barriers to utilizing new analytic tools and techniques in Solution Evaluation.

This article has provided a summary of the new BACCM and Perspectives with some examples to help decipher these new concepts. The overall series of articles gives an in-depth look at the new BABOK version 3. The new Guide represents a major increase in content and improvement over version 2. Our goal was to explain the major changes and additions, and to structure and simplify it. Please respond with your comments, questions, and any disagreements.

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About the Authors

Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, PMI-PBA is Co-Principal and CEO of Watermark Learning and has over 30 years of experience in project management and business analysis. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes repeat presentations for national and international conferences on five continents.

Elizabeth has co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation. She has also co-authored chapters published in four separate books. Elizabeth was a lead author on several standards including the PMBOK® Guide, BABOK® Guide, and PMI’s Business Analysis for Practitioners – A Practice Guide.

Richard Larson, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, President and Founder of Watermark Learning, is a successful entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in business analysis, project management, training, and consulting. He has presented workshops and seminars on business analysis and project management topics to over 10,000 participants on five different continents.

Rich loves to combine industry best practices with a practical approach and has contributed to those practices through numerous speaking sessions around the world. He has also worked on the BA Body of Knowledge versions 1.6-3.0, the PMI BA Practice Guide, and the PM Body of Knowledge, 4th edition. He and his wife Elizabeth Larson have co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation.