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Author: Glenn R. Brule

Top 10 Requirements Management & Development Trends for 2012

To achieve organizational goals in the challenging economic environment of 2012, effective requirements management and development (RMD) – also known as business analysis – will demand a broader perspective in order to drive full business impact.  Business analysts will need to take a three-dimensional approach to fully capture requirements, which organizations recognize as the foundation of successful project and contract delivery.  This theme underlies the 2012 Top 10 trends for RMD, which were determined by a global panel of senior executives and subject matter experts.


  1. Demand for greater organizational efficiency will increase demand for business architecture, business rules and business process experts 
    Unrelenting economic and financial pressures perpetuate this trend from 2011 as organizations are realizing that it’s all about business efficiencies and not necessarily technology.  Organizations will first look inward to make improvements before making more technology investment outlays.  Organizations will again rely on business analysis to examine business architecture, rules and processes that will enable these internal improvements in efficiencies. 
  2. Federal, state and local government agencies will invest seriously in the role of business analysis
    Government agencies have finally seen the light that poor articulation of requirements is at the root of many of their functional ills.  Taxpayers demanding “more bang for their buck” will have all levels of government seeking better RMD to fulfill their missions. Calls for agencies to be more efficient in serving the public, more collaborative working across agencies, and more accountable for ensuring that procurements are delivering what they are supposed to will make business analysis indispensible to their success.
  3. Agile methods will continue to gain traction
    Agile practices show no signs of letting up in their dominance as the leading framework on which to base quality deliverables.  Business analysts (BAs) and project managers will struggle to fit their title into the Agile space, but will need to realize quickly that it is not about them—it’s about the end state.
  4. Emergence of a hybrid role of project manager and business analyst
    The drive to create greater organizational efficiencies will spur the global emergence of a project role that mixes the project manager and the business analyst.  This evolution is inevitable as organizations will increasingly question whether they can afford to fund multiple resources working toward the same end goal.  The widespread adoption of Agile practices (see Trend 3) that break down titled positions will further drive this trend.
  5. Business analysts will enhance skills to make their business case to stakeholders
    Far too many talented BAs have been missing the mark in their interactions with stakeholders and it’s time they polished their delivery.  In 2012, BAs will need to step up their game, not only in presentation and communication skills, but being proactive in articulating the value of the projects they propose in order to make effective business cases to stakeholders. Optimally, BAs should take on almost a leadership role that will force them to increase their level of interaction as well as the level of people with whom they interact to really sell the benefits of the product—and the contribution of business analysis—to the organization. 
  6. BAs will need to measure results to prove results
    This trend continues in 2012 as BAs will be under enormous pressure to quantify their work. Unless they apply their skills in elicitation and requirements management—graphical modeling, cost estimates, risk analysis and other measurements—they and, ultimately, the organization will not be able to quantify the BA’s impact on the business.
  7. Centers of excellence will continue to spread
    The resurgence of centers of excellence predicted for 2011 is continuing to proliferate in 2012 as organizations look to a centralized and focused group of specialized individuals to manage very complex enterprise-wide engagements.  We will see even more articles and white papers on the subject and growth in these centers as organizations focus on business architecture, business rules and processes to drive improvements (see Trend 1).
  8. BPOs to invest in the development of their business analysis practices
    Recognizing the opportunity to improve project outcomes and mitigate risks with better requirements while selling value added services, business process organizations (BPOs) will increase their investment in developing business analysis capabilities.  India will emerge as the shining star of this trend through their global customer reach.  Bonus trend:  More business analysis certifications will come out of this country than any other in the world.
  9. Rise of tablet tools for business analysts
    BAs will put the awesome visual power, functionality and portability of tablet tools to work in their practice, particularly in client interactions. This will prove to be a sweet spot for software vendors as demand increases for analysis tools, educational tools, modeling, mapping and other applications we didn’t even know we needed.
  10. IIBA Building Business Capability conference will gain prominence for professional development
    The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)BBC conference will double in attendee size and attract more delegates from all over the world as the business analysis discipline continues to mature, define specialized niches of practice and gain recognition among practitioners’ organizations.  The advancement of the BA profession will elevate the BBC conference to a position of prominence among all project management events.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Glenn R. Brûlé, CBAP, CSM, Executive Director of Global Client Solutions, ESI International, brings more than two decades of focused business analysis experience to every ESI client engagement. As one of ESI’s subject matter experts, Glenn works directly with clients to build and mature their business analysis capabilities by drawing from the broad range of learning resources ESI offers. A recognized expert in the creation and maturity of BA Centers of Excellence, Glenn has helped clients in the energy, financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, insurance and automotive industries, as well as government agencies across the world.

Why Good Isn’t Good Enough: The Global State of Business Analysis, Part 2

Part 1 of “Why Good Isn’t Good Enough: The Global State of Business Analysis” provided the key highlights and conclusions of a survey of more than 1,600 business analysts and others involved in business analysis activities in both public and private organizations around the world.  This second installment takes an in-depth look at study survey recipients’ responses to questions about business analysis practices in their organizations.   


Project participants missing the big picture

The ultimate impact that projects have on decreasing costs and increasing revenues is directly related to profitability; profitability is the reason that organizations do projects at all.  In our questioning of respondents about the state of BA, we believe the most significant finding is that project participants are failing to make the connection between their tasks and activities and their impact on business profitability. 

Organizational profit impact ranked 5th among the top criteria for successful projects when survey respondents were asked which were most important to both them and the organization.


While the larger business issue of profitability could be understandably overlooked at the task-oriented level, organizations should be aware that such inattention could be a root cause of related and unrecognized project deficiencies.  Given these results, organizations have the responsibility to establish the training and communication needed to point out these links at the project level.

BAs lack enterprise perspective

The project activities for which most survey respondents said they are responsible are project management (69 percent), requirements analysis (69 percent) and requirements management (68 percent).  Among the activities for which the least number of respondents were responsible are portfolio management and enterprise analysis (both cited by 20 percent).


Looking at the time spent on project activities, 44 percent of survey respondents said that project management takes up the greatest amount of their time, followed by requirements analysis (39 percent) and requirements management (37 percent). 


Glenn_Chart5Given the focus on project management, it is likely that not enough BA muscle is being flexed, and organizations are relying on project management to steer the right course.  Since PM focuses on what is urgent while BA focuses on what is important, the results indicate that a more balanced portfolio of project activities between the two disciplines will prevent the ‘urgent’ taking precedence over the ‘important.’   

Reported BA proficiency, project success in question

Survey respondents reported high rates of proficiency of overall BA and individual BA activities, although later in this report, we will see that a lack of experience and professional certification call these ratings into question.

35 percent rated the overall proficiency of their BA function as very good or excellent, while 39 percent rated it “good.”


Respondents also rated their organizations’ proficiency as “good” to “excellent” in

    • Business analysis, planning and monitoring (70 percent)
    • Elicitation (62 percent)
    • Requirements management and communication (68 percent)
    • Enterprise analysis (52 percent)
    • Requirements analysis (73 percent)
    • Solution assessment and validation (69 percent)


As noted in the executive summary, organizations should be aware of contradictions between reported project success and BA proficiency rates, compared with the known realities of projects and failure rates. 


If current BA proficiencies are so highly rated and a large majority of projects considered successful, then the challenge remains for organizations to establish and achieve higher standards of excellence.

Business analyst certifications lagging

Part of the challenge in achieving higher standards of excellence may be due to the relatively small numbers of certified business analysts.  Survey results show that business analyst certifications are currently lagging behind PMP® certification among those practicing BA.  32 percent of respondents have their PMP®, although this is not surprising given it has been available far longer than other project professional certifications. 

Only 7 percent of respondents said they have a business analyst certification.  However, 9 percent said they are planning to earn a business analyst certification within the next six months and 18 percent are planning to in the next two years. 

25 percent of overall respondents and 24 percent of business analyst respondents said they are not planning on obtaining any certification. 


 Professional experience shows BA still maturing

Responses regarding the amount of time spent actively performing BA activities provide indications of experience levels as well as insight into why a relatively low number of CBAP® certifications has been earned.  Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) have only five years or less of experience, while the CBAP® requires seven years or more years of experience.  21 percent have six to nine years while 30 percent have 10 or more years of experience.

The years of BA experience reported by respondents is also an indication of the immaturity of the profession.


 Organizational challenges facing business analysts

Survey results showing the challenges business analysts face in the organization offer few surprises.  Communication and cross-functional collaboration lead among top challenges with 47 percent and 46 percent of respondents, respectively, citing them.  These difficulties underscore the importance of training and professional development to reduce impediments to better performance and improved project and organizational results.


 Fewer projects of longer length  

The majority of respondents said that they work on a fewer number of projects of longer length; 33 percent said they have worked on one project lasting 18 months or more in the last three years.  When considering years of experience respondents reported, it can be inferred that there is a relatively inexperienced population of people working on mission-critical, long-term projects. 


Tools of the trade

As mentioned previously, business analysts have a surprising lack of dedicated tools at their disposal.  15 percent said they do not use any tools, 14 percent are using basic Microsoft Office software and 5 percent are using homegrown, in-house developed solutions.  While this is a likely a reflection of the lack of maturity of BA in the marketplace, it is foreseeable that five years on, these results will be significantly different. 


 A growing population of business analysts

Despite the challenges and immaturity of the profession, the BA community has grown and organizations are continuing to invest in their BA competency.  37 percent of respondents said their organizations had increased the number of business analysts in the last two years, and 27 percent of respondents said their organizations plan to increase their number of business analysts in the next two years.  While the survey results did not indicate whether these positions would be filled in house or outsourced, these robust employment findings are a testament to the importance of the BA function amidst economic uncertainty and lingering unemployment. 



Social media taking a key role in information exchange for BA 

In a sign of the times, social media has taken on an integral role in training and career development in business analysis, as it is has in most other professions.  People are using some social media channels, including LinkedIn (35 percent) and YouTube (13 percent), more than traditional BA communities of practice.


Survey Methodology

In September 2011, ESI International sent an email survey of 24 close-ended questions to organizational professionals from the executive to project level who are responsible for project activities in public and private organizations in the Americas, EMEA and Asia/Pacific regions. 

1,632 respondents participated in the survey, but not all respondents answered every survey question. The survey was anonymous unless respondents wanted to receive the results, in which case they had to complete their details.

 Survey Demographics





Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Glenn R. Brûlé, CBAP, CSM, Executive Director of Global Client Solutions, ESI International, brings more than two decades of focused business analysis experience to every ESI client engagement. As one of ESI’s subject matter experts, Glenn works directly with clients to build and mature their business analysis capabilities by drawing from the broad range of learning resources ESI offers. A recognized expert in the creation and maturity of BA Centers of Excellence, Glenn has helped clients in the energy, financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, insurance and automotive industries, as well as government agencies across the world. For more information visit

Why Good Isn’t Good Enough: The Global State of Business Analysis, Part 1

Organizations around the globe are using business analysis (BA) to define requirements and determine courses of action and solutions to help them achieve their goals.  BA activities are critical to projects and organizational success, but success requires standards of practice and adherence to the BA discipline.  How good are organizations at practicing BA? Are they realizing its full potential?

In September 2011, ESI International conducted a survey of more than 1,600 respondents with varying titles within organizations worldwide to ask about their experiences and perceptions of business analysis.

This global study seeks to determine the actual business impact that business analysis has on organizations, and examines its current state by inquiring into BA practices, trends, challenges and applications of the business analysis discipline. 

Respondents represent a broad spectrum of industries, including the public sector, when answering questions about their organizations, including the following:

  • How do they rate the proficiency of their overall business analysis function?
  • How do they rate the proficiency of their individual business analysis activities?
  • What are the key success factors for their projects?

We found that proficiency in business analysis can vary among activities and among organizations, but respondents are essentially satisfied with their business analysis practices and outcomes.  While people believe their organizations’ business analysis practices are “good,” analysis shows there is room for improvement, indicating that “good” isn’t necessarily “good enough.” 

Gaps exist in certain business analysis areas, such as:
o   Proficiency in BA activities
o   The practice of BA at the enterprise level
o   Levels of experience
o   Achieving certification in BA

Key Findings

The survey revealed some key findings:

  • Respondents view business analysis as crucial to successful projects and in fact, the overall rating of business analysis functions is highly related to project success rates.


  • Contradicting external evidence of findings of project results, more than 90 percent of respondents consider more than half their projects to have been successful over the last three years. 68 percent of respondents consider 75 percent or more of their projects to have been successful.
  • Middle management is more critical of the business analysis function than senior management, yet business analysts themselves also see room for improvement.


  • Respondents at all levels of the organization rated the most important success factors of their projects as
  • customer satisfaction:  81 percent
  • on time completion:  62 percent
  • on budget delivery:  52 percent
  • product quality:  46 percent
  • Survey results indicated that business analysis is not viewed as being impactful to business results. Only 22 percent of respondents said profit impact is an important success factor for business analysis. Just 15 percent said acquisition and retention of customers, and 4 percent said market share are important success criteria for business analysis.
  • Just under 20 percent of total respondents said that they are responsible for enterprise analysis, and only 7 percent said that they spent most of their time on enterprise analysis.  Among BAs, only 26.3 percent are responsible for enterprise analysis and 6.5 percent said that they spent most of their time on enterprise analysis.
  • Nearly half of BA practitioners have five years or less of business analysis experience; of them, 15 percent have less than two years of experience. 21 percent have six to nine years’ experience and 30 percent have 10 years or more.
  • 37 percent of organizations have increased their number of BA positions in the last two years, and 27 percent expect to increase them over the next two years.
  • The key challenges faced in business analysis are communication (47 percent) and cross-functional collaboration (46 percent).
  • BA certification is not widespread in organizations, with only 2.5 percent of total respondents who said they have their CBAP® certification, and 6.4 percent of BA respondents who have their CBAP® certification.  1.8 percent of total respondents and 1.0 percent of BA respondents said they have a SCRUM Master certification.



Organizations are using business analysis to win the battle, but they may not win the war

The survey shows respondents make the connection between business analysis proficiency and project success, but that a disconnect still exists in recognizing the impact of business analysis and successful projects on business value and results. This could likely be the result of individuals’ granular focus on projects without seeing the Big Picture.  In addition, BAs do not always understand their impact on the organization from a financial or business perspective since they often conduct task-oriented work with stakeholders who may also lack an overall perspective.

Both business analysts and project managers need to become more involved at the enterprise level.  Not surprisingly, enterprise analysis ranks lowest in proficiency among business analysis activities.  Without an enterprise analysis perspective, BAs lack the connection between what they are doing and why they are doing it.  So while they may be winning the project battle, they don’t have the enterprise-wide perspective to win the war.

Most believe “good” is good enough

The majority of respondents believe that their business analysis competencies are good to excellent, and that 75 percent or more of their projects over the last three years were successful.  However, since real-world evidence indicates otherwise, organizations may be in need of a reality check. 

Business Analysis in demand despite inexperience and immaturity of the profession

The survey shows a relatively large population of less experienced practitioners of business analysis, with nearly half reporting five years or less of experience.  The still maturing nature of business analysis has numerous implications for organizations since it impacts performance, including the potential for business analysts to work from an enterprise perspective, handle challenges within their discipline and their organizations, and achieve a level of proficiency and success equated with more seasoned professionals. 

Despite this, organizations recognize the critical importance of requirements management and business analysis, with survey results showing an increase in the number of business analyst positions in the last two years, and an increased number of business analyst positions projected over the next two years.

Certification, tools lacking to support the business analysis discipline in organizations

Establishing business analysis as an organizational discipline may be undermined by a lack of the supporting elements of the profession.  The survey results show that business analysis certifications are held by a very small percentage of those practicing the discipline, unlike its project management counterpart, the Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification.  Just as surprising may be the small percentage of SCRUM Master certifications, given the importance of Agile as an explosive development methodology.  In addition, business analysis tools are not as prevalent as might be expected given their potential enhancement to the business analyst’s output, with more than one-third of respondents reporting using no dedicated tools at all.


In a competitive and economically challenging environment, there is always room for improvement—in business analysis, as well as in other areas. Organizations that allow themselves to stand still will be left behind.  Raising expectations for and the proficiency of business analysis in organizations is key to helping organizations realize the full potential of the discipline and maximize BA’s business impact. 

Don’t forget to add your comments below. 

Part 2 of “Why Good Isn’t Good Enough:  The Global State of Business Analysis” will examine the survey recipients’ responses to the survey questionnaire.

Glenn R. Brûlé, CBAP, CSM, Executive Director of Global Client Solutions, ESI International, brings more than two decades of focused business analysis experience to every ESI client engagement. As one of ESI’s subject matter experts, Glenn works directly with clients to build and mature their business analysis capabilities by drawing from the broad range of learning resources ESI offers. A recognized expert in the creation and maturity of BA Centers of Excellence, Glenn has helped clients in the energy, financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, insurance and automotive industries, as well as government agencies across the world.


Are Business Analysts In Danger of Becoming Extinct? Part 2

The response to my article has been overwhelming to say the least.  I was pleased to see the genuine interest and passion in support of the role and profession of the business analyst.  The many differing viewpoints in and of themselves tell a very interesting story, perhaps worthy of another article?

As I reflected on all of the comments, it occurred to me that the forest had been overlooked for the sake of the trees…the technical trees.  Many of you responded with concerns, support and very pragmatic viewpoints where “technical competencies” are concerned.  It’s unfortunate, and a challenge BAs and stakeholders alike face every day.  However, my intended message was clearly lost in translation. When I referred to “technical competencies”, in the context of the article, I was specifically addressing those tasks, activities and techniques referenced in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge®, as presented by the IIBA, and NOT “technological competencies” as they relate to the information technology world.

I hope this clarification will perhaps give a moment of pause and reflection before reading Part 2 of this article, I’m more curious than ever to hear your thoughts, feedback and input.

In this article, I continue my mission to raise the alarm to the potential extinction of the business analyst by emphasizing that regardless of the BA’s professional level, we need to demonstrate quantifiable impact.  As I wrote in Part 1 of “Are Business Analysts In Danger of Becoming Extinct? A Perspective on Our Evolution,” I explored the context for the reasons BAs need to use a balanced portfolio of technical and business skills in order to demonstrate their value to the organization. In this article, we’ll examine the appropriate mix of skills based on the BA’s level of experience.

When we set out on a career path, whether it’s police officer, writer, painter, etc., we are rich with technical knowledge and competence, doing a lot of work “by the book.”  As we become more experienced and more seasoned, we find our own rhythm, shortcuts and better ways to do things, and come to rely more on our business savvy and skills as we inevitably begin to direct others in performing the technical aspects of a job.

In the beginning of their careers, business analysts start out with the IIBA Body of Knowledge® and any other materials they can get their hands on as reference for drawing diagrams, researching templates and other technical questions.  The new BA relies extensively on skills around requirements analysis and elicitation practices as the core essentials. This requires a high degree of technical fluency; for example, elicitation from a technical perspective requires planning and stakeholder analysis using a variety of different techniques to realize requirements from all perspectives.

In order to conduct elicitation activities with a high degree of accuracy, the BA needs to be aware of which ones, e.g., brainstorming, interview, focus group, survey or questionnaire, are most appropriate.  Knowing which method is right and selecting the most appropriate technique increases the efficiency and effectiveness of that activity.  

For example, using a survey/questionnaire of 300 people in 10 days of effort using 600 hours as opposed to conducting 300 interviews requiring 1,200 hours is an example of creating an efficient solution that can quantifiably show positive impact on the project.  This kind of quantification gives the BA evidence to provide to executives to justify the recommended activity.  It also provides the opportunity to demonstrate the cost of not conducting the activity—and, if done properly—the opportunity to:

1.    Quantify the results of the survey through carefully crafted questions that would ask stakeholders to rate and rank anything from wants and needs to priorities.

2.    Vote on the allocation of requirements based on said data.

The same can be said of requirements analysis—creating the right models, sequences with the right degree of accuracy, plan for activities—these are all technical skills that provide opportunities to show quantifiable impact.

As BAs develop further along they look more at the big picture—how the business runs—and perhaps leave the more technical aspects to another BA or team.  Having a mixed balance of both is critical to enable oversight and examination of the work being done, while being able to practically apply career experience based on business skills.  So, while the more experienced BA is knowledgeable in both, he or she doesn’t necessarily execute both.

Moving beyond junior technical, worker bee-type of activities, the more experienced BA progresses to the intermediate level where he or she puts a toe in the water with activities such as planning and monitoring.  This is where business skills start to come into play to answer questions such as when and what activities need to be done and who are the stakeholders that need to be considered? 

Transitioning into a senior role, the BA is acutely aware and well seasoned in technical skills and begins to flex business skill muscle in enterprise analysis-type activities, e.g., writing a business case, understanding business needs, conducting capability analysis, defining solution scope.

What’s the right mix?

It’s helpful to have an idea of the percentage mix of technical and business skills the BA will use throughout the career spectrum:

Career level

Ratio of technical to business skills

Competencies of focus

Junior 80/20

Elicitation and requirements analysis activities and techniques, ability to practice solution assessment and validation activities

Intermediate 60/40

Planning, monitoring, and management of requirements + junior level competencies

Senior 20/80

Enterprise analysis + a high degree of business skills expertise, e.g., critical thinking, problem solving, change management, high impact communication

Given the range of skills sets practiced at each level of experience, the 80/20 rule using a mix of junior, intermediate and senior levels of BAs in the organization is recommended:  80 percent junior and intermediate level and 20 percent senior level.  This will create a balance of business analysis capability based on experience, not headcount.  It also facilitates a well-rounded BA perspective.  For instance, if an organization is top heavy on the senior BA side, there’s the risk of potentially losing objectivity and creativity without junior or intermediate BAs to question or bring a differing point of view.

The levels of experience align essentially with three layers of the BA’s impacts:

  • Organizational level – This level addresses issues such as key performance indicators, goals and visions, which are typically manifested by a senior BA conducting senior business analysis type activities.  An example would be using enterprise analysis to contribute to the development of a solution that increases profitability by a certain percent. 
  • Practices, standards, methods and approaches – At this level, intermediate and senior BAs are seeking to create efficiencies within their practices and processes. They address issues such as how can we do this faster, better?  How can we refine our approach/methods?
  • Activities – This level is task focused, seeking improvement of junior level practices, asking questions such as “can we be more precise?”, and “can we be more efficient with our technical activities?”

The business analyst profession continues to be a work in progress.  To keep BAs from going the way of the dinosaur before they’ve had a chance to completely mature takes a balance of skills.  With a greater understanding of how BAs can demonstrate their impact and value to the organization with a portfolio of competencies, you’ll better serve your professional development while elevating the business analysis profession too. 

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Glenn R. Brûlé, CBAP, CSM, Executive Director of Global Client Solutions, ESI International, brings more than two decades of focused business analysis experience to every ESI client engagement. As one of ESI’s subject matter experts, Glenn works directly with clients to build and mature their business analysis capabilities by drawing from the broad range of learning resources ESI offers. A recognized expert in the creation and maturity of BA Centers of Excellence, Glenn has helped clients in the energy, financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, insurance and automotive industries, as well as government agencies across the world. For more information visit

Are Business Analysts In Danger of Becoming Extinct? Part 1

Sept27thFEATRURE2Most organizations have an understanding of the value of business analysis and what requirements mean to a project.  At the same time, conditions are emerging that have the potential to undermine the position of the business analyst to the point of extinction.  In this first part of a two-part article, we’ll take a closer look at what has brought these circumstances about in order to provide a clear understanding of why BAs need to balance their technical and business skills and demonstrate proof of their value to the organization.

Some historical perspective on the evolution of information technology draws interesting parallels to the story of David and Goliath.  IT essentially began with the Goliath that was the big old, clunky IBM 3480 mainframe.  The David to IBM’s mainframe came along as the new Windows operating system and networks. David won the day and the mainframe went the way of the dinosaur.  New opportunities continued to expand the world of technology with network computer systems and the major emergence of the Internet. With that, the Internet, desktop computers and local area networks became the new Goliath.  The new David was the software developer who was desperately trying to crank out products that could work on networks and the Internet.   As Goliath’s world of technology grew out of control, yet another David in the form of the project manager was introduced in order to gain control over the world of software development. 

Up until that point in time, success was measured with clarity and precision.  To the technology world and software developers, to measure meant answering the questions, “Is it working well and are the lines of code being executed?”  So the project manager was brought in to gain control over what wasn’t working. The result was a clearer definition of success in terms of time, budget and quality.  However, Goliath continued to rage on in the software development vs. project management battle, as failure reports from the Standish Group and other research bears out. 

The project manager began to partner with the business analyst. David now took on the dual roles of the project manager/business analyst and he understood the secret weapon to defeating Goliath was requirements.  Prior to that partnership, the PM was responsible for what could be called requirements activities.  When the additional role of the BA was introduced, there were two disciplines aiming to subdue the mighty Goliath. 

During the time before the BA was introduced, measurements of success and progress were relatively easy.  The introduction of the complementary BA role was as a strong communicator and facilitator, acting as the catalyst to project success.  The overarching problem is that BAs are now selling themselves short in promoting their business skills when they should actually be promoting a balanced portfolio of technical and business skills.  While facilitation and communication are critical, they are difficult to quantify. As a result, BAs risk extinction because by putting all their eggs in the business skills basket, they aren’t exercising their technical skills that demonstrate quantifiable impact.

BAs need to understand their audience when it comes to balancing business skills and technical ones.  The people who grew up in technology—project managers, software developers—are now our leaders—the CIOs and managers of IT teams who are accustomed to black-and-white quantification.  So in order for BAs to adequately sell the value and impact of their contributions, they need to speak the language of their audience, which can only be done through a balanced portfolio of competencies.  For example, as a practitioner of enterprise analysis activities, the BA can identify inefficiencies in the organization and provide direction on how to improve them.  These are activities from which impact can be clearly proven. 

Most critical to practicing a balance of competencies is understanding the BA’s business value and impact.  As an example, about 10 years ago, one of the top five banks in Canada found that its insurance division wasn’t generating nearly the amount of revenue that had been anticipated.  The bank was very progressive in its view of the realm of requirements and business analysis.  It had actually coined the term “SWOT team” for their BAs due to their ability to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The bank sent in the SWOT team to evaluate all business issues related to its auto insurance business. 

The SWOT team discovered that in order to give a prospect a quote over the phone for auto insurance, it took an average of 17-20 minutes (a quantifiable metric). With further investigation, they began to clearly understand that there were multiple systems with which the call center reps had to deal that slowed them down and prevented them from handling more customers.  

The SWOT team proposed a service-oriented architecture-type system that pulled together all systems and provided access to information through a common interface that put everything on one platform.  This enabled the call center reps to dramatically reduce the time it took to provide a quote.  The resulting increase in revenue was estimated at a cool C$1 million a day. 

This example should resonate loudly with BAs.  The SWOT team didn’t go in with just their communication skills drawn; they

  • identified an inefficiency
  • did their analysis of the people in question, as well as of the entire organization
  • developed a solution that impacted the auto insurance business and drove further change in the divisions for personal, mortgage and homeowners insurance

They accomplished all of this, in addition to making C$1 million more a day.

They did it through enterprise analysis, requirements analysis, creating models, facilitation, solutions assessment and validation: in other words, a very broad portfolio of competencies. 

In Part 2 of “Are Business Analysts in Danger of Becoming Extinct?” we’ll examine the balance of competencies needed along the BA’s career spectrum

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Glenn R. Brûlé, CBAP, CSM, Executive Director of Global Client Solutions, ESI International, brings more than two decades of focused business analysis experience to every ESI client engagement. As one of ESI’s subject matter experts, Glenn works directly with clients to build and mature their business analysis capabilities by drawing from the broad range of learning resources ESI offers. A recognized expert in the creation and maturity of BA Centers of Excellence, Glenn has helped clients in the energy, financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, insurance and automotive industries, as well as government agencies across the world. 

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