Author: Kathleen B. Hass, PMP

The BA Practice Lead Handbook 5 – Getting Organized. What Structure is Right for You During the Start-up Phase?

A center of excellence is a team of people that is established to promote collaboration and the application of best practices. Centers of excellence are emerging as a vital strategic asset to serve as the primary vehicle for managing complex change initiatives.

Centers of excellence exist to bring about an enterprise focus to many business issues, e.g., data integration, project management, enterprise architecture, business and IT optimization, and enterprise-wide access to information. The concept of centers of excellence (COE) is quickly maturing in twenty-first century organizations because of the need to collaboratively determine solutions to complex business issues. Project management offices (PMO), a type of COE, proliferated in the 1990s as a centralized approach to managing projects in response to the challenges associated with complex projects in an environment with low levels of project management maturity and governance.

Business Analysis Centers of Excellence

The business analysis center of excellence (BACOE) then, is an emerging best practice, a new type of center which serves as the single point of contact for business analysis practices. In that role, the BACOE defines the business rules, processes, knowledge, skills and competencies, and tools used by the organization to perform business analysis activities throughout the project life cycle, from strategic planning to project initiation to solution delivery and benefits realization.

As the discipline of business analysis becomes professionalized, it is no surprise BACOEs are quickly emerging. Staffed with knowledgeable business and IT team members, these centers are fulfilling a vital need in organizations today – providing a business-focused home for current business analysis practices, technologies, and emerging trends. The BACOE serves as an internal consultant and information broker to both the project teams and to the executive management team. In addition, the BACOE is responsible for continuous improvement of business analysis practices. To that end, the BACOE continually evaluates the maturity of business analysis and implements improvements to overall business analysis capability.

Implementing the BACOE

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Referring again to the BA Practice Framework, we assume you have completed the Readiness Phase, and are now ready to begin to implement the BACOE.

There are several models of BACOEs that are in existence today. Each structure has unique composition, goals and outcomes. The type of center that is most appropriate for your organization depends heavily on the culture, power and politics that exist within your organization. Common BACOE structures include those described in the table below.

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BACOE Scope

A truly comprehensive BACOE is broadly scoped to include the services, functions, tools and metrics needed to ensure the organization invests in the most valuable projects, and then delivers the expected business benefits from project outcomes in terms of value to the customer and/or wealth to the organization. A full-service BACOE typically performs the functions described below.

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A fully functioning BACOE is capable of providing services across the gamut of business analysis practices. The BACOE mission and objectives are met through training, consulting and mentoring business analysts and project team members, by providing BA resources to the project teams, by facilitating the portfolio management process, and by serving as the custodian of BA best practices. The BACOE generally performs all or a subset of the following services.

• BA Standard Practices and Tools – provides standard business analysis practices

    • Methods – defines the methodology, metrics and tools for use on all strategic projects within the organization.
    • Knowledge management – maintains the central historical data base of business analysis standard tools, processes and business architecture components
    • Continuous improvement – periodically evaluates the maturity of the business analysis practices within the organization, and implements improvements to policies, processes, tools and procedures

• BA Professional Development – provides professional development for business analysts

    • BA career path – along with the Human Resources Department, designs and maintains the BA competency model including titles, position descriptions, functions
    • Coaching and mentoring – provides mentoring services to BAs and project teams to help them meet the challenges of their current project
    • Training and professional development – provides formal skills and knowledge assessments, and education and training for the professional development of BAs
    • Team building – provides team building experiences to project managers, business analysts, and team members

• BA Professional Services – serves as a group of facilitators and on-the-job trainers who are skilled and accomplished business analysts to provide business analysis consulting support including:

    • Conducting market research, benchmark and feasibility studies
    • Developing and maintaining the business architecture
    • Preparing and validating the business case
    • Eliciting, analyzing, specifying, documenting, validating, and managing requirements
    • Managing requirements verification and validation activities, e.g., the user acceptance test
    • Preparing the organization for deployment of a new business solution
    • Providing resources to augment project teams to perform business analysis activities that are under-resourced or urgent

• Full Cycle Governance – promotes a full life-cycle governance process, managing investments in business solutions from research and development to operations. Provides a home (funding and resources) for pre-project business analysis and business case development.

    • Business program management – works with management and the portfolio management team to implement a twenty-first century model that transitions organizations from stand-alone IT project management to business program management.
    • Strategic project resources – provides senior-level business analysts to lead the business analysis effort for strategic initiatives.
    • Enterprise analysis – provides process coordination and meeting facilitation to the portfolio management team. Conducts enterprise analysis activities and prepares the project investment decision package consisting of the business case, the results of studies and other supporting information that provides senior management with a clear understanding of what business results are to be achieved through a major investment.
    • Benefits management – Measures the business benefits achieved by new business solutions; facilitates the adoption of a shared vision of the benefits realization process, manages the investment throughout the project life cycle and after the solution has been delivered.

Putting it all Together

So what does this mean for the Business Analyst?

Today’s BAs are performing their duties in a myriad of organizational environments. Determine where your organization is on the continuum and get involved in moving your BA practice to the next level.

So what does this mean for the BA Practice Lead?

This article presents the case for a BA Practice Lead to examine the organization to determine the best fit for the BACOE. Perhaps a less formal COE is appropriate at this point in time to build the foundation and credibility needed to implement a formal BACOE. Leverage the existing structures and power bases to launch your BACOE, constantly demonstrating the value of a mature BA practice.

Parts of this article are adapted with permission from The Business Analysis Center of Excellence, The Cornerstone of Business Transformation by Kathleen B. Hass, PMP, Richard Avery, Terry Longo, and Alice Zavala. © 2007 by Management Concepts, Inc. All rights reserved.

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The BA Practice Lead Handbook 4 – So You Want to be a BA Practice Lead? Are You Ready?

In previous articles in this series, we have discussed the need for mature Business Analysis practices, what value key stakeholders can expect from BA, and the need for a holistic approach to implementation of Business Analysis. In this article, we discuss how you as BA Practice Lead/BA Manager can ensure you are ready to lead the effort to implement and sustain a BA Practice.

Diagnose your Leadership Capability

Building a new business process such as Business Analysis is a challenging endeavor. Your initial challenge is to gain executive sponsorship and organizational alignment up front. Do you have the power and influence skills to take a comprehensive view that is aligned with your environment and decision-making practices?

Your Power and Influence

According to D. Bell, author, educator, social media producer: business + politics = power. Make no mistake: organizational politics will influence your BA practice in multiple ways. Politics are defined as the collection of internal structures of an organization that deal with power, influence, and decision making. We all say we hate politics because it is often a negative influence in our lives. Actually, politics is neither good nor bad, it just is. Think of positive politics, positive power and influence. Things happen when politics works. Decisions are made. Projects move forward. Deals are cut. Goals are met. How can that be bad? Your power is directly related to how well you negotiate the politics of your organization.

The positive politician uses influence rather than authority or manipulation to achieve tasks or goals. Your ability to act as a positive politician will result in beneficial results for your team, for your organization, and ultimately for you. As a positive politician, start from a solid foundation from which to influence including: status, reputation, credibility, trust, integrity, consistency, knowledge. Business analysts possessing these characteristics emerge as leaders. People want to follow natural leaders.

Devise strategies to negotiate your organization’s politics by building your influence capabilities. Capture the strategies and tasks to achieve the strategies in your Political Management Plan. Your plan might be a simple table like the one below. Strategies may include:

  • Enlist the help of an executive sponsor
  • Organize and chair your steering committees
  • Make yourself an expert, increase your credibility
  • Promote yourself and Business Analysis
  • Manage BA benefits (ROI)
  • Manage virtual alliances
  • Facilitate, negotiate, and build consensus
  • Manage conflict
  • Facilitate consensus and confront issues head on

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Your network

To build a positive network of supporters within your organization, identify your customers and stakeholders that: provide budget to your BA practice implementation project, provide oversight, provide requirements, provide input, get output, depend on your deliverables, benefit from your BA Practice success, and/or suffer from its success. For each key customer/stakeholder, capture the following information:

  • Role
  • Awareness
  • Opinion
  • Importance
  • Current level of support
  • Level of support needed
  • Identify the issues and concerns regarding the BA Practice that are important to each stakeholder
         o What’s in it for them?
         o What do they need to view the BA Practice positively and actively support it?
  • What actions will you take to increase the support of your most important stakeholders?
  • Devise strategies to negotiate your organization’s politics by building and sustaining a strong supportive stakeholder network. Capture the strategies and tasks to achieve the strategies in your Political Management Plan. It might look something like the simple table below.
  • Devise your strategies to lessen the impact of those who may negatively influence your BA Practice and leverage those who are positive about you and Business Analysis.

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Assess the Environment

Lastly, identify organizational and cultural risks to your success, and devise strategies to manage the risks. Update your Political Management Plan accordingly.

Assess the landscape…

  • Environmental/organizational issues that are constantly at play
  • The amount of change the organization is undergoing
  • Political games/maneuvers that are underway; power bases and power struggles
  • Recent leadership changes and those that are anticipated

…and How Business Analysis fits

  • Is the business case for your project and/or for a BA Practice solid?
  • Is implementation politically sensitive?
  • Are there major political implications?
  • Is there impact to the core mission?
  • Do you have a strong executive sponsor?
  • What are the unspoken expectations?
  • What is the decision-making process?
  • What are the cultural norms?
  • Is the communication and coordination effort challenging?

How can Consultants help?

If they have been where you are, bring in consultants to:

  • Help assess organizational readiness and support
  • Review your plans
  • Do a risk assessment
  • Coach you through the process
  • Gain approval and consensus on the way forward
  • Form a guidance team/steering committee to involve upper management in the effort

Putting it all Together

So what does this mean for the Business Analyst?

If you are trying to implement BA best practices, methodologies, frameworks, and enabling technologies on your project, good for you! The influence capabilities described in this article apply to you as well as to your

BA Practice Lead. Work with the key leaders on your project to examine your collective power and influence, and the landscape within which you are operating, and develop a Political Management Plan.

So what does this mean for the BA Practice Lead?

This article presents the case for a BA Practice Lead to examine political implications including your influence, power, support, and environmental issues. Diagnose your political strengths and gaps. You need strong influence skills to get people to want to support your effort. Develop a Political Management Plan to increase your ability to negotiate the organizational politics and your personal power and influence to achieve your goals.

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The BA Practice Lead Handbook 3 – So You Want To Be a BA Practice Lead? OMG: What Have You Gotten Yourself Into?

Haas Feb5th Img02In the previous articles, we discussed the reasons Business Analysis (BA) is emerging as a critical business process, and the value of Enterprise BAs. However, organizations are experiencing lots of challenges attempting to implement an effective BA Practice. In this article, we will examine some of the fundamental building blocks that will enable you to be successful in creating and sustaining a mature BA Practice.

Is Your Organization Ready?

For decades businesses that are dependent on complex projects for their success have been challenged to deliver. They primarily focused on requirements for IT solutions and managing (aka, limiting) changes to those requirements, (mostly thought of as scope creep). Finally, the relatively new discipline of Business Analysis changes the project focus from IT to the business. After all is said and done, it is about the business value brought about by new IT solutions, not about the technology.

While there are some world-class BA Practices in existence, far too many attempts to implement a Business Analysis Practice have been only marginally successful. Too often the improvements to BA have been driven exclusively from the bottom up. While support is needed from all levels of the organization, grassroots efforts tend to be project specific, and disappear gradually as project teams are disbanded.

BA Practice Implementation and Sustainability

To implement and institutionalize an enterprise-wide BA Practice, the business value that is promised from a mature BA Practice needs to be fully understood across the organization, and BA benefits need to be continually demonstrated through measurement and communication programs. Leadership and sponsorship of the effort should emanate from the top of the organization, and flow down to all levels. A holistic and methodical implementation approach and framework is essential for success and sustainability. Mature BA Practices have several components: a capable BA team, organizational support, executive leadership and sponsorship, and an implementation and sustainability framework.

Typically, a BA Practice is supported by a number of integrated elements that comprise a holistic framework. To deal with the significant amount of change required by all project stakeholders, the BA Practice implementation should be managed in phases. The value of the BA Practice needs to be demonstrated and communicated during every phase.

Initial Readiness Phase

Answers the question, “Is our organization ready?”

  • Business Case
  • Executive Sponsor
  • Steering Committee

Subsequent Implementation Phase

Answers the question, “How do we build the BA Practice?”

  • The BA Center of Excellence (BACOE)
  • Capable BA Team
  • BA Practice Standards

Ongoing Sustainability Phase

Answers the question, “How do we institutionalize and continue to improve BA practices?”

  • Maturity and Capability Assessments and Continuous Improvements
  • Measurement and Communication Programs

The BA Practice FrameworkHaas Feb5th Img01

A brief description of the elements of the framework is provided below. Future articles will explore each element in detail.

The Business Case for a mature BA Practice

There are many elements that must be in place for you to declare your readiness to begin to implement a BA Practice. As we discussed in the previous article in this series, (Why Business Analysis? What’s in it for me?)

The most important tool in the Business Analysts’ arsenal is the Business Case. The life of every important change initiative begins and ends with a Business Case. Unless a change initiative (project) results in business benefits in terms of value to the customer and/or wealth to the bottom line, it is a failed venture – even if it is delivered on time and on budget. It is in the Business Case that the expected costs and business benefits are outlined. Without it, you are engaged in steering a rudderless vessel. Yet, in far too many projects, a Business Case does not exist. If it does exist, it is often unconvincing and used only to get funding for a project. The value of the Business Analyst is realized through execution and management of the Business Case….

Implementation of a new business process such as Business Analysis is a major change initiative. You will not get the organizational support you need unless you have a convincing Business Case. So, your first phase of the project is to engage a small but influential team of business and technical experts to work with you to build the Business Case for a Business Analysis Practice. It is imperative that you do not build the Business Case in isolation. Involving experts who are important leaders in the organization is critical. By involving experts, you will be building your team of high-level supporters.

You need to lead the group of experts to develop what is often referred to as a “Brilliant Business Case”. This is essentially an R&D, creative endeavor. The effort requires adequate time, a skilled facilitator (the BA Practice Lead), a strategic focus, and creative expert resources. The effort needs to be driven by you. The Business Case is owned by the BA Practice Lead; that is to say she authors and maintains the Business Case in collaboration with business and technology thought leaders. And subsequently, she must report against the cost and benefit projections contained in the Business Case. Be sure to capture the names and titles of the experts engaged to create the Business Case. This lends reliability and credibility to the proposal. If you would like to see a sample or rough draft of a Business Case to create an effective Business Analysis Practice, please send an email to [email protected].

The Executive Sponsor

Once you have developed the Business Case to implement a BA Practice, you should enlist an Executive Sponsor to guide the effort, to own the budget for the BA Practice, and to commit to the cost and benefit projections. Usually, the executive sponsor is a very senior-level executive, such as the CIO or CSO (Chief Strategy Officer).

The Executive Steering Committee

It is ideal to secure the approval of the experts who helped build the Business Case to serve on a BA Practice Steering Committee. The Steering Committee, facilitated by the BA Practice Lead and chaired by the Executive Sponsor, will provide political cover, decision support, budget, and legitimacy to the BA Practice initiative.

The BA Center of Excellence

The BA Practice needs a home, a department that is accountable and responsible for building and sustaining an effective BA Practice. This center should be small (too large is deadly), and is authorized to manage the BA team, the business case process, organizational BA standards and frameworks, methods, training, tools, templates, techniques and BA metrics and communication.

Capable BA Team

Today, BAs are mostly project focused, creating and managing requirement artifacts. However, to become a valuable corporate asset, BAs need to become strategically focused, concentrating on innovative solutions to complex business problems.

BA Practice Standards

In days gone by, we always followed the maxim, process first, then tools. The good news is that BA tools have grown up. Good BA standards are now embedded in integrated requirements management tools. So the tool helps educate BAs on the best practices, integrate and manage the requirements knowledge and artifacts, and helps forward engineer information into BA artifacts.

The bad news is most BAs still use desk top tools that are difficult to maintain and are disintegrated. As a result, the BA is burdened with creating, maintaining, integrating, and synchronizing all of the business strategies, goals, models, documents, matrices, use cases, user stories, test cases, etc. Adopt sophisticated tools to maintain reusable requirement artifacts, impose standards and enable education.

Maturity and Capability Assessments and Continuous Improvements

It is often said: we don’t need to do a maturity assessment, because we know our capabilities are immature. The problem is, just knowing your capabilities are immature is not actionable. Assessments provide useful information about strengths, and gaps that need immediate improvement to grow to the next level of maturity. Assessments shed light on exactly where you are, provide a step-by-step improvement roadmap, and facilitate continuous improvements based on proven maturity models.

Measurement and Communication Programs

Measurement and communication are key components of any change initiative. Make no mistake; implementing a mature BA Practice is no small endeavor. The effort is fraught with challenges. Targeted communications tailored to the needs of each stakeholder group is essential. The messages need to demonstrate the real business value brought about by improvement BA practices.

Putting it all Together

So what does this mean for the Business Analyst?

If you are trying to implement BA best practices, methodologies, frameworks, and enabling technologies on your project, good for you! Don’t get discouraged by realizing these may die on the vine when your project is completed. Collaborate with others outside of your project to expand your reach and build lasting momentum.

So what does this mean for the BA Practice Lead?

This article presents the case for a BA framework to implement an enterprise-wide mature BA Practice that is strategically focused. In the next article, we will focus on you, the BA Practice Lead: are you ready?

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The BA Practice Lead Handbook 2 – Why Business Analysis? What’s in it for me?

In the previous article, we discussed the reasons Business Analysis is emerging as a critical business practice for the 21st century. But we sometimes have difficulty explaining the value of Business Analysis; driving an understanding of the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). So let’s examine what a real BA is, one who is enterprise and strategically focused and who executes strategy, advances enterprise capabilities, and delivers innovative products and services….and what it means for everyone, including:

  • What’s in it for the CIO?
  • What’s in it for the Business Manager?
  • What’s in it for the Technologists?
  • What’s in it for the Project Manager?

The Value of the Business Analyst

The most important tool in the Business Analysts’ arsenal is the Business Case. The life of every important change initiative begins and ends with a Business Case. Unless a change initiative (project) results in business benefits in terms of value to the customer and/or wealth to the bottom line, it is a failed venture – even if it is delivered on time and on budget. It is in the Business Case that the expected costs and business benefits are outlined. Without it, you are engaged in steering a rudderless vessel. Yet, in far too many projects, a Business Case does not exist. If it does exist, it is often unconvincing and used only to get funding for a project. The value of the Business Analyst is realized through execution and management of the Business Case, and the role of the BA changes subtly throughout the life of the project.

The Enterprise Analyst. Developing what is often referred to as a “brilliant Business Case” is essentially and R&D, creative endeavor. The effort requires adequate time, a skilled facilitator (the Enterprise BA), a strategic focus, and creative expert resources. The effort is driven by the Business Analyst. The Business Case is owned by the Business Analyst; that is to say the Business Analyst authors and maintains the Business Case in collaboration with business and technology thought leaders.

The Project Analyst. Once a project has been approved based on the Business Case, the Business Analyst transitions from the role of Enterprise Analyst to a Project Analyst. Typically, the Business Case is no longer used, since the project is approved, resourced, and funded. However, as the BA elicits detailed business requirements and the solution design emerges, she continues to validate the expected costs and benefits, updates the Business Case and alerts decision makers if the original assumptions and projections are at risk, and recommends a course correction. This validation/update cycle is essential to keep the Business Case alive, and to keep everyone’s focus on the business benefits. Remember, the Business Case is developed when we know the least about the endeavor, so it is no longer valid unless updated as more is learned.

The Business Realization Analyst. After a new solution is deployed, the BA serves as a Business Realization Manager, measuring the value of the new solution, and making improvements and adjustments to the solution or how it is used if the value does not measure up to the original benefit projections.

Business Analysis: What’s in it for the CIO

Why does a CIO care about Business Analysis? What’s in it for him/her? Consider some insight from the Gartner Group, Northwestern University, and DiamondCluster International survey of 130 senior IT executives:

51%      Percentage of CIOs with no process to evaluate IT investment against business strategy
68%      Percentage of CIOs who don’t compare actual IT project benefits to original targets
74%      Percentage of CIOs who don’t track financial metrics after making an investment
80%      Percentage of CIOs who say lack of financial skills makes quantifying IT benefits difficult

This revealing study, together with the fact that only 37% of IT projects are successful, costing the economy billions of dollars (see article #1 in this series), make for a very challenging situation for CIOs. And their peers in the boardroom are increasingly demanding return on their IT investments. CEOs have a stunning awareness that many of their very costly IT projects, whether for technology infrastructure upgrades, to implement a new improved business process, or to deploy a new product or service, fail to achieve expected value. Furthermore, they are frustrated and unclear about how to fix the problem. 

If the onslaught of Business Analysis practices promise to produce convincing Business Cases, CIOs can finally predict, deliver, and demonstrate real value. All too often Business Cases relying on traditional ROI measures, are often unrealistically high, knowingly or unknowingly low, or simply unconvincing. BAs need to reverse this trend, producing brilliant Business Cases that are convincing and accurate.

So, here is your elevator speech to your CIO: “Many enlightened CIOs are placing their bets on implementation of a world class Business Analysis Practice to finally predict, produce, deliver, and measure expected business benefits.”

Business Analysis: What’s in it for the Business Manager

One strategy used by executives is to put a mid- to senior-level manager in charge of expensive project investments for a department or line of business. So not only is the CIO being held accountable for driving value to the customer and wealth to the bottom line, front line management is also on the hook.
So, here is your elevator speech to your business partner: “Adequate time spent up front on the business case will ensure we develop an innovative solution, and predict, produce, deliver, and measure expected business benefits.”

Business Analysis: What’s in it for the Technologists?

Similarly, CIOs put a mid- to senior-level IT manager in charge of the technology for expensive IT project investments. So not only is the CIO being held accountable for driving value to the customer and wealth to the bottom line, front line IT management is also on the hook.
Assuming the BA partners with the business manager and lead technologist who are on point when creating the Business Case, they will be invaluable in helping keep the focus on the business benefits.

So, here is your elevator speech to your lead technologist: “An experienced BA assigned throughout the project will ensure we develop an innovative solution, and predict, produce, deliver, and measure expected business benefits.”

Business Analysis: What’s in it for the Project Manager

And then there is the project manager (PM). Whether there is a convincing Business Case or not, the PM is expected to drive forward, delivering the solution on time and on budget. The PM cares about cost, but only project cost as opposed to the total cost of ownership of the new solution. PMs generally don’t focus on the cost to operate or maintain the new solution, only on the build or acquisition costs. As a result, project success to PMSs is often determined by measures other than business value.

The BA keeps the focus on the business value expected from the new solution. The BA collaborates with the PM to conduct trade-off analysis and make the tough project decisions. The BA also had her ear to the ground to determine if business needs are changing that might impact the current project objectives.
So, here is your elevator speech to your PM: “It has been estimated that a PM increases the probability of project success by 400% with an exceptional BA on the project.” (BA Benchmark Study, AG Consulting 2008)

Putting it all Together

So what does this mean for the Business Analyst?

If your project does not have a Business Case, pull together a small but mighty team of experts and facilitate them through the development of key Business Case elements. You will need experts who can predict trends, think outside the box, see the big picture, deal with complexity, and help create a strong team. Then, present the Business Case to the business executive and lead technologist who have the most ownership in the success of the project, and ask them if it describes what they are looking for from the project outcomes.

What’s in it for the BA? This will get you noticed as an elite BA, one who is focusing on business value as opposed to requirements management. Look for more about building a convincing Business Case in future articles in this series.

So what does this mean for the BA Practice Lead?

As Practice Lead/BA Manager, your primary focus should be on the capability of your BA team to build brilliant Business Cases. Develop a standard agenda for conducting a Business Case workshop. Insist that your BAs build and maintain Business Cases for all critical projects.

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

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

Global and Local Challenges

Businesses are faced with unprecedented challenges.Kitty Dec11 IMG01

The Integrated Economy

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

Information Technology

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

Social Media and Hyper-Connectivity

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

Innovation vs. Business as Usual

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

Business Value Realization

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

37% Project Success Rate

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

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

Complexity

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

Enter Business Analysis: Changing the way we do Projects

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

What is Enterprise Business Analysis?

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

Kitty Dec11 IMG02

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

 

Putting it all Together

What does this mean for the Business Analyst?

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

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

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

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

What does this mean for the BA Practice Lead?

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

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

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

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

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

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