The Value of a Business Analyst on a Bring Your Own Device project
I’m confident enough about the role of the Business Analyst to say that a good BA can add value to any ICT or process improvement project. At first, the prospect of my first BYOD project had me questioning the amount of value I could add, after all, the project would surely be more about technically managing the device than delivering end user functionality?
Having just completed my first BYOD project (and as part of the course, questioning the value I was adding throughout), hopefully I can demonstrate from practical experience the value a BA can add to one of these projects:
- Defining the business need; the need often involves cost reduction, which is a without doubt a valid need as mobile costs represent a significant proportion of most CIOs budgets, but is an area to be careful with if that is the sole driver. A BA can add value here by questioning further to identify if there are any other problems with the current mobile service(s) e.g. low user satisfaction due to outdated technology constraining the way they work, increased employee mobility, risk associated with the viability of particular technology providers in the marketplace etc. This will help establish a broader base and help with identifying other sources which can realise benefits.
- Considering solution options; BYOD is just one option, there are plenty of others, depending on the business problem being faced e.g. re-negotiating existing corporate fleet contracts, upgrading the current corporate fleet may be another, or trimming back who’s entitled to a corporate mobile device…there are plenty more! The BA can add value by considering a full range of solution options and considering their advantages and disadvantages objectively to ensure BYOD is the most viable solution.
- Defining the Business Case; this took longer than the average Business Case due to the complexity associated with mobile service costs, so factor this into your planning. The BA can add value here by ensuring that all the costs and benefits associated with BYOD are factored in, and that any perceived cost savings can be established based upon realistic assumptions. If the financial justification rests on a particular volume of employees switching to BYOD, consider doing some market research to de-risk your estimate.
- Defining Business Requirements; stakeholder identification is key. The obvious choice are the IT users that will manage the devices, but don’t forget about business users just because the software solution won’t be used by them. The business processes they execute are a source of requirements too, as it will enable them to use mobile devices to support some of their process steps e.g. taking photos. Also, if you are migrating users from a corporate fleet to BYOD, the BA can add additional value by designing the transition process for employees. This process will be used by the Implementation Team to define a set of instructions for users to follow, so it’s a crucial one to get right!
- Defining Functional Requirements; functional requirements were initially difficult to elicit because the IT users had not practical experience of managing personal devices in a corporate environment. The BA can add value by using scenarios (which may have already been created to validate processes) to help identify and generate the use cases initially, and then cycle back through to ensure the use case can satisfy a number of scenarios.
- Defining Service Requirements; a key consideration is whether the organization has an IT Help Desk with the capability to support BYOD. The range of devices, and rapid development and deployment of mobile operating systems can be a daunting prospect and outsourcing to a mobile specialist is a key consideration. If this is the case for your project, the BA can add value by defining the services and service level requirements the organisation will require from a service provider.
- Solutions assessment & validation; the Mobile Device Management vendors can deliver some slick demonstrations; the BA can add value to this process by remaining objective and ensuring the functional requirements can be met!
Hopefully this tells a compelling story of how a BA can add value on a BYOD project. The project in question had a successful implementation, and is currently on track to realise the majority of the benefits defined in the Business Case.
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