Author: Richard Lannon

Strategy Spotlight: Seven Challenges Artificial Intelligence Brings to your Business and Career

I was reading the blog of a well known and established management consultant who recommended to perform better, we must learn faster.

This was in relations to BI (business intelligence) and AI (artificial intelligence) and what professionals need to do to survive the advent of AI into the business world, decision making and professional careers. It was suggested, the way to beat AI is to learn faster.

Related Article: 7 Must-Have Skills For The Business Intelligence Business Analyst

I had no choice but to write this business leader a personal email outlining his recommendation could be equated to the song John Henry. Generally, John Henry was a Steel Gang Lead who had a hammer in his hand. He competed against the Steam Shovel at the turn of the century to beat technology down, saying he would die with a hammer in his hand. The Steam Shovel did win, and John Henry was laid to rest. To this day, trains pass by haunt the man who died with a hammer in his hand. My point, telling people to learn faster is like saying here’s a hammer now go beat the AI computer in your analysis and decision making. Eventually, AI will win, you will die, and the economy will change. You should be asking, what is the impact, why is it important, and how should you proceed, so you can prepare for another shift in your professional landscape.

Pick Your Battles: I don’t want to simplify this too much. I learned from raising teenagers I needed to pick my battles. Again, you think that lesson would be learned in the professional world. Teenagers can be somewhat moody. So you need to know when to engage and when to pull back, or else everything blows up in your face. I think when you look at AI and BI you need to know when to pick your battles and develop an understanding to what you should or need to lean into and what you need to let go. Some of your day to day routine work will disappear, the business world will for a while be moodier, so it is better to create a flexible plan with alternative routes now. Maybe even doing first and asking for forgiveness later.

When Stephen Hawking Speaks: I often think a commercial, from years ago tagline, “when XYZ speaks everyone listens.” When I hear or read Stephen Hawking’s name, I stop and listen. He has made some dangerous predictions about AI in 2015. It is along the lines of AI having the drive to reproduce and survive like biological organisms. If you are a sci-fi fan, you can pick the language to use. The main simplified point, AI with goals could take human resources away. The counter to the point is AI, with specific complex communities, will be like social bees. For example, a hive could be created in complex supply chain manufacturing environments. The human piece, ensure you advance your skills and capabilities to minimize your displacement. In other words, job loss.

Creep into Decision Making: AI has already made its way into decision making and is impacting work and computing. I suspect a lot of people don’t even realize it. We need to recognize now that AI and BI will grow exponentially. Sped up and improved to add value to business via business intelligence. It will continue to be part of the value chain for basic decisions and will advance further. When I think of basic decisions, in today’s terms, I think of smart investment systems that automatically define your investment portfolio and make adjustments based on a set of criteria that you specified or the airline ticket systems that adjust pricing based on pre-set criteria. These decisions, in the not so distant past, had human intervention, now serviced by an automated system.

Friend or Enemy: We can go back to the turn of the 20th-century industry song John Henry to say that technology has replaced many routine jobs. Initially, machines needed a human hand. Now, we can say that automation has replaced human workers in more decision making roles and routines. I was reading and thinking about ‘black-box’ decision making. The general idea, there is an unknown in how an AI system arrives at a decisions, conclusion or recommendation. In a human system of business analysis you might test the validity of the problem statement, the assumptions, and the final solution. Maybe with the standard process define, solve, implement and measure all events with a variety of professional intervention. With the human component removed there might be less prejudice, but there is the other side where humanization of decisions considers not just facts but the human element. Within business analysis, you will need to balance profit drive and the public good. I do not know how that plays out.

Power Rangers Rescuers: The reality is this whole article is about the power; the power of computers and the power of decision-making makers. If decision making is being replaced by machines then so are the decision makers. In business analysis, you use a process to arrive at recommended decisions that are presented to decision makers, usually a sponsor. Our future is one where the professional and the manager have to up their game. People who can think strategically and creatively will be the power rangers of tomorrow. Not the tactical person since tactics will be sourced by machines.

For the past decade in my business analysis training programs and writing, I have been telling professionals to work on the strategic and creative thinking abilities. If things continue on the present course success in the middle is not an option. Meaning middle management and middle careers will further be eroded, organizations will slim, and the savvy strategic creative professional will rise to the top. Your professional relationship with the organization will change embracing multiple organizationally initiatives across a varied business landscape. You will be the Power Ranger Rescuer able to integrate AI and BI into your work.
Maybe even a rewarded hero of an age of creative business problem solutions. Something I think organizations don’t do well is rewarding the intellectual abilities possessed within the business analysis mind, but that will be another article! I will say that I sometimes wonder who’s worth more; the project manager who brings a project to completion or the business analysts who finds a business problem solution that saves an organization millions of dollars. Who’s the hero? You decide.

Accelerated Education: This is where I started. I mean that learning faster is something we human’s won’t be able to do as AI and BI are integrated into the fabric of our existence, but that does not mean we stop learning. It will just be a different kind of learning. Recently I was in a meeting regarding education. The question posed was why some professionals have their master’s degree, and other don’t. Their work history easily equated to a master degree in business. It was suggested that the learning had to be done by doing and attending an advanced course or boot camp that gave the person the skills, information, knowledge, and exposure they needed for thinking and the applicable tools. I agree partly with the response because in the corporate world acceleration means learning applicable skills now. This might appear to counter to what I stated earlier about learning faster to beat AI is like John Henry hammering at the mountain. You ain’t going to win. But it is not. With boot camps, you are not trying to beat AI and BI systems. You are focusing on a specific skill set that embraces creative thinking and is applicable now. That is it. Hopefully, we will get past hard skill learning and will embrace experiential soft skills learning on another level.

Final Thoughts: With this blog, I was not trying to debunk AI, BI or education in any way. But I do believe the advances in AI and BI will radically change the way professionals who use business analysis best practices survive the next on slot of business and technology integration. I do think that the professional who considered their learning in relations to AI and BI design interactions, who can go past the operational and tactical and groom their creative abilities along with their strategic insights, can prepare themselves for a heck of a career journey.

When I was in university, years ago, I wrote a philosophy paper answering the question can computers think. I based my paper on a Cola Machine that said thank you after you paid for a drink. At the time I argued no machines can think. Using the example, a human had to program and maintain systems that simply acknowledged receiving payment for services rendered. A human can do this, but in this case, there were no other interactions or pleasantries. I received an A+ for this paper. That was 30 years ago today.

I did mention in my paper that as the decades pass we may actually have thinking deciding systems that go past the limitations of wires and circuitry. I believe it is time we within professional business analysis community embrace ourselves for a change in decision making and careers now so we can contribute to tomorrow. Be strategic, be creative and build relationships. Good luck.

Remember, do your best, invest in the success of others, make your journey count, Richard.

Strategy Spotlight: 6 Ways the Business Analyst is a Management Consultant

I make no bones about it. Over 27 years ago, as I prepared to leave university, I wanted a career where I could do the stuff I did in post-secondary school but in the private sector.

Read, research, write, chat with people, create relationships, share ideas, improve organizations and occasionally attend beer and pizza events that were an opportunity to network or have fun, if you know what I mean, right.

As I skimmed my career horizon, talked to people, and took the time to work through the book, “What Color is Your Parachute” by Richard N. Bolles (recommend if changing careers), I realized I did not fit the normal get-a-job world. I learned that I needed to feed my entrepreneurial spirit, analytic abilities, and strategic thinking to make business better. Somewhere I learned about, ‘the management consultant’ (place dramatic music here, please) and started reading everything I could about the profession.

Related Article: The BA Competency Consultant Role

This week I did a career audit and review – something I recommend everyone should do from time to time. This brought me to 6 Ways in which the Business Analyst is a Management Consultant.

It’s a Problem to Solve: Many professionals work their whole lives to become a project manager or an executive. They want to climb the corporate ladder so to speak. Some professionals prefer to skip all that implementation and operational management stuff and get to solving business problems now. As a business analyst, while helping to expose challenges and opportunities, you get to work with all levels of the organization and develop your executive thinking and strategic abilities. You get to define the problem, ask the important what and why questions to unravel issues and develop solutions.

Do Many Things: This is something I love about the overall consulting field, being able to do many things, see many things, and be many things. I was once asked, by a CEO, what would a perfect week look like for me. I laughed and said, on Monday I write, connect with people and prepare, Tuesday, I attend a few meetings, do a breakout session and coach/mentor clients, by Wednesday I am keynoting at an event, updating key stakeholder status and designing a new system, Thursday and Friday are spent training and/or facilitating a session and then back to the office to debrief and prepare for the next week. Best part, many interactions, many cultures, helping many people and doing many things. You can specialize in an industry or a niche, even ride the wave of the next best thing. The business analyst and consultant do this. The choice is yours.

Many Hats to Wear: Recently I experienced the perfect fortuitous juxtaposition of interests. I was invited to a 1920’s themed volunteer appreciation dinner being sponsored and hosted by a client. I ended up sitting next to a university Associate Dean, senior board member, and business person. He asked the magical question, what do you do? Sitting there, in my 1920’s time period attire, wearing my fedora, with my strategic business analyst/consultant’s smile, I delivered my elevator speech. He looked at me and said, you are a man of many hats. I think he is correct, if you get to wear many hats and like it, you may be a business analyst turning consultant. You get to be many things, play many roles and with many responsibilities.

An Instant Business Network: You may not like to network, I get that. But as a business analyst/consultant just by the nature of the work you do you get to build a vast and valuable network. Just think about it. You get to work with internal and external clients due to the different projects you are engaged in. Your stakeholder list includes all levels in your organization. Externally you make connections with vendors of all sorts.

Recently a business associate of mine lost his job as a strategic business analyst at a major corporation. He was right sized. A week later, a vendor called him and asked if he would join their team. He would be working for a company with an office in Pal-Alto, California. He went from commuting to work every day to working virtually and going to California for meetings during Canada’s winters. The key point, you get to build relationships. That’s important.

You are Seen as an Expert: I learned this when I was with one of the big consulting firms. Consulting firms and the profession is about rapid learning. Even independently, you can focus on a key expertise and grow your abilities. The best part, you get to learn on the job. I have often said the business analyst is paid to learn and develop their expertise. This often happens due to the fast pace of projects and the teams you are working with. If you are with a firm, they will send you to training and develop your expertise for the various engagement/projects you work on. You learn to leverage and build your expertise. That is exciting!

Flexibility is a Survival Tactic: Years ago I worked for a very operational company (for a short bit). It was a good experience as it helped me understand the day-to-day needs of clients. I could plan my day and for the most part, I could do the things that were required.

For the business analysts as a consultant this might be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes your day ‘changes on a dime’. For example, a client calls and says “I have two people flying in today can you meet with them to get the new systems requirements from them? They are available this afternoon.” Your day just changed, and you need to adjust everything fast. The reality is as a BA you may be working on several initiatives (an IT assessment, a policy review, maturity audit, risk assessment or a process model) and you need to manage everything and adjust.

Final Thoughts: As I write this piece I find that I am becoming even more excited about the work a business analyst as the consultant does. I feel as if I want to share all the projects I worked on over 3 decades and the many lessons learned. But I can’t do it all at once.

Recently, during a podcast interview, I hosted (BA Times Podcast airs September 2016), my business colleague and guest, Bob Prentiss (Bob the BA), reminded me that not all business analysts become project managers. There are now many career avenues to pursue.

I am excited for you, the professional business analyst, about the future projects and initiatives you will work on. The ones you can’t even see coming yet. But they are there. Interestingly being a business analyst and consultant (internal or external) provides you a platform on which to develop many skills, to try new things and to boldly go with no-one has gone before. Good luck.

Remember,
Do your best,
Invest in the success of others,
Make your journey count.
Richard

Strategy Spotlight: 6 Strategic Spotlight Terms You Should Know

Recently I wrote about the importance of communications and having a common stakeholder language.

From a strategy spotlight perspective this is extremely important. Definitions and a common language help the business analyst keep people on track so they move things forward. Often I have to tell my stakeholders what the terms mean in the context we are using them in and that they cannot change the definition. This approach helps move stakeholders forward. In the strategic facilitation this is a valuable approach. Even if you are not doing strategic facilitation or planning, as a business analyst or project manager you need to know the key terms to align your work and project initiatives.

Related Article: 8 Ideas for Creating a Common Language and Communication Plan

Here are six strategic analysis, planning and implementation terms I often give to clients to ensure that we are all speaking the same language and our work aligns with the over arching business requirements and stakeholders needs.

Strategy Agenda Item is a high level plan of action item designed to achieve a vision. Since strategic planning is a component of the business planning that is to be done before you take tactical action it is imperative that there is a clear understanding of the strategic agenda items as they provide focus. Often rather than focusing on internal operational issues, a strategic focus means addressing and solving business problems through the effective use of existing resources. As strategic initiatives are defined resource usage is analyzed.

Related Article: 5 Questions Business Analysts Should Have in Their Question Inventory

Strategic Initiatives should represent the most significant line of business or cross line of business projects that are planned to improve the business in some way with consideration for the four key business impact zones. In this part of strategic planning phase the team is deciding the essential focus and key initiatives that must be met to achieve the strategic agenda items. Depending on the size of your organization these will become enterprise, program or project initiatives. They can be very strategic or tactical based on your organization’s size, structure and present culture. At the initiative level the way you define success in the attainment of our objectives should be clarified, the speed and distance of action determined and the critical success factors defined. This takes a while to do.

Business and Initiative Champions are individuals that go beyond their operative responsibilities. As defined here, they are individuals trying to influence strategic issues larger than their own immediate operational responsibilities. They take the initiative and accept responsibility and accountability for it. The potential ways and objectives of championing cover the whole process of strategy: the formation of the content of strategy as well as the process of implementing strategic contents.

If the focus is more of being an initiative champion then that person should bring discipline and rigour to planning and execution of an initiative ensuring the timing and achievement of milestones and deliverables are agreed upon and managed. They will need to tie investment in strategic items and strategic initiative to specific and measurable outcomes and enable issues to be addressed and resolved proactively, before they jeopardize outcomes.

A champion can be used more specifically to refer to a senior manager who champions the project, ensures that it is properly resourced and uses their influence to overcome barriers for the team.

Measurable Outcomes are the measurable results of the implemented objectives and must be defined in measurable terms. Measurements are essential for understanding what is happening in your business–what gets measured gets done. In a business environment, measurements come in many forms and include hard, soft, lagging and leading indicators.

Lagging indicators are used to measure performance and allow the leadership team to track how things are going. Because output (performance) is always easier to measure by assessing whether your goals were achieved, lagging indicators are backward-focused or “trailing”—they measure performance already captured. Just about anything you wish to monitor will have lagging indicators. Leading indicators are precursors to the direction something is going. Because leading indicators come before a trend, they are considered business drivers. Identifying specific, focused leading indicators should be a part of each business’s strategic planning and decision-making process.

Related Article: Lagging vs. Leading Business Indicators – Do you know the difference?

You can pre-determine or reverse engineer measurable outcomes by either using the SMART and/or CAR principle. As part of the measurable outcome determination always consider key stakeholders.

Key Elements are the big things that need to be done in order to be successful. They are the big buckets of work. The key to creating key elements is to understand the scope of work at a high level and to be able to state them clearly. A scope of work sets forth requirements for performance of work to achieve strategic and project objectives. The scope of work must be clear, accurate and complete. It needs to be understood by a wide audience. Defining key elements is part art and science and takes a while to master.

Milestone is one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road. Within the framework of strategic planning, a milestone is a special event that receives special attention. It is often falsely put at the end of a stage to mark the completion of a work package or phase. Milestones should be put before the end of a phase so that corrective actions can be taken. In addition to signalling the completion of a key deliverable, a milestone may also signify an important decision, which outlines or affects the future of an initiative or project. In this sense, a milestone not only signifies distance traveled (key stages in a project) but also indicates direction of travel since key decisions made at milestones may alter the route pre-determine in the various plans (strategic, tactical or operational).

Final Thoughts

Whether you are working on a top-down, bottom-up or mid-level initiatives having clear definition of these terms will help you. It is very difficult to walk into a room and write a list of terms on a white board and ask people to define them. You will spend a lot of time on an activity that should be done prior to meeting. I believe the professional provides the words and defines the terms that will be used. I have provided variations of these terms when working with clients to align their thinking, to build or interpret roadmaps and plans already created and to ensure stakeholders had a common language. I invite you to adapt them for your own use. Good luck.

Always
Do your best,
Invest in the success of others,
Make your journey count.
Richard
Article adapted from SET for Success, Chapter 15, by Richard Lannon

Strategy Spotlight: 8 Ideas for Creating a Common Language and Communication Plan

While visiting a Director of Enterprise Analysis at a large utilities company, we started to discuss their key challenges.

They had lots, but the one we honed in on was the need for a common language and a communication plan to improve communications among stakeholders.

This is a challenge for most organizations.

So how do you go about creating a common language and a communication plan to make your efforts easier?

Here are 8 ideas for creating a common language and communication plan for your initiative.

1. A Communication Map or Plan

As part of your process, you need to discuss communications early from both an internal and external perspective. Whatever message you will be delivering needs to be consistent. In today’s world of click-of-a-button information and communication dissemination, there’s no leeway for inconsistent messaging. We no longer have the luxury of writing complex communication plans. Nowadays a communication map must have the message and all channels of communication in one place with a single view.

2. Clear Definition of Words and Terms

This is one I have worked on for every assignment I have ever done, and it is not always easy. In one of my training programs, Gathering and Documenting Business Requirements, I get the participants to develop a decision grid for going to a restaurant for dinner at the end of the day. Each team has to pick three places, identify their criteria and apply a rating system (which I supply) to make a decision and come to a consensus. The participants think this is simple to do when they start but as they work through the process they discover it is not always easy. Why? Lack of a common language.

Related Article: Improve Communication for Better Collaboration

Often the criteria for selection becomes words like the restaurant must be close, accessible, good food, good service, have character, etc. I always have to ask the participants to define their words. For example, accessible could mean: a) that the restaurant is on the right side of the street so no one has to make a left turn into traffic, b) that you can park on the street and get out of your car and just walk in, or c) that people with wheelchairs have easy access to the restaurant and all the facilities. One word with different interpretations requires you to create a common language.

3. It’s Going to Happen One Way or Another

No matter the work you are involved in, communications is going to happen one way or another. So you need to come up with an approach that allows you to get ahead of the communication curve. One of my highly successful business associates told me last week that to get ahead of the communication curve you need to “be everywhere”. From their perspective, you need to have a social media plan with your message and words clearly defined, timed and placed consistently both internally and externally to your business environment. The thing to remember is communication is going to happen anyway. People will talk. So you need to ensure that you are out there delivering the message everywhere.

4. Give the People What They Want

Interestingly, what management thinks motivates people and what employees say is rarely the same thing. Management tends to think wages and job security are the most important factors for people, but many employees prefer inclusion, involvement, and to be appreciated for their work. This sentiment might vary depending on the working generation being reviewed, but in general, people want communication. They want you to have a conversation with them, not to merely tell them what’s going on and what to do. Given a lack of communication, people will invent their own ideas. As a professional, it’s important that you take the lead and make sure you’re providing the right amount and right level of communication for people.

5. Focus on Your Audience

Today it’s especially important to know your audience, especially considering all the possible communication channels and mediums available and the specific needs of each target audience and sub-audience. To avoid speculation, you’ll need to create an effective communication program that is audience-driven. You need to go back to your stakeholder analysis and revisit interests, goals, motivation, impact, and influence. This will allow you to design a communication platform that connects with your audience—both internally and externally. Your common language and communication map should make the distinction between the internal and external stakeholders, as well as establish a connection with your stakeholders. The main point, though, is to make sure you address your audience’s needs.

6. Know What You Need

There is no purpose to having a common language and communication plan unless you know what you want to achieve. Is it high-level or are you trying to communicate with the people who are responsible for the work itself? The people who are responsible are the doers—they get stuff done. The people who are accountable are where the buck stops. These are different audiences with different information and communication needs. Another difference, you will need to consult with some people, yet only keep others informed. Make sure you’re clear on who is who.

7. Core Items to Consider

There are many items to be considered when you’re looking at your communication plan and the development of a communication map. Identifying and finding the best way to communicate with your audience will be the key to your successful implementation of your plans. The communication analysis and planning process is similar to the overall work you do as a business analyst or project manager – you’ll still need to consider your stakeholders’ wants and needs. You’ll also need to find the appropriate vehicle to communicate the overall goals and objectives, the plans features, benefits and values, and find a way to address your stakeholders’ questions.

8. Follow a Structure

A common language and communication plan follows a structure. Start with defining your language early on. You may need some people to help you with this. You can start filling in a communication plan early for your different stakeholder groups. Make sure your communication plan is revisited regularly, perhaps as part of the regular meeting, once a month or every two months. Make sure you re-evaluate it after six months, however, and revisit it as part of your lessons learned review. The truth is creating a common language and a way to communicate becomes a living document that you need to review and keep up-to-date to ensure you are communicating appropriately in your business organization. It needs to stay alive.

Final Thoughts

For reference purposes this blog has been adapted from the book SET for Success, and the chapter on communication plans and maps. When it comes to communications, we all need a common language and a communication plan in our work and business. It’s the last piece of the puzzle and is part of the analysis, planning, and implementation cycle from the beginning to the end. More importantly, it’s part of the implementation and transition process that ensures your initiative gets successfully implemented. If you would like a copy of my communication template, let me know. I will send it to you.

Remember,

Do your best,

Invest in the success of others, and

Make your journey count.

Richard.

Strategy Spotlight: Benchmarking & Baselining Your Organization in 6 Easy Steps

You cannot conduct strategic business analysis or project management without benchmarking and creating a baseline. That is a fact.

I have seen times where executives and professionals skip this part of the planning process, thinking that they have all the information they need to document the current state. I have seen a lot of incidences where these people have been wrong and engage in a form of blame-storming when something was missed.

Related Article: Strategy Spotlight: 8 Common Strategic Planning Mistakes You’re Making

When working on a project, whether a pre-initiative or post-agreed, you need to focus on your benchmark and create a baseline to ensure you are clear about your present situation. A benchmark is a standard point of reference within your industry against which things may be compared or assessed. A baseline is the starting point used to compare your historical performance. Both are connected in the world of business analysis, sometimes interchangeable. The definition can change based on context.

Benchmarking became an important part of business performance management and a key input into financial analysis and business process improvement. It is also a powerful tool in change and transformation analysis forcing executives to look at the reality of the business through the facts. This is a practice that can become extremely uncomfortable for some people at times.

When I was thinking about this blog, I reviewed some of the steps that I have taken to benchmark a client’s internal and external situations. I realized that for me, benchmarking and baselining followed a standard 6 steps of activities.

1. Preparation

You will often hear me say preparation is the key to the success of any engagement. That is the truth in facilitation and in benchmarking activities. In this case, preparation has to do with your initial interviews and discussions with the leadership team to help you understand where their thoughts are at present, focusing on finding out ‘what, why this and why now.’ As part of this preparation, you need to know to what level the stakeholder is invested in the situation. Is it an emotional connection, being dictated from elsewhere or are they just stepping through the steps? This is all important to know.

2. Research

Getting the information you need is all about data collection. Information can be considered primary or secondary. Primary information is an account of the event from an original source. Secondary information is an interpretation of the account of the event.
There are many means of getting the information you need. I often use a three stage questionnaire process with the primary information holders and pre and post interviews to get a present state understanding for benchmarking. I expand my understanding by adding documentation reviews from inside and outside the organization.

3. Analysis

This is a key part of the pre-planning process often requiring information integration, leveling data and checking the sources and facts. You may need to normalize the data to ensure that a direct comparison is possible for operational subjects and issues. The analysis needs to provide comparisons, look at the gaps, cover all strengths and weaknesses, and be improvement focused. By this point you should have a clear state of the company, the project, the industry or application.

4. Presenting

This could be called reporting. It is just a matter of what the deliverable is. Prior to doing any planning type session (workshop, review, discussion), I do a summary of findings. This summary is laid out in such a way that the high-level stakeholders get a story of their present situation and is used for future planning. It is often delivered as a high-level, point form, executive summary with the supporting summary of findings behind it. It is not an extensive report – only a summary of findings. There is a difference. Accompanying a summary of findings might be a 6-slide deck using images to capture the data components.

5. Lessons

I have always liked the expression “forewarned is forearmed”. I think that is what lessons learned should be about, especially when we are doing benchmarking.

During the process, the business analyst should have gotten a clear picture of what I call the “truth”. The issues at play are known, and you should be able to pre-determine how things are going to play out and therefore plan more effectively. At a higher level, the best performing organizations share information and best practices for the benefit of all. If your baseline and benchmark are clear and honest, then you can start to focus on solutions and actions that need to be taken.

6. Actions

It is great to use the word “actions”, but it should not come before planning. In other words, “plan to act” with a well thought out implementation or action plan. This can only be done after the lessons have been accepted, integrated into the key stakeholders thinking (planning team) and the lessons learned can feed into the planning process.

The focus here is what you need to do to go forward based on your benchmark and baseline for your organization with all the common constraints. Dialogue should be forthcoming.

I can’t even remember the number of times that I have been part of benchmarking an organization or system through a combination of interviews, surveys, documentation, industry reviews, and workshop facilitation. I’ve participated in all of these activities just to get a clear picture of the state of things.

I do believe the process can be standardized and applied to any situation where getting clear on the present state is important and benchmarking to internal or external standards.

Developing good benchmarking and baselining skills is important. Chances are you will find yourself following a very similar process each time. I would encourage you to document your approach and share it. It is the place where good business analysis and planning starts. I hope this helps.

And remember:

Be your best, invest in the success of others, and make your journey count.

Richard

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