Need of a BA CoE
While the Business Analyst’s (BA) role interfaces to multiple organizational stakeholders during the execution of a project, very rarely do they interact with other BAs unless the project is big enough and needs multiple BAs. The ‘solo’ nature of the role creates a challenge towards cross functional area development, skill enhancement across business analysis and business domains. High level of collaboration is required to address these challenges; this collaboration can be achieved through a community which is focused on skill development and upgrade.
Additionally, the same community can be structured to provide a unified ‘Business Analyst’ view to the various stakeholders and also to nurture talent within the community thereby earning the tag of BA CoE – Business Analyst Center of Excellence.
The CoE thus becomes the notional ‘owner’ of the BAs, responsible for team formation, team development (both in skills and numbers), BA allocations and load management, evaluation and overall reporting to the universe of stakeholders.
Effective Center of Excellence
The focus of the CoE has to be in multiple areas of activities, ranging from capacity management to ensuring adequate availability of skilled BAs for training and development, knowledge management and capability building of all members of the CoE, thus providing a consolidated status to the CoE and plans to the senior management and stakeholders.
Towards achieving its objectives, the CoE needs to focus on the following areas:
- Capacity Management: BA requirements for the complete planning year
- Capacity Utilization: Optimal utilization of pool resources, based on complexity and sub-domain
- Training and skill development: With distinct skill sets and knowledge levels across the BA CoE, it needs to ensure that training and mentoring is made available to all the members on a near continuous basis. The training focus should cover
- Fresh graduates being trained as BAs
- Junior BAs introduced to business domains and mentored on BA skills
- BAs trained on business domains prior to involvement in projects
- Senior BAs and BAs trained on mentoring skills
- Based on requirement, specialist certifications within the identified domains
- Knowledge Management: Creating and maintaining a strong knowledge repository for the BA CoE, which can be leveraged for greater productivity as well as knowledge enhancement
- Productivity Enablers: Effective, practical and simple to use BRD, FSD, Use Cases etc. templates are the productivity enablers for BAs. They use these templates at various stages of their day-to-day project and reporting activities. The BA COE should be the ultimate owner of all these templates.
- Performance Management: BA CoE should facilitate the performance target setting and, coordinate the evaluation for the diverse groups across business and technology in ensuring measurement of quality delivery
Avoiding the Trap of Resource Pool
More often than not, a BA CoE is operated as a resource pool; where the focus is on end-user interfacing and delivery at the expense of capability building. Organizations have a tendency to measure the success of a BA CoE based only on the number of BAs deployed on productive engagements (internal or external). The success of BA CoE should also be measured by key productivity drivers like capability building and knowledge sharing.
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