Tuesday, 07 August 2012 04:00

Building a Mature, Innovation-Driven Business Analysis Practice

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FEATUREAug7thAs businesses acknowledge the value of business analysis – the result of the absolute necessity to drive business results through projects – they are struggling to figure out three things:

(1) What are the characteristics of their current BA workforce, and how capable does their BA team need to be?

(2) What is needed to build a mature BA Practice?

(3) How are we going to get there? 

This article focuses on #2: What is needed to build a mature BA Practice? See Exhibit 1: BA Practice Maturity Framework.  Key concepts include:

  • Mature BA Practices
  • The Daunting Road Ahead
  • Cultivating Mature BA Practices
  • BA Practice Maturity Assessment
In previous articles we introduced the comprehensive BA Practice Maturity Framework. The journey begins with an acknowledgement that business analysis is a critical business management discipline for the 21stcentury.  Realizing that it takes investment and resources to build a new business management practice, our framework calls for a proven, structured approach coupled with expert change management skills.  Our framework involves a three-pronged approach to build a mature BA Practice, develop a competent BA workforce, and establish a BACOE to plant the seeds and steer the course.  This chapter focuses on building a mature innovation-driven BA Practice.

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Mature BA Practices

To steer the course, we once again make use of a model, the BA Practice Maturity Model (Exhibit 2).  As you can see, the model is in strict alignment with the BA Individual and Workforce Capability Model introduced previously.

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The maturity levels of the BA Practice Maturity Model are described below (Exhibit 3).

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 Exhibit 3: BA Maturity Model Description

The Daunting Road Ahead

As you can see in Exhibit 4, there are many elements that need to be in place to implement a mature BA Practice.  So, it begs the question: how are we every going to get there, and how fast can we get there? 

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Cultivating Mature BA Practices

A BA Practice Maturity Assessment Process and Practice Improvement Program are essential tools used to build a mature BA Practice. Together, they provide validated, accurate information about the current state of BA practices, accompanied by recommendations for improvement and support along the journey.  In addition, the assessment determines the readiness of the organization to accept and support the new BA practices and formation of a BA Center of Excellence to plant the seeds and steer the course.  Specifically, the assessments:

  • Measure the ability of your organization to repeatedly deliver new business solutions that meet the business need and result in the expected benefits
  • Provide a foundation and guidance for advancement of practices through prioritized, sequential improvements
  • Provide an indicator of how effective your organization is in meeting business objectives and executing strategy through successful implementation of new business solutions

BA Practice Maturity Assessment

  • What is it?
    • An independent appraisal of organizational practices
  • Why do it?
    • Provides a foundation for advancement
  • How is it used?
    • Determines where we are today; where we want to be in the future
  • How is it conducted?
    • Uses an appraisal process based on assessment best practices
  • BA practices assessed against what?
    • Current capabilities are compared to a BA Practice Maturity Model based on BA industry best practices

Assessment Components

The scope of the assessment needs to be broad, encompassing the following components:

  • BABOK® Standards: BA Planning & Monitoring, Elicitation, Requirements Management, Enterprise Analysis, etc.
  • BA Metrics
  • BA Tools
  • Knowledge Management
  • BA Practice Support & Governance
  • Change Management
  • BA Competency & Career Management
  • BA Training & Support
  • Project Selection & Prioritization
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • BA Center of Excellence Effectiveness

Assessment Approach

The approach to conducting an organizational maturity assessment can be formal or informal.  In either case, it is multi-dimensional, and includes planning meetings culminating in a kick-off session, administration of an assessment instrument, review of project artifacts and deliverables, accompanied by a series of interviews and focus group sessions.  Information is synthesized, organized, validated and documented in a data summary report and an assessment findings and recommendations report containing a two-year roadmap and action plan for immediate next steps.   

Formal or Informal Assessments

The BA Practice Maturity Model can be used as the basis for several types of assessments as described in the table below (Exhibit 5).  Depending on how far you have come in your journey to cultivate mature BA practices, we recommend the most appropriate evaluation of your BA Practice. 

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Assessment Deliverables

There are two key assessment deliverables:

  • The Data Summary Report
    • Overall Maturity Rating
    • Maturity Rating for each component
    • Strengths
    • Opportunities
  • The Findings and Recommendations Report and Executive Presentation
    • Detailed findings
    • Detailed recommendations
    • Roadmap to close the gaps
    • Action plan to implement recommendations

Sample Assessment Results

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Kathleen B. Hass, PMP

Principal Consultant
Kathleen Hass & Associates, Inc.
Email: kittyhass@comcast.net
Website: www.kathleenhass.com

Kitty is the world’s leading expert in strategic business analysis and complex project management. She has written dozens of articles and nine books, including the renowned series The Business Analysis Essential Library; The Enterprise Business Analyst: Developing Creative Solutions to Complex Business Problems; and Managing Project Complexity: A New Model, which was awarded PMI’s David I. Cleland Literature Award. She is a director on the IIBA board and is on the BA advisory boards for Capella University and the University of California, Irvine. 

 

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