In our profession there is a lot of talk about companies implementing or wanting to implement a business analysis center of excellence (BA CoE). At the Building Business Capability (BBC) Conference this fall there was a panel of five people that have implemented one or more BA CoEs. The panelists spoke about their successes and challenges related to setting up their BA CoEs. It makes sense for there to be a panel about setting up BA CoEs. Many people are asking how they get their own BA CoE started. Before I continue I want to define how I am using BA CoE for this post. I realize there are many variations of BA CoEs. I also know there are groups referred to as a business analysis community of practice. For this post, I am using the term BA CoE very broadly. Any BA group coming together in some form or fashion to try and improve the BA practice at a company is how I am defining BA CoE.
When I am asked the question ‘how do I get my BA CoE started?’ I often respond, “I have no idea”. Another common question that yields the same response is ‘what should my BA CoE look like?’ I am being facetious, but it is hard to answer that question without knowing more. So I follow up with a line of questions. The questions I ask help me understand what problem or opportunity will be addressed with the BA CoE. Simply, some form of why.
What is important to realize is a BA CoE is a solution to meet a goal or objective. It is not the goal or objective. Don't you go crazy when a business stakeholder just asks you to implement some solution?! It is time to practice what you preach. Without knowing what objectives you are trying to reach with a BA CoE how will you get funding to move forward. You need to treat the creation of a BA CoE like a project. After uncovering the objectives you may even realize a BA CoE is not needed.
The objectives need to address improving project successes, improving results for the business. Just improving your BA practice is not enough if project improvements are not realized. The same concept applies to any business analysis improvement initiative. If you are thinking about implementing a requirements management and/or definition tool or addressing development needs for the BA team first outline your objectives.
Have you lead the creation and/or maintenance of a BA CoE? If so, this is your time to help some BAs out. What was the opportunity or problem you were trying to address with your BA CoE? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
All the best,
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