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Tag: Business Analysis

Managing Business Analysis-as-a-Service (BAaaS)


Organizations are constantly in need of business analysis (BA) skills that can help them in various business transformation initiatives where information technology plays a major role as driver or enabler. In this article we explain the three trends which will result in a reorganisation amongst the BA communities as well as driving the emergence of new organisation models and business models around BA services.

Business analysis (BA) is defined as the “set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals ” (as defined in the IIBA Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® Guide, Version 2.0).

We see Business Analysis as a Service (BAaaS) combining three (potential) trends. First and foremost, BAs are gaining an increasing strategic role, especially within large organizations. Second, increasing service orientation within organizations to offer, deliver and manage its business and IT functions and, finally, the emerging opportunities for CIOs to strategically source operational BA services. In this article we discuss these trends and focus on the emerging BA management models, i.e. how the organization wants the BA services to be arranged internally and sourced externally.

The Three BA Trends

The first trend is that the business analysis discipline is gaining a more strategic role in organisations. BAs act as the focal point for key organisational knowledge about business processes and IT systems. With many CIOs trying to reposition themselves as Business Process Managers rather than just caretakers of the IT Infrastructure, BA capabilities have become vital assets, especially for organisations with complex business processes and broad portfolio of IT applications. Hence, managers are trying to re-position BAs as innovators who can make use of technology to improve business performance, rather than just being involved in traditional software development and infrastructure management activities. As compared to just being translators between business and IT, BAs are now acting as architects of the business. According to a study 56% of Business Architects / Business Consultants are erstwhile BAs .

Based on our interactions with Senior IT executives and Industry Analysts few significant pain points which are hindering effectiveness and efficiency of BAs are:

  • Lack of analytical frameworks as well as sufficient skill-sets to understand the business needs and turn them into improvement projects. Currently, these projects are usually driven by more technical IT professionals.
  • With a high BA turnover, (sometimes due to the large number of BAs working as contractors) there is much less bandwidth spent on knowledge building and retention.
  • Lack of thought leadership and collaboration between the different BAs within an organization as well as between BAs and the other stakeholders
  • Lack of understanding and usage of the appropriate BA methods and tools and industry best practices.

These deficiencies lead to lower productivity, high cost for projects and sometimes may also lead to lack of motivation amongst the BA staff. They also comes with a very high opportunity costs which organisations have recently started to realise.

Secondly, service orientation is gaining importance in both the internal and external way of thinking about value creation, organizational arrangements, and business-IT alignment.

On one hand, enterprises continuously strive to offer their services in a manner which aligns with satisfying their customer’s needs, while on the other hand the internal organisational structures are also evolving in the form of loosely coupled “soup of services” (as compared to traditional ‘department’ oriented structures) to increase responsiveness, better performance management and increased accountability. Consider this, apart from re-organising services in a more citizen-centric manner, (Service Canada, DirectGov -UK, Smart Services Queensland) governments are also undergoing large scale re-organisations in IT departments (and shared service agencies as a whole). Some time back, a large state government enterprise in Australia began its journey developing a sustainable internal capability development for the provision of BA services to projects and business units. In another case, a large Australian Bank recently formulated its BA practice strategy with an aim to be the “supplier of choice” and a “Centre of Excellence” for its internal customers. Both these cases highlight the degree of service orientation organizations are bringing into their BA management strategy.

The third notable trend is in the area of (global) sourcing. project managers/BA managers are faced with a Hobson’s choice of either pursuing the traditional model of high cost contractor -based sourcing of skills, or developing permanent staff. The latter implies loosing flexibility of quickly ramping up and ramping down teams on an ad hoc, need-driven basis. This issue is exacerbated in the case of BAs since most of the BA work happens in-house unlike Design & Development which can be largely outsourced. Hence more and more organisations now want their large IT services vendors to “partner” with them in BA space rather than just providing generic, professional/ augmentation like services. Last year’s survey by Mckinsey & Co. on IT outsourcing clearly stated that managed service models lead to higher customer satisfaction, and this is applicable to BA services as well. It is notable that bringing in an external partner also sometimes aids innovation in business processes and technology, since often it is difficult to “insource” innovative thinking.

Emerging Models: BA Services

Deloitte suggests that next wave of competitive advantage will accrue to organizations that can effectively apply the shared model to business advisory services as well4. Now that the worst is behind us in the global financial crisis the leaders look up to build internal capabilities in variety of areas.

We believe that the three trends, illustrated above, and renewed eagerness amongst the leaders to build and nurture internal capabilities will contribute immensely to an increase in shared advisory/shared services group for the BA community. Trends already suggest an increase in service orientation amongst the BA communities, especially the emergence of BA Centres of Excellence (BACoE) in large organisations. Sometimes these capability centers may be termed BA Competency centre, BA Solution centre, BA Shared service centre and so on. These centers are expected to be centralized bodies (physical or a virtual organisation) of professionals with a charter of providing professional BA skills to various internal customers (projects). This group has good subject matter and technology expertise to be able to provide services around Requirements Engineering, Process Management, Data Management, Product Evaluation, Business Case Preparation, Business Architecture and many more. Establishing a central function has in the past helped organisations to foster collaboration and innovation within the BA community.

Our experience suggests that one of the critical success factors for such groups is the amount of “Service Rigor” (service oriented strategies) provided to its customers. However, most of the time, the focus has been just on providing staff trainings, skill assessments, creation of knowledge repositories, methodologies, etc. Often the CoE is too internally focused and reduced to being a collection of repositories on a web-portal or a forum for regular BA meetings.

Figure 2: Illustrative BACoE model with vendor partnership

This also enables the internal capabilities of the CoE for example; trainings, methodologies, tools and templates to be directly aligned, according to the needs and demands of the service provided.

For example, Infosys has been investing in creation of BACoE through a unique partnership model between its Business Units, Education & Research division and their R&D arm SETLabs. Apart from Training, Collaboration and best practices creation, this model has been successfully used to create a suite of BA service offerings for its customers.

When the Infosys BACoE decided to launch its “Requirement Development” service offering it was well supported by the proprietary tool and methodology called “InFlux” for developing use cases. All the BAs involved in provisioning this service to clients were trained experts in this methodology.

Inarguably, having such a service-oriented strategy for internal customers (Business Units) as well as a provider of BA services (IT department) can deliver outcomes that can enhance efficiency, quality and productivity; in IT as well as non IT initiatives. Based on our experience we prescribe the following considerations for the CIOs while creating such a service-oriented structure:

  • Clearly identify and define the services which are easier to understand, support and deliver. This may sound easy but experience suggests that it is the most challenging task for the BA community
  • Establish well-defined SLAs with measurable outcomes/deliverables and an overall promise of service. Clearly associate performance measures with each of these identified BA services
  • Establish a framework to manage a portfolio of these BA services. This includes appointment of Service Managers, Service Performance Management, Periodic Service Upgrades and so on.
  • Create a well-defined sourcing strategy for these services.

Engaging an IT vendor or a consulting partner, who comes onboard with basic practices, processes and guidelines, can accelerate the development as well as the maturing of such a function. There are many instances where organisations have set up a joint shared services model with their vendors to achieve flexibility, scale and demand of business with good service level performance at a lower total cost. Such partnerships also help to free up in-house BAs, allowing them to focus more on innovation and value creation for the business.

While most of the firms currently operating in the market are either specific tool vendors or BA training providers it is notable that only a few vendors possess the integrated capabilities of providing BA services that provide a strong value preposition across multiple service areas and innovative financial schemes, e.g. outcome based pricing.


Service orientation within BA organisations or in other words Business-Analysis-as-a-Service (BAaaS) presents a lot of promise for the CIOs and senior managers. A well developed model for the BA as a Service that addresses the value proposition, the strategic alignment, the organizational configuration and the financial scheme (revenue, investment, KPI) can works as a catalyst for innovation, enhancing workforce effectiveness and reducing enterprise costs.


  1. Forrester Research – The Up-And-Coming Business Architect by Jeff Scott and Katie Smillie for Enterprise Architecture Professionals
  2. McKinsey Quarterly – How Innovators are changing IT offshoring – Michael Bloch, Dejan Boskovic, and Allen Weinberg
  3. Hewlett Packard – Business Analysis Centre of Excellence: The Cornerstone of Business Transformation by Kathleen B. Hass, With Richard Avery, Terry Longo, and Alice Zavala
  4. Deloitte LLP – Sharing internal expertise making shared advisory capabilities work
  5. Infosys in-house research artifacts.

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Rohit Shawarikar (BE, MBA) is a Consultant with Software Engineering and Technology Labs, Infosys Technologies Limited. He has significant consulting experience across Banking, Telecom and Industrial sectors in the area of IT Requirements Development, Business Process Improvements and Technology Product Implementation initiatives. Rohit is also responsible for evangelizing IP based BA service offerings to customers in Australia Region. He has successfully managed the creation and global roll out of Business Analysis Center of Excellence (BACoE) for Infosys.

Erwin Fielt (MSc, PhD) is a senior researcher at the Information Systems Discipline of Faculty of Science and Technology of the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. In his research, he focuses on the intersection between business and IT, where information systems have to create value for individuals and organizations addressing topics like success, strategy, business models, service-orientation and architecture. Erwin participates as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Business Service Management project of the Smart Services CRC. Within this project, he is responsible for the business model research and he works closely with different industry partners like Queensland Government, Suncorp and Infosys.

Launching Fledgling Business Analysts

launchingfledglingA fledgling is a bird that is out of the nest but still dependent on its parents for food and care. Recently I was contacted by a technical support/system administrator in my company who wanted to know more about this profession called “business analysis”. This young man, let’s call him Brandon, had been singled out both by his peers and his manager to be the person to talk to internal customers. Brandon had shown a talent for engaging with the customers to find out if what they asked for was what they really needed. (ding!)

Brandon hasn’t written formal requirements and he hasn’t done work on a project that has lasted for more than two weeks. He has experienced customers changing their minds half way through the delivery of the service. He has realized that he is the only one in his peer group who can “speak geek” and in the next breath “speak manager” and not break a sweat. (Ding ding!)

I gave him a whirlwind tour of business analysis by introducing him to the IIBA website and giving him a “tips of the waves” tour of the Knowledge Areas in the BA BoK. Unfortunately the corporate training for business analysis skills section that used to be in place is on hold for a while.

Other than suggesting he join the IIBA, download the BA BoK and find a local chapter to join, I couldn’t really offer him much more personal support for learning about the BA profession because of the geographic separation between us. Brandon asked if I knew any BAs in his location whom he could job shadow. “Job shadowing” is a way for a person, typically a student or intern, to learn about a day in the life of a professional by following the professional around for a day. To my delight, one of the senior BAs that I contacted, let’s call him Steve, responded with “yes, I’ll set up some time with Brandon”. Steve deserves a halo and wings.

Steve’s generosity made me think about what I would do if Brandon were to shadow me. What exactly could a senior BA invite a fledgling BA to watch or listen to?

Traditionally job shadowing is done all in one day. Given that Brandon is working a full time job, I had suggested that he consider having Brandon shadow him in a few two-hour sessions over a couple of weeks, or some similar arrangement. Here’s a list of seven suggestions for job shadowing activities where the senior BA spends several increments of time with the fledgling.

Bring the fledgling with you when

  1. You are collecting information from stakeholders for the business case.
    Give the fledgling the business case template or the work-in-progress business case so they have something to ground the information that will be swirling around.
  2. You are eliciting requirements from, or reviewing a use case with the stakeholders. If more than one session is planned, it would be great to have the fledgling observe a sequence of elicitation sessions. 
  3. You participate in a requirements document peer review. If you want to make a huge impression, pick a peer review that has one of your BRDs on the agenda. Give the fledgling the business case and the BRD to review a couple of days in advance – whatever they can soak up is fine.
  4. You discuss the requirements with the architects, infrastructure people, or user interface advisors, for the purpose of articulating a design.
  5. You and the project team discuss the scope changes requested by the customer.
  6. You and the PM discuss the plans for a User Acceptance Test.
  7. You conduct the daily review of the UAT progress with the stakeholders.

It’s okay if any of the above interactions don’t go as smoothly as you might have liked. It is important to model patience, resilience and perseverance. It is important to model “leaving your ego at the door”.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, I’m not so sure I’d be a good person to shadow, I spend a lot of time just typing at my computer”, read the suggestions again. What do they have in common? You got it, “interacting with other people”. I can’t think of anything more boring than watching someone else type.

Many years ago I participated in the Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) conferences. EYH is a program designed to encourage girls in grade school through high school to take classes in math and science. A young lady came up to me after my talk; she seemed vaguely familiar. She had attended my EYH presentation two years previously as a junior in high school. My heart soared when she said she had changed her original college plans and was attending Carnegie Mellon University in the Artificial Intelligence/ Computer Science program. She was having a blast in school and had just stopped by to say hello during Spring break.

Going back to Brandon’s situation – he is lucky! Brandon’s manager recognized a diamond in the rough and suggested that he look into business analysis as a career path. Brandon had the wherewithal to follow through and find a senior BA to talk to. (ding ding ding!) And, true to the nature of “being the bridge”, Steve, the heaven-sent senior BA, decided to check out the raw talent and stepped up to the task letting Brandon job-shadow him. Maybe in six months I’ll get an email from Steve, “Hey, remember that guy Brandon? He has been re-assigned to my team as the junior business analyst.”

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Cecilie Hoffman is a Senior Principal IT Business Analyst in the Business Analysis Center of Excellence, Symantec Services Group, Symantec Corporation. Cecilie’s professional passion is to educate technical and business teams about the role of the business analyst, and to empower the business analysts themselves with tools, methods, strategies and confidence. Cecilie is a founding member of the Silicon Valley chapter of the IIBA. She writes a blog on her personal passion, motorcycle riding, at She can be reached at [email protected].

Future Leaders Learning Program Puts Business Analysis at Core


The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. is a leading property and casualty insurance provider based in Worcester, Massachusetts in the United States. The company distributes its products through independent agents across the country. Established in 1852, The Hanover has grown to rank among the top 30 property and casualty insurers in the United States with more than 4,000 employees.

The Challenge

One of the core skill sets identified as being critical to The Hanover’s continued business success is that of business analysis. For the past five years, The Hanover has partnered with ESI International to deliver instructor-led learning to business analysts in its technology division. There were, however, business analysts in the business areas of the company as well.

With approximately 200 business analysts across the company, The Hanover’s leadership sought to formalize an enterprise wide strategy for positioning the business analyst role as a pipeline for analytical and operational roles. With the implementation of its Future Leaders Program in 2009, work was begun on developing a consistent profile for entry-level business analyst talent at The Hanover.

The challenge before ESI and The Hanover was to develop a learning program for the Future Leaders Program effort that could indoctrinate new team members within various business units quickly and focus on raising the bar for the entire company, steering a course for continuous leadership development.

The Strategy

With approximately 200 business analysts stretching across multiple lines of business, bringing enterprise-wide focus to this role as a career-growth opportunity is a winning strategy.

Planning for the program focused on a number of key strategic goals, including:

  • Identifying and effectively recruiting outstanding university students and recent graduates
  • Determining a consistent, common approach and language around business analysis
  • Delivering learning through a range of modalities to ensure skills and knowledge are reinforced and effectively applied

The Hanover chose to partner with ESI International to guide the development and implementation of this new program. “It was clear that they were the ideal choice as our partner for this program,” said Irene Brank, Assistant Vice President and Director of The Hanover’s Future Leaders Program. “Their direction, commitment and support have helped us chart the path to this initiative.”

The Solution

The first task was to map a set of core competencies for the Future Leaders Program, which was divided into two broad career focus areas: business management and risk management. Assessment tools to effectively benchmark and evaluate the progress of program participants were also developed.

Once recruited into the two-year program, candidates are assigned an IT or non-IT career track. At the conclusion of the two years, candidates will find placement in a role that allows them to continue to grow their career. To ensure participants have the skills and knowledge they need to be leaders, the Future Leaders Program guides participants through a range of learning opportunities:

  • Traditional instructor-led classroom curricula
  • Reinforcement workshops delivered in person and via webinars
  • A participant forum promoting formal group interaction, including program coaches
  • Corporate-wide access to online reference materials
  • Practical, on-the-job application of new skills and knowledge
  • Continued mentoring after program completion

The program’s design ensures that learning and reinforcement take place before, during and after classroom training. Pre-class webinars create a foundation that prepares participants for specific learning events and reinforcement workshops conducted after courses further reinforce key competencies.

“We believe that offering a range of learning opportunities greatly increases the program’s success,” said Ken Joseph, Business Learning Manager, The Hanover. “By combining what we could offer in-house with ESI’s various, interactive modalities, we’ve achieved a robust solution.”

The Future Leaders Program also offers coaching and mentoring, as well as the opportunity to earn professional and technical certifications including Actuarial, Business Analysis, and INS certifications.

As university graduates progress through the program, the company’s current leaders also undergo targeted learning based upon position and role, which promotes consistent knowledge across the organization. These include:

  • Traditional, instructor-led classroom courses
  • Executive level workshops and webinars that overview key program knowledge areas
  • Skill specific workshops and webinars


The Future Leaders Program builds upon the success of the two companies’ partnership which has demonstrated:

  • Significant improvements in project completions and adherence to budgets
  • A dramatic reduction in project change requests
  • A reduction in project errors
  • Faster time to market for new products

While still in the early stages, the Future Leaders Program has begun to deliver decisive impact by:

  • Charting a clear and fast track for new leadership
  • Defining a consistent approach and language around business analysis
  • Improving recruiting and retention
  • Increasing organization-wide competency in business analysis

Each year, approximately 75 future leaders are accepted into the program. At this rate almost 10 percent of the company will have completed the leadership program in the next five years.

Planning Forward

The Hanover and ESI are identifying ways to further enrich the program. Specific considerations include:

  • Enhancing The Hanover’s company-wide business analysis methodology
  • The addition to the core learning program of a “live” practicum project
  • Inclusion of a set of business consulting and skills curricula focused on such topics as financial literacy, critical thinking and leading organizational change
  • Inclusion of additional project management specific curricula
  • Executive workshops to refine the mentoring skills of those managing Future Leaders Program participants to help them more effectively reinforce the program’s competencies
  • Ongoing individual and organizational assessments to add value and uncover areas for greater learning emphasis

“Despite the early stage status of the program, it’s already delivering clear benefits to us,” said Greg Tranter, Senior Vice President and COO, The Hanover. “Much of the benefit is a direct result of the emphasis we’re placing on business analysis for decision making, which is changing the way our company approaches its decisions.”

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Nancy Y. Nee, PMP, CBAP, CSM, Executive Director, Project Management & Business Analysis Programs, ESI International, provides thought leadership in the field of project management and business analysis while incorporating the industry’s best practices and professional advances into ESI’s portfolio of project management and business analysis courses and services. She is a member of numerous professional associations including the Project Management Institute (PMI®), the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), and the Scrum Alliance where she is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) from the PMI®, Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) from the (IIBA®), and a Certified Scrum Master from the Scrum Alliance.

Disassembling Your Cube

Most of us in Information Technology have seen the movie OfficeSpace. It’s funny because we can relate to the situations that the main character, Peter, faced. I’m sure that many of us have experienced a “Did you get the memo?” situation but I question how many of us business analysts have disassembled our cube wall? In one scene, Peter disassembles his cube wall to connect with the outside world, and I’m suggesting that as BAs, we do the same thing. Now before you all take out your cordless drills and start physically disassembling your cubes, I’m speaking metaphorically. We need to break down the walls around us and understand the business that is looking for solutions.

Break Down the Wall

Many of us who practice business analysis sit within and report up through the IT environment. We may even have a title indicative of that such as Business Systems Analyst. But just because we are in IT, we need to stop constraining ourselves with IT thinking and understand what it is that our business does and how their processes work. In this age of telecommuting, multi-tasking, conference calls, and webinars, when was the last time that you actually sat with a business person as they performed their job to truly understand what it was that they did, and why they did it that way? Get out of that cube, get into the business, and learn what your business does. Better yet – see if you can learn how to do it and you try and do the work. This may be more challenging than you think; we often think that someone else’s job is simpler than our own. For instance, you may be studying an easier way for a business user to produce a certain report. When you perform the steps that they tell you, you might get completely frustrated switching between three to four different computer systems, writing down information from one to enter into another, etc. By doing so, you experience the same frustrations that they do, and you will quickly start to think of a better way to do it. While not everyone can perform the work that they are analyzing (say, a BA designing flight controls systems for a military jet doesn’t get to fly the jet – but boy, wouldn’t that be fun!), if you are able to do the work it gives you great insight to the troubles that operators face daily. You start to see the world outside your cube, looking in at IT.

Looking at your profession from the outside is not easy. Be prepared to see things that you do not like, such as disjointed ways for users to interact with the software that your organization puts out. One example; most of us probably use Microsoft Office. This office suite of tools tries to standardize commands as much as possible between Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Pressing CTRL+F in Word (or COMMAND+F for us Mac users) initiates a search, same as the other Office products. Now consider all the other applications that you use. Is CTRL+F the same in all? I can name a text editor that uses F3 as the search, another program that has no hot key for a search and in which I have to click a button. And that’s just off the top of my head. Does your organization roll-out different applications from different product portfolios that have the design of Office’s parallel commands? Do your accounting applications search in the same way that MS Office does? How about your other applications? By getting outside of your cube and looking in from the outside, you will increase your familiarity with the area that you support. The end result is that you will be able to see a lot more of the world by getting out into it than just looking at it from within your cube.

Don’t Just Accept the Solution

By getting into the outside world, you start to see how the business operates and can start seeing solutions that you didn’t previously know existed. Users may not tell you everything because they are smart and figure out ways to get things done either inside or outside the system (or problem area). What they may see within their span of control as a solution may be completely valid. Based on everything they know, they are requesting a change in the process, but what they are really doing is proposing a solution. It’s your job to get out into the business to uncover the problem instead of just accepting their solution.

Consider this; you, as a BA, have a request from the business to create an Excel-based report from Application A. In your cube, you do your job as a BA and ask what the business need is for this new style of the report. The answer is that the business needs to input this report into an Excel spreadsheet and they cannot do this with the current MS Word-based report. Requirement captured, right? Almost! If you had been outside your cube and in the business, you would have seen users outputting the Word report from Application A and manually entering the data from the report into an Excel spreadsheet in Application B. If your requirement was to create the Excel report, it would have made the key-entry situation easier, but you still have a manual process in place (export from one system and input to another). By getting out of your cube and into the business, you would have seen that the real problem was that the business’s process required getting data from Application A to Application B, and it was not the report format. Merely accepting the requirement at face value may have saved the business a little time, but in the long run, understanding the business problem by seeing it in action would have resulted in saving a lot more time, and would have been a better solution.

Partner with the Business

Because we are so comfortable in our cubes, we tend to stay there. Yeah, we do have nice chairs but we can’t sit in them all the time. We have to get out into the business areas that we support and get them to trust us. Trust us to the point that they know that we really are there to help; to help uncover ways to improve their processes, and to help make their lives easier.

If you can show the business people that you are not just there to “take their order” as I’m fond of saying (like a waiter/waitress at a restaurant), they will become your trusted partner. But, you have to show them that you can bring something to the table. To do this will require that you understand their problems and bring a solution that shows you understand. If all you do is write down what they request, you provide no additional value. They received what they asked for, and they will wonder why you are even involved in the process in the first place.

Consider the difference from their viewpoint; they may be asking for that new report, but you find a better way to fix their business problem and make their jobs more efficient. Now they will see you as the change agent and the person who understands the problems that they face. They will start to contact you instead of their normal channels because they have seen that you were the one who sought to understand their problem and that you solved it. Instead of just the solution that you delivered on the first project, they may well start to contact you and suggest other fixes that you could make. The business has seen that you, as the BA, are the one that solved the problem on the original project, so now you are a trusted partner. While not all of the changes that they suggest will be something that you can make (or even have the budget for), they are problem areas that the business experiences day in and day out. They can be logged as future projects, or if in an agile development world, onto the project backlog.

So go ahead and break down those walls around you, and not by disassembling your cube. And while I welcome e-mails, I don’t want to see any in my inbox from your management saying that I told you to take apart your cubes. Remember, I was speaking metaphorically.

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Paul Mulvey is a Lead Business Systems Analyst at UPS. He has just completed creation of a BA Certification program within UPS and is sitting for the CBAP exam in March. He can be reached at [email protected].

Beyond Requirements Analysis – Enterprise Analysis

“What do your Business Analysts do?”

“They develop and manage project requirements, of course. What else would they do?”

What else indeed!

The BA Body of Knowledge (BABOK®) defines what a professional BA should know and do. Much of it is focused on requirements work – but not all. One of the knowledge areas that takes the BA beyond requirements work is “Enterprise Analysis.”

Enterprise Analysis (EA) encompasses those activities that the job title “Business Analyst” actually points toward: analyzing business processes. The majority of these activities is outside of projects, and in fact, put the BA into the position of recommending and justifying projects.

Enterprise Analysis

Analyzing business processes is indeed a big part of what we do during Requirements Analysis. But that is not the only context where this analysis should be done, and in fact, it is not the most valuable time to do it. In the Enterprise Analysis knowledge area, the BABOK identifies several other contexts in which such analysis should be done.

Activity: Creating and Maintaining the Business Architecture

As the name of this activity implies, “Creating and Maintaining the Business Architecture” is an on-going activity that has as its focus the entire enterprise. The “Business Architecture” is a model of all the business processes that are used throughout the enterprise. It shows how they work and relate to each other.

The net result of this is an understanding that most organizations lack, of how all their moving parts mesh with each other. This broad understanding of the enterprise’s processes becomes the foundation for all of the other responsibilities of the BA. But its bigger value comes in providing every member of the organization with a clear understanding of how his or her department and individual job fits into the bigger picture

Recommending and Justifying Projects

The bulk of the activities described in the Enterprise Analysis knowledge area center around proposing and justifying projects. These are activities that occur in some form or other in any organization. But with the BA’s involvement, they can provide much more value and ensure the organization’s resources are spent on the most valuable projects.

Activity: Conducting Feasibility Studies

Projects are created to solve a problem or to take advantage of an opportunity. It is rare for there to be only one available solution to a problem or opportunity, so part of project initiation involves exploring the alternatives. The BA can provide a valuable service by calling upon his or her understanding of the Business Architecture to analyze the feasibility of a variety of options.

Activity: Determining Project Scope

Scope definition should not be the first step in requirements development; it should be done during the project proposal process. How can the decision-maker(s) approve or disapprove a project without a clear understanding of its boundaries?

Activity: Preparing the Business Case

The business case is the logical argument for embarking on a project. It consists of contrasting the status quo (current situation) with the various options for addressing the problem or opportunity at hand and recommending the most appropriate option. In most cases, these options are being contrasted in terms of money (e.g., “If we spend $x on this project, it will result in $y increased revenue per year”).

Activity: Conducting the Initial Risk Assessment

An important piece of information that the decision-makers need is an understanding of the risks involved in a project. Clearly, you cannot do a complete risk-planning workshop before the project has been initiated (that is part of the Project Planning process). But an initial survey of the project risks can provide the decision-makers with key information.

Activity: Preparing the Decision Package

The BA has no authority to approve or disapprove any project. The people who do have that authority rarely have the time that is necessary to do the requisite research. So, the BA’s role in the decision-making process is to do all of the necessary research, and compile it into a form the decision-makers can use.

Activity: Selecting and Prioritizing Projects

After a project has been approved, it should not be a foregone conclusion that it will begin immediately. Projects must be prioritized against each other so the organization’s resources can be deployed in the most appropriate way. Again, the BA is not the decision-maker, but provides the necessary analysis to the decision-makers.

Project Work beyond Requirements

The last three activities that the BABOK includes under the “Enterprise Analysis” knowledge area are project-related activities that go beyond Requirements Analysis. They continue the theme of Enterprise Analysis by maintaining a broad organizational view of the project.

Activity: Launching New Projects

Here, the BA works with the appropriate people in the organization to ensure that the necessary resources, including the right project manager, are committed to the project. The BA’s unique role in these activities is to focus on the bigger picture of why the project was approved and how it fits into the bigger organizational context. This ensures that the intent of the decision-makers is honored as the project is framed and kicked off.

Activity: Managing Projects for Value

In this activity, the BA works closely with the project manager to ensure the project is tracking toward providing the value that was promised in the business case (above). The BA helps the project manager keep the project’s value proposition on track. And if the assumptions on which the project was approved turn out to be false, the BA can help the decision-makers determine their best response.

Activity: Tracking Project Benefits

In this last activity, the BA closes the loop on the business case (above). The business case proposed making certain investments in order to accrue certain benefits. After the project is over, the actual investments are known, and the actual benefits can be measured. At some appropriate time after deployment, the BA should report back to the decision-makers about how the results of the project compare with the business case. This discussion process will help the organization make better decisions in the future.

Expanding Your Value as a BA

Requirements Analysis is an important way for the BA to provide value to his or her organization. By adding Enterprise Analysis, the BA can dramatically increase his or her value by ensuring that every project fits well into the bigger picture and provides the best possible result to the organization.

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Alan S. Koch, PMP is a speaker and writer on effective Project Management Methods. He is a certified Project Management Professional and President of ASK Process, Inc, a training and consulting company that helps companies to improve the return on their software investment by focusing on the quality of both their software products and the processes they use to develop them.

Mr. Koch’s 29 years in software development include:14 years designing, developing and maintaining software; five plus years in Quality Assurance (including establishing and managing a QA department); eight years in Software Process Improvement and 10 years in management

Mr. Koch was with the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for 13 years where he became familiar with the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), earned the authorization to teach the Personal Software Process (PSP) and worked with Watts Humphrey in pilot testing the Team Software Process (TSP).

For more information about Mr. Koch:

This article was originally published in Global Knowledge’s Business Brief newsletter. (

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