Maturing Your Business Analysis Practice

Most large organizations and many medium size organizations have recognized the value of business analysis and have created roles and job titles for employees with this skill set. Most conversations with BA leaders are about maturing the business analysis practice rather than starting one up. Like a group of athletes who have honed their own skills, a group of BAs can be more effective if they work as a team, sharing best practices, and playing off each other’s strengths. How can you take your BA group to the next level of effectiveness?

I recommend a few activities which will enhance your BA practice acknowledging both the external and internal areas for improvement.

Market the Business Analysis Skill Set Internally

Does your organization make the best use of your team’s BA skills? Most people outside of the business analysis profession don’t know what business analysis refers to or how these skills might help them improve their business areas. BA Centers of Excellence must communicate – market – the value business analysis can bring to other parts of the organization and formally offer to help. A strong BA team operates like an internal consulting group, open to studying any problem and providing directions and making recommendations.

Education

Continue to provide analysts learning opportunities. This seems obvious, but many companies see training as a one-time event. BA skills continue to be enhanced and enriched by exposure to new techniques, tools, and new technologies. Keep your BAs up to date on emerging trends like artificial intelligence, robotics, and block chain technology. BAs should be the experts in the organization on new approaches like agile development (as a matter of fact, BAs are the best people to lead agile transformations – I’ll save this for another post). BAs are natural learners and may feel stagnate if they are working in a group that doesn’t give them opportunities to grow.

Regular BA Meetups

BAs thrive on time spent with other analysts. Allow your group time to work together, reviewing one another’s successes and challenges and talking about new approaches. A significant component in maturing your practice is building confidence in your BA professionals. To be internal consultants they need to be confident they can walk into any situation and add value.

Repeatable Requirements Activities

Requirements management processes are very difficult to define since every analysis assignment is unique. Rather than an end to end process, I recommend some consistent, repeatable activities to use for all analysis projects like the context diagram. Get all your BAs to use the same technique on a number of projects; then discuss its effectiveness. This builds an organization-wide specific skill and provides consistency to consumers of requirements.

Requirements Reuse

I’ve been advocating for reusing requirements since the BA profession emerged, yet still find very few companies doing it. Requirements – business models, business rules, data models, etc. – are valuable organization assets which should be maintained, reused, and updated over time. An accounting group would never consider creating a whole new chart of accounts at the beginning of each year. They reuse the accounts and adjust based on the prior year’s learning. In the same way, analysts should start projects by reviewing existing models, adjusting and refining as appropriate for the new solution.

 

Having great BAs is the starting point. Having a great BA practice requires a commitment to continuous improvement. Encourage your BAs to learn new techniques, share their experiences, offer their skills to new areas of the company and build a repository of organization knowledge (business models) to increase their understanding of the organization and allow for quicker, more agile changes as the business evolves.

I love to help organizations mature their BA practices. Call me if you would like to take your group to the next level of excellence.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash