OK, the Mr T reference may be wasted on anyone under 30 but in IT Project Management your ‘B.A.’ is as much a key part of the A-Team as B.A. Baracus ever was!
Often, I’ve seen the holder of the role of Business Analyst be the positive difference between success and failure – so why don’t BAs get the credit that they deserve?
In his great ProjectManagement.com article ‘Business Analysts: The Unsung Heroes of Organisational Success’, Michael Wood suggests it may be two-fold, “First, most senior managers don’t understand the value BAs can bring to an organisation in helping it drive strategic initiatives into operational reality. The second is that there aren’t that many great BAs, so they don’t deliver the value that can be realised.”
Reading Michael’s words gives me cause to pause and reflect on my opening statement. While it’s true that I have seen Business Analysts be the positive difference in an IT Project it is also true that some IT Projects have floundered through a lack of BA basics.
It really matters. I have written in the past that, in the next phase of its evolution, IT will no longer ‘merely’ support the business, it will BE the business.
Consider this. “IT must be positioned as a business unit that adds value. A focus on enabling business objectives must be at the forefront of IT’s thinking. The management of multiple service providers in delivering business outcomes will become an increasingly important capability.” (Ovum 2015- ITSM Trends to Watch:).
It’s a powerful argument for Business Analysts to step up but also for businesses to actively encourage best practice. To do that the C-suite has to get its collective head around the potential a great B.A. can deliver.
I’m a huge fan!
World class B.A.s deliver a measurable difference. They are the coordinators of strategic change, delivering the intelligence that course through the veins of successful IT projects, they have a finger on the business case pulse, and like the best chess players, they are several moves ahead of the moment considering the implications of every decision, not just within the confines of an individual IT project but across the whole parent organisation too.
Business Analysts help improve and constantly enhance your IT services and support by helping integrate Service Delivery and IT and business strategy and giving you the intelligence to review the IT cost of running your services. They play an active role in improving the availability, reliability and performance of your Service Delivery. They define scope, identify and liaise with key stakeholders, and provide clear, actionable requirements to implementation teams.
Describing his Business Analyst one Project Leader says, “She’s like a Project octopus with tentacles influencing every aspect of the project, a great Project Manager in her own right, a process expert and strategist but what I really love is that she never comes to me with a problem without first imagining a solution. Her analysis of the data is always spot on and the solutions she designs are always congruent with the project mission and business case.”
So, to be a great Business Analyst do you have to be a bit of an IT octopus?
In Michael Wood’s article, he rather suggests that you do. he lists ‘Strategic Thinker’, ‘Data Model Conceptualizer’, ‘Project Manager’, ‘Business Process Expert’, ‘Applications Requirements Architect’ and ‘Change Facilitator’ among the character traits of world class B.A.s.
It’s quite a lot to ask! Investing in training your Business Analyst talent to excel at any of these disciplines will pay you a healthy return.
To be fair, I regularly see many of these skills (and more) on display from Business Analysts that I work with but if you do find that you’re falling short there are options.
If a lack of business intelligence reporting is hampering effective Programme Management, you can access PM focussed business analysis in the ‘as a Service’ market to give you a competitive edge. Service Delivery Assessments and CMMI based Service Benchmarking can deliver sustained capability improvement and deliver substantive benefits to your organisation.
With the right partner, delivering a business and culturally aligned service, you can benefit from strategic recommendations and prioritised improvement with risk & business impact assessments.
In conclusion, while every organisation should be seeking to encourage in-house Business Analysts to step up and deliver change, in the meantime, You CAN hire in the business analyst octopus that you need.