Reflections On Business Analysis And Change

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Joe Newbert shares his reflections on business analysis and change with Charlotte Keuris, and how Inter-View helps to grow the business analysis profession.

Joe Newbert is the Founder of Inter-View and Managing Director of the Business Change Management Group (BCMG), which, within a decade, has grown to become an internationally recognised think tank on business analysis and change.

Joe keenly interacts within the business analysis community and is passionate about putting the ‘Business’ back in ‘Business Analysis’. Joe successfully delivered as part of the global IIBA Professional Development Team in helping to craft the IIBA Competency Model, and actively serves as Non-Executive Director on the IIBA-SA Strategy Board.

Growing and maturing the business analysis profession towards its potential.

The Inter-View Report was created to address the lack of reliable information and to help companies leverage the true value of business analysis. How has the support for Inter-View been over the last three years?

The support has been overwhelming, and I need to thank everyone who took part in the 2016 business analysis survey. This year’s response was incredible, and Inter-View is now proudly the fastest rising business analysis publication internationally. It is a real community project and without community involvement it would simply not be possible to paint such a meaningful business analysis portrait. My huge thanks to everyone joining us on this journey, I look forward to continuing  this remarkable story with you all.

It has been a remarkable journey. Since the first edition in 2014, how has the Inter-View Report evolved?

The original concept began as a pure-data offering, providing an information platform for both business and IT-based communities to collaborate and improve business delivery. And it did. It triggered conversations and catalysed movement. Then, it soon became clear that the discussions we were having would be better shared, so Inter-View naturally progressed into seeking knowledge from insightful professionals and opening up those conversations to benefit the whole community.

Yes, Inter-View has included some great insights from industry leaders in previous editions, what can we look forward to in this 2016 edition?

The conversations in this years edition of Inter-View are inspiring, each providing perspective, creativity and passion. From well known industry leader Kevin Brennan who speculates the future evolution of the business analyst, to up-and-coming Samuel Tafadzwa who shares his personal story on building a business analysis community ground-up. There’s plenty more feature interviews to absorb, and, of course, all the usual-suspect infographics and salary survey data.

It’s become a steady platform. What do you believe the importance is of Inter-View Report in the growth of the business analysis community?

Inter-View was born out of the belief that business analysis needs a lighthouse, a beacon light to help guide the profession year on year towards realising its full potential. Built around a community, with genuine passion and a shared interest of business analysis, Inter-View has become a means to communicate. Industry has embraced this concept and, through raising awareness of business analysis and showcasing business analyst capabilities, Inter-View has become an authentic authority, a flagship to help grow the profession.

Through this greater exposure of the profession, do you believe organisations better understand the value of business analysis or do many still need to embrace business analysis?

The vast majority of organisational stakeholders agree that the quality of business analysis directly affects the outcome of the projects, that business analysis adds value to business operations and that increasing investment in business analysis would de-risk projects. Despite this, there is firm opinion that understanding, presence and visibility of the role is lacking. Importantly, executive management are on board, meaning that business analysis has a foundation from which to influence and advance business change.

Given this situation, what steps do business analysts need to take to improve service and reputation, to elevate their impact within their organisations?

The focus of business analysis responsibility continues to be business, functional and non-functional requirements, which in itself is appropriate, however the role is widely underutilised when it comes to the upfront strategic analysis and, crucially, managing business acceptance and benefits realisation. In fact, the lack of a business case was identified as the major cause project failure. It is vital for professional maturity that business analysts offer a clear value proposition, communicable services and take full accountability for their delivery.

Clearly the information Inter-View reveals is a valuable asset for analysts, how can they make the most of this information to improve their own knowledge and their offerings to clients?

We can only change through the way we approach our work as individuals, and Inter-View provides a broad-base from which business analysts can assess, reflect and improve their capability. No two business analysis organisations are the same, but if your goal is to mature business analysis practices, ensure that your business analyst community is moving in the right direction or better gauge current business analysis competencies then take a look at the typical ‘what’s’ and ‘how’s’ of the profession and you can gauge an objective comparison.

Since you have the most intimate view of the business analysis data, what stands out as being in need of attention to mature professionally?

The biggest concern is how business analysts do things. Techniques are a big indicator of inner-workings, as their usage can indicate the quality of business analysis delivery. Inter-View asks which of 48 common techniques business analysts use, and worryingly 85% of the techniques are only utilised by less than 1:2 people. Start here, as techniques are the bread and butter of good business analysis – by managing requirements through elicitation, analysis, specification and validation – the core of what the business analyst does.

Is there a trend or statistic that surprised you in the 2016 Inter-View results?

I’m a big fan of looking for contradictions in the data and data that contradicts popular thinking, and there are examples of each that intrigue me. Modelling business processes form a significant part of the role, yet a consistent pattern over the three surveys is that few people are keen to formalise their business process modelling skills. Secondly, a common statistic is that the number one reason people leave their job is because of their manager, yet very few people prioritise who their boss will be as an important career decision maker.

To what extent do you believe business and IT communities are collaborating and sharing information? How does Inter-View report further facilitate this?

There are some great community initiatives and platforms available, such as associations, chapter events, special interest group and conferences, then digital and social mechanisms continue to break-down communication barriers. As a profession are we making the most of them? No, I don’t think so. We can certainly better leverage these networking opportunities and collaborate across professional silos. Inter-View can further facilitate this as being a source of information, a means of communication and the start of a conversation.

‘Reflections On Business Analysis And Change with Joe Newbert‘ was first published in the 2016 Inter-View Report. Share your reflections on business analysis and change, @Newbert and @CKeuris would love to hear from you.

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