The Back Of An Envelope Case For A Business Analyst

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Kevin Brennan provides the high-level ‘What? Where? When? and Why?’ of business analysis, to sketch the back of the envelope case for a business analyst.

Kevin Brennan has been a world leader in the business analysis community for over a decade, as a member of the IIBA® board and executive team, and led the development of the BABOK Guide through three major releases.

A business transformation architect who helps clients achieve their business goals through business strategy, business process management / architecture and business analysis, Kevin was a member of the PMBOK 5th Edition content development team, has worked with the Agile Alliance to develop a framework and guidelines for agile business analysis, and served on the board of the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Associations (FEAPO).

Through your leadership role with the IIBA® I expect your elevator pitch is well refined, so “What does a Business Analyst do”?

Business analysts help companies change to become more effective at achieving their goals. Specifically,

… business analysis comes into play when a company has to make changes to their processes or technology to align them with their business strategy, …

to take advantage of new opportunities, to increase their efficiency, or to reduce their costs.

Where does a business analyst bring purpose and value?

You need someone skilled in business analysis on a change initiative if:

  • You need a clearer picture of how your company operates today;
  • You need to dig past the immediate surface problems and solutions to figure out where you can really add value;
  • You have to gather, assess, and organise large amounts of information about the problem and potential solutions;
  • There are many stakeholders with different opinions and priorities;
  • Business processes cut across multiple functional areas and you need to make sure that changes to one set of processes don’t cause problems downstream;
  • It’s unclear how the solution you’re building will fit into the larger enterprise;
  • You need to develop models to accurately define and understand a complex solution space; or
  • Technology and software applications built or purchased by the company need to align with business goals and objectives.

When are organisations exposed in executing business analysis?

It’s pretty common to ask other people to take on business analysis for a major initiative as part of another role. For instance,

… many business analysts I’ve met got into the job because they were assigned as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to a project.

Sometimes business analysis work falls to the project manager, or to a developer, or to business executives and managers for strategic enterprise initiatives. There are many in the agile community who actively argue that business analysis is unnecessary, although it seems to me that a ‘product owner’ is essentially the same thing.

Why is a specialist business analyst role critical to success?

Business analysts deliver value by providing a structured approach to problem identification and exploration and business solution design, while helping to manage change by facilitating a consensus among key stakeholders. That requires a pretty deep and extensive skill set, including both technical and soft skills. In my experience,

… it takes 5-10 years of real effort and practice to get good at the range of things that business analysts have to do.

Business analysis is not something you can pick up on the side and expect to get great results.

Kevin Brennan was talking to Joe Newbert during the making of the 2016 Inter-View Report. Join in the conversation on Twitter with @BAKevin and @Newbert.

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About Joe Newbert

Joe is a consultant, a writer, a speaker and above all a teacher, who spends most of his time at the Business Change Academy helping people to grow their skills, bring meaningful change and see their career soar.

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