Tag Archives: Business Analyst Training

The 3 R’s For Courageous Business Analysis and Project Management

As the Enterprise Business Architecture Practice Lead at IAG, I attended the recent Business Analyst World event this June with extreme interest. The Business Analysis industry continues to grow – with more companies hiring, and more employees getting trained and certified than ever before. However, with that is a changing and dynamic environment as BAs are barraged by new methodologies from the Agile and Lean worlds; new and more prevalent ALM and requirements authoring and management tools; role confusion with BPM, Business and Enterprise Architects; and the continued pressure from their business, project management and IT colleagues.

This theme resonated throughout the conference as the subtext of many of the talks and workshops during the week.  As I sat at round tables and seminars listening to topics like the value and career path of the BA, Business Analysts were definitely vocal. I heard one participant say, “Between Management and PMs, I can’t do the job I was hired to do. Whether it’s by cutting my time short – or not getting access to the right people, I know I am not doing the job properly and it’s making me cringe handing off **** to the development team.” The frustration was clear. More than ever, they want to be value add players in the game. A game they feel is rigged against them.

Then there were the stats quoted all week long:

  • 68% of projects fail due to poor requirements (from the often quoted Chaos Report)
  • 45% of features put into production are unused (also from the Standish Group)
  • 40-50% of budget is consumed by rework (Boehm and Basili)
  • 75-85% root cause of rework is from poor requirements (from Dean Leffingwell)

Ouch. To the BA’s at the conference, this was taken as a personal attack. These stats used to be quoted to management to reinforce the importance of needing good requirements. To an audience of BA’s, this is now (quite falsely in my opinion) coming across more like a condemnation of poor work. I don’t truly believe that BA’s are perceived as the bane of every failed technology project, but it had that feeling.  And what made this even stranger was the feeling that they are being locked out of Agile projects – but still being generally accountable for solutions meeting the business needs.

With 6.2 trillion dollars being spent globally on technology projects what does this mean for the Business Analyst? Given the cost of substandard requirements, which according to the BA Benchmark could be north of two trillion dollars, the business case for the Business Analyst should be obvious. To support this, the DOL and one leading staffing firm predict a shortage of BA’s in 2013 and continued shortfall in supply as technology needs ramp up into 2020.

From the seminars I attended at the Business Analyst and Project Management World conference, one concept struck a chord for me – as advice for the Business Analyst and Project Manager – and a critical factor for application development success:

Have the courage to do the right thing.

Given whatever your role and responsibility is, have the confidence to do or say what you think is right even when others disagree.  Confronted with challenges and obstacles from peers and other stakeholders, stand resolute. Faced with uncertainly and confusion in your responsibilities in an Agile environment, create your value. Take responsibility. Learn and adapt. And stand by your convictions that good requirements and analysis are absolute.

Three R’s

As BAs and PMs, get the right information, the right training and right tools.

As Managers, help enable Business Analysts and PMs to do their job. Give them the right information, the right training and the right tools to do a good job.

For Business Analysts, remember these 3 R’s as your value add:

  1. The Right Plan: Work to a requirements management plan that defines the right approach, milestones, deliverables, tools, techniques and work plan.
  2. The Right methodology. Be adaptive and fit for purpose – ensuring the approach is appropriate, utilizes best practice and the principles of good requirements, analysis and architecture are maintained.
  3. The Right Requirements. Ensured by verification, validation, prioritization, review and traceability best practices.

And for Project Managers, the Right Stuff entails:

  1. Right alignment. All stakeholders agreeing on objectives, scope, requirements and solution
  2. Right resources. For all activities, but especially utilizing the right SMEs at the right levels that can provide expertise and decisions
    1. A strategy guy for the high level
    2. Control person for oversight
    3. And an execution person for process
    4. Right time frame. In the case of the initiation and planning phases, that there is enough time to do these critical phases just right.

Doing the right thing is hard. Doing the wrong thing is easy.

Have the courage to do the “right thing”!  Positioned in the “right way” to do the “right job”

– Judith Oja-Gillam

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Quick Reference Guide: Business Analyst Training

Business Analysis is one of the fastest growing roles in information technology.  With this growth comes the need for effective business analyst training to build and develop their particular core competencies.  Here are a number of key points to keep in mind when training BAs:

Make Consistency Your Priority – It is crucial that all analysts perform their function in exactly the same way.  A lack of consistency on the business analysis side means that organizations fail to consistently get a handle on their portfolio of projects, struggle to be more efficient at sizing projects and setting delivery expectations, and are poor at communicating needs to IT delivery stakeholders.

Separate Elicitation Methodology from Documentation Methodology – Elicitation is how you go ‘get’ the information you need.  Documentation is how you ‘write it down’.  Unfortunately, many organizations confuse the two. Organizations must be sure that analysts are strong in both areas. Remember the adage “garbage in, garbage out” – if you wish to prevent garbage into the templates or tools, then the organization needs to make a concerted effort to improve the approach to elicitation. 

Don’t Underestimate the Magnitude of Change Required – Business analysis is very complex.  It’s not uncommon that an executive will underestimate the magnitude of change and expect that 1 week of training is enough.   A BA must be strong in each of the six capability areas, and all five associated processes.  Limited training will lead to knowledge and skill gaps that will affect results. Whatever the approach, don’t underestimate the magnitude of change required, and don’t focus the target of training too narrowly.

Business Analysis Excellence is Achieved through Experience – Analysts must make the methods and techniques of facilitation second-nature.  A BA must also have enough breadth of experience with different groups of stakeholders that they know how to apply these to the situation at hand.  This can only be achieved through experiential learning.

Targeting Development of Soft Skills – The role of a BA is ultimately to communicate business needs.  Effective communication requires judgment, business acumen, and leadership in addition to the core analytical, oral and written skills that are usually associated with the role.  These soft skills simply cannot be ignored.



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