by Business Analysis (BAPL)
Many organisations often driven by enthusiastic individuals embark on the establishment of a BA practice with all the very best of intentions. A BA Practice makes sense as it will, if done correctly improve business performance. Establishing and maintaining a BA practice within your organisation plays a big part towards driving better business performance through improving product & service delivery to customers. Business Analysis is about resolving business outcomes through solving problems and/or supporting business opportunities. A BA practice is about driving towards and fostering the highest level of business analysis capability and competency. So, with an effective BA practice in place, this increase capability will lead to better outcomes in the resolution of those problems or opportunities. Ultimately this means either money saved, revenue generated (or both), lower risk and increased customer satisfaction (BAPL’s Value Proposition).
There are many aspects to a BA practice, and whilst they don’t all need to be achieved at once, together they will help achieve the above.
In a previous article “Business Analysis As A Practice” we outlined a number aspects that make up a complete practice. These were.
- Approaches, methods, techniques, templates, and tools
- Service and quality
- Career development
- Training and development
To assist you in the development of your practice, lets break these down further.
Approaches, methods, techniques, templates, and tools—This can include the development of different BA approaches (consider Agile, Waterfall or hybrid delivery frameworks), with detailed steps through each stage of each approach. Ideally, this would be linked to the supporting artefacts (templates, technique instructions or how-to guides) throughout to assist in delivery and consistency.
Service and quality—Identifying the BA services (whether your team is capable of delivering process improvements, BI, Cybersecurity and Data Analytics etc. – and what they entail). The processes to engage, deliver, and manage your BA team, support tools to check the quality of outputs, and tools to manage performance consistently.
Career development—Identifying the different levels of business analysis, and determining which levels are suitable for your organisation. Developing a clear career pathway for the BAs, keeping in mind that without career progression, the retention of your BAs may decrease. Developing tools to recruit at the desired level. Developing tools to assess competency and re-assess as the BA develops.
Training and development—Identifying the strengths the BAs can share and development opportunities to be addressed to aid in achieving the highest level of BA outcomes, and supporting this with a development program to meet the individuals, teams, and organisations needs – within budget.
Organization—Developing a BA community and internal support network where questions and answers can be readily provided. New BAs both temporary and permanent are easily trained on all the BA support tools available to them.
So far so good. But where are the pitfalls? Firstly, it can take a long time to achieve all of the above. Secondly, once any of the above are in place, they immediately also need to be improved, future proof and maintained.
So who does all of this? Well, ideally this would be a shared exercised lead by an experienced BA. Developing this as a team results in greater buy in, speeds up the development process, and also assists in maintenance as components of the practice can be allocated to different responsible people. Alternatively, this could all be developed by the lone experienced BA, however this approach will result in extend delivery timeframes.
And how much does this cost? This is actually a difficult question to quantify. Much of what has been listed above can be developed on a time/cost basis. Some organisations have created part of the above in as little as 6 months, others envisage up to 2 years for the practice to be delivered and embedded. However the true costs should consider: Delays in the BA practice establishment may also delay BA capability improvements (and the issues that will remain due to that capability along the way); the opportunity losses as one or more BAs time is allocated to developing the practice rather than a different initiative or projects; plus the actual wage costs of the BA/s equal to the total time spent (plus each stakeholder they may involve along the way). As such, the cost to develop a BA Practice can be hundreds of thousands of dollars or higher. And then there is the added maintenance to ensure this outlay and los opportunity cost was not wasted.
So does the benefit out weight the cost? Most definitely! At BAPL we have numerous case studies identifying where exceptional business analysis has led to cost savings for the organisation, in some cases in excess of $20,000,000.
So why doesn’t every organisation with BAs have a thriving BA practice? Well, it is a combination of any or all of the above. Many businesses struggle with the development and maintenance of a BA Practice due to competing priorities, transient staff, or limited budget, often investing many tens of thousands of dollars, with little to show for it.
At BAPL we have recognised both the benefit of a strong BA practice, as evidenced by the successful outcomes we have delivered for our clients, as well as the time and cost of establishing and maintaining a strong practice. We’ve taken over 16 years to develop ours and are constantly focused on how to make it even better. We now provide access to our Practice to our BA partners, via our consultants, to make it easier for them to build their BA community, provide immediate uplift in capability, and provide a bit of much needed capacity back to the BA Managers and Leads. This includes attending our fortnightly professional development sessions, and CBAP study groups. We also work with you on your approaches and tools to help you be more successful with your software initiatives, products and projects.