Does your organization need a business analysis practice? It is not a rhetorical question. The answer depends on the size of your company, the types of projects and initiatives you have in your pipeline, and your strategy.
By business analysis practice, I mean employing more than one business analyst – building a professional team capable of training junior analysts, sharing best practices and creating a reusable repository of business analysis artifacts.
Before we answer this question, let’s recap the expected benefits of business analysis:
- Well-defined business problems, needs and opportunities.
- Analysis of stakeholder requirements.
- Business requirements captured, communicated and shared among all stakeholders.
- Improved project success via quality requirements analysis and shared understanding of requirements.
- Facilitation of stakeholder communication and collaboration.
- Effective planning and execution of change management (including training, adoption and customer feedback.)
These benefits make a business analysis practice a valuable investment for any company that:
- Is considering a digital transformation initiative.
- Runs a portfolio of process improvement or software projects every year.
- Uses multiple software applications built in-house.
- Uses multiple systems of record (operational systems) for managing its day-to-day operations that require regular maintenance and updates, e.g. due to legislative changes.
- Is planning to purchase and adapt COTS software solutions such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or a marketing automation solution.
- Provides digital products such as apps, e-commerce platforms, and digital or streaming content.
- Is planning a significant business model change such as a merger, an acquisition, moving into new markets or changing its target customer segments.
In short, most medium-sized and all large organizations will satisfy more than one of these conditions and need a strong team to enable and support effective change – a business analysis practice.
The intention to invest in an effective business analysis practice needs to be supported by specific expectations and methodology. How to run your BA practice so that it delivers the benefits mentioned in this article?
There are a few aspects to consider (How to Build a Mature Business Analysis Practice):
- Building the team, including an often undervalued practice of growing BA resources from within – upskilling.
- Developing a knowledge management program, including business knowledge and business analysis best practices.
- Establishing a BA methodology and a foundation for requirements sharing and reuse.
- Aligning business analysis with the enterprise and business architecture.
- Practicing a consistent business analysis process focused on quality requirements and efficient stakeholder involvement.
Finally, an effective team needs to be able to improve – and it starts with expectations.
What should a business analysis practice deliver? What are the measurable outcomes and reusable outputs that the enterprise may expect in exchange for its investment in a BA practice?
- Business requirements, analyzed and captured in a variety of formats.
- Reusable diagrams, models and visuals to share institutional knowledge, validate and connect sets of requirements.
- Glossary of business terms.
- Business rules catalogue.
- Mock-ups, storyboards, wireframes and prototypes to support solution design.
- Change management documentation (presentations, training manuals, user adoption materials.)
- Delivered training and demonstrations.
- Documented and validated acceptance criteria and expected test results.
- Shared understanding requirements among all stakeholders.