Implementing business analysis (BA) in organizations needs to be done in a well-planned process. The three steps are contingent on the BA maturity of the organization, its vision for how BA will be used and the degree of executive sponsorship.
During Step 1, you’ll identify the members of the primary group. This group will be principally responsible for business analysis and will be given initial training on the skills, techniques, methodologies and knowledge needed to implement BA. Training will include the International Institute of Business Analysis' best practices model, benchmarked methods, history, quality and continuous improvement methods. Step 2 consists of training the rest of your personnel and Step 3 is when BA will be applied.
Step 1: Determining the organizational vision and primary group
The first question that needs to be answered is, "What does BA mean in this organization?" Executives need to define the vision that will become the basis for the entire BA program and it needs to be given necessary time to develop. Without a strong vision that has full executive support, business analysis will only be a mantra and will never be fully accepted, implemented or maintained. It will not survive in the long run.
Next, the BA primary group will be picked, and a location for where they will "live" needs to be decided on. It is usually a good idea to place the BA group in an area of the organization that easily reaches to all departments and who report to a senior executive. Ultimately, the BA group should be permanent staff and made-up of individuals with varying levels of experience and expertise. This provides those with less experience the opportunity to develop and those with more experience with the possibility to eventually take on more of a leadership role. The BA team members' roles must also be defined both at the group level, as mentioned in the overview, and within the BA unit.
Step 2: Training
The training phase essentially needs to consist of a core curriculum and additional training as necessary. Although needs vary from organization to organization, it has been found that these three basic types of training work well:
- An orientation or awareness program that introduces the concepts of BA
- A skills-building program that enables members to collect/elicit and analyze data, apply quantitative and qualitative measures to requirements and work processes, and create improvements.
- Programs that help to clarify new roles and expectations and provide employees with the essential tools and techniques for implementing a more supportive and participative environment. Examples include leadership and communication, conflict resolution skills and so on.
Training delivery should begin with giving senior managers a one-hour to a half-day orientation of the BA program, and repeating the orientation throughout the organization. Since the BA group will eventually interact with all elements in the organization, it becomes imperative that everyone understands the program and its objectives and methodology.
Providing real-time information is also a good way to decrease any resistance and increase acceptance. In the absence of this real-time information, individuals and groups will make assumptions that may or may not be correct. It is strongly suggested that the training be provided to work groups, since this allows the groups to discuss their own unit's mission, discover improvement opportunities and to identify any barriers that might impede their progress. Possible training includes:
Orientation training introduces participants to the business analysis process. This training will ensure an understanding of the organization's mission, vision, values and objectives related to BA. Participants will form an understanding of their roles for contributing to ongoing process improvement. Next, the orientation explains the background and concepts, the state of BA, why the company is investing in business analysis, and the general approach and methodology. A final objective of the orientation is to make sure that employees know what is expected of them and what they can expect from the new function.
Requirements, process identification and analysis training
Requirements, process identification and analysis training enables participants to begin applying the tools of business analysis as soon as they return to their jobs. This training should emphasize techniques for identifying internal and external customers / stakeholders, performing enterprise analysis, eliciting and writing requirements, modeling processes, validation and verification, and building an understanding of team and stakeholder expectations.
Process improvement training
The emphasis here is on "putting it all together" using a systematic model. This is where participants receive the tools, techniques and methodologies for improvement and opportunities to practice. They include modeling the "as is," state evaluating the processes using the elicited requirements and success criteria, modeling the "to be" state and presenting the completed analysis.
In addition to the above steps, the training on the following subjects may be included:
- Project management
- Statistical quality control
- Leadership and communication
- Problem solving
Step 3: Implementation
Training needs to be followed by the application of newly acquired skills or the training investment will be lost. Application needs to begin as soon as the training is complete so the information and skills learned are reinforced and do not have time to disintegrate. Immediate practice also reinforces the organization's commitment to BA. Work on this project should begin when employees return to the workplace. Four criteria should be used in the selection of initial projects:
- Importance: The process is important to the organization and its employees. Successful completion will yield a measurable and clearly visible improvement for the organization.
- Feasibility: The process can be worked on by the organization and employees have the necessary skills, resources, and abilities to successfully complete the project in a reasonable period of time (usually less than six months).
- Energizing: The project is of inherent interest and employees are stakeholders.
- Ownership: The process owner is sponsoring the project. Others who have a stake in the project, but are not directly involved, are kept informed by the team.
In summary, implementing BA needs to be handled like any other change management project. It needs to be planned, organized and deployed thoughtfully.
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