As Business Analysis has matured, so has the definition of best practices associated with the skill set / profession. With the maturity and success of the professional role, I have more opportunity to enable those seeking to further their career through certification. Recently, an aspirant asked “why the change from Enterprise Analysis to Strategy Analysis?” This question is in reference to the updated version of the IIBA’s (International Institute of Business Analysis) BABoK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge). My response is influenced by my perspective of the profession and my journey with IIBA. I will respond in two parts: 1) what are the major differences in these areas between V2 and V3 and 2) why the shift.
First, a quick analysis of the similarities and differences (tasks found in both BABoK versions are highlighted consistently with their relation):
|BABoK V2||BABoK V3|
|16 Pages||34 Pages|
|5 Tasks with a total of 16 elements||4 Tasks with a total of 29 elements|
Task and Element Comparison between BABoK Versions
Elements that remained are highlighted; The majority of other elements either shifted to a new area or were expanded on significantly
|Define Business Need
Assess Capability Gap
Determine Solution Approach
Define Solution Scope
Define Business Case
|Analyze Current State
Define Future State
Define Change Strategy
|Assumes understanding of detailed elements involved in Capability Analysis and does not call out the same details for current vs future.||Very specific|
|Risk analysis is limited in scope||Entire task dedicated to risk assessment and management|
|More technical in its language approach||Holistic approach to understanding solutioning and strategic change|
Why the shift?
Business Analysis has matured significantly; the understanding of the skillset and its value continues to evolve. The traditional view of the role was one of focused technical application with minimal latitude in solution leadership and decisioning. Business Analysts often found themselves in the “would you like fries with that” mode as they were approached with “here is the solution to my problem; can you help me implement it?”. IIBA has been very purposeful in their language and best practice definition to be agnostic in solution source consideration. The BABoK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge), published by the IIBA and compiled by Business Analysis professionals around the world, presents information related to change and business analysis in such a way as to steer away from the narrow view that has been Business Analysis in the past. It does (and has since at least V2 of the BABoK) so via the following (not an exhaustive list):
- Change efforts are not referred to as “projects” and do not specify technology or software as the solution of choice, rather a combination of any of the following:
- Processes (including business rules)
- Specific wording of “solution” is used as opposed to “system” to help eliminate confusion that all problems are solved with technology.
- Solutions are not considered silos of information, or people. On the contrary, much focus is given to the “big picture” ensuring that impact upstream and downstream is considered for all facets/components of the solution.
- Focus is placed on the need for such big-picture consideration before a project is defined to ensure the true need is understood and the right solutions are defined.
One influencer of the shift in knowledge area terminology was the introduction of the "Enterprise Architect role. In V2 the big picture and holistic impact thinking was defined primarily in the knowledge area of “Enterprise Analysis”. This was done before “Enterprise Architecture” became a buzz word and a professional career path with its own certification. As the Enterprise Architecture world began to develop and mature, it lent to a bit of confusion as to how the BABoK and Business Analysts fit into the new world picture. We began to see a shift in how the Enterprise Analysis area of the Business Analyst’s world was communicated to avoid such confusion. We found ourselves being more careful about our explanation of what the Business Analyst does during the earliest phases of change. Further, we found ourselves in a bit of a conundrum when a Business Analyst and an Enterprise Architect had to work together. Who does what? When? With whom? When an environment was not mature enough to have both roles, the Business Analyst found themselves performing it all within the guidelines of the BABoK. As the profession defined as the enablers of change, it was very natural for the IIBA and its volunteers to re-evaluate this section (among others) to ensure the best practices and expectations of Business Analysts considered this ever-maturing world of change. Therefore, in the newest version of the BABoK (V3), the knowledge area is no longer referred to as “Enterprise Analysis”. However, it has retained the expectations of the Business Analysts and the work to be done and then some; which leads me to the second biggest influencer of the shift from “Enterprise Analysis” to “Strategy Analysis”.
More and more, we find ourselves in situations where little patience is exercised, and “get there yesterday” and instant gratification rules the day. A recent movement of “fail fast” has taken to the stage and the willingness to pause, just a little, is more and more a thing of the past. Unfortunately, in my experience, this most often results in more pain than necessary and significant loss of time and value due to significant levels of undo redo. We don’t seem to stop just long enough to ask ourselves “should we” (a primary focus of strategic thinking)? The Business Analyst is often relegated to documenting things after the fact and without opportunity to question the nature or holistic impact of the change. The change is performed in the confines of the immediacy of the confines of a specific piece of technology. We may still do pieces of “Enterprise Analysis”, but in the confines of a technical approach to Enterprise Architecture. We lose significantly with this thinking and experience very little of the value the Business Analyst has to offer. The Business Analyst is perfectly positioned in skill set and focus to provide strategic direction and challenging the siloed thinking.
In comes the shift to specific references to “strategy” in the language found in the BABoK. Allow the opportunity for strategic analysis early in the change cycle to enable the highest potential for success of the Business Analyst in their function, and, subsequently, the highest potential for efficient success for the organization and its solutions. Strategic change requires one to ensure the underlying need is truly understood and that the true defined need is appropriate when evaluating the strategic direction of the organization. This should be done with as much objectivity as possible, which is a perspective a Business Analyst is well suited to provide. The more the world moves at a fast pace, requiring out of the box, innovative thinking, while leveraging logic and analytical thinking, the more beneficial it is to leverage a Business Analyst. However, this is not a natural consideration given the constrained view organizations have of the role of the Business Analyst. Shifting perspective and seeing the Business Analyst as the strategic resource it can be will serve everyone well. Hence the shift to “Strategic” language and techniques included in the BABoK and best practices.
In closing, from my perspective, the shift from Enterprise Analysis to Strategy Analysis is intended to:
- Reduced confusion of the roles in today’s world of change
- Encouraging holistic thinking about the solution and need understanding
- Shifting the perspective of the Business Analyst role from one of constrained technology change resource to that of a strategic transformation resource operating with analytical creativity and flexible adaptability.
I welcome your thoughts and perspectives!
About the Author
Lora McCoy, CBAP : LinkedIn Profile
Regional Director, IIBA Central Americas Chapter
Active BA Speaker, Trainer
Hands-on BA with 20+ years of BA experience
Lora has over 20 years of experience performing Business Analysis skillset activities as well as Quality Assurance, Project Management and more. This experience spans varying company sizes in multiple industries including Banking and Finance, Service Management, Education, Retail and Oil and Gas. Her passion for helping others is evident in her passion for the profession of Business Analysis. She is dedicated to both the profession and those who perform the skillset for the profession. She currently is actively engaged in performing the Business Analysis consulting function through BIS as well as preparing others for certification and career advancement through Adaptive US.
Lora is an active speaker at various industry meets and conferences such as BA World, Tulsa TechFest, Women in IT, regional Business Analysis Development Days and more.
About Lora's Consulting Employer
With over 30 years of experience in data management, BIS recognizes the value that business analysis brings to our clients in breaking down the silos of data spread throughout their departments. Our business analysts remain actively engaged in client projects to identify the pain points of current processes and provide deeper solutions. Founded in 1986, BIS, creator of the award-winning Grooper platform, is revolutionizing the way organizations worldwide accomplish more with their data.
Grooper is the world’s leading software platform for extracting data from documents and transforming it into actionable information, without the need for custom coding and templates. It delivers sophisticated artificial intelligence and a robust feature set that unlocks valuable insight to fuel innovative real-time analytics and reporting, anomaly detection, and big data technologies. Businesses and government agencies are tapping into the power of Grooper to increase visibility into their data, accelerate complex workflows, and gain a competitive edge.
To learn more visit www.grooper.com or www.bisok.com
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