Business Analysts provide a critical role in organizations. In fact, without this role, Business Owners and Developers must work together in a software project, which can be frustrating to both sides. Indeed, Business Owners may not get what they want and Developers may spend time building functionality that was not needed. OUCH! Why is that? Because the Business Owners and Developers have not learned to communicate to their mutual benefit. Enter the Business Analyst whose role is to define the needs and recommend solutions that deliver value to the stakeholders (e.g., Business Owners, users, customers, etc.)
According to the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) BA’s do the following
- Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
- Requirements Management and Communication
- Enterprise Analysis
- Requirements Analysis
- Solution Assessment and Validation
Or more simply, business analysis includes
- Planning strategically
- Operating/Business Model Analysis
- Process Definition and Design
- IT/Technical Business Analysis
BA’s can provide important value in Business Process Management (BPM). Their success depends on the depth of their understanding about how to work with key stakeholders and how to use a consistent BPM methodology Here are five areas where you can differentiate your work and get you the results the Business Owner wants. Each one also has specific actionable techniques that can get you started today.
Specific Definitions of Business Requirements
Often the Business Owner has a problem and asks for a particular technology solution. A Business Analyst can help the Business Owner determine what the underlying problem is, if that problem is important to his overall goals, and how the problem aligns with the company’s strategy.
There are two things the Business Analyst needs to accomplish in the initial conversations with the Business Owner:
- Is this the right problem/process to work on now
- What do you want to achieve?
Business Owner’s make particular requests and suggest particular solutions for these requests, but the problem could be larger than the initial request. The BA can help the Business Owner identify it this is the best process to be working on now by completing a Macro Map identifying all his processes. Then the BA and Business Owner can determine which processes offer the biggest opportunities in the market, or which processes are underperforming significantly, and will impact his/her business goals the most. Another approach would be to develop a Business Architecture for the organization or the division and then prioritize processes within that. (This may be a larger task than the Business Owner wants to take on by herself so the Macro Map is a simpler substitute.)
Two BPM techniques I use at the beginning of a process improvement effort which help focus the project and get the Business Owner involved in the critical upfront work are:
- Create a Macro Map of core processes and support process: the Macro Map helps to identify which are the best processes to work on now?
- Charter: The charter is critical at the beginning of any BPM project. The BA builds it with the sponsor; it include the sponsor’s improvement targets which focus the project.
As the BA, you have to use your judgment to see if the request is really a small improvement that automation or new functionality will easily resolve. And, it is your role also to see the bigger picture of how improving a larger process (of which the request is one piece) will add more value to the organization.
A consistent BPM Methodology makes process improvement more efficient and effective, builds process assets that are shareable and replicable, and trains leaders and employees in process improvement skills. But most organizations don’t have a consistent BPM Methodology unless they are using a consulting firm and ‘buy’ the methodology of that firm. There is no standard BPM Methodology yet. Only the phases of a process improvement effort are pretty standard (although they may have different names). So the BA should provide a BPM Methodology stealing shamelessly from well known consultancies and giving credit where credit is due. My company, i4Process, uses a consistent BPM Methodology which includes these phases:
- Process Discovery
- Process Modeling
- Process Analysis
- Process Redesign
- Continuous Improvement
What’s helpful about the methodology is it tells you what techniques are required in each phase and which techniques are optional. So the BA needs to know and use the required techniques and then know which of the optional techniques would also be helpful for the client situation. The BA provides value by keeping to a consistent BPM methodology and tailoring it by adding some optional techniques. If you use all the techniques you get analysis paralysis and diminishing return for the Business Owner.
Part 2 will cover Identifying and Conducting Operational and Technical Analysis, Facilitating Leadership Conversations and Team Work Sessions, and Finding Solutions that Match the Real Goal.
Want to learn more? Sign up for my live-online BPMessentials workshop, Starting and Organizing a BPM Project (Jan. 15 and 16, 2013) and Analyzing and Optimizing BPM Processes (March 12 and 13, 2013) Find out how to build high level maps with process owners and project leads, how to write a charter in 90 minutes, how to get the right members for a BPM team, how to document process models in the BPMN standard, using the free ITP software, how to use the 4 required techniques to analyze processes, and creative ways to build optimize processes.