Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success, by Steven Blais PMP

BA Analysis Book

Publisher’s note: This week’s Tips of the Day are based on Steven Blais, PMP’s new book Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success. This book provides a complete description of the value of business analysis in solving business problems. Steve Blais has provided a guide filled with tips, tricks, techniques, and tactics to help execute the process in the face of sometimes overwhelming political or social obstacles.



Tip #5: The Project Filter

Changes – unless you are a contractor on a time and materials basis – are the bane of our existence as project managers. It’s not just the politics and stress of decision making; there’s also the noise: many change requests are not pertinent, appropriate, applicable, feasible, or even reasonable. Many more are redundant, submitted by multiple stakeholders, or have already been addressed. Some stakeholders take the attitude that if a change request of theirs was rejected, they should submit again and keep submitting until they wear the decision maker down to acceptance. A project manager could spend the entire project evaluating and deciding on changes orders, or, if there is a governance body, deciding on change requests, spending the time producing estimates for submitted change orders, the vast majority of which will not get approved. Unless you have a cohesive and synchronous group of stakeholders, your change requests can be ambiguous, redundant, contradictory, not understandable, non-germane, and sometimes outright frivolous.

To save time and your sanity and keep your frustration with the stakeholders to a minimum, assign your business analyst to receive and perform a first round review of all change requests. The business analyst will evaluate the request to ensure that the request goes to addressing the problem that the project is solving. If not, the business analyst, in the business analyst’s usual tactful and diplomatic way, will convince the requester that the request may not be needed, at least not in this release. The business analyst can filter out the noise, consolidating similar requests into a single change and eliminating requests that have been rejected or previously approved. The business analyst can challenge requests that are not clear or appear to be frivolous. The business analyst can also help stakeholders craft the valid change request so that it is understandable and can be estimated by the solution team. Then, the only question the project manager needs to address in dealing with change requests is whether the request can be accomplished within budget and without extending the deadline.

Steve Blais, PMP is a consultant and educator living in Sarasota and Key West Florida. He has worked for 40 years in the field of computing. He is currently working with companies to create and improve their business analyst processes. He is the author of the IIL Business Analysis series of courses, and the forthcoming book, Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success.

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