Often it is said that a BA should concentrate on the “why” not the “how,” which is true initially however, at a more detailed stage it is necessary to solve the how to deliver the outcome. Instead of saying a BA should focus on the “why” I prefer to say a BA should focus on what is the “service or product” we are delivering within the scope. Inevitably the discussion will soon include the processes and business functions required to deliver the service or product, which is the why.
The first question I ask is “what is the service or product we are delivering within the scope?” Normally I already know the answer to this question through the usage of the BABOK technique Document Analysis that allows me to determine the answer before I engage the stakeholders. Great sources of this information are company websites and glossy brochures as these hopefully clearly outline the services or products offered by the organisation. Next I like to understand the services and products within the scope of the initiative or project, and determine whether these are supportive activities (necessary but non-value adding) or direct value chain activities (value adding).
Typically I use a value chain similar to the Porter’s generic value chain to focus my understanding of how the scope fits into value adding and non-value adding activities. If the activities are value adding it is easy to link them to the services and product delivery. Non-value adding but necessary supportive activities are more challenging to identify the linkages to the services and products however connecting the dots can be exhilarating.
I learnt the usefulness of this technique when working in a healthcare environment when I was asked to work on a project that had identified the need for a new Human Resource IT system. When I started to analyse further I discovered the organisation had a problem with recruiting enough nurses, as frontline and regional patient services (value-adding service) were under resourced to produce a suitable customer service. Around the world Human Resource business units (non-value adding but necessary supportive business function) perform five business process patterns; Strategic Human Resource Planning, Recruitment, Retention (includes learning and development), Redeployment/Retirement and Employee Management (includes payroll etc) so typically a new Human Resource IT system would cover all of these five processes. However in this instance the problem was only in one area “Recruitment” and so I suggested that we focus our attention (scope) to fixing the problem affecting the value adding service hence reducing delivery time and costs. My initial suggestion of analysing the cost/benefits of employing temporary staff to handle the recruitment peaks using existing processes and technology did not resonate well with the stakeholders. So the project team concentrated on delivering a technology solution to improve the recruitment process. In the end, the recruitment workflow technology solution provided better business value than a “butterfly syndrome” new Human Resource IT system.
Innovation – businessdictionary.com: The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. I think the BA role provides the greatest opportunity to lead and influence stakeholders to make more informed business decisions, assisting organisations to become more strategic, flexible, customer focused and innovative in delivering services and products.
Tim is a Consulting Director for Business Analysts Pty Ltd (BAPL) – an expert business analysis company offering business analyst consultants for initiatives or projects, as well as education services. Tim has designed, created and delivered business analysis courses based on the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®). He has established Business Analysis Centres of Excellence BACoE, developed a Business Analyst Competency Program including the competency assessment, individual training/development plans, and mentoring modules. Tim has depth of experience across the entire SDLC from project planning, preparing business cases, and business process modeling, to business/functional/non-functional requirements specification, tendering, security and access configuration, testing, training, transition planning, implementation, and post-implementation support. His experience as a Business Analyst over the past 20 years has seen him work in 18 countries, working for federal, state and local government, construction and property development, mining, information technology, law enforcement, entertainment, aged care, health care, transport/logistics and finance.
Tim has experience in all knowledge areas of the BABOK® and is always eager to support and mentor other Business Analysts. Tim has a Bachelor of Education and Workplace Category IV Trainer and Assessor certificate. With a strong background in education and assessment Tim has a keen interest in business analysis competency models, is an author of the IIBA® Competency Model and is currently IIBA® Australia Chapter President.
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