As we start a new year many of us will take the time to reflect on our accomplishments from 2012 and plan our goals for 2013. We can set small or large goals. goals that will be accomplished quickly or could take several years. For 2013, I think Business Analysts should look to go beyond our traditional boundaries and set audacious goals.
Merriam-Webster defines audacious as “intrepidly daring” and “marked by originality”. As the business analysis profession and Business Analyst community continue to mature, more organizations are seeing the value that professionally-executed business analysis can bring. Business Analysts have an opportunity to help organizational leaders achieve their vision for the future. Here are three audacious goals for 2013 to help Business Analysts capitalize on this opportunity.
1. Move Beyond Information Technology Solutions
Most Business Analysts are focused on the development of IT solutions to meet business needs. The ‘IT Business Analyst’ has been hailed as key cog in the overall IT delivery framework for organizations.
While information technology is one crucial supporting function every organization needs, it is not the only area where Business Analysts can deliver value. Technology is only effective if there people who know how to use it and processes that will ensure the overall business is able to perform tasks in an efficient and effective manner. Business Analysts need to ensure that all three of these aspects work together by identifying and assessing requirements for all components, not just the technology-related pieces.
Business Analysts can challenge the perception that their work solely fits into IT by demonstrating their ability to consider the process and people components during their prescribed activities. Go beyond writing system specifications and point out potential challenges that people will have with a complicated screen layout, or identify regulatory or policy issues that will impact certain functional requirements. Such actions will allow clients to see the need for a more holistic approach to solution development and can improve the high failure rates seen by projects that are ostensibly driven by IT. Even if you are working in a systems support role, you have the opportunity to present a more complete picture about proposed modifications that will allow everyone to realize how an application should be changed to meet the organization’s needs.
2. Master and Leverage Complementary Disciplines
As a Business Analyst you already rely on competencies and knowledge from other disciplines. Most business analysis knowledge areas use notions from areas such as systems analysis, project management and facilitation.
There are several disciplines that provide wonderful skills and techniques that Business Analysts can use to help accomplish their daily tasks more effectively. If you take the time to learn and master one or more of these disciplines, your value to your organization can increase exponentially. Not only do you improve your career options but you become a better Business Analyst by being able to deal with a greater breadth of problems.
Some of the disciplines that are worth mastering as a Business Analyst are:
· Change Management: understanding how people deal with change and how to help navigate organizations through change is a crucial set of skills in today’s environment. Business Analysts can leverage change management practices throughout their activities, most noticeably in stakeholder analysis, requirements management, requirements analysis and enterprise analysis.
· Mediation/Conflict Resolution: with change comes the possibility of interpersonal conflicts. People can disagree for a variety of rational and irrational reasons. Business Analysts are often at the forefront of such conflict while they attempt to define and manage requirements. Understanding how to assess a conflict’s root cause and having techniques to defuse volatile situations are crucial to help gain consensus and keep a project moving forward.
· Performance Measurement: Business Analysts can play an important role in reviewing existing solutions or working on the business case for change. Being able to define and implement relevant measures to evaluate individual solutions or an overall organization are key tools that are needed to help keep companies moving forward. Knowing how to leverage methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma make doing these tasks that much easier.
3. Use Your Skills to Give Back
Many Business Analysts already volunteer their time to causes they believe in, but it may not be in a capacity that leverages their professional skills. Business Analysts can get a lot out of using their skills to give back to others, while at the same time helping their community. Not only is there the satisfaction of helping those in need, but an opportunity to learn how to take the experiences from such efforts and apply them in their organizations of employment. There are opportunities to help organizations who need Business Analysts as well as helping our fellow Business Analysts improve.
Here are some ideas on how to give back:
· Find a local non-profit or charity who could benefit from some business analysis but don’t have the in-house expertise or financial resources to perform the analysis.
· If you like to volunteer in developing countries, speak with the organization you work with to see if you can help them improve their operations or help them with a specific project that requires business analysis. We already have “Doctors without borders” and “Engineers without borders” – why not “Business Analysts without borders”?
· Pay it forward: mentor a less experienced Business Analyst so they can share their knowledge and expertise in the future with others.
· Start a community of practice with other BAs either inside or outside your organization to help improve everyone’s collective maturity and share ideas on how to perform BA activities better.
· Work with your local IIBA chapter to put on an event that will help the BA community grow.
What are your professional goals for 2013? Do you have any audacious goals?