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New Post 7/28/2007 10:16 PM
Informative
User is offline Craig Brown
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www.betterprojects.net
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What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 
Some places have a pool of BAs to call on to support ptojects, other places hire BAs who reprt to project managers.  Which is the best model?
 
New Post 7/29/2007 3:14 PM
User is offline Adrian M.
764 posts
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Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 
Modified By Adrian M.  on 7/29/2007 5:15:26 PM)

 craigwbrown wrote
Some places have a pool of BAs to call on to support projects, other places hire BAs who report to project managers.  Which is the best model?

Craig,

Probably the optimal model depends on the size of the organization, type of project, and number of business analysts:

  • For small organizations with small projects it is probably a good thing for the entire project team (business analysts, developers, etc.) to report to the project manager.  This way decisions can be made very quickly and problem solved easily - this team is probably an agile team.
  • On medium to large organizations and/or projects it is a good idea for the business systems analysts (as well as developers, testers, etc.) to have their own dedicated manager.  Analysts, developers, and testers are assigned to projects on a as needed basis and, for the purposes of that project, they report to the engagement manager (aka project manager).  This model allows large teams to create, train, and utilize standard best practices across the projects and provide a clearer career path for business analysts.
  • In very large organizations it is very unlikely that the business analysts (or systems analysts) all report to the same manager.  Very large organizations generally support multiple lines of business and the application development activities are themselves broken down by functional area.  Within each functional area, the business analysts should report to a dedicated manager in order to ensure their specific needs are being addressed.  In these very large organizations, it is also a very good idea to create a governance office for the business systems analysts in order to ensure consistent training and best practices across all functional areas.

The general principle is that for a small team it is easier to find 2 to 3 top notch business systems analysts which can work independently and do not require much direction from the project manager.  The larger the team gets the harder it is to assemble a team of very senior and self-driven analysts.  Larger teams will contain business analysts with a mix of skills, experience, motivation, etc.  This is the type of environment that requires that more attention be given to training, standards, coaching, and mentoring by a manager whose expertise is business systems analysis.  A project manager can provide only so much coaching and direction to the business analyst.

The interesting thing is that the role of the project manager also varies between small and very large organizations.  On small teams, the project manager tends to be more of a generalist with experience in business analysis, software development, and project management.  On very large projects and teams, project managers tend to be far more specialized and generally have more vertical project management skills and less cross-functional skills.

I manage a team of 25+ business systems analysts for a functional area of a Fortune 150 organization.  When a new project is started, a project manager is assigned – at the same time, an analysis team lead, a development team lead, and a QA team lead are identified.  They become the leadership team for the execution of the given project.  In this environment the role of the analysis manager is to ensure consistency of analysis artifacts across projects, ensure each business/systems analysis team is accomplishing their assigned tasks (at the macro level), and work with the analysis team leads to help resolve issues for any of the projects under way.

Hope this helps!

- Adrian


Adrian Marchis
Business Analyst Community Blog - Post your thoughts!
 
New Post 10/1/2007 1:44 PM
User is offline Adrian
3 posts
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Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 

I work for quite a large company - 400+ employee's, it's an Internet Service Provider. We have about 12 concurrent project for 2 BA's. The BA's sit in the product team and get most of the requirements from the product managers. A typical project will have the BA act as the project manager and responsible for UAT. For a large project, we will appoint a programme manager as in these cases there are just too much commercial work besides the requirement analysis.

I found the process works well and gives the BA's diversity and sense of ownership for each project. But time is tight! Not sure how sustainable it is on the long run..

 
New Post 10/18/2007 9:26 PM
User is offline anonymous
0 posts
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Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 

I work for a mid-size company and like Adrian pointed out, we have separate teams for BA's, QA, developers etc, each with our own bosses. Load-permitting, a member from each team is assigned to a project. For a lot of the year I'm involved with one major project that spans nearly a year, and two smaller intermittent ones that span just a few months. Working on different projects, many-a-time concurrently, allows me the benefit of working with a varied group of people in a short span of time, than if I was to work on just one major project and be part of the same group till deployment.

But the biggest take-away I find from working on multiple projects at the same time is multi-tasking. No skill is more challenged than multi-tasking. One minute I'm working on something for Project A, the next minute I'm helping QA resolve a defect from project C; hey guys, you know I also have to meet a deadline for project C. It's like that. It's a REAL test of multi-tasking.

Multi-tasking in turn calls for another skill of equal importance to the test, and that's Prioritization. God help me! And He does; He says "Prioritize".  I do, and order reigns.

 
New Post 10/19/2007 12:01 AM
User is offline Adrian M.
764 posts
3rd Level Poster




Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 

Amen!  You bring up an interesting point.  So many analysts just don't get the concept of Prioritization.  I'm not sure why - maybe they get tunnel vision or paralyzed then they get buried in tasks/work. 

I manage a team of business systems analysts and quite often I find some of the analysts working on the same "assigned" task even though major events have taken place and it is clear that the tasks they have been working may no longer be the highest priority.  Yes, maybe their manager did not yet get to re-direct (he's too busy) but it is the analyst's responsibility to at least ask.  Of course this is more at the macro level.  At the micro-level all of us need to be constantly prepared to change tasks given changing priorities and external events - especially as analysts.

- Adrian


Adrian Marchis
Business Analyst Community Blog - Post your thoughts!
 
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