Top 10 Key Business Analysis Trends For 2013 - Delivering Business Values Brings Business Analysis into the Limelight

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10 Key Business Analysis Trends For 2013

This year’s top 10 business analysis trends focus on leveraging the power of requirements at all levels through Agile and business architecture to deliver business value to the organization. We also expect to see business analysts being utilized in more robust ways, forcing them to take on new skills to meet a broader job scope.

10 Key Business Analysis Trends For 2013 - Delivering Business Values Brings Business Analysis into the LimelightMany of the trends identified this year have been ongoing for several years and they continue to evolve along with the practices of business analysis and project delivery.

The roles of the business analyst and product owner will be solidified and respected
Many organizations are not reaping Agile’s promise because the professionals assigned to Agile projects aren’t trained in its use, aren’t sure exactly what their roles are, and the organization is not culturally ready to embrace its principles. The BA’s role works with the product owner to help define the priority of the backlog, pushing those items forward on the schedule that will bring the customer the greatest value. Product owners are responsible for making decisions about what the backlog is and which items should be developed first. In the past, product owners would add backlog items during a Sprint, disrupting the project, causing delays and adding costs. In 2013 product owners will come to respect the role of the BA and better understand their own roles in the process, resulting in improved results from Agile projects.

Strong user stories will be the force driving effective requirements analysis and product backlog prioritization
As BAs work with product owners, their focuses should be on eliciting and analyzing user stories, allowing for better prioritization of the product backlog. BAs need to leverage those skills to focus on how to understand the value and needs of the product owner’s backlog. If BAs struggle with requirements management and development (RMD) in a traditional environment and are moving toward Agile, they should invest in training around core business analysis skills. The BA’s RMD skills will be the foundation for successful Agile projects. Practice makes perfect, and in 2013 there will be a major push forward in better user story development.

Forget consensus. In 2013 it’s all about collaboration and convergence
Requirements, in the form of user stories and product backlog prioritization, require that business analysts are able to lead product owners along a path that is collaborative and converging. The goal of Agile is to deliver a workable, usable product every four to six weeks. With that in mind, BAs must help identify the “what” that the product owner needs, its value, and its priority. Consensus driven approaches take longer and often do not vet out what the customer really wants. Accordingly, BAs will change their mindsets and focus on elicitation skills that are based on collaboration and convergence of requirements to deliver a working product on a regular basis.

BAs will become the new PMs through Agile
Within Agile, the terms project management and project managers are being replaced by the words project leadership and project leader. If you use Scrum, there are no project managers but rather Scrum masters. Regardless of the title, the whole notion of leading and managing a project is no longer isolated to those carrying the title “project manager.” In Agile, everyone, at least theoretically, is a “generalizing specialist.” This means that the Agile team has multiple, complementary skills to support the delivery of iterations on a project. In 2013 more BAs will take on this generalizing specialist role to help “manage” the iteration scope, develop better defined user stories, and prioritize the product backlog. As a result, there will be an uptake in training for BAs in the core elements of project management skills such as planning and estimating, risk, and team collaboration. Will the term “project manager” become obsolete? Time will tell.

BAs will be seen as the keystone to adopting Agile
Agile methods, when practiced by trained professionals on the “right” projects in the “right” organizations, have the potential to boost performance in a variety of ways. Multiple surveys back up this assertion. However, those same surveys show that the top benefit derived from adopting Agile (the ability to manage changing priorities) is not the same top reason companies adopt Agile in the first place: to accelerate time to market. Should this cause an organization to rethink its use of Agile? Not at all. BAs are at the heart of the “top benefit of adopting Agile.” At its core, Agile is about better requirements and delivering those requirements in usable work products on a regular basis. Since the BA‘s core focus is on gathering requirements, organizations will realize that even if they don’t have BAs by title, if they are to be successful in their Agile projects, there have to be highly trained professionals able to map out the AS-IS, define the TO-BE and work with the project owner to make it happen. Requirements gathering is not just some function of the job. It’s core to success, and the people assigned to this important role will be seen for what they are: the keystone of success. Will this new appreciation for BAs mean an increase in IIBA’s CBAP® certification? Not if organizations don’t know about it and realize its value.

The U.S. federal government will slowly recognize the value of business analysis as it moves more toward an Agile environment
Requirements management is a recognized problem within government. And yet, even though state and local governments have embraced the BA title and role, the federal government has been slow on the uptake. Though the title hasn’t been accepted doesn’t necessarily mean the role of the BA has been given short shrift. In fact better RMD is the driver for Agile in the government space, and as Agile will be used on a greater number of projects, the value of business analysis as a separate discipline—practiced by highly qualified professionals—will become more apparent. With shrinking budgets and fiscal cliffs, Agile, and the BAs who practice it, just might be the extra “fire power” the government needs.

Strategic enterprise analysis becomes the foundation of business architecture
Strategic enterprise analysis focuses on defining the value streams of an organization by analyzing the impact of core business processes and business capabilities to achieve strategic goals. Business architecture leverages the skills of the BA to create and maintain a set of business-owned information assets that serve as a blueprint for planning and execution of strategy. The purpose of business architecture is to define the “what” of a business, such as what it does, what it needs to meet goals, etc., which perfectly aligns with the skills of the BA. As more companies embrace the discipline of business architecture, they are looking to senior BAs to step into the emerging role of business architect.

Business Analysis Centers of Excellence will focus on proving their worth and driving innovation
In 2011 and into 2012, we saw a resurgence of business analysis centers of excellence (COE). The driving force behind the resurgence was the focus on business architecture and meeting strategic goals. Coincidentally, we saw the resurgence of COEs in the financial services and insurances industries, which tend to be early adopters of business architecture. Now that the COEs are in place, there is a focus on the COEs showing their value and innovation. In 2013, the business analysis COEs will concentrate on staffing, with senior BAs to fulfill the role of business architect, as well as on establishing a common, enterprise-level business language and framework for documenting how the business is structured. This will set the stage for defining the “what” of a business as it relates to strategic project investments. This business analysis COE trend is akin to the 2013 PM trend of project management offices focusing on proving their worth and driving innovation. These two go hand in hand.

Modeling skills take precedence in business analysis training
Many organizations that have embraced Agile and business architecture are beginning to understand the importance of modeling skills and the value they bring in delivering quick, efficient solutions. Agile projects and effective business architecture both require a strong skill set in process and use case modeling. Modeling techniques will be a key focus area for BAs in 2013 as these tools will become critical in depicting the impact of solutions on the business. As such, the written word will continue to slowly lose its appeal and significance when describing solutions and impact to customers.

Communicating “up” will become critical to articulating requirements impact on a deliverable
In most cases, the BAs immediately know the effect a requirement has on a solution, for they are intimately aware of the needs of the business. However, the ability to communicate this impact to the business is a challenge for most BAs. BAs interact with a wide variety of stakeholders, touching upon requirements at many levels within the organization. Yet many BAs struggle when it comes to communicating the impact of these requirements to a broad spectrum of people, and especially those at the higher levels in the organization. BAs will recognize that their careers will be limited if they can’t have the crucial conversations at the highest levels and will concentrate on how to communicate “up” through practice, training, and mentoring. In doing this, the BA will be viewed as even more of an invaluable resource and be seen as a main point of contact for business capabilities.

Pulling it all together
Business analysts are looked up to as the deliverers of business value because of their ability to see the various layers of stakeholder needs. In 2013, the demand for driving business value will require BAs to showcase their strategic enterprise analysis skills and RMD skills using a quick, nimble approach. With the focus on Agile requirements, BAs will solidfy their positions by focusing on effective requirements modeling and communicating critical messages up and across organizations. Therefore, BAs should sharpen their interpersonal or “soft” skills, while also honing their “technical” skills that define the profession. Further, BAs should focus on the business and how the business architecture will be affected when it comes to delivering project solutions.

Author: Nancy Y. Nee, PMP, PMI-ACP, CBAP, CSM

Nancy Y. Nee, PMP, PMI-ACP, CBAP, CSM, Vice President, Global Product Strategy, ESI International, guides clients in the development and implementation of learning programs customized to their specific needs. Her solutions reflect the insight of almost two decades of PM and BA experience in healthcare, information technology, financial services and energy. www.esi-intl.com

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COMMENTS

Haritharba posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 3:10 PM
Nice article, very good insight of a business analyst role to provide value to an organizations future.
TravisBarker posted on Sunday, January 27, 2013 2:06 PM
Thanks for the article. It was a very interesting read.

The Business Analyst’s role seems to be best characterized by its agility and flexibility to respond to ever changing requirements, environments, technologies, and specialties.

The B2B and C2C interface is enhanced through the Business Analyst’s role which seeks to diminish the barriers erected through functionalized and departmental silos that limit communication, collaboration, and planning.

The global marketplace represents risks unparalleled by domestic markets and requires the ability to adapt to increasingly segmented markets representative of increasingly diverse needs, resources, tastes, and preferences.

The previous emphasis on specialization diminishes the flexibility and adaptability that is required of the global market place as resource efficiencies diminish, cost advantages shift, life cycles shorten, and the frequency of crisis (environmental, fiscal, and political, etc.) increases.

Thanks again for the article. I found it quite insightful.

Travis Barker, MPA GCPM
raph posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 10:09 AM
Nice article !
So, what is the conclusion at the end of 2013 ?

:)

Raphael
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