Agile Transformation, Digital Transformation, The Need for Speed, No BA Needed in Scum….What does all this mean to BAs and the “new normal”?
Gone are the days of big upfront analysis, long requirements “phases”, big requirements spec documents, and handing off a requirements document to the development team. Gone are the days of BAs gathering requirements and taking notes, then sitting at their desks creating documents to hand off to others.
Here to stay are analysis practices that embody tight collaboration with a variety of team members and stakeholders to co-create. Analysts need a strong combination of problem-solving and facilitation skills that use visual models in a lean way to advance the solution and problem-solving processes. Analysis practices that are more tightly integrated into other processes and practices to fully leverage how analysis is needed throughout the project and beyond. Analysis practices integrated into the strategic, planning, development, and deployment processes.
This requires many organizations to rethink how to skill and organize the business analysis work. When the business analysis work is disjointed, lackluster results can happen where unforeseen impacts cause rework, and gaps in analysis cause projects to fix issues over and over and over again. Let me say that again because most organizations are not tracking it. Lackluster analysis causes a lot of defects and enhancement requests that come in after deployment and then take 5 to 10 more rounds of defects and enhancements, and over a year (or more) post-deployment to get the intended functionality that the business users and customers actually needed to be implemented successfully. Now, I am not a fan of saying “well, we need more analysis and better requirements, so let’s give the BAs 3 more months to get requirements done right.” I am however a fan of, “let’s make sure we have the skills and processes in place to dso requirements and analysis fast, just in time, at the strategic and detailed levels, with the right level of detail at the right time and we are solving the right problems while measuring the success factors as we deploy incrementally. Requirements and analysis work doesn’t need to take more time, it just needs to be done better and with more modern techniques and practices that fit today’s organizations.
Disjointed business analysis happens when analysis resources and scope are narrowed to a project or application scope rather than a customer experience and strategic scope. Projects years ago were organized and executed in a manner where a more holistic approach was more visible to all stakeholders and complexity and changes were less prevalent.
Today, smaller projects that are not connected to a higher level strategy at the execution level (not just in the executive’s minds) are fraught with problems. Analysis needs to help bridge the strategic intent, customer experience, and the detailed project, product, and system level. Many organizations and teams have lost this and focus analysis on too technical of scope in a well-intended effort to speed up analysis. Let’s be honest, this isn’t working!
To make teams, products and projects more successful, the analysis needs to happen at multiple levels from strategy down to execution, and it needs to be integrated with the digital experience, customer experience, data, internal operations, and agile processes. When all of these have their own transitions how can anything keep up?
Enter true business analysis! A capability where analysis assets are used by many roles, along with skilled BAs to see the connections between all of these (strategy, goals, KPIs, users, data, systems, process/workflows, policies/logic/tules) and with the skills and techniques to navigate decisions that benefit the intended big picture rather than a narrow scope of work with a deadline. A practice that prioritizes results over meeting a project scope within a specific deadline or budget. A practice that brings these tough decisions to the right people at the right time. A practice connected to other organizational practices. Analysis, a true word that embodies connecting to other things, not done in a silo.
To make all this happen, BAs, POs, and anyone doing analysis needs to be continuously learning and upskilling! The organization also needs to have a continuous learning and improvement mindset as well. The organization and those doing analysis need to have these shared learning values to make sure that the analysis doesn’t get stale! If the people and org are not learning as everything else around them changes, then the analysis will suffer and ultimately not get great results, hindering organizational performance. The new normal with all of the “transformations” happening is to continuously learn and evolve! A transformation will be as fast or slow as the skills needed to transform along with the organization.