Kevin Brenna is the Chief Business Analyst and Executive Vice President for the IIBA, and I had the good fortune of seeing his keynote speech at the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference in Las Vegas in 2013. It was about the past, present, and future of business analysis.
In the past, poor requirements management was the single biggest reason for project failure — hence the creation of the business analyst profession. Fast forward to the present, and nearly 66% of projects still do not meet their goals.
Hearing that was very disheartening. I felt like the BA profession had failed and, as a member of that profession, I was feeling guilty. So I did an internet search to find out why projects fail. The first hit I got was to the IBM Systems magazine. They cited project failure as a result of poor project planning and direction, insufficient communication, ineffective management, failure to align with constituents and stakeholders, inefficient involvement with executive management, lack of soft skills or the ability to adapt, and poor or missing methodology and tools.
Phew! I can take that weight off my shoulders. The BA is not solely responsible for project failure, but how can the BA role improve in order to remain relevant and contribute to project success? Fortunately, we have people at the IIBA that have been asking that same question and have come up with an answer. The answer is to shift away from tactical support of project delivery and towards delivery of business value. This shift is the future of the business analyst.
A BA can start by asking “why?” during requirements elaboration in order to better understand the reason(s) for the change. But only so much business value lies within the system requirements. The organizational system also includes people, processes, data, and rules. BA’s need to be just as involved in the enterprise analysis and solution assessment and validation phases of the project as they are in the requirements analysis phase. This will better ensure that the results delivered map back to business strategies.
Overall, BA’s have to rise to the challenge and become visionaries, innovators, strategists, and leaders. I’m doing my part by including business strategy and leadership in my professional development for the next two years. Are you up to the challenge?