Business Analysis Guidebook/Maturity Models for Business Analysis and Self-Assessment Models
Today Business Analysts may come from within organizations or from consulting firms. Often those from within the organization have strong backgrounds in either the business or its IT department. Regardless of background, there are four skill sets that any Business Analyst will strive to improve:
- Understanding of the business, its culture, and its domain (e.g., government)
- Understanding of the principles of information technology, the IT within the organization, and the trends in the IT field
- Business analysis techniques and tools
- Personal qualities and behavioral skills
The first is extremely important to business analysis. Much time is given to understanding the organizational structure, its mission, resources, output, and the framework in which it operates (non-profit, government, etc.)
Secondly, a strong understanding of IT principles is needed as most business solutions involve IT systems. These principles include how information technology works (computers, networks, internet, cloud, etc.), system development processes (Agile, DSDM, etc), off-the-shelf products, and trends in technological opportunities for business / government. Many community colleges and technical schools offer introductory or overview coursework.
Thirdly, BA techniques are well documented and can be found in many books, magazines and webinars. Techniques include investigation, stakeholder assessment, elicitation, business process and IT systems analysis, requirements gathering, data modeling, facilitation, presentation, project management, change management, and strategic analysis.
Behavioral skills are the essential keys for a successful business analyst. These skills can be grouped as inter-personal and analytical skills.
- The Business Analyst must have good communication skills in order to obtain data and then present a proposed course of action, all the while reducing the anxiety of change. These skills include good listening, empathy, elicitation, common language, and the ability to adjust the language to the audience. Good communication skills build relationships, positively influence others, develop cohesive team work, and effect confidence. [reference # 23 Communication Skills]
- Analytical thinking characteristics are problem-solving, attention to detail, big-picture views, procedural orientation, organization in collecting and analyzing data, and both conceptual and factual thinking. Critical thinkers will dig deeper and deeper and sift through conflicting information to find the true situation and the real business need. With experience, the Business Analyst will even be able to pre-assess the degree of analysis needed. [reference # 26 Analytical thinking]
With these basic capabilities and a love of learning, the Analyst will continually improve techniques. The following suitability questionnaire – adapted by the New York State Police from Barbara K. Carkenord, MBA, CBAP - will assist the new Analyst or anyone thinking about entering the field. For those currently in the role it may also reveal root causes for any frustration (or success). The more questions you agree with, the greater is your potential in succeeding in a Business Analyst role.
Taking this non-scientific questionnaire may reveal a need for a better sense of your own qualities and personalities. There are self-assessment tools available for this discovery:
- Birkman Method® assesses interpersonal style, interests, underlying motivations, and reactions to stress
- DISC® assesses behavioral style (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) and describes the intensity of each
- Myers-Briggs (MBTI®) assesses personality dichotomies including extroversion vs introversion, sensing vs intuition, thinking vs feeling, and judgment vs perception.
Business Analyst Aptitude Questionnaire
Do I have an aptitude for performing business analysis?
EDIT NOTE: Insert table listing potential fit for a BA
The beginner with an aptitude for business analysis may first take on small parts of small projects such as documenting current business activities and then building business requirements. After a few years of experience and mentoring, the Analyst may take on full BA responsibilities for small or medium projects and assist in larger ones. With 5 to 10 years experience, the Analyst may take the lead in large scale, mission-critical projects. An Analyst with over 10 years of experience may be called upon to participate in enterprise strategic planning or manage a center of excellence.
The path to maturity for an organization follows that of the individual Analyst. Business analysis has evolved from the software development. Historically software development has had long timelines during which many executives were not always patient. Even in government, the program managers might not wait for the IT department to fill the technology need and often purchased off-the-shelf products and training. IT departments began adding a business systems analysis function so that the deliverables were clearly defined and timelines were more accurately projected. The programs themselves began adding business analysts to the projects so that the business needs could be better understood and conveyed properly.
Business Analysis Maturity Model
As the business analysis function broadens within organizations a common progression can be observed. The “Business Analysis Maturity Model” (BAMM™) was developed by Assist Knowledge Development Limited in the United Kingdom. http://www.assistkd.com/knowledge-hub/business-analysis-maturity-model/bamm/ .This model identifies three stages of improvement that have a direct correlation to the complexity of the work and the authority (degree of influence) given to the Analyst:
System Improvement At this lowest level, requirements are defined for an IT system, the scope of the work is delineated, and the Analyst’s authority is limited to the project itself.
Process Improvement At this level, process analysis is added by investigating the processes that give rise to the requirements; the Analyst’s authority is expanded to the underlying processes for which the IT system is a solution.
Business Improvement At this level, the scope of the project and the Analyst’s authority are high and analysis involves enterprise strategies and senior level management.
Capability Maturity Model Integration
A more widely known maturity model is the “Capability Maturity Model Integration” (CMMI®). http://resources.sei.cmu.edu/library/asset-view.cfm?assetID=18556 . This model was developed as a quality standard of organizational process improvement and software development by the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. These five levels of the CMMI® can be observed within each of the three stages of BAMM™. The CMMI® model is as follows:
Level 1 Initial - processes and structures are not controlled and are mostly ad-hoc and reactive
Level 2 Managed - processes are characterized for projects but are often reactive
Level 3 Defined -processes are characterized for projects and are proactive, i.e., processes are built on the organization’s standards
Level 4 Quantitatively Managed - processes are controlled and measured
Level 5 Optimizing - processes work smoothly and focus moves to improvement
Business Analysis Center of Excellence
A highly developed organization will have a progressive “Business Analysis Center of Excellence” (BACoE). A Center of Excellence of any content or focus has as its primary goals:
- To develop competencies in its resources and provide tools and structure,
- To strive for quality analysis and develop standards to measure quality, and
- To participate in enterprise strategic planning.
An agency with an active BACoE would enjoy a high project success rate.
Kathleen Hass has developed a four-stage model to describe the growth of the BA function within organizations which includes a BACoE. http://www.loriusllc.com/images/BA_Practice_Maturity_White_Paper_2010.pdf
Awareness - the organization is simply aware of business analysis but does not demonstrate an understanding of the value it adds; Analysts participate in a BACoP
Framework - the organization is fully supportive of the BA function and establishes a BACoE using BABOK® standards. The CoE assigns roles and responsibilities for the BA function. It establishes the tools and processes for managing all aspects of business requirements. The CoE also develops training, measurements, and improvement management processes.
Alignment - the organization vests accountability in its BACoE by missioning it to manage resources (employees, contractors, vendors) and to develop and implement tools for business alignment including enterprise analysis, portfolio management, strategic alignment of projects, solutions assessment, and benefit measurement
Optimization - the organization integrates the BACoE with other CoEs such as Project Management and Quality Assurance so that business opportunities are optimized using technology solutions. At this level, the BACoE develops, trains, and implements such tools as customer relations management, organizational readiness management, and organizational change management.
Centers of Excellence emerged in the 1990s in the project management area. A BACoE is often born when a few analysts align to share techniques and processes. This group - or any Analyst - may benefit from joining a BA Community of Practice (BACoP) in the area. A BACoP brings business analysts from many agencies and businesses together to share on a larger scale.
There are other maturity models available today. Each may address specific angles and use focused language but they all display a pattern of growth from ad-hoc to a fully structured entity integrated into the enterprise as a power center. It should not be difficult to place your organization on the spectrum; the challenge is to move it to the next stage of maturity.
Hass, K. (2011) The State of Business Analysis Practices in Organizations – Research Report. http://www.kathleenhass.com/Documents/
^ Carkenord, Barbara A. (2009). Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis. J. Ross Publishing, Ft. Lauderdale, FL Carnegie Mellon University, Software Engineering Institute (1994). The capability maturity model. Addison Wesley, Upper Saddle River, NJ
^ Hass, K. (2010). Planting the seeds to grow a mature business analysis practice. Kathleen Hass & Associates, Inc.
^ Paul, Debra, et al, (2010). Business Analysis Second Edition. British Informatics Society Limited, Swindon, UK