Project Management

‘What’ Before ‘How’

Adriana Beal

Adriana Beal has spent the last 15 years helping Fortune 100 companies, innovation companies and startups build better software that solves the right problem and aligns with business strategy. Her current focus of work is customer development and product strategy for tech startups.

Are you working in a “what” or a “how” organization? The latter makes it difficult for a business analyst to make an impact on value creation. A career-minded BA should aim to work for a “what” enterprise, where there will be high-level opportunities to identify, prioritize and align business objectives with capabilities.

In many organizations, the business analyst role, when existent, is confined to tasks related to converting business rules and requirements into system specifications that the IT group can implement. Typically in these organizations business analysis is treated as a subset of the technical discipline — tasks that the technologists want completed as soon as possible so they can move on to solution design and construction.


Organizations with such a narrow view of the business analyst role tend to focus on “how”, rather than on “what”. Time is invested in improving information systems, activities, processes and job efficiency, with little opportunity to step back and ask some essential questions: Is this particular system (activity, process, job) really important for the company's goals? Does it really need to be improved, automated, or outsourced? Could it be completely eliminated because it adds no value, or duplicates work being performed elsewhere in the organization?


Projects in this type …

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