As Laura mentioned in last week’s post, the community voiced strong interest in a foundational standard in business analysis and PMI listened. This post will explore the value that this foundational standard will provide for anyone performing business analysis including PMs, hybrid PMs and anyone striving toward successful delivery of projects, programs and portfolios.
The problem space
Reality is, there are still too many people and organizations that do not understand business analysis and its value. The standard will help start the conversation about ‘what is business analysis and how does it relate to what I do?’ Business analysts (BAs) are sometimes seen as the annoying siblings who ask a lot of silly questions that hinder progress on projects. Organizations are sometimes unsure on how to leverage business analysis in order to deliver successful outcomes.
Once upon a time, BAs feared that the introduction of agile practices meant the death of their role. Those days are thankfully long gone, but as organizations strive for agility, many are also struggling on how to perform business analysis activities in more agile project life cycles.
What is business analysis and why is it valuable?
Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide, defines business analysis as “the set of activities performed to identify business needs and recommend relevant solutions; and to elicit, document, and manage requirements.”
PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: Requirements Management: A Core Competency for Project and Program Success, shows that the #2 reason why projects fail is poor requirements. Thus, business analysis is an important ingredient to delivering successful projects. Business analysis is still something that is misunderstood and undervalued within organizations. But PMI’s research has demonstrated that this is changing, as a whopping 87 percent of organizations now recognize that improvements in business analysis activities are necessary. Knowing is half the battle! Implementing concepts within the foundational standard in business analysis will be the other half.
As a practitioner of business analysis, this makes me very excited for the future, and while many organizations have very strong project management practices, they are seriously lacking on the business analysis front. Having business analysis and project management under one roof, within the PMI family, means we can speak a common language and use common terminology allowing for better integration, thus making concepts more digestible and collaboration more productive.
Better role collaboration equates to more successful projects, programs and portfolios
This foundational standard in business analysis will carry forward all the stuff we LOVED about the BA practice guide, like the collaboration points. It will also introduce new concepts in order to further integrate project management with business analysis.
The first time I saw the collaboration points, I thought, “Hallelujah! Finally, some of the role confusion between PMs and BAs can be resolved.” The Pulse® report on requirements states that over half of organizations reported wanting higher collaboration between PMs and BAs. In addition, more than twice as many high performing organizations (67 percent) vs. low performers (37 percent) report strong BA/PM collaboration. If there isn’t strong collaboration happening between BAs and PMs in your organization, now’s the time to start!
In addition to the collaboration points, the foundational standard will frame the business analysis processes within process groups that you may already be familiar with from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). To reinforce the alignment across all professions, business analysis processes will be aligned to project management processes in the PMBOK® Guide, as well as to portfolio and program management concepts.
Performing better business analysis across all project life cycles
The foundational standard will also provide a more standardized approach to performing business analysis and provide guidelines on how to tailor the activities for the different project life cycles. There was careful thought put into naming business analysis processes to ensure they would make sense regardless of which project life cycle your project team uses. Something I’m sure we will discuss further in a future post.
PMI’s foundational standard in business analysis will be useful to anyone who performs business analysis, whether they wear that hat 100 percent of the time, they’re a hybrid PM/BA, or they work with someone who performs business analysis activities. As more organizations begin to recognize the value of business analysis, the value of business analysis practitioners increases. This is something Sue Burk will explore further in the next post, where she will discuss why it’s important for folks to become advocates for business analysis.
PMs, BAs, or any project resource for that matter, need to understand the value each role brings to the table and how to leverage their appropriate skills, which enables the ability to deliver more successful projects, programs and portfolios. This foundational standard will help bridge that gap.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts and collaborating with you as we embark on this journey. Within your organization, do you feel that people understand the BA role and the value of business analysis? Let us know what you think!