Project Management

The Value of PMI’s Foundational Standard in Business Analysis

From the Building the Foundation: The BOK on BA Blog
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A new collaborative blog featuring the contributions from the core team members of PMI's Foundational Standard in Business Analysis. This blog will provide the community with insight into PMI's development of the standard to generate professional discussions about the content in advance of the scheduled reviews.

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Laura Paton
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Cheryl Lee
Sue Burk

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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.

Closing thoughts

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!

Posted by Cheryl Lee on: April 15, 2016 09:46 AM | Permalink

Comments (10)

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Linda Miller Project Management Huntington, Ny, USA
Good article Thanks!

Steven Zachary Director| Alberta Health Services Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Good introduction Cheryl! I like the focus on the function of Business Analysis rather then the role. I think that will appeal to the market.

Cheryl Lee Business Analysis and Project Management Consultant and Instructor| Knowledge Adapters Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for the feedback! I agree with your comment Steven that the focus on business analysis as a function will appeal to the market more so than the role. There are so many people who perform business analysis without the title of business analyst!

Markus Kopko, PMP Principal Project Management Consultant| Karer Consulting AG Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Well, thx for this blog; i am so glad to be part of this family, i can tell.
Yes, in my organization (IT Outsourcing) BA was and is done, but mostly not in the way it should be.
It depends heavily on the performing person, yet, if it is a success or not.
But this will change NOW.
Just a few weeks ago, a colleague of mine, who works in this department asked me, if i wouldn't know a good education/certification way for BA/requirements engineering ... i am known in the company for being PMP certified and a big fan of PMI and its certifications.
And well, i referred him obv. to the PMI-PBA certification.
He looked at it and than talks to his boss and know we have at least 3 employees this year becoming a PBA (including me;) ). And more to follow i am sure ...
This will lead to understanding and standardization of this process and work performed within our organization and i am totally convinced this will lead to much, much better results and also to better project performance.
And like it seems we are just right at time ... ;)



Drew Craig Coach, Practitioner, Consultant, Humanist| North Highland Philadelphia, Pa, USA
Business Analysis work is extremely important. BA's not only help to define the need from a target perspective, but also from a current perspective. Many times a business unit had not taken a look at their current process from any other perspective than that of their own. It becomes a two-fold benefit.

There is another extremely important aspect, and that is the relationships that are built organization wide. In my personal business day to day life, I thoroughly enjoy and value the relationships I have been able to build and the benefit we are able to give to each other.

Thank you for your article Cheryl.

Sergio Luis Conte Helping to create solutions for everyone| Worldwide based Organizations Buenos Aires, Argentina
Totally agree about one of the biggest contributions to BA is the collaboration points. I hope that the PMI understand (as implicit is stated inside the PGBA) that the BA work starts before a project exists. In fact, the first big deliverable is the business case document which is the input to initiation process inside the PMBOK. So, here we go.

Sergio Luis Conte Helping to create solutions for everyone| Worldwide based Organizations Buenos Aires, Argentina
And I forgot: the BA work continues after the project ends.

Cheryl Lee Business Analysis and Project Management Consultant and Instructor| Knowledge Adapters Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
Loving the feedback!

Markus, I can definitely relate to the inconsistencies in how business analysis is performed and am convinced with you that things will be improving in the near future with the introduction of this standard.

Andrew, I agree that good business analysis is performing a current state analysis and not just looking at future state. Also agree that relationships are important and conducting stakeholder analysis with PMs can contribute to better business outcomes.

Sergio, you're right, business analysis spans across the product life cycle and we definitely have that in the forefront of our minds.

Keep them coming! :)

Sergio Luis Conte Helping to create solutions for everyone| Worldwide based Organizations Buenos Aires, Argentina
Steven has stated a good point that most of the times take a great impact on project management too. Mainly when you work from a stategical point of view. When you work with organizational strategy thre is a point where the organization has to define functions. Functions are the way the organization will answer to environmental stimulus (from functions you create process and producedures in the next step). But at this time the organization need to decide if the functions will be assigned to a business unit or not. And here is where things like to create or not create a PMO (in case of project management) or CoE (in case of business analysis) becomes an strategic decision. Most of the time this is forgotten and this is the only way to give stategic sence to business analysis of project management implmentation. Prehaps, it has not to be part of the BOK.

Elizabeth Moore Business Systems Consultant/Project Lead Grand Junction, Co, USA
The collaboration points defined in PMI’s Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide are key. If your BA and PM practices are not well-integrated, the collaboration points are a great place to start the integration process. Your deliverables will quickly align and you will realize less waste, confusion, and rework. I’m happy to see that they will be carried forward and enhanced.

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