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Viewing Posts by Heather van Wyk

Business Strategy Defines the Benefits, Detailed Planning Delivers Them

By: Heather Van Wyk, PMP
ERP Project Manager, PPECB

This is a new look at benefits realization – to examine the role of business analysis throughout its life cycle. To try to understand how the level of analysis adapts to the stage in the life cycle without losing focus on the key components supporting the benefits.

Once the benefit components have been established, how is the golden thread maintained and what level of detail is analyzed and described at each stage?

This presentation explains and categorizes my experiences over several large programs and attempts to give you pointers to how you could interpret and deliver your own. It also mentions problems that have been encountered and how they have been handled.

The way to approach this is to review the business case and critically analyze the benefits with the help of experienced business analysts working alongside the business owners who will be held accountable for their delivery. These business analysts MUST have excellent facilitation and listening skills! I have seen instances where the business owners are not used to working with people whose task it is to uncover the facts. They allow themselves to be completely intimidated by analysts who “ask too many questions.” Even worse is if analysts impose their opinions on them and behave as though they ‘know it all’ rather than adopting a respectful attitude that acknowledges the depth of knowledge available to them. Humility is a core quality sought here and the absence of the same can be damaging to the outcome.

You need to identify the most important benefits when planning your initiative. How are you going to help the business owners deliver those benefits which they have claimed and now must own? It is often difficult to put ambitious proposals into practical terms. Unless you do this and agree with it upfront the whole reason for the change can come as a huge surprise at the end!

Business analysis is often misunderstood and incorrectly applied in the project space. Actually, in every space. Project managers and implementors of software want to hire a resource just for the sake of having a business analyst allocated. I have seen this happen. The role is quoted on a procurement tender along with a CV, accepted, and then the person who arrives does not understand the in-house requirements. I have found it better to use an in-house resource because they understand the organization. When this is done with an understanding of the deliverables at that stage, then the match is good. When the role of a business analyst is seen merely as an expert for drawing ARIS or VISIO diagrams, then the focus is wrong. Yet this is often the case. Before I grew into the project management role, I was a business analyst. I NEVER applied for a position that listed ability with ARIS as its main skill!!

The Wikipedia definition is good: “Business Analysis is a research discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a software-systems development component but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development.”

Process improvement, organizational change, or strategic planning and policy development are key contributors to the benefits claimed by project sponsors.

The key takeaway here is that business analysis is the key tool used to isolate the components of the most important benefits and ensure that these are supported throughout the project until they show value, i.e., are realized.


Interested in learning more and furthering the dialogue? Join me on Thursday, 12 November at the PMI® Virtual Experience Series event for my presentation, “Business Strategy Defines the Benefits, Detailed Planning Delivers Them,” and take part in the question and answers with me and the rest of the PM community.

Posted by Heather van Wyk on: October 26, 2020 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

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