Building the Foundation: The BOK on BA

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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
Joy Beatty
Cheryl Lee
Sue Burk

Recent Posts

PMI's Newest BA Standard and the PMI-PBA Credential

An Update On PMI's Consensus Based BA Standard: The Final Phase

The Link Between Business Analysis and Project Management Processes

Party Like a Business Analysis Rock Star!

PMI’s Business Analysis Standard – What You Have to Gain

Viewing Posts by Cheryl Lee

Party Like a Business Analysis Rock Star!

The PMI TORONTO chapter is proud to be home to the first business analysis community within a PMI chapter. We have seen the community steadily grow over the last 3 years and its success represents additional proof that a need exists for project management and business analysis to be under one roof as there is a strong correlation between these professions. The PMI TORONTO chapter hosted a public review party titled “Party Like a Business Analysis Rock Star” at the Hard Rock Cafe within the public review window. Dave Bieg, Program Manager for Business Analysis and Requirements at PMI, came in to co-host the event with me. Here are a couple of photos from the event, the first is Dave and me partying like a BA rock star!

Highlights of the presentation included:

  • Insight on PMI’s latest products/services supporting business analysis
  • An overview of the layout and components of The PMI Guide to Business Analysis (Includes The Standard for Business Analysis)
  • Tips on applying this new standard in your organization on projects of varying size/complexity and of different project life cycles, including agile

I had used the cooking analogy I blogged about last year to illustrate how to use the upcoming publication and provided many examples from the guide, including collaboration points and tailoring tables that Joy recently blogged about. Folks were super excited about the idea that this upcoming publication will be one stop shopping – all in one standard!

We received overwhelming support and positive feedback from the crowd of about 200 project professionals that attended the event and are being encouraged to throw a second celebration when The PMI Guide to Business Analysis (Includes The Standard for Business Analysis) is launched later this year, and I invite you to do the same at your local chapter! We have many resources that we can share with you if you’re interested, just send me a note!

After witnessing the excitement and enthusiasm for the guide and standard from the folks here in Toronto, I was pumped to see the comments from the public review! The core team jumped right into adjudicating the responses the day after the public review window closed. We are so grateful and impressed with the effort and insightful feedback provided by the community! Thank you!

Did you participate in the public review process? What aspect of the new standard are you most excited about? 

Posted by Cheryl Lee on: April 07, 2017 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

How Business Analysis Compares with Project, Program and Portfolio Management

As Laura mentioned in her last post, we just wrapped up SME review and are gearing up for public review very soon! THANK YOU to all the wonderful SMEs that took the time to read and provide feedback that was clear, complete and easy to understand. It was deeply appreciated while plugging away at over 1100 comments. We value the effort that it took our SMEs to review and comment, so we ensured all feedback was carefully evaluated.

There were a few interesting themes we noticed within the feedback, one of them being the relationship between business analysis with project, program and portfolio management. I wanted to pick on this point, as there is a lot of confusion and even misconception within the public on the scope of business analysis being covered in PMI’s business analysis standard.

Business analysis is a competency needed across the project, program and portfolio. Portfolios include work at a strategy level and operations, per the definition of Portfolios: “Projects, programs, subportfolios, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives.” In other words, the scope of business analysis within PMI’s business analysis standard includes work to support strategy and operations.

Based on valuable feedback from SMEs, our team incorporated changes to ensure:

1) The scope of business analysis was clarified, and

2) The relationship between business analysis with project, program and portfolio management was made much clearer.

In addition to adding verbiage to address (1), we added the following comparative overview of business analysis with project, program, and portfolio management to address (2).

 

Business Analysis

Project Management

Program Management

Portfolio Management

Definition

The set of activities performed to identify business needs, recommend relevant solutions and elicit, analyze, specify, communicate, and manage requirements.

The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.

The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to a program to meet the program requirements and to obtain benefits and control not available by managing projects individually.

The centralized management of one or more portfolios to achieve strategic objectives.

Focus

Solution: Something that is produced to deliver measurable business value to meet the expectations of stakeholders (i.e. new products and enhancements to products)

Project: A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

Program: A group of related projects, subprograms, and program activities managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.

Portfolio: Projects, programs, subportfolios, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives.

Scope

Product scope is defined as the features and functions that characterize a solution.

Project scope is defined as the work performed to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions.

Programs have a scope that encompasses the scopes of its program components.

Portfolios have an organizational scope that changes with the strategic objectives of the organization.

Roles

Those who identify business needs, recommend and describe solutions through the definition of product requirements.

Those who manage the project team to meet the project objectives.

Those who ensure that program benefits are delivered as expected, by coordinating the activities of a program’s components.

Those who coordinate portfolio management staff, or program and project staff that may have reporting responsibilities into the aggregate portfolio.

Success

Measured by a product or solution’s ability to deliver its intended benefits to an organization, and degree of customer satisfaction.

Measured by product and project quality, timelines, budget compliance, and degree of customer satisfaction.

Measured by program’s ability to deliver its intended benefits to an organization, and by the program’s efficiency and effectiveness in delivering those benefits.

Measured in terms of the aggregate investment performance and benefit realization of the portfolio.

Hope you enjoyed that sneak peek. Stay tuned for more information on the public review process. We look forward to seeing your comments!

Posted by Cheryl Lee on: January 26, 2017 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Create the Perfect Meal with PMI’s Business Analysis Standard

Laura provided A Glimpse at PMI’s Upcoming Business Analysis Standard in her last post. As we get closer to the SME and public review processes, I thought this week, we could discuss how to use the standard. I hear this quite often, “Our organization doesn’t follow the standard”. But…a standard is not prescriptive, so you can’t really “follow” it. 

In this week’s post, I’ll demonstrate how to use PMI’s standard in business analysis by providing a cooking analogy (because I love to cook…and eat). A standard would describe what it means to cook, suggest cooking techniques and tools you could use to make a particular menu option, and indicate required ingredients to make that menu option. For instance, when making a pasta dish, at the bare minimum, you need pasta and water (inputs). You may use the following cooking techniques to make pasta: boiling, baking, stir-frying and maybe the following tools: pot, pasta strainer, and tongs. The standard can be used in conjunction with Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide (The Practice Guide) in case you need information on how to perform a technique or use a tool.

The standard will not provide the recipe to make the pasta dish—that’s up to you and your organization to create and tailor the recipe to your needs. There are many ways to perform the same process, as there are many recipes to make a pasta dish. You may also decide to make a simple pasta with tomato sauce one night and a multi-layered baked lasagna another night. Each of the business analysis processes in the standard can be performed with varying levels of formality dependent on multiple factors, like project life cycle, risk and complexity to name a few. The Practice Guide and standard will provide suggestions to tailor menu options if you’re looking for a simple vs. more complex recipe (i.e. adaptive vs. predictive considerations). Processes may also be tailored to accommodate stakeholder preferences, the same way a dish may be tailored to accommodate a customer’s request for alfredo instead of marinara sauce.

The methodology is like a multi-course prix fixe menu that the restaurant (organization) offers, from which the chefs (those who conduct business analysis) can pick and choose the menu options, and their associated, tools, techniques and ingredients. If the restaurant is striving for uniformity, the chefs can choose from among the recipes that the restaurant wants them to use. The menu (methodology) can also be tailored for similar reasons to why you may tailor a recipe (process). For instance, the prix fixe menu may provide the option to choose between a slice of cheesecake or the chocolate lava cake to top off your meal. Every process might not be used on every project, program or portfolio either, and that would be ok. It’s similar to how one wouldn’t order every item off the menu at a restaurant (although there have been occasions where I was tempted to test out the full dessert menu).

I was speaking with Liz Moore, another business analysis community member here at ProjectManagement.com, on how her organization adopted the business analysis framework described in The Practice Guide. First, when asked why it decided on PMI’s product, she replied, “The Practice Guide provided the inspiration for this internal framework primarily because it was practical and aligned to the project management framework while remaining true to the principles of business analysis.” Similar to how a chef cannot run a restaurant alone, a business analyst collaborates with many others to implement products and services. The Practice Guide and standard highlight the many collaboration points with other key players allowing for better alignment between professions.

Liz’s organization recognized that “there are various teams within the department who provide solutions for different stakeholders; we knew that each would apply the framework in a unique manner.” To accommodate this, they decided to define different use cases to reflect the various usages of the framework. I thought that was brilliant since use cases allow for flexibility on how a process may be implemented through alternate paths, while still ensuring consistent business analysis practices across the organization.

We would love to hear if there are other creative ways to implement a business analysis framework via the comments below! Or feel free to send me a direct message with any must-try recipes ;)

Posted by Cheryl Lee on: July 29, 2016 09:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Who is a Business Analyst?

According to Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide, anyone who performs business analysis activities regardless of their title is a business analyst. The business analyst role has deep roots in IT, but there are many who perform business analysis activities outside of IT as well. Business analysis can be used whenever products, services or processes are being created or enhanced, or when seeking to understand customer needs.

Several people asked us in last week’s blog post to associate business analysis with innovation. Business analysis enables innovation as it fosters creativity and moves us away from the age-old habit of thinking we know the best solution before fully understanding the problem space. Many associate innovation with technology, but it isn’t just technology that should be innovating, and thus, not just IT departments that should be leveraging business analysis. 

In my experience as a business analysis instructor, one of my most memorable classes was a Business Analysis Essentials course with a group of television producers. As you can imagine, they started out with a lot of skepticism, questioning the value of spending the next couple of days with me learning about honing in on their business analysis skills. Someone asked, “Did our boss sign us up for the wrong course?” Television producers oversee all aspects of video production on a program, including casting, set design and screenwriting. Essentially, they are delivering a product, the television program, to meet the needs of the viewers. It is essential to first identify those needs by performing business analysis activities and then provide recommendations to meet them. By the end of day one, they realized they were in the right course.

Some other notable scholars of business analysis that have passed through my classes are scientists, event planners and building architects. One scientist was tasked to find new and innovative ways to ensure we have clean water and learned to use business analysis skills to perform research and ultimately provide a recommended solution. Event planners provide a service and use business analysis to understand and bring to life their clients’ vision of a fairy tale wedding. Building architects also use business analysis to understand the needs of their clients when designing their forever home. 

There are so many uses for business analysis skills and so many people that perform business analysis activities without even knowing it. My favorite part of teaching these classes is the aha moment when people realize they’re a business analyst! We all have a little bit of the business analyst in us. For this reason, as Laura mentioned in her blog post, we are trying to focus on business analysis as a discipline rather than the role of the business analyst. We use Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman’s, It’s the Goal, Not the Role as a motto on our team to remind ourselves of this.

As we put together the Foundational Standard in Business Analysis, we want to ensure what is described as business analysis can be applied to not only IT projects, but within non-IT environments as well. It would really help us out to hear more examples of the non-IT applications of business analysis, like the ones I described in this blog post. That way, we can keep an open mind and together, develop something that is useful and relatable to all practitioners of business analysis. This way we can all innovate!

We are looking forward to seeing your examples of non-IT applications of business analysis in the comments!

Posted by Cheryl Lee on: June 03, 2016 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

The Value of PMI’s Foundational Standard in Business Analysis

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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