2007 – The Year of the Business Analyst

champion

Outsourcing is gaining momentum not only as a way to reduce costs, but as a way to create global teams. This trend is driving an increase in demand for business analysts. The change in perspective is driving companies to think about how they manage their business in new ways, and driving interest in new tools for business analysts to achieve these goals.

Hat tip to Ryan for his article on the year of the BA. The source that Ryan found is this yahoo article on 7 trends for 2007.

Trends

The role of the business analyst has emerged as a focal point for enterprises trying to wring more out of their automation-technology investments.[...] Ironically, outsourcing is feeding a frenzy to bring aboard more analysts. The experience of outsourcing IT has taught firms their technology-project specifications were in much worse shape than they believed. When companies would deliver specs to outside firms and individuals who didn’t have deep experience with their existing automation solutions, the knowledge gaps became painfully apparent.

Neal McWhorter, in the Yahoo article (emphasis ours)

We’ve all talked about outsourcing, and many of us have designed teams with different collaboration models to address the communication challenges.

This Computerworld article suggests that business analysts are one of 5 top areas for hiring, and business process management is one of 5 top technologies being explored.

How Business Analysts Adapt

Neal suggests that BAs will evolve their role and responsibilities to be something analogous to a product manager. We’ve been treating the roles similarly here – with the primary distinction being a single-customer focus for business analysts.

Neal mentions the IIBA and their new certification program as a likely means of setting expectations of and for business analysts. Barbara writes about the upcoming certification schedule for 2007.

Tools

We can’t overemphasize the need to be good at writing requirements first, and then using tools to become more efficient second. With that said, the increasing importance of business analysts drives the increasing importance of helping BAs be more effective.

Two areas where there are huge opportunities for improvement are business process modeling and requirements gathering/management.

BPMN

There are tools and vendors for BPMN solutions, and it looks like training is finally going to be more available in 2007. Bruce Silver is developing training that uses ITP Commerce as a tool provider. We’re currently designing a training course as well, built by extending the tutorial series we wrote last year, using visio stencils and a vendor-agnostic approach.

Requirements Management Software

Today, the space can be characterized as having the following solutions available:

  • Spend a lot on an enterprise package, and mandate that all your projects use it, in order to recover the costs.
  • Build your own solution, using spreadsheets, documents, email and other tools.

We expect this to change in 2007 too. Both of the approaches above can be cost ineffective for single-projects within a large company, SMBs looking to become more effective, and small consulting shops providing services to other firms. There’s a lot of opportunity here for the right solution.

Conclusion

Is it the year of the business analyst? The need is indisputable. Will the C-level execs act on it?

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

This article was published on Monday, January 8th, 2007 at 9:00 pm and is filed under Business Analysis, Business Process Modeling, IIBA, Organizations, Requirements management software.
You can leave a comment on this post

4 Comments

  1. While I agree that business analysts are critical to success going forward, I do worry that just thinking about better requirements can be a false hope (http://www.edmblog.com/weblog/2005/08/writing_better_.html). I think companies can engage business analysts in writing and maintaining rules (http://www.edmblog.com/weblog/2005/09/how_do_business.html) and dig themselves out of the requirements tarpit that way (http://www.edmblog.com/weblog/2006/09/dig_yourself_ou.html).
    JT

  2. Good points James, and thanks as always for reading and commenting!

    The top priority definitely seems to become good at writing and maintaining requirements / rules. Then having a framework/tools that make this more efficient and repeatable. After those things, we can introduce a feedback loop that helps us improve at doing the job.

    Basically the same sequencing as CMMI levels.

    Scott

  3. Hello Scott

    Thanks for you valuable inputs. Is Business Analyst profile effected by technological change in IT, can an IT business analyst (.net) be a good SAP business analyst? what is domain expertise & why need of domain expertise for business analyst? What are the different domains, business analyst can focus on?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_analyst
    the defination doesn’t help an MBA-IT person to choose its domian.

  4. Hey Yogi,

    Like most good questions, I think the answer is “it depends.” Someone who practices business analysis “at a higher level” can be just as effective regardless of the technology being used. Having an understanding of technology helps you do better analysis, but it is not a prerequisite.

    For business analysts, “domain expertise” usually applies to the relevant industry, not the technology used. For example, a BA could have domain expertise in the insurance industry, and be familiar with actuarial tables, licensing issues, and compensation systems. Or a BA could have domain expertise in the telecommunications industry, and understand the importance of QoS measures, know that network hardware and capacity are managed separately, and perceive the importance to the industry of VoIP.

    Any business domain can be the focus of a business analyst. Think of it as becoming an expert on the industry – how do companies do their jobs, what are the market forces that dominate their company’s behaviors, and how do the problems / processes generally manifest in common ways across companies. What is valuable, essentially.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>