Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, CSM

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

Tag Archives: business analysis

Just Released – Leveraging Business Analysis for Project Success

Book Cover Image

Announcing the release of Leveraging Business Analysis for Project Success, a new book by Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA.

Only 39% of project today are successful.  Nearly half of the projects that fail, fail because of “poor requirements management” (PMI 2014). Leveraging Business Analysis for Project Success explores the role of the business analyst in setting a project up for success. It informs and educates project managers, sponsors, and organization leaders on what is necessary for project success. It goes beyond requirements management in exploring the how the business analyst can contribute to increased profitability through project selection, scope definition, and post-implementation evaluation.  The reader will learn about the history of business analysis, professional organizations and resources to support the profession, and what to expect from the business analyst at each phase of the project lifecycle as presented in a case study throughout the text. Project leaders will better be able to support the business analysis needs of the project by understanding the skills, expertise, tasks, resources, and time needed to do business analysis right and maximize the return on investment for each project.

Leveraging Business Analysis for Project Success is available on electronic or print format on Amazon or directly from the publisher, Business Expert Press.  Educators may request an evaluation copy through the publisher website.

Please contact Vicki at vicki@project-pro.us if you would like more information regarding this publication.

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third and final installment of the So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are series. Part One discusses the role of a business analyst with Part Two focusing on a better understanding of when you play both roles and determining where you may lean given your capacity and skills.  In this third part will explore how to pursue your career as a business analyst.

Step 1 – Call yourself a business analyst

You are what you do and not your job title. If you do business analysis then you are a business analyst. Maybe your job title is project manager, technical writer, program manager, product consultant. It does not matter. My first six-years in the project world I held the working title of “product manager” and job classification of “state financial consultant”. You will find this work listed as “business analyst/product manager” on my résumé and LinkedIn profile. “Business analyst” is industry standard for the work done and provides a commonality across organizations.

Repeat after me. “I am a business analyst, I am a business analyst…”

Step 2 – Update your résumé

What does your résumé say about you and the jobs you have held? Give your résumé a hard look and find those tasks and deliverables that you have listed that fit under the category of list‘analysis’. Try this – type the word “analysis” in Word and then right-click to view synonyms. Let me help you out with a picture of the results I get. Use these words as a guide in reviewing your résumé.

Take this a step further. What missing from your résumé? Think about the work you have done and what you can add that lends weight to this aspect of your experience. I have provided further guidance on documenting your experience in my article, Document Your Project History.

Remember to update your LinkedIn profile as well. Use the Skills section of the profile to highlight this experience and ask connections to “endorse” these skills.

Step 3 – Get involved in the International Association of Business Analyst (IIBA®)

Nothing speaks more to your professional aspirations and commitment then involvement in a professional organization. Not only does it look good for you, but you gain the benefit of a network of peers in comparable roles to learn from and share experiences with. There are varying levels of involvement and added benefits come from each.

Level 1 – Join the IIBA® and your local chapter

At this level you will have access to an electronic copy of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®), a subscription to The Connection newsletter, and a wealth of resources online including articles, discussion groups, webinars, and tools.

Level 2 – Attend meetings and workshops

Meetings and workshop will increase your exposure to best practices and make sure continued education in business analysis topics. This further demonstrates your commitment to the profession as well as your own professional development. You will also build your local network of business analysts that can help you through struggles you have on the job in your next career move.

Level 3 – Volunteer

Volunteering is hugely fulfilling and beneficial to your career. It takes you from to the next level as far as demonstrating your passion for business analysis as a profession. It provides opportunity to show your work to other business analysts and build a reputation as a professional. Those who volunteer for my Chapter will find a ready referral and reference from me as they pursue future opportunities. This may be volunteering on a committee, with a specific task, for a project, or as a board member. Volunteer positions tend to be what you make of them and a lot can be accomplished in a few short hours a month.

Don’t forget to put your volunteer activities on your résumé and LinkedIn profile.

Step 4 – Get certified!

The time, effort, and money you put into the certification process exhibits your commitment to being a business analyst professional. You must prove earlier experience to sit for the exams. You must learn, keep, and prove you have a significant amount of knowledge on business analysis best practices from Enterprise Analysis to Solution Verification to pass the exam.  Apply what you know in the real world and this step will take you far.


I hope this series has provided some helpful information as you pursue your career in business analysis. Please feel free to contact me (vicki@project-pro.us) for more information or guidance. Follow this blog to get receive alerts of future posts that will be of interest to you.

References:

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are

IIBA® Links

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are (Part 1 of 3)

career crossroads graphic

As the Seattle Chapter President of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), I often get questions about how someone can learn more about becoming a business analyst. Often times those asking have been doing business analysis work realizing it for some time; only they have not yet realized it. This three-part series is to help you understand what business analysis is (part 1), how to know if you are a business analyst at heart (part 2),  and offer the first steps to advancing your career as a business analysis professional (part 3).

I will start with the definition of Business Analysis. The IIBA® defines this as

Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable to the organization to achieve its goals (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge [BABOK®] Guide, Version 2.0 Page 3)

The following two lists offer some more context to “tasks and techniques” by listing tools used and items developed and delivered by the business analyst as documented in the BABOK®.

Activities

  1. Brainstorming
  2. Document analysis
  3. Focus groups
  4. Interface analysis
  5. Requirements analysis
  6. Organization modeling
  7. Process modeling
  8. Prototyping
  9. Survey
  10. Prioritize

Work Produced

  1. Business case/ statement of work
  2. Business analysis plan
  3. Communication to stakeholders
  4. Data dictionary or glossary
  5. Data Flow diagrams
  6. Metrics & Key Performance Indicators
  7. Scenarios/Use cases
  8. Sequence diagrams
  9. User stories
  10. Requirements package

These lists show that many roles do business analysis activities and deliver business analyst results. Some common project roles include data analyst, project manager, technical writer, and developer. Many people do “business analysis.” So what is a business analysis professional?

The project manager, developer, and data analyst may use some tools and deliver some of the same results as the BA as it relates to their specific role. A business analysis professional works with all the business analysis tools and techniques to deliver work that supports defining, managing, and evaluation the solution or resulting product (“to recommend solutions that enable to the organization to achieve its goals”.) The project manager, data analyst, technical writer, or developer rely on the work of the business analysis to provide clarity on the solution and allow project work to focus on steps needed to most efficiently deliver the desired result. The business analyst is responsible for defining is what will bring value to the business, ensuring the requirements are fully vetted and understood, and that the solution meets these expectations. This allows the project manager for focus on the project process, progress, team, risks, and all those other aspects that make project management a full-time job. Read more on this in The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst. Further, the business analyst frees the technical people up to design and build the solution to meet the need the first time.

You likely play a combination of roles if you are reading this article. Next week we will discuss how to know what you are when you wear multiple hats.

Find out if you are a BA at heart in Part 2.

Image courtesy of chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You Might Be a Business Analyst

The role of business analyst falls under many job descriptions. I talk to people all time that are business analysts, only they don’t know it. Maybecharts-tools the have the job title of “technical writer” or “program manager”, but in reality, they are analyzing the business.  Here are some signs you might be a business analyst..

  • If you create a weighted score card with evaluation criteria to select your next new car…
  • If you ask “why” so many times that your peers start to talk to you like a two-year old…
  • If you spend your time in line (queue) thinking of five better ways to do business and speed things up…
  • If it takes you longer to document your BA history for the CBAP then you actually do working…
  • If your partner is upset with you on their birthday and you suggest celebration requirements were ambiguous…
  • If you visit a brewery and document the brewing process on a napkin…
  • If you make a process flow chart for your trip to the supermarket…
  • If you write down the proposal discussion with your parents about girl you love on a Visio diagram…
  • If very few people know what you do, but you could add value to any company on the planet…
  • If while standing in a single line you count the people in front of you and divide by the number of cashiers serving customers to figure estimated waiting time..

Do you want to join in the conversation? Visit the Business Analysis Times LinkedIn group!

Printable PDF version

October Fun

The Care and Feeding of Business Analysts (Guerilla PM Interview)

I had the great honor of being interviewed by Samad Aidane for Guerilla Project Manager. Catch the interview on-line at http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com/care-feeding-of-business-analysts.

Achieving Success through Business Value

I am thrilled to announce ModernAnalyst has published my article on Achieving Business Value – check it out and pass it on. I look forward to your comments on the ModernAnalyst site or here.

Business value is a new indicator for project success. Huh? You may be wondering what ever happened to the good ole scope, schedule, and budget. They are still there and measured, but what the 2012 trends have been pointing to is that a project completed within scope, schedule, and budget and not be successful. The opposite is also true. Read complete article

I just ran across this excellent supporting video on Twitter.

Tim Banfield, APM, Project Managers should define project success “in their own terms”

Full article

 

 

The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst

I have a hard time deciding whether “versus” is a good word to compare the two roles. On one hand, the project manager and business analyst should be working collaboratively. On the other hand, the two roles do offer a healthy contest in project related decisions. The issue at hand is that there is a lot of uncertainty about the difference in these roles. The result of this uncertainty is cases where one person plays both roles without enough skills for each, and other cases where the team members do not know who is responsible for what. Hopefully, we can clear this up.

The core of the difference is in the title.

  • The Project Manager manages the project – “The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to provide activities to meet the project requirements.”
  • The Business Analyst conducts business analysis – “The set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to meet its goals.

One source of confusion is the activities in both sets of tasks according to the relevant Body of Knowledge[i]. The intent is that planning and monitoring tasks within the BABOK® are limited to business analysis activities as indicated by the task title.

PMBOK® Task BABOK® Task
  • 4.2 Develop Project Management Plan
  • 2.3 Plan Business Analysis Activities
  • 2.5 Plan Requirements Management
  • 2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance
  • 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work
  • 2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance
  • 5.1 Collect Requirements
  • 2.5 Plan Requirements Management Process
  • 3.1-4 Elicitation: Prepare, Conduct, Document, Confirm
  • 4.2 Manage Requirements Traceability
  • 4.4.5.1 Requirements Documentation
  • 5.2 Define Scope
  • 5.4 Define Solution Scope
  • 5.3 Create WBS
  • 4.1 Manage Solution Scope
  • 5.4 Define Solution Scope
  • 5.4 Verify Scope
  • 7.5 Validate Solution
  • 8.3 Perform Quality Control (Testing-monitoring and recording results)
  • 7.6 Evaluate Solution Performance(Results analysis and recommendation)
  • 10.1 Identify Stakeholders
  • 2.2 Conduct Stakeholder Analysis
  • 10.2 Plan Communications
  • 2.4 Plan Business Analysis Communication
  • 10.3 Distribute Information
  • 4.5 Communicate Requirements
  • 10.5 Report Performance
  • 2.6 Manage Business Analysis Performance

* Thank you to Elizabeth Larson for review and advice to the PMBOK® / BABOK® process mapping.

Stakeholder analysis is one good example of collaboration between project manager and business analyst. The business analyst focuses on stakeholders specific to the requirements and scope of the project. The project manager is looking beyond this to stakeholders whose interest is outside of the project scope. Perhaps the project manager is recording a competitor as a stakeholder to aid in the identification and tracking of potential project risk. The stakeholder analysis is a joint effort. Assign items resulting from the stakeholder analysis to either the project manager or business analyst based on stakeholder interest and influence.

Another point of confusion is in the PMBOK® task of Collecting Requirements. It looks as though the project manager is responsible for collecting requirements. When you look further at the PMBOK® tasks you also find Perform Quality Control, yet we know the project team has members responsible for product quality. The intent of the PMBOK© is that project managers take responsibility to ensure activities for collecting requirements are covered in the project management plan and monitored along with the project. Not the project manager collects the requirements.

Section 5.1 of the CBAP® Handbook does a great job of differentiating “analysis” activities from other activities. Download the CBAP ® handbook from the Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) website for detailed examples of these activities.

Volunteers from both the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) and Project Management Institute (PMI©) joined in a collaborative project to “facilitate a shared understanding of the roles.” You can read more on this effort and results at http://pmchat.net/2012/06/the-bapm-partnership/.  The conclusion –

Both the PM and BA play leadership roles—the PM for leading the team and delivering the solution and the BA for ensuring that the solution meets the business need and aligns with business and project objectives. And both roles, equally, are required for project success.

You will get decisions based on full information of the impacts to the project and the benefit of the solution when you have both a strong PM and BA playing leadership roles on your projects. The result is a project that brings greatest business value to the organization.

I had the distinct pleasure of joining Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, as guest experts on PMChat (a weekly Internet radio show/Twitter web chat) to discuss the BA and PM roles on June 1, 2012. Listen here to catch our interview hosted by Robert Kelly and Rob Prinzo for more on this subject.

September 2015 Update: Please check out my book, Leveraging Business Analysis for Project Success Book Cover Image (Business Expert Press 2015), for more on the role of the business analysis and discussion of the Power Project Team.


[i] Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 4th Edition

A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) Version 2.0

References

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