Friday, April 19, 2013

The Top 10 Business Analysis Trends of 2013

Today, businesses require effective business analysis in order to be successful in a competitive business world. Business analysis involves taking information gathered from a variety of sources and analyzing to forecast future trends, find ways to make improvements in business strategies, improve businesses operations, and make smart business decisions to improve the bottom line. Understanding key marketing areas is essential to helping a business generate revenue and cut down on excess waste.  According to Nancy Yee, vice president of Global Product Strategy, ESI International, there are some key business analysis trends that will be prominent in 2013.

1. The roles of the BA and product owner will be solidified and respected.

In an Agile environment, the BA and the product owner have very different roles. The BA works with the product owner to identify what exactly they need, help them understand how this is going to help them achieve the values that they are looking for. The product owner, on the other hand, is responsible for understanding exactly what the business needs.

“They are there to talk about how, where and when they need to improve their businesses, which translates into the product backlog,” said Yee.

In 2013, there is going to be a stronger relationship with the product owner and the BA together in order to create a stronger foundation of understanding of what they need to be able to deliver value when it comes to priority of the product background.

2. Strong User Stories will be the force driving effective requirements analysis and product backlog prioritization

If the BA is already working with the product owner the BA needs go back to the roots of what they know, being able to elicit and analyze requirements in the form of a user story.

In 2013, BAs must return to the grassroots of what you know in requirements management development and get in sync with your inner elicitation and analysis requirements, focusing on the perspective of developing user stories.

“Using what you already know from an analysis standpoint, you will create successful user stories that will help your product owner prioritize their product backlog and deliver value at every iteration,” she commented.

3.  Forget consensus, in 2013 it’s all about collaboration and convergence

Requirements in the form of a user story are all about the business analyst focusing on delivering convergence vs. collaboration and consensus. The new trend of collaboration and consensus is a way to get everybody on the same page, but it takes a long time to be able to get those requirements developed.

“Remember, in agile from a BA’s perspective user stories are supposed to be there to deliver value that provide a way for everybody to converge on the same path so that you can deliver every four to six weeks. That’s the package and the focus of what agile is all about,” Yee said.

In 2013, Yee thinks we will begin to see that the BA’s are going to need to focus their elicitation skills more on convergence than on consensus. To get there, BAs can focus on collaboration and choosing the elicitation methods that will bring everybody into that convergence path.

4. BAs will become the new PMs through Agile

BAs will become the new PMs. From the Agile perspective, project management disappears and we focus on project leadership, project delivery, project execution. The role of the BA in agile is about delivering value from the user story perspective. “The role of a project manager become obsolete? Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell,” she said.

In 2013, the focus of the BA will be more on upscaling themselves in the traditional role of what we know as PM. They will learn the skills of scheduling, planning, managing risk, controlling costs – so that they came become the new PMs of an Agile project.

5.  BAs will be seen as the keystone to adopting Agile

At its core, Agile is all about requirements from the perspective of user stories, according to Yee. In 2013 if organizations are going to embrace Agile, they need to focus on the keystone to success of Agile, which is business analysis.

If they don’t have a current business analyst role, they will at least embrace the function of business analysis because at the end of the day Agile success is all about requirements and that is what BAs do because they are able to define user stories and be able to deliver value which is what Agile is about.

6. The federal government will slowly recognize the value of business analysis as it moves more toward an Agile environment

Requirements management and development is a concern in the government. Although state and local governments have embraced the role of BA, the federal government hasn’t fully embraced that function.
However, in 2013, when the government is focused on Agile and delivering things in a modular fashion they will begin to see the value that requirements management will lend itself toward embracing the role of BA. In 2013 from a government’s successful usage perspective, we will see a critical eye on a key role of investment in looking at the BA role to define user stories and deliver value.

7. Strategic Enterprise Analysis will slowly become the foundation of business architecture

These days, with budgets so tight, there is a focus on strategic enterprise analysis – the foundation to organizations that are embracing business architecture.

“It’s all about: How do we grow our business? Make our business more money? How do we keep our business stable? All of these things are about the BA and the ability to do strategic enterprise analysis,” Yee explained.

We will begin to see that as organizations are able to work in the space they are trying to deliver their products with greater uptake to be the next Apple or Microsoft, for example. They will be looking at strategic enterprise analysis and business architecture together for its all about defining the “what” of business and how we can deliver customer value.

8. BA Centers of Excellence will focus on providing their worth and driving innovation

In 2011 and 2012 we saw the resurgence of BA COEs. We saw that many organizations were establishing those centers of excellence. Now in 2013, we will see the trend of those COEs staffing up their ability to deliver the value and innovation that they promise to have in place.

This year we will see senior BAs and business architects joining the ranks of showing the innovation and value because it is all about understand exactly what your business does, how you should invest in it and be able to prioritize the value from a requirements and product perspective.

9. Modeling skills take precedence in business analysis training

In 2013 is all about pictures, graphics or models. What you will begin to see is that the BAs are going to be using and leveraging all of the different models and modeling techniques they know to be able to deliver the messages they need. For instance, user stories require the use cases to be able to develop the value the customer is looking for. Process models are a way to understand how the organization as a whole is going to be able to deliver what they are looking for and add operational effectiveness and across the board.  
In 2013, will we see the written word disappear?

“I hope not, but pictures speak a thousand words so 2013 BAs should get focused on practicing your modeling skills and techniques because the model is going to pay the rent,” said Nee.

10. Communicating “up” will become critical to articulating requirements’ impact on a deliverable.

In 2013 we will see BAs learning that they have to communicate better, meaning that communicating up and across is going to be a major focus of what BAs are going to be targeting in 2013. BAs are the most aware of the requirements of the value those requirements bring because they do a lot of impact analysis on those requirements.

She added, “When they are working on a project they know if they miss a requirement or if it changes, and how that will affect the business. The problem is the ability to share that difficult message and have that crucial conversation.”

In 2013 BAs will be focused on their ability to have those communicating up conversations with their sponsors and stakeholders, laying it out for them of what could happen when it comes to these requirements.
“By being able to put that in your bag of BA skills, you are solidifying yourself as a key component to everything related from a business value standpoint,” Yee concluded.

Business analysis is a big part of the upcoming conference , ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts (PW&WCBA), which blends practical learning, skill building, big picture thinking and leadership training together for a holistic approach to developing managers into leaders.

Whether you are looking to sharpen your toolkit, grow as a leader or benchmark against peers by exchanging stories of success and failure, this event delivers it all – providing you with more credits than any other event of its kind. With a huge  network of experts and peers to connect with, you'll be prepared to confront the Increasing complexity even more confidently with dexterity and agility.

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