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Evolving BA Competency within Your Organization

By Paul Mulvey, CBAP, Director of Client Solutions, B2T Training

Business analysis professionals are evolving from independent entities within organizational groups to collaborative forces across the organization. As this evolution occurs, organizations are trying to determine the best way to move their business analysis practice forward and deliver value to the overall enterprise. This transition is not simple and organizations face many challenges while maturing their BA discipline.

Some common challenges that organizations face are:
  • Ensuring that the BAs have the skills necessary to perform at their level
  • Recognizing when BAs’ confidence level exceeds their capability level
  • Managing cross-functional projects in which no one BA takes ownership of the entire process.
The article will focus on the first—the skills. You need to ensure the BAs know the skills they need, they are able to effectively execute those skills, and their customers find the capabilities of the BAs are effective.

Training

First off, you need to ensure that all of your BAs have the skills they need in order to be successful. This step is a combination of the foundational or essential skills all BAs need in order to perform successfully, and advanced skills based upon the BA responsibility within the organization. Knowing at which training level to start with each BA is accomplished by an assessment of the BA talent pool. Just like mapping a trip to a destination, you need to understand where you currently are, and where you need to go. The direction for how to get there is your plan. By understanding the skills and capabilities that your BAs currently have, you gain an understanding of what they need in order to move forward.

Mentoring/Performing/Coaching

Once they have learned the skills they need as BAs within the organization, you need to reinforce this by having them use the skills they have just learned within their job responsibilities. In this stage, they are showing they have the ability to “walk the talk” as a business analyst and exhibit the skills that the organization requires. It is at this stage where junior BAs are paired up with senior BAs so the seniors can mentor and coach the junior BAs. Pairing up BAs from different business domains not only helps with skill understanding, but both BAs gain valuable experience and understanding in each other’s domain.

Evaluating

Lastly, you want to ensure that your customers (whether internal or external) are satisfied with the BA competence and deliverables. An evaluation coming from those customers basically answers the question, “Would I ‘hire’ this BA again?” You start gaining an understanding of the value that the BA played in the particular project. The results should show that BAs are growing from one evaluation period to the next. Any serious deviation from the growth pattern should be analyzed to determine why the deviation. You can examine the deviation to improve on the next project:
  • Was it that the BA did not communicate well?
  • Did the BA miss too many impacts?
  • Does the BA need the next level of training to develop different deliverables?
  • Does the BA need a mentor from another part of the organization so that they can develop cross-training?
Reinforce the evaluation by mentoring the BAs in the area(s) that they need to grow.

By providing this three-step approach, your organization will go a long way toward evolving its BA competency: provide training to ensure that they have the skills, mentor and coach them as they use the skills, and then evaluate to ensure that customers are receiving value from your business analysis practice. Train, mentor, evaluate, repeat—doing so will increase the competency and effectiveness of your organization’s BAs.



Paul Mulvey, CBAP, is Director of Client Solutions at B2T Training. He has served as the lead Business Analyst on projects in several business domains, including sales, marketing, and customer service. During his tenure at a large logistics organization, he was one of the founding members of the BA Center of Excellence, and developed the global BA competency operating model.

Paul has been a BA mentor and coach for over 10 years, and considers BA development an integral part of being a leader in the field. Paul is a communicator, and likes nothing better than breaking down complicated processes into understandable analogies and explanations.