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Taking the Journey towards BA Comptency - Building the Business Case

Michelle Yanahan, BA Competency Center Lead, Zurich North America

You have decided to explore taking a business analysis competency journey within your organization—congratulations! 

Like any successful journey there are many considerations including where you are and where you aspire to be, budget and timeframe, what fellow travelers will be involved and what journey excursions (outputs) will provide the most value.

Your business case is your trip passport, a critical leg of your journey that needs to act as your roadmap and sell the value proposition for your effort.

Below are some things I found helpful in the creation of a business case for a competency journey. 

Organizational Considerations
  • How critical are business analysis practices and processes towards organizational transformation? What organizational goals can be addressed through a competency effort?
  • What strengths and opportunities within business analysis processes and practices are worth investment?
  • What is the competency end state the organization wishes to achieve? (Defined in CMMI maturity levels, areas of focus, etc.)
  • What is the time threshold under which the organization expects to achieve ROI?
  • What overall budget is required for the business analysis competency effort? Consider resource time as well as physical spend. 
  • What is the organization’s change appetite? What can be learned from past organizational change efforts?
Fellow Travelers
  • Who from leadership will support business analyst competency? Who will challenge efforts and what can be done to best prepare for challenges?
  • Who are the business analyst thought leaders that need to be engaged and buy into the effort?
  • How willing is the organization to carve out a dedicated role(s) to lead and drive the effort? Staff the effort?
Excursions (Outputs)
  • What output(s) will produce the most lift for the organization?
    • Competency and project alignment activities that depict the current state of  organizational business analysis skills and maturation over time and are a key input for better alignment of  business analysis skills to project needs 
    • Learning and development outputs that provide for organizational knowledge share a sense of community and educational opportunities that promote business analysis standardization, maturity and better project results  
    • Processes, methodology and workflow outputs that promote standardized business analysis work products and allow for continuous improvement 
    • Key performance data that captures the overall state of business analysis work efforts illustrating strengths and opportunities
As a fellow traveler I have found the following tips useful in creation of a business case:
  1. Don’t underestimate the work, energy and time involved in creating and selling a solid business case. Once the business case is approved the work does not stop; a good deal of time remains in being the voice and champion for the effort. 
  2. Executive and management level support are critical to success when creating your business case as well as after its approval. 
  3. Make sure your business case and all outputs showcase metrics. Don’t overlook the value of qualitative as well as quantitative measures in helping to sell your business case as well as highlight future outputs.
  4. Truly understand and prepare for the change management undertaking that will be associated with the excursions you are proposing through your business case. The best of efforts have failed due to poor change management. 
  5. Include resource planning and expectation setting in your business case. Be realistic about what can be accomplished by dedicated staff and support members. 
  6. Realize the business case is a task within a long tail process. Run your journey like a project with incremental goals and milestones.
Enjoy your journey and remember half the fun is getting there!