Follow us...

How to Develop Quality Business Analysts Consistently Across an Organization

By Kevin Pious, PMP, ASQ, SSGB, Manager, CapTech Consulting

Every organization desires consistency. One step towards achieving consistency is to develop standards governing quality of work and required skill sets for business analysts within a firm. There are many reasons for this. First, in order to ensure project success, analyst-related deliverables such as requirements and design documents should have a consistent level of quality to help downstream users understand what the customer has requested. Additionally, requirements documents are often artifacts that are used long after the project is completed as reference documents. Establishing standards for consistency helps make the documents more valuable to future projects. These factors underscore the need to create standards for the business analyst role.

Training

There are a few ways in which organizations can strive for consistency in the area of business analysis. The first is in training. Providing a couple of basic courses based on A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) gives each analyst the tools they need to evaluate an organization’s current state and elicit and document quality requirements. The goal is to not make every analyst a robot that does the exact same thing, but to create a quality baseline so consistent results are produced.

Templates

The second thing organizations should focus on is creating quality templates and process documentation. This will help ensure that each deliverable contains the necessary information at the level of detail needed. Templates should be created for each of the important analyst deliverables and include examples, as well as instructions, on how to complete each section of the document. One of the bonuses of consistent documentation is that it assists the stakeholders who review the documentation. Consistent documentation formats help to simplify the process for stakeholders who review many documents on a regular basis. A consistent message can be created by creating templates and training the analysts on how to use them. While a template will not fit each circumstance 100% of the time, it will help produce quality documents across the organization.

Formal deliverable reviews

A third way that consistency can be developed is with formal deliverable reviews. Scheduled document reviews within the project are a crucial part of ensuring quality. Before a document is submitted for stakeholder approval it should be reviewed by other BAs on the project. It should also be compared with the standards set within the organization’s analyst community. If this step is ignored, important parts of the document may be unclear or missing, which can cause costly rework down the line.

Create a BA community

The final way to build business analyst consistency is to provide a community where analysts can share ideas and struggles. Most problems analysts encounter are not unique. An area where BAs can gather provides them with an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and get advice. Depending on the structure and location of employees, this can be accomplished by regular gatherings, conference or video calls, or by utilizing collaborative technology such as message boards or wikis. Creating a BA community also provides an easy way to communicate changes in standards and promote upcoming training opportunities.

Producing a consistent product is a sign of a mature organization. The process and deliverables that are part of a business analyst’s work need to meet a common level of quality. By doing this, projects have a higher chance of succeeding and business analysts know what is expected of them and have the tools to get the job done.



Kevin Pious is a Manager at CapTech Consulting in Richmond, VA where he leads the Requirements and Systems Analyst Service Offering. He has over 10 years of experience in information technology with roles in every area of the software development lifecycle. In the past five years, he has been the lead business analyst on several projects within the financial services industry. Projects have included infrastructure development for bank mergers and compliance with international financial regulations. Kevin has written more on the subject of business systems analysis at http://blogs.captechconsulting.com/blog/author/Kevin%20Pious