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Why Competency Assessment is an Important Tool for Managers of Business Analysts

By Julie Chase, Sr. Director, Business Analysis, CNO Services and President of the IIBA Central Indiana Chapter  

In 2011 our IT leadership decided to consolidate four previously independent teams of business analysts into a single centralized team. This was all very exciting and made a lot of sense. Our management team quickly set about the task of defining our vision for this new centralized team. 

It was simple. We wanted to develop a strong team of professional business analysts and establish standardized practices. In essence we knew we had to “raise the bar” for our BAs but there were questions that needed to be answered.

What was the “bar”? Where was the “bar”? To what level did we want to raise it? How did we know when we succeeded?

All good questions—but where to find the answers?

I had read that one of the benefits available to Corporate Members of International Institute of Business Analysis™ (IIBA®) was a Competency Assessment. We decided that was exactly what we needed so we proceeded with the help of Maureen McVey, Head of Learning and Development for IIBA® to complete the competency assessment process for all 24 of our BAs. That proved to be one of the best decisions our organization made as we began our journey of transformation.

So what did we get for our effort?
  1. It was a great educational experience for all participants as we went through overviews of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) and the IIBA Competency Model to level everyone’s understanding before completing the assessment. 
  2. Each individual received some excellent feedback and suggestions on how they could become more professional in their execution of business analysis. 
  3. Each manger received a really good assessment of their team which enabled them to work with members on creating individualized self development plans. 
  4. It helped us to identify the strengths of each individual that could be used to mentor other BAs. 
  5. It provided me with a picture of our team that I could share with senior management. It took the discussion from being my opinion to being something more concrete and objective to demonstrate that while our team scored in the “Competent” range for all six areas, we still had room for improvement. 
After the assessment we knew what and where the “bar” was. We could then decide where we wanted to raise it (we wanted to be even more competent!) and provided a guide as to what we needed to improve upon. With that information it has been easy to develop a roadmap of courses, mentoring, process improvements, and standardizations that are helping to increase our competency.

The funny thing about “raising the bar” is that you are never done. “Raising the bar” means creating a new norm—it is not OK to remain the same. It means always taking actions to improve and once you have “raised the bar” you raise it again. So we are currently making plans to utilize the new Online Business Analysis Competency Assessment tool to not only see how much we have improved but to help us “raise the bar” again. 

And this time we will be setting our sights on the bar that says “Proficient” in all areas.

©iStockPhoto/Jacob Wackerhausen