Follow us...

The Future is no More Uncertain than the Present

By Neil Bazley, Vice President Chapters, IIBA
 
Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.—Sun Tzu c. 490 BCE
 
Are We PMs in Waiting?
 
What is your career path? Can you answer that question? If you check the data on Payscale, they have an answer for you.
fig1
 
My intent in this writing is not to denigrate the skills of a Project Manager. Project management is a necessary skill and a valuable one to any organization. I’ve frequently said (sometimes even in jest) that a Project Manager will deliver, on time, on budget and in scope, the perfect set of concrete shoes; but without a Project Manager, a Business Analyst might never deliver at all. They are complementary skills and require each other for a project to succeed. In the world of projects, it must go without saying that a good project manager is necessary.
 
Is it sufficient though? When you look at our career paths as BAs, do we live in a world where we master requirements management only to progress to project management… or is there something more? 
 
If the above graphic is our reality, and project work is our future, then I believe that we as a profession and as a professional association, International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) have done our work. We have done a fantastic job defining that world where we elicit, analyse and manage requirements, communicate and validate them with our stakeholders and assess and define the options for our stakeholders to choose a solution. If the project world is our reality, then IIBA® has certainly met the vision of being:
 
“The leading worldwide professional association for business analysts.”
 
What About Strategy?
 
Is there more? The vast majority of businesses are not in the business of information technology (IT). Similarly, while there are companies that exist to manage projects for their clients, a company is not in business to run projects. In and of themselves, projects provide no strategic value. A project is a tactic to help realize the strategy of a given organization. It also has an outcome. If that outcome doesn’t provide value for an organization we have concrete shoes. 
 
The best way to predict the future is to create it. –Peter Drucker
 
And here is our sweet spot for business analysis. Business analysis is a way of approaching any decision so as to provide value to further an organization’s objectives. The objectives of an organization are fulfilled through its strategy. If we accept the premise that business analysis is a profession that furthers the strategy of an organization, then we need to broaden the description of the roles that perform business analysis. We’re going to need a bigger tent.
 
The Future for Strategic Business Analysis?
 
Strategic business analysis includes architecture roles. It includes Process Architect. It includes Business Architect and it includes Enterprise Architect. In a project-centric view of the world, we could stop at recommending a solution. In a discipline focused on strategic outcomes, we must be concerned with how the solutions to those outcomes are designed, implemented and realize value for the organization. As David Morris says “We Are All Designers Now”. That value will be realized by the measures put in place by the strategy. Enterprise Architects will ensure that the business platforms are there to enable the strategy. Business Architects will design the business systems that live on these platforms. Dogs and cats will live together.
 
We’ve styled ourselves as change agents for much of our recent history. The IIBA slogan is “Changing the way organizations change”. It’s not enough to be an agent of change. We must drive and influence the change to ensure that it provides strategic value. This means affecting the culture of an organization. It means understanding the psychology of change, from individuals to groups. It means as a discipline, to ensure strategic changes are implemented, that Change Managers will be invited to the tent.
 
There is a path for Business Analysts to progress their careers through project management. I’ve know many a BA that has become a fantastic project manager. It is a valid career path and should be viewed as a success. For some of us, it should not be enough. We should strive to hone our skills in architecture and design. We should ensure that we are well versed in how organizations, individuals and cultures change so as to navigate the treacherous waters of an organizational change initiative (and I challenge you to find a strategic change that isn’t) to the placid shoals of successful outcomes. 
 
And we should remember that underlying it all is the profession of business analysis.