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3 Ways Business Analysis Can Help Agile Transformations Succeed  

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When business analysis professionals link their plan to the organization’s strategy, they get better results. Here’s how to accomplish this.

Data shows that attempts at agile transformation fail. “Over two decades since the Agile Manifesto, 50-96% of agile transformation processes fail because of their inability to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in a productive and cost-efficient manner,” explained the article10 Reasons Why Agile Transformations Fail and how yours can succeed. This is unfortunate since organizational agility yields benefits such as better morale, increased customer satisfaction, and higher-quality products.

Why do so many organizations miss the mark when it comes to implementing successful agile initiatives? Underestimating the importance of communication, lack of support and resistance to change are some of the reasons for these failures.

How can Organizations Utilize Agile Business Analysis to Ensure a Successful Transformation?

One of the common failure points for transformation is a lack of strategy. Organizations undertaking transformation initiatives must know where they are and where they want to – or need to – go. Adding agile business analysis professionals to all levels of the transformation team ensures that the transformation objectives are clearly defined and that they stay connected with the activities as the program is rolled out. Agile business analysis professionals do this by applying a planning model to help organizations deliver value at three key horizons within the transformation effort: strategy, initiative, delivery.

1. Agile Transformation at the Strategy Horizon

At the outset of the transformation program, organizations plan objectives, outcomes, and roadmaps to guide their work. Business analysis professionals work with the big picture to understand why the transformation is necessary. They work leaders to define the future state vision for the organization.  Agile business analysis professionals then synthesize and analyze information from across the organization to inform the decisions of the leadership team.

When working at this phase of transformation, they use a variety of techniques to guide the work of the strategy phase:
  • Developing stakeholder lists, maps, or personas to identify stakeholders who are impacted, have domain expertise, or who bridge different parts of the organization to unlock hidden potential
  • Creating purpose alignment models to understand the focus of initiatives on the organization
  • Performing benchmarking and market analysis to provide inputs into leadership decision making

2. Agile Transformation at the Initiative Horizon

The timeframe for the initiative horizon is the near-term future and often includes a series of experiments or pilots intended “try out” changes before a wide-scale release. As pilot programs begin, agile business analysis professionals ensure the activities align with the larger goals of the transformation. Agile business analysis professionals perform on-going assessments to determine if the activities are achieving the desired outcomes.  They evaluate whether the need has been satisfied by the experiment or they use feedback from work happening at the Delivery horizon to identify new possible approaches. Feedback from this planning horizon makes its way to the Strategy horizon to ensure that the Transformation leadership has real-time information to make strategic decisions.

At the Initiative horizon, agile business analysis professionals are performing activities that guide and learn from the transformation’s experiments:
  • Leading planning workshops to create a shared sense of understanding and plan the solutions based on needs
  • Using techniques such as observation and interviews to see things from the team’s perspective
  • Creating metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the performance of the intended outcomes

3. Agile Transformation at the Delivery Horizon

As the transformation rolls out to the rest of the organization, Agile business analysis professionals support the delivery. The best laid transformation plans don’t always work as expected when deployed. The business analyst brings the stakeholders to the table to assist in finding answers to the question “what is doable” when a team encounters an obstacle. They stimulate collaboration within the team to identify issues and alternatives. As the team is working through the transformation, the agile business analyst ensures that learning continues to happen and that teams continuously improve the ways that they work. Information and updates from the Delivery horizon is provided to both the Initiative and Strategic horizons to continuously learn and adapt as the transformation continues.

Agile business analysts use a mix of agile and business analysis techniques to perform their work at this horizon:
  • Leading or participating in retrospectives to understand the opportunities for improvements
  • Identifying real options which help determine when the best time is to make decisions
  • Using brainstorming to come up with potential solutions
Keeping the horizons in mind, this shares how leveraging agile business analysis can add significant business value and help organizations implement successful transformations that don’t fail.

Ready to Enhance Your Agile Business Analysis Capabilities?

Developed in collaboration with the Agile Alliance, the Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide shares approaches for effective Agile business analysis to help you create better business outcomes that add real business and customer value to your organization. IIBA Members can explore the interactive edition of the Agile Extension in IIBA's Knowledgehub.

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About The Author:
Susan Moore

Susan Moore is the Community Engagement Manager at the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). She is a Product Management professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the Finance and Insurance industries. Before coming to IIBA, Susan worked in Business Analysis and Project Management roles, incorporating business analysis leadership and agile practices into the business analysis teams where she worked. Susan also writes on these topics at Susan holds several business analysis and Agile certifications including IIBA’s Agile Analysis Certification


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