Business Value Through Good Analysis
Did you know that 89% of the companies listed in the Fortune 500 in 1955 have gone or disappeared from the list?
As innovation cycles become shorter and customer experience becomes a priority, organizations need the ability to learn rapidly and respond quickly to change. This accelerated pace of goal-building and initiatives is driving most organizations to adopt some sort of organizational transformation. In fact, only 3% of companies are not planning a transformation in the next 3 years2.
However, transformations of any kind are not easy, and the bigger your company, the harder it will be. Common challenges for digital organizations include2:
How can an organization overcome these restrictions to provide business value? It all begins with the growth and the maintenance of the business knowledge through good business analysis.
The creation of commercial value for our stakeholders should be the main factor in decision making within an organization. At the highest level, success requires that value be provided from start to finish (value chain) and that all involved in that chain 1) understand the business value of his or her role and 2) contribute to that business value.
At the team level, members must use a set of analytical skills to help companies maximize their business value. Here are two ways to maximize the value:
- Make sure that we spend our time and money solving valuable problems or looking for valuable opportunities.
- Once it has been decided that the commitment is valuable and worthwhile to follow, the team must design a successful solution. A successful solution is the one that has just enough: it offers everything that is needed (but nothing else) and is recognized by the company as a driver of success.
The following business analysis areas help to boost the delivery of value to stakeholders:
Establish Context: To be better at what we do, we must understand clearly what we do. It all starts at the top: the company must have a clear message about services and products they produce and why those services and products will solve customers' needs. It starts with strategy analysis. According to the BABOK, strategy defines the most effective way to apply the capabilities of an organization to reach a desired set of goals and objectives. The key phrasing here points to reaching goals/objectives and alignment of strategy from high level to low level. In other words, business analysis helps us understand the raisons d'être (reasons for being) and aligns those to the business strategies. Understanding our context and strategic direction helps us better understand goals and what projects need to be pursued to achieve those goals. Context helps us better understand our customers so that we can better solve their problems and fulfill their needs. If you truly understand what you are targeting, the ‘how’ becomes much easier to fulfill.
Business Rule Analysis: Business rules are key (but not the only key). They are usually the most volatile part of the business in most organizations. Regulations change constantly and can contradict each other. An organization needs to constantly adjust prices, product valuation, transportation costs, etc. Business rules serve as criteria for guiding behavior, shaping judgments, and making decisions. Therefore, we must look for rules and restrictions that prevent us from continuing forward with an action. However, many business rules are integrated into the software code and are difficult to find and change. The key to adapting to changes more quickly is to have a good control of our business rules and remove the rules and restrictions that hinder us for no reason.
Data Analysis: The data is the other key! If you understand (and everyone understands) your company's data, you have a good understanding of the company. The data is King (or Queen)! The biggest trends in the last decade around big data, data analysis, business intelligence, and data science are nothing new. Companies that had good data analysis practices over the years are probably the ones that are still with us today. The best way to compete with them is to follow that practice. Another key point about data is that the business rules mentioned above are full of data. The rules of your business govern how you control and make decisions logically. If the data in those rules are misleading or incomplete, you may end up making bad decisions.
Stakeholders: A stakeholder is any person related to change or need. All stakeholders must collaborate and communicate well, no matter where they are in the organizational hierarchy. If the top does not know what the bottom does and vice versa, there will surely be communication problems and conflict. If we do not understand our client, we will miss the mark in meeting their needs. Empathy for the customer is paramount.
Process Analysis: To determine the right solution to a problem, we must understand the current state. How do we know where we're going if we don't know where we are? It's like asking for directions but not giving a starting point. Sometimes we need to model our current state capabilities and processes in order to determine what problems are most critical, are costing us the most money, are using too many people or other resources, or that just don’t work. This analysis will help an organization pinpoint the initiatives that are worth pursuing and will provide value.
Elicitation/facilitation: The art of bringing people together, face-to-face or remotely, in order to drive innovation, generate requirements, make decisions, and get consensus on solutions is a critical success factor for teams. Getting the right requirements means not only documenting what the stakeholders say, but also expanding on their statements (or asking questions) to understand what they mean, what is important, and why it adds value.
While the industry has taken a more iterative approach to development, the core of success still lies in good analysis practices. Without these important skills, how can you make the decisions that drive your business? Analysis is critical in this digital age. The better you understand your business through analysis, the more agile your business will be.
- Only 53 US companies have been on the Fortune 500 since 1955, thanks to the creative destruction that fuels economic prosperity
- "MuleSoft Connectivity Benchmark Report", 2018, p. 4-7
About the Author:
Alison (Ali) Orr Cox has experience since the mid-1980s in various areas, including business analysis, project methodology development and training, systems development (mainframe, client-server, and web), and telecommunications management. Alison began her career in the financial services area, and then moved into systems development for accounting systems. She has provided consulting and training in business analysis and project management for small companies to Fortune 500 corporations worldwide and speaks Spanish fluently.
Alison is also a partner of TEMSS (Telecommunications Efficiency Management Strategies and Services), which provides telecommunications efficiency auditing and billing analysis services to clients in all areas of business across the United States. She completed her Master of Business Administration in MIS and Accounting from the University of Georgia. For more information visit B2T Training website.