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4. Strategy Horizon

4.3 Elements

Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide

The value of agile business analysis at the Strategic Horizon is founded in the broad scope of the analysis and the ability to communicate information across the organization – both to senior decision makers and to those operating within different initiatives within the organization.

Agile business analysis is aware of the need for timeliness of observations. It ensures that observations of change are acted upon sufficiently quickly to make them relevant to the decision process.

.1 Scope of Analysis

Agile business analysis has a broad scope at the Strategic Horizon. Its scope of analysis is beyond the individual initiative and involves analyzing and communicating information learned from the organizational context. At the Strategic Horizon, agile business analysis involves making sense of changes across the following areas:

  • Changes to customer expectations: teams working on initiatives notice changes in customer expectations resulting from new product introductions and the resulting social and economic changes. There are also changes to customer expectations that are not visible to these teams. At the Strategy Horizon, the scope of analysis extends beyond individual initiatives and involves analyzing and communicating information received through customer research and analytics, as well as research into emerging customer trends.

  • Changes to the outside environment: organizations exist within an organizational context where competitors are constantly innovating, economic and social conditions are changing, and new technologies are emerging at a rapid rate. Business analysis practitioners constantly monitor and evaluate these changes, forming new hypotheses and changing old assumptions.

  • Changes within the organization: organizations constantly change. As a result, organizations must constantly redirect resources and potentially set new goals. Agile business analysis provides timely, useful information to those making decisions based on internal changes.

  • Learning from the front line: teams operating at the Initiative and Delivery Horizons are constantly making changes and discoveries. Some of this information has an impact on the goals and resource allocation beyond the initiative. A major economic driver for agile adoption is the ability to quickly learn which initiatives to stop funding because they either have delivered their promised value or have not realized their potential value, or on which initiatives to increase resources because they have opened new strategic opportunities. At the Strategy Horizon, business analysis practitioners synthesize and analyze information from multiple initiatives in order to inform decisions that impact the organization's business goals and priorities.

  • Threats and opportunities: with constant change occurring within and beyond the organization, new threats and opportunities appear (and fade) constantly.

    Agile business analysis practitioners continually analyze threats and opportunities that enable the organization to

    • start a new initiative to counter a threat or exploit an opportunity,
    • change the resourcing, scope, or success criteria for existing initiatives in response to changing circumstances, and
    • cancel an existing initiative that has become less relevant or less likely to succeed.

At the Strategy Horizon, the focus of business analysis is on the discovery and analysis of evolving threats and opportunities. Successful outcomes depend on decisions being made quickly and correctly on changes as they occur.

At the Strategy Horizon, business analysis practitioners are required to understand the organizational goals and how they map to the goals of individual initiatives. Analysis at the Strategy Horizon generally stops before getting into the details of specific initiatives. Business analysis practitioners working within each initiative are generally better placed to analyze information, collaborate with stakeholders, and inform good decision making for the initiative.

At the Strategy Horizon, business analysis practitioners identify a potential need and then provide enough detail to the team working at the Initiative Horizon for them to understand the need and develop potential solutions and features.

The detailed analysis of the solution is done at the Initiative and Delivery Horizons. At the Strategy Horizon, business analysis practitioners focus on risks, changing circumstances, and new needs that might change the prioritization of decisions made by the organization as multiple initiatives progress.

Due to the great need for collaboration, feedback, and learning between the Strategy, Initiative, and Delivery Horizons, there is no clean line where the responsibility for analysis is handed over from one business analysis practitioner to another.

At the Strategy Horizon, agile business analysis involves breaking down systems and ideas into small parts to understand each component sufficiently to either create a new solution, solve a specific problem, or modify an existing solution.

The systems being analyzed (for example, the performance of individual initiatives, the actions of competitors, and the changing inputs to strategy) are unstable and understanding is always incomplete. Business analysis practitioners use tools such as models to reduce the complexity of large volumes of confusing data, and enable decision makers to have sufficient information to make a defensible and testable decision.