4. Strategy Horizon
4.6 Applying the Principles of Agile Business Analysis
Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide
At the Strategy Horizon, the agile principle of See the Whole is applied when business analysis practitioners work with decision makers in order to make effective decisions. Decisions at the Strategy Horizon incorporate a holistic view of the context in which the organization exists (the market, the political climate and many other factors). Decisions are also based on a realistic understanding of the current capabilities, strengths and challenges of the organization itself.
Agile business analysis facilitates a holistic understanding of the organization and its environment through constant analysis and evaluation, creating rapid feedback cycles and learning throughout the organization. It also facilitates a holistic understanding through constant, deep collaboration between business analysis practitioners and stakeholders throughout the organization.
At the Strategy Horizon, the agile principle of Think as a Customer is applied when business analysis practitioners maintain a strategic focus on customer value.
Thinking as a customer provides a clear focus on customer value and helps the organization to set goals and align work across the organization. Without customer focus, teams focused on the Initiative Horizon might create individual customer experiences that would be good as isolated experiences but create an inconsistent or sub-optimal experience when combined into an ongoing customer journey.
Agile business analysis facilitates a customer focus by communicating learning between teams and by enabling decision makers to align the limited resources of the organization to most effectively focus on the greatest overall customer value.
At the Strategy Horizon, the agile principle of Analyze to Determine What is Valuable is applied when identifying the strategic needs to be met.
Business analysis practitioners help decision makers better allocate resources in the pursuit of the organization's goals. This ensures that work done across the organization creates the most value possible for the effort expended.
In a rapidly changing environment, goals and plans are stable. New learning must be analyzed quickly and effectively on an ongoing basis and decisions must be made on recent, potentially uncertain data. Agile business analysis helps decision makers at the Strategy Horizon understand what is truly valuable as the organizational context evolves.
At the Strategy Horizon, the agile principle of Get Real Using Examples is applied when communicating current evidence based information to decision makers.
Effective planning is based on information that is relevant, easy to understand, and up to date. In a context of continuous change, there is a risk of making poorly informed decisions because projections or assumptions are out of date. There is also a risk that decision makers may make important decisions based on opinions or misunderstood evidence. Business analysis practitioners constantly identify new changes that impact planning assumptions and articulate the potential impact of those changes.
Agile business analysis is based on real evidence and real examples that occur in real time. This supports evidence-based decisions in rapidly changing and uncertain environments. A good example of this is the decision to start a new initiative. This decision should be based on effective analysis of the most current and reliable information available. Business analysis practitioners communicate the goals of the initiative, what is known, and which untested hypotheses they believe to be true. This allows the initiative team to better understand what can be achieved and when the initiative should be cancelled or re-scoped based on new information.
At the Strategy Horizon, the agile principle of Understand What is Doable is applied when making strategic decisions regarding the organization's resources and the strategic needs the organization wishes to satisfy.
Planning at the Strategy Horizon is challenging. There are often numerous threats and opportunities to choose from, and there are impediments to redeploying the organization's resources in response to the latest information. The sheer volume of information that must be digested by decision makers means that deciding what to act on is a major challenge.
Business analysis practitioners continuously interpret the significance of new information in a way that decision makers can make effective decisions without being distracted by important seeming, but ultimately irrelevant, information. When this is done, decision makers can quickly decide what should be done next to add customer value, outperform competitors, or respond to emerging threats.
At the Strategy Horizon, the agile principle of Stimulate Collaboration and Continuous Improvement is applied to the agile organization's culture as a means of developing and supporting high-performing teams.
Collaboration and continuous improvement are core components of any high- performing team. It becomes increasingly difficult to collaborate and innovate as the size and number of teams increases in an organization. It is important the organization develop effective channels that allow teams that interact with customers to respond quickly, while sharing and benefiting from the learning that is happening across the rest of the organization.
At the Strategy Horizon, businessanalysispractitioners add valuebyfacilitatingthe transfer of relevant knowledge between teams. This speeds the collaboration and continuous improvement because the teams learn quickly from each other and are not impeded by having to rely on a central authority to determine what they should know and what they should share.
At the Strategy Horizon, the agile principle of Avoid Waste is applied when business analysis practitioners ensure decisions are made on current and accurate information, and when the entire organization has a shared understanding of the organization's goals and priorities.
At the Strategy Horizon, waste is created when:
- decisions are based on bad information,
- initiatives deliver outcomes that are not aligned with each other, duplicate each other, or undermine the work done by other initiatives, and
- resources continue to be allocated to an initiative that no longer delivers value.
At the Strategy Horizon, business analysis practitioners reduce waste by providing the right information to
- teams at the Initiative Horizon about what is happening in the rest of the organization so they can make more effective local decisions,
- decision makers to support decisions about which initiatives should be initiated or cancelled, and
- organizational leaders regarding which initiatives will benefit most from the allocation of available resources.