5. Initiative Horizon
Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide
Analysis performed at the Initiative Horizon is concerned with the many activities involved in an initiative in order to accomplish a specific outcome. Most solutions are complex enough that there are multiple solution options that can all deliver the same outcome, and each solution has multiple solution components. In an agile context these solution components are referred to as features.
At the Initiative Horizon, business analysis practitioners identify solution options worth considering for implementation. Multiple solution options allow the agile team to analyze each option to determine whether each option is viable or not.
In order to make this decision, the team requires a shared understanding of the need to be satisfied and the desired outcome. That shared understanding includes clear and measurable objectives. These objectives can be used to do an initial assessment of solution options to determine if they are viable and will provide sufficient progress toward the outcome.
When assessing solution options, business analysis practitioners consider:
- the shared understanding of the need to satisfy,
- any assumptions surrounding what will make a viable solution,
- the risks that satisfying the need will introduce,
- a very broad description of every solution option, and
- the constraints that may make some solution options nonviable.
Part of the process of generating solution options includes the discovery of previously unknown information which informs decisions around the viability of solution options.
At the Initiative Horizon, business analysis practitioners recommend the solution options based on which solution option provides the maximum outcome with the minimum output and fits within identified constraints. The business leader or decision maker who is responsible for the solution generally makes the decision to proceed with the recommended solution option or not.
In order to accurately assess different solution options, the information being analyzed is at the same level of precision for each solution option under consideration. The level of precision of the information should be appropriate to the decision being made and provide just enough information to make an informed and accurate decision.
When recommending solution options, business analysis practitioners:
- validate any made assumptions when identifying solution options,
- identify methods of assessing the implementation practicality,
- consider information about the people, processes, tools, organizations, systems, vendors, and other external entities that are impacted by the solution to identify potential conflicts or risks,
- assess the solution’s projected impact on the identified need, and
- estimate the cost of each solution option in terms of time, money, or any other resource relevant for the team.
Experimentation can be a useful process to engage in when selecting a solution option. When recommending a solution option, the goal of experimentation is to discover just enough information to enable the selection of an option.
Solutions are comprised of multiple solution components. At the Initiative Horizon, business analysis practitioners collaborate with stakeholders to identify different possible aspects and parts of the solution that will provide the desired outcome. Some agile contexts refer to solution components as features. The decision maker who is responsible for the solution generally makes the decision to proceed with the identified solution components or not.
Each identified component is evaluated in the context of the desired outcome, costs, impacts, and constraints. The information being analyzed is at the same moderate level of precision for each solution option under consideration and provides just enough information to make an informed and accurate decision. This creates a list of components which could be used to develop the selected solution option. Many agile contexts consider this list to be the backlog.
Identifying solution components is an ongoing iterative process, with solution components being continually refined as more information is discovered and a greater understanding of the need and solution option is gained. New items may be added to the list and others removed as the understanding of the value of each individual solution component becomes apparent.
Once the potential solution components are identified, business analysis practitioners prioritize and sequence the components. In some agile contexts this process is referred to as refining the backlog. The decision maker who is responsible for the solution generally makes the decision on the priorities and sequencing of solution components.
Business analysis practitioners assess the priority and sequence of solution components based on:
- the impact that each solution component has on the overall outcome,
- the cost (either actual or in terms of team capacity) in implementing the solution component,
- the current state of the initiative,
- feedback from stakeholders,
- current performance toward the desired outcome, and
- current understanding of the constraints and risks.
The prioritization and sequencing of solution components occurs multiple times throughout the course of an initiative. When new information is discovered that leads to a change to solution components, priority and sequence are reassessed to ensure alignment with the new information. The priority and sequence of solution components are also reassessed when the new information is considered during release planning, updating a product roadmap, iteration planning, or regularly scheduled prioritization sessions.
At the Initiative Horizon, determining if the need is satisfied is based on assessing if the outputs delivered meet the desired outcome. The decision maker who is responsible for the solution generally makes the decision if the need has been satisfied.
Business analysis practitioners consider if the need has been satisfied every time a solution component has been delivered and feedback has been received on the component. This reduces the risk of producing more output than necessary to meet the need and reduces waste.
Once the desired outcome is achieved, efforts are shifted to meeting the next identified need. If the desired outcome has not been met, business analysis practitioners consider whether to continue, change, or cancel the initiative.
At the Initiative Horizon, solutions are continually assessed to determine if they are delivering the desired outcomes and sufficient value. Business analysis practitioners base this assessment on both the identified measures of success, as well as feedback received from the Strategy and Delivery Horizons. The decision maker who is responsible for the solution generally makes the decision to continue, change, or cancel the solution.
If the determination is made that the solution is delivering the desired outcomes and sufficient value, efforts continue to refine and deliver solution components.
If the determination is made that the solution is not delivering the desired outcomes and sufficient value, or if there has been a discovery of new information that impacts the solution, business analysis practitioners can:
- change the solution by adding or removing solution components, or changing the priority and sequencing of solution components, or
- cancel the initiative so that resources can be redeployed.
Business analysis practitioners, assess the viability of solutions based on:
- the impact of the current solution on reaching the desired outcomes,
- identified measures of success,
- the anticipated work needed to complete the list of solution components,
- the ongoing assessment of constraints and risks,
- a clarified understanding of the need from the Delivery Horizon, and
- a clarified understanding of the relevance of the need in relation to the broader organizational strategy from the Strategy Horizon.