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7. Techniques

7.11 Purpose Alignment Model

Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide

Purpose Alignment Model is used to assess ideas in the context of customer and business value.

Purpose Alignment Model rates features, processes, products, or capabilities in two dimensions. Business analysis practitioners use this information to help recommend the best actions to improve them based on the ratings.

The first dimension of the Purpose Alignment Model is whether or not the feature creates market differentiation. The second dimension is whether or not the feature is critical for the continued functioning of the organization.

Purpose Alignment Model aids in making ongoing prioritization decisions and focusing investment on those features or capabilities that offer the greatest value to the organization. It was designed for use by for-profit organizations that face competition in the marketplace. Governmental organizations and non-profits use this model with variations aligned to their market goals to drive decisions. Stakeholder value, alignment with the organizational mission, or delivery of social good may serve as an alternative to the market differentiation dimension. The thinking behind the use of the model remains the same even when different labels are used for the dimensions.

Purpose Alignment Model provides guidance on whether something should be an area of strategic concern but does not provide any guidance on what strategies or decisions might be the correct ones.

The following illustration is an example of a Purpose Alignment Model.

Figure 7.11.1: Purpose Alignment Model


.1 Differentiating Quadrant

The differentiating quadrant includes features, products, or services that serve to differentiate the organization in the marketplace and are critical to the functioning of the company. Organizations prepare to invest in these to differentiate from competitor offerings. A differentiating activity might be used to advertise the company, is difficult for competitors to match, or otherwise has significant strategic value, and a unique approach to these activities is likely to be needed.

.2 Parity Quadrant

Parity quadrant items are mission critical, but not market differentiating. Many standard functions such as finance, HR, payroll, and others fall into this quadrant for most organizations. Activities in this quadrant are important but do not provide an advantage to the firm in relation to competitors. Adoption of best practices is generally sufficient.

.3 Partner Quadrant

Activities in the partner quadrant may have unique value to customers but are not critical to the functioning of the organization. Even though these activities are important to customers or other stakeholders, the organization doesn't need to perform them to survive. That means the organization is unlikely to have the resources to excel at these activities (as more mission-critical operations will take precedence), while a partner may perform them more effectively.

.4 Who Cares? Quadrant

Activities which are neither mission-critical nor help to differentiate the organization in the marketplace fall into the who cares? quadrant. As these activities do not add customer value, and the organization can function without performing them, they are prime candidates to be eliminated and the resources reallocated to support more useful work.

.1 Strengths

  • One of the key advantages of this technique is its simplicity. It can be taught to business sponsors and users in a couple of minutes, so they can critically assess an idea themselves.

  • The model is easy to use in a facilitated, collaborative environment.

  • It can be applied at any horizon.

  • It enables analysis in a short time frame.

.2 Limitations

  • It assumes positive intent in the business strategy.

  • The participation of the right stakeholders is necessary for success.

  • The simplicity of this technique can omit or overlook an important nuance for a feature.