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At the start of this year, the training organization TwentyEighty Strategy Execution released a report titled The Top Ten Business Analysis Trends for 2016, which examined a number of the forces effecting change in the work of business analysts (BA). Amongst its findings, the report noted an increased focus on modeling and collaborative communication, which it attributes to an evolution from the BA's "traditionally tactical role to one of true alignment to overall business strategy to better meet customer needs.”
This finding mirrors much of the current commentary regarding BAs. Views from analysts and observers indicate an involvement of the BA in overall enterprise improvement. Moving away from “gathered and managed” requirements as indicated in the recent article on BA Times by the staff at Watermark Learning. Expectations of the role are changing from one of project-based software delivery, to one of overall strategy execution - resulting in an increased purview of people and processes, as well as technology.
From a quick review of the IIBA®'s Business Analysis Competency Model1, we can surmise this evolution is also indicative of the emerged BA career path, with senior BAs expected to perceive the "overall picture and how individual actions fit within it"1. This is no small feat, considering some of the factors which can hold progress back.
The TwentyEighty report notes the pressures for and against the evolution of the BA role. It notes there is often pressure to provide the weighty and static requirements documents that limit a BA's flexibility to evolve and adapt to ongoing business needs. This is where tooling can help.
Platforms such as Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect can help mitigate these pressures, by keeping BAs connected with and manage the changes within the enterprise. They can remain connected with business and IT teams, helping to produce flexible requirements documents using corporate-formatted templates, using just a few button clicks.
Further to this, modeling techniques such as BPMN, org charts, strategy maps, business rules, enterprise architecture frameworks such as Zachman and UPDM, in addition to balanced scorecards, help demonstrate meaningful links between corporate strategy and execution. They are then communicated with the teams responsible for development. When a platform is shared, its easier to be a part of the same team.
The execution of established strategy can be facilitated using a shared environment and communication tools, including in-tool 'model mail', cloud services, team review and document generation. Communication tools keep domains continuously connected across different geo-located teams.
Heatmaps, use case modeling, business process simulation and Enterprise Architect's tractability matrix can ensure corporate strategy is realized. The new Kanban diagrams in version 12.1, provide high level insights which allow analysts to zero in on potential gains by calling attention to standout processes.
A free read-only version called EA Lite, is available to download from the Sparx Systems website making it a lot simpler to engage executive management in the progress of work items, helping to promote buy-in and keep a project on track by demonstrating its connection with business value.
In a new initiative to integrate business analysis best practices into the modeling environment, Sparx Systems has established a strategic partnership with the IIBA and is currently developing a BABOK® Guide v3 Reference Model to be delivered within Enterprise Architect.
As the role of the BA expands to take in so much more of a company's strategy and requires ongoing connectivity with many different teams - smart, integrated platforms can help mitigate some of those pressures and facilitate opportunities for innovation that can go otherwise unexplored.
Sparx Systems offers a free 30 day trial of Enterprise Architect from the Sparx Systems website: www.sparxsystems.com/try
1. International Institute of Business Analysis™ (IIBA®) (2011). Business Analysis Competency Model. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: International Institute of Business Analysis. 16.