Mastering business analysis: what is our purpose?

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May 26th, 2012

This is the second  in the BA master class series, focusing on seven key areas I found helped develop my technique, performance, and delivery.

In this post I share my thinking on how we determine our purpose and use that to shape everything we do. In the other posts I look at what it takes to master a discipline, at mastering our relationships, behaviour, professional development, models and frameworks, service mindset, and ourselves; and how we develop goal plans and a personal goal map to ensure we do progressively master what we choose to do.

What is our purpose?

What do we mean when we talk about our purpose?

What is our calling or our identity as business analysis practitioners at work?

We make all our choices and decisions on the basis of how we understand our role, on how we believe we are expected to contribute. If there’s a misalignment between what we do and what our organisation thinks we should be doing, then we’re less likely to delivering value, at least to their expectations.

Indeed, the term ‘business analysis’ is still not clearly understood by everyone, and the value that practitioners bring to an organisation is not always recognised.

We have some definitions in the public domain that we can reference. For example, IIBA have this neatly sewn up, although expect some change in the next release of the BABOK. Further discussion on ‘defining business analysis‘ took place on this site in August 2010, with contributions from many other leading thinkers on business analysis.

“Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals”
BABOK 2.0, IIBA

To make sense of this, however, we really need to understand it in our own context, so we’ll look at this in two parts, what is the purpose of business analysis within our organisation, and then where do we fit in, what is our role in that.

Mapping our role

Below is a model for understanding the role that business analysis plays in an organisation. Two axis are shown; the one running top to bottom indicates the ‘height’ at which analysis can be done, from strategic to tactical; while the one running left to right indicates the domain(s) in which analysis can be done, from business-focused to technical-focused. Example types of analysis have been placed in the four corners to illustrate these ranges.

Role Mapping Tool

Exercise

  1. Draw a shape that covers the space within which you believe your team operates (e.g. like the blue shape shown on the model).
  2. Now in a different colour, or perhaps with a dotted line, draw a second shape that shows the space within which you currently operate (e.g. like the grey dotted-line shape shown on the model).

I have provided a downloadable PDF version of  the role mapping tool so that you can all do this exercise.

http://www.davidjcmorris.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/davidjcmorris-masterclass-mappingmyrole.pdf

Questions to consider

Once you have mapped your team’s role and your own, reflect on the following questions:

  • Are there any differences?
  • Are you inside or outside the scope of the team, or do you cross the line?
  • Are there things your team does that you don’t?
  • What does this mean?

Walk with me

In this series of BA master class posts, I invite you to share my journey of the steps I have taken to be the best I can be. I too am still learning and exploring, and I invite your feedback and discussion so that we can learn from one another.

IIBA® and BABOK® are registered marks owned by, and used with the express permission of, International Institute of Business Analysis.

4 Comments

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