What’s wrong with Business Analysis

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Jack Welch

Short term thinking

Currently I notice an increasing demand for business analysts. When that happens, it means that there is something going on in whatever market space the demand for analysts is for. Not surprisingly the current market space is mostly banking and finance. I believe that has something to do with a combination of cleaning up legacy, but more importantly new technology developments, in particular the blockchain. This article is however not about technology or blockchain, but about short term thinking…

Reinventing as a (pretty expensive) sport

If you read job-descriptions for business analysts, you’ll find most of the time the following kind of major requirements:

  • Content knowledge about the particular field or discipline
  • Good communicator (on all levels)
  • Hands-on knowledge and experience with Excel and Visio, sometimes even a dedicated process management tool…

I’m completely with the idea that you want to hire someone that understands the field. And of course you need to be able to communicate well. However, and that’s what I’m heading toward, I just don’t understand the “reinventing the wheel” syndrome, triggered by these tool requirements. With reinventing the wheel I mean a couple of things.

First most, why haven’t these companies insight in their business already? E.g., how they do stuff? Isn’t it weird that you suddenly need business analysts in order to find this out? Or could it be that the previous time when you conducted a business analysis exercise, you saved all findings in some isolated artefacts (paper bindings, or their equivalent, documents on Sharepoint)? You could argue that digital data can be easier retrieved, but how do you know its context and relevance?

Secondly, when you have hired new business analysts, will they simply start capturing exactly the way you’ve always done it? In isolation, using office tools or some sort of specialized tools that only specialist understand? So afterwards, when you have all the reports and the graphs, taken the decisions (funny enough, often based on Powerpoint presentations) and systems and people in place etc. you need to redo the same exercise again? And again?

Invest in a BPM supporting culture

As someone for ages in the space of BPM and business analysis, but especially in governing this, I have seen this over and over and now I see it happening again. What is this with companies not wanting to invest in a proper governed BPM supporting culture? How much money do you want to throw away, every time you need to get business analysts up and running in order to find out how you do stuff and what data you need?

So. What I’m pleading for, is to establish a BPM supporting culture that permanently and long term ensures you can act way quicker on whatever developments hit your business. For those interested, please read more in this in-depth article I wrote last year.

It is pretty late when you need to act and still need to find out how your business actually works. Imagine when you could save time and money on inductions, employee trainings, and hey, analysis?

Conclusion

There is of course nothing wrong with Business Analysis. But there are considerable issues with establishing a supporting culture and environment that avoids you act in panic when the next (market, tech or legal) development knocks on your business door. Solve these issues and you’re better prepared. It’s however a long term investment. And there are solutions available. And I’m not talking software only here.