Article by Hans Jonasson, CBAP, PMP
Thirty-eight years ago The Project Management Institute (PMI) was founded. Since then, the project management profession has changed, become recognized globally and its practitioners are sought after. The ones that have earned the PMP designation, over 250,000 so far, have improved their personal growth, as well as their professional status.
So what was it that PMI did? They defined and standardized the processes and techniques used to develop or implement a product or service. Improved the schedule, cost, and quality performance of the development effort. Which is great. However, if the product that was developed wasn’t the right product, then all we did was develop the wrong product faster, cheaper, and with fewer bugs. While I am not suggesting a lack of value in that, I do suggest that developing the right product would bring a pretty high value to the process. And that’s what the business analyst’s job is.
In 2003, the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) was formed. Their goal is to improve and standardize business analysis practices. They are accomplishing this by identifying the key knowledge areas of business analysis and defining the best practices for those areas. This effort will greatly help the business analysts in their day-to-day efforts.
While the knowledge areas are not purely sequential, there will tend to be a general order to them. Enterprise Analysis makes sure that the business environment is understood and that the projects that are worked supports strategic and tactical initiatives and are looked at from an enterprise view rather than functional silos. Business Analysis Planning tasks the business analyst with planning their efforts. Who should be interviewed? Who approves the requirements? What methodology do we use for the requirements effort? What risks do we see? This becomes part of the overall project plan. In Elicitation, the requirements are gathered though interviews, job shadowing, surveys or other best practices techniques. Requirements Analysis helps us model and document the requirements, while Solution Assessment and Validation seeks to ensure that the final solution traces back to the requirements and the business need. In Requirements Management and Communication, the requirements changes are dealt with and the status of requirements efforts are communicated to the stakeholders.
So where is the business analyst profession heading? With the new version of the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (the BABOK) and the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP™) certification becoming popular, the profession is likely to be heading for a time of more standardization and best practices. Based on the success of the PMP certification, and its impact on the project management profession, it is also likely that the status and appreciation of the business analyst will grow in the industry and become increasingly important. After all, the business analyst defines the right things to do, rather than just doing things right, and that will always give a competitive advantage.
Hans Jonasson, PMP founder of JTC Unlimited, has over 25 years of experience in the areas of project management, business analysis and professional development training. Hans started his career with Volvo LTD in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1980 as a systems analyst/programmer. In 1984 he moved to United States to work on new development projects for EDS and General Motors. He has managed all aspects of software development projects varying from $100,000 to $10 Million for the automotive industry. JTC Unlimited, LLC is a PMI Registered Education Provider (REP®) and the first Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA™).
Hans is a popular speaker at PMI chapter dinner meetings and conferences such as BAWorld and ProjectWorld, and has spoke at BA World in Chicago and Toronto, as well as PMI’s North American Congress. He has been a Project Management Professional (PMP®) and member of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) since 1996. He is a member of the Great Lakes Chapter of PMI® and a founding member of the Southeast Michigan chapter of IIBA, as well as a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP™). He has recently authored a book titled ‘Determining Project Requirements’ which was published in October 2007.