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(My) BA Manifesto

I’ve been working, again, on defining and defending what a Business Analyst is and does. I mistakenly thought this was becoming self-evident and the battle was over, but it is obvious the war is ongoing. So, to guide my thinking as I re-engage in the battle, I wrote the following manifesto. Please review and comment, because we desperately need a better rallying cry.

We unapologetically assert Business Analysts are a distinct role, with specific skills and competencies.

While many people can be trained to write a good requirement or story and increase the effectiveness of a development team, BAs can and should be utilized to provide more. We also add value by helping business define business, enabling business units to be more effective with and without technology, and uncovering problems & finding potential solutions.

There are many ways to be a Business Analyst and many areas to specialize in, but we are bound by our common belief that IT and software work best when we work with the business to understand and provide solutions to not just their request, but also the underlying business goals. While we typically work with technology solutions to business problems, we acknowledge it is not the only—and often not the best solution—for the fundamental need.

We also claim as distinct role, Business Analysts have needs for training and career development separate from our teammates. We need the support and experience to be fluent in business domains, technically competent, exceptional communicators, and master of both soft skills and strategic thinking.

We are Business Analysts and we hereby claim our rights to Be Amazing!

I look forward to your comments, so we can refine our manifesto and carry this forward.

 

[July 15] Update: 

Analyst extraordinaire and colleague Dan McClure was very kind to offer the following re-write. I think this makes some capital improvements on the original, while believing we have not yet captured everything we need.

a BA Manifesto

We unapologetically assert Business Analysts are a distinct role with a measurable value proposition and specific competencies.

We are not the simple enablers of other people’s work.  Many people can be trained to write good requirements and contribute to team efficiency, but these are not the boundaries of our profession.   

We live in a world driven by accelerating change and rampant competition.  Every business rests on the cusp of obsolescence.  In this moment of opportunity there is no skill more important than imagining and expressing a creative future that works.  

BAs are at the heart of realizing this original value.   We help businesses define their business.  We discover opportunities, uncover problem, and invent solutions. We enable organizations to invent competitive advantage with and without technology. 

As with any rich profession, we find many ways to be a Business Analyst.   Across all our specialties we are bound by a common belief that software works best when we do more than simply respond to business requests. As a distinct and complex role, we need training and career development separate from our teammates. We must be fluent in business domains, technically competent, strategists and masters of soft skills.

We are Business Analysts and we hereby claim our rights to Be Amazing!

What does your version of the BA Manifesto look like?

  7Comments

  1. Yaaqub Mohamed(Yamo)   •  

    Great thoughts, Jeff; and an amazing way to start your new blog. Congratulations!

    It is an ongoing challenge to change the perception of Business Analysts being scribes for requirements and meetings. BAs can definitely do more, and should be utilized to solve business problems by virtue of their unique skill set.

    Solving business problems is never about technology, or software, its about understanding what business wants, what goals and objectives need to be accomplished, and providing relevant and useful insights.

    Documenting requirements is always an after effect, and not the primary goal. If we as BAs, need to be amazing we need to constantly break the barriers:

    > Barrier to think about software/technology rather than business problems
    > Barrier to just listen and document requirements without active reasoning and questioning
    > Barrier to self development that inhibits our ability to be a better communicator, facilitator, and a leader.
    > Barrier to just be confined to the role of a scribe rather than break fringes and provide bold recommendations to the business and teams we work in
    <> :)

    All the best,
    Yamo

  2. Martin Schedlbauer   •  

    Let’s not forget that BAs work on more than software or IT solutions. Too many BAs are only doing software requirements and fail to look at helping the business achieve its goals. That goes beyond IT solutions. Otherwise, awesome post!

    • jeffrey   •     Author

      I agree, whole-heartedly and completely.

      I tried to cover this in para. 2, but I see I lost some of the larger focus in para. 3. How would you adjust the wording?

  3. jeffrey   •     Author

    A twitter conversation with Laura Brandenburg (@LLBrandenburg) led me to her version of the BA manifesto!

    Out of chaos, we create order.

    Out of disagreement, we create alignment.

    Out of ambiguity, we create clarity.

    But most of all, we create positive change for the organizations we serve.

    Check out her post about this here: http://bit.ly/pmMgz1 I especially like her support Alistair Cockburn’s Oath of Non-Allegiance.

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  6. Larry Wolff   •  

    Great thoughts, Jeffrey. I have three words for you: blame the CIO. I know. I was one for many years. Business Analysis will not be fully recognized for the value it delivers until the CIO is willing to stand up to his or her executive peers and help them realize that “Business” Analysis is a “Business” function, not an IT function. When the BA moves into the Office of Strategy Management, then very meaningful improvements can occur. Trapped in IT, the value will remain misunderstood.

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