I see so many start-ups with every conceivable type of CEO and team, every style of management and every problem a business can face. The founders who can overcome these challenges will have a successful future.
There are planning strategies, false starts, pivoting and even reworking the business from the ground up that happen in every business. The problem is that when a founder finally asks for help it is often too late. Sometimes they will ask friends for suggestions. After that fails they might be coerced begrudgingly to hire a coach or a business advisor. A sound choice is to find a Business Analyst whose sole goal is to identify issues and problems then find a solution.
Sadly, a Business Analyst (BA) is usually a part of a larger scheme by a mid to high level company and the BA is a specialist in one department of the corporation, BA’s are rare in the start-up scenario or macro worlds and are more relegated to finding solutions to problems in a microcosm.
I’ve been the VP of Marketing for the International Institute of Business Analysis (Vancouver Chapter) for almost a year. With my experience as a coach and mentor I felt I could give an experiential approach to a situational problem and career.
Wow, what an eye opener, these people, BA’s are business detectives! Mainly they resolve process problems. They gather specific bits of information on systems and processes that when analysed provide solutions to manpower problems, system overload, scalability issues and organizational dilemmas. Most have an end-game of creating automated systems to make everything in the company run smoother.
I envision a coach or mentor working with a smaller company or a specific person in the corporation. The BA is usually brought in to a mid-size or larger corporation that needs systemic change. It’s also a problem if they are brought in cold and expected to be dropped into a situation without full knowledge of the issues. Many of the mid level companies I know have several BA’s for each department. Since companies have unique processes the BA needs to be fully integrated into the system they are working on.
It’s also more than finding solutions to problems; major adoption practices need to be in place with a buy-in from the staff.
BA’s are often seen, and are more popular, in the IT field because of the constant changes.
There are several steps involved in the business analysis model.
Investigating and Understanding the Situation
The analyst needs to investigate the issues from a purely unbiased viewpoint. Usually there are issues and problems that hide the real problem facing the corporation. It takes a holistic approach to find the culprit. The corporation’s systems and their properties should be viewed as a whole, not just as a collection of parts in order to find the items to fix.
For instance, the marketing and sales departments of the corporation may be functioning perfectly but the product or service does not meet customer satisfaction. The BA can figure out what part of the process is failing in the delivery and offer solutions.
Considering the Perspectives
The BA needs to look at the stakeholders of the company and see the problems from their unique perspective. The business situation and the future of the business could be radically different to each department. They also need to assess how that future will impact other departments or the goals of the company.
Analyzing the Needs
The BA compares the existing situation with the desired situation and the company goals to determine what improvements made to the processes will work the best for the business. Understanding and getting agreement on the scope of the project from the beginning makes sure that the project doesn’t get out of control later. Reconciling conflicting expectations from the outset will improve the acceptance of any changes down the road.
A business analysis plan needs to be formulated with the most appropriate and expected deliverables clearly defined, timelines identified and who will be part of the implementation team.
Examine the Option
Once the improvements are identified the BA needs to assess whether the changes can be implemented as far as cost and feasibility. There’s nothing worse than having good recommendations without the budget, staff or inclination by staff and management to implement the changes. Substantial changes may not be welcome or appropriate for some businesses.
Define the Requirements
A lot of work has gone into the analysis so it is necessary to document the proposed changes so staff and management can follow the outlined procedures. It’s important for everyone to see the business objectives clearly and know they are actionable.
It’s great to have a comprehensive change to existing procedures that enhances a business’ bottom line but it needs to be able to be delivered to the right stakeholders. If the end-users don’t grasp the changes and use it as intended the project won’t deliver on the original objectives. Training end-users in the procedural and system changes as well as collaborating with business users will make the BA’s plan come to fruition.
Like any other system or plan the strategies and goals the business needs must be done in such a way that the future is addressed. The good part of the business analysis model is that once it is complete other opportunities for change will lead to more improvements. Unlike the coach or mentor, the BA is in a constant state of proactive improvement for your business. Embrace the change!