Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Business Analysts need to address BPM problems

BPTrends' latest e-mail advisor, written by Paul Harmon, highlights some problems with multiple meanings of the term Business Analyst. He suspects that most people really mean "Software Analyst", that is someone that stands between IT and business users, translating user requirements into software requirements.

Harmon points out that this view is somewhat reinforced in Version 2.0 of the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK), in that it basically defines how a Business Analyst should go about defining the business problems that are to be automated.

I have found this traditional role is often an unwitting accomplice for business managers that subscribe to the Magic Bullet Theory of IT. These managers overlook the feasible improvements to processes and procedures that would minimize the costs of developing and providing ongoing support for software and, furthermore, the obedient Business Analyst helps them with the specifications of the gun and to broker the arms deal!

This role of intermediary between the business and IT is not what is needed in the future. Harmon quotes, Thomas Volmering, the SAP Product Manager who coined the term Business Process Expert (BPx):
"As companies focus more on business processes, they will need individuals who can help their organizations with all of the various problems that are joined under the term Business Process Management."
Harmon uses the term "Business Process Practitioner" to describe the range of skills needed to address BPM problems and really change the way organisations operate:
  • Defining processes, eliminating activities that don't add value and straightening out the flow of the activities.
  • Analyzing employee performance, defining jobs and structuring training to support performance.
  • Establishing and aligning measurement systems and evaluating how managers plan and control the processes they manage.
  • Determining how business policies are implemented in business rules.
  • Understand why processes work or don't work from the information available, the feedback people get, and the incentives and bonuses that structure employee and managerial behavior.
  • Analysing customer needs and the processes customers go through to interact with an organization.
The traditional Business Analyst role of defining processes and specifying requirements for automation is still important, but will not provide "a complete tool set" to really help organisations look beyond IT solutions to address the major problems with their business processes.

To be effective this role should be located in a Centre of Excellence, apart from the IT function, providing expert advice and support to senior executives and business process owners in shaping value creating processes.

Paul Harmon is Executive Editor and Founder of BPTrends, author of Business Process Change, and participated in the development of the International Institute of Business Analysis'(IIBA) Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Leveraging the Value of IT in Good Times and Bad

John Thorp's article, Leveraging the Value of IT in Good Times and Bad, published in and discussed in his blog today, describes how between 20%-30% of current and new expenditures can be reduced or curtailed and the potential value of investments increased by two to three times. John's advice is for all business leaders:
  • IT can no longer be managed as a black box because IT is now entwined in the business processes that make up an organisation's value chain and investments are not about IT but about change;
  • Effective governance is needed to make the right decisions concerning investment in IT-enabled change, manage those investments throughout their full lifecycle so that they continue to create and sustain value, and letting go the ones that won't;
  • ISACA's Val IT practices for value governance, portfolio management and investment management can be used selectively to improve the quality of decisions and reduce risk.
Val IT 2.0 is a new framework with supporting publications addressing the governance of IT-enabled business investments (see Getting Started With Value Management).

John Thorp is President of The Thorp Network (, author of The Information Paradox, and Chair of Val IT™ Steering Committee for ISACA.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Business Case for implementing IT governance frameworks

Organizations that effectively implement IT governance frameworks achieve their IT and business goals more frequently, according to a recent study of 538 organizations worldwide by the IT Alignment and Governance Research Institute of the University of Antwerp (ITAG).

The study was commissioned by ISACA to explore and demonstrate the business value of implementing the COBIT and Val IT frameworks.

Implementing these frameworks is perceived as costly and complex but the research shows that it does ultimately create business value. This study revealed that:
  • A strong, positive relationship exists between the implementation status of COBIT and Val IT processes and the achievement of IT goals - the more complete the implementation of these processes, the higher the achievement of IT goals
  • A strong, positive relationship exists between the achievement of IT goals and the achievement of business goals - the higher the achievement of IT goals, the higher the achievement of business goals.
These strong, positive relationships would also imply that the opposite is true, so not implementing these frameworks across the enterprise is likely to have an adverse effect on business performance.

ISACA's executive briefing on the study, Building the Business Case for COBIT® and Val IT™, can be downloaded from