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).

1 comment:

Basil Wood, CGEIT said...

Another advisor from Paul Harmon on the future role of Business Analysts and BPM Centre of Excellence. In it Paul predicts that the Business Analyst community will expand its role to embrace all of the business process concerns within the organization.
"Business Analysts are well-placed to become the Business Process Practitioners of the future – and, indeed, to become the managers of their organizations’ BPM Centers of Excellence. It will take a different mindset from the mindset that many Business Analysts have today – a broader focus that embraces both the human and the software elements that make up large scale processes, that embraces business management, goals and strategies, as well as measurement theory and business innovation."