In my first post of 2014, The Business Analysis Space is Changing: What You Can Do Now, I wrote about changes happening in the BA space and some things individuals performing business analysis can do to get ready. Here is the basic gist of the change I was talking about:
IT project teams are building software differently. Even though I wrote a blog titled Agile is a Fad; agile practices are not a fad at all. After a conversation with a vice president of a large IT group this thought of the shift really hit me. He said he no longer hires Business Analysts. After a little digging he meant he does not hire someone that wants their role to only be a Business Analyst. He needs people that can be flexible and play the roles needed by their team or teams. The scale is tipping away from BAs solely doing business analysis work within project teams. More companies are realizing everyone needs to perform business analysis to some extent on the team. Everyone needs the BA mindset because business analysis is not done in a black box or a vacuum. Business analysis is a true team sport.
One major thing I shared was that BAs need to buy into the fact that this change is happening.
You need to remember success is delivering value to the customer. Success is not you doing business analysis work on the project. If your team requires you to do only business analysis work than that is fine. But many of the projects you are working on require you to play other roles and have other team members doing business analysis work.
So here we sit in mid-December 2014. Did the BA community start to buy-in? I think the answer is closer to yes than no. There are groups of people that want to protect the role and go as far as saying, “we need someone with a Business Analyst title on every project.” However, the overwhelming majority of people I interact with realize a BA life isn’t what it once was and are taking steps to adapt or at least trying to figure out how to adapt. Still, adoption is not happening as fast I thought. Why is that?
I think a major contributing factor to this is at the organization level. They want to adapt the agile way because they see it as a way to improve. However, a problem lies with the existence of old policies and procedures that are still in place and that are slowing down the agile way adoption. Specifically, I think there are two old policies/procedures that are contributing to the inability to adopt this new way of thinking and working quickly.
The first and most significant one I see is the issue of performance reviews. Too often performance reviews are based on individual performance over team performance. Recently, I attended a seminar and the speaker said something that triggered this thought. In so many words he said,
When working on a team you need to know your background and experience. If something comes up that needs to get done, and it aligns with your experience, say…’I can help with that.’
Having this mindset is the buy-in I was talking about. This is regardless of your job title or function. It seems obvious and makes sense, but often people stay in their silos and stick within the parameters of their job description. Why is that? Is it money? Is it performance measures based on your job title? Is it due to how individuals get promoted? You know the routine. You can’t get promoted into a role until you show you can do it. So people don’t focus on what the team needs, they focus on doing tasks that will get them promoted. And who can blame them, if that is how an organization values the employee and what they take into consideration when delivering a raise or a promotion?
Another thing I see that contributes to the slowed adoption of an agile mindset is Employee of the Month programs. If implemented in a way that rewards individuals for being team players I am all for it. However, too often these programs promote the hero mentality. People that win this award are the ones that sweep in and save a failing initiative. They work extra time and save the day. Great for the project, but not for the team…this promotes anti-teamwork behavior. Again, can you really blame the hero?
In 2015 I want to explore ways to help those that manage business analysis professionals and support the business analysis competency to overcome these and possibly many other outdated procedural hurdles. If organizations are going to truly improve, they need to reassess some old habits and implement new policies that promote success for both the organization and the professional. This should be a fun year!
All the best,