Event-PMILast month, I attended the Project Management Institute’s Global Congress 2014 – North America. It was my first time attending a PMI® conference, but when I arrived, I was thrilled to see so many familiar industry faces and to realize that I was not the only rookie present!

With this month’s introduction of the new PMI® Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) certification, a number of Business Analysis industry leaders were there with me in Phoenix, AZ. Many were there to support PMI®’s new Business Analysis and Requirements (BAR) area of focus and professional development track, while a few focused on hosting or attending the Agile Open Jam (in cooperation with the Agile Alliance). But some just wanted to hear what PMI® leaders and Congress attendees had to say about PMI’s recognition that skilled Business Analysis is critical to the success of their members.

  • In marketing messages out before the conference, PMI said that the reason it added a Business Analysis and Requirements (BAR) track to the Global Congress this year was because “PMI’s Pulse of the Profession® In-Depth Report on Requirements Management* indicates that four out of five organizations needs to do more to develop skills in this critical competency. Furthermore, it shows the strong connection between these skills and project success.”PMI
  • I got to attend the Panel Discussion, moderated by Ellen Gottesdiener, where the authors of the Business Analysis Practice Guide and the related Business Analysis Practice Standard talked about what they considered as they wrote the guides. Coming out by the end of 2014, the practice guides were explained to be practical ‘how-to’s’ for anyone doing analysis in any role – which is a different perspective than the IIBA’s BABOK®. (But if you need practical ‘how-to’s’ to support your BA practices, I would be remiss if I did not strongly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of Business Analysis for Dummies® as soon as possible!)
  • The Agile Open Jam made an appearance at the Global Congress, as it did the last two years at the IIBA’s Building Business Capability conference, and enjoyed a packed agenda with an overflow of attendees. Designed to get away from ‘canned presentations’ often seen at big conferences, the Open Jam employs (as you’d expect) an open format. Anyone interested in talking about a particular topic can go, pick a time slot, post the name of their area of interest, and then – at the appointed time – show up to participate in a lively, content-rich discussion with both expert moderators and other interested parties. New insights get generated, and LOTS of loaded post-it notes and flip charts paper the walls by the Jam sessions. It was Jam-packed every time I walked by that space, and the related tweets – notable by their hashtag #BAatPMI — along with their opinions, were flying…. See?PMI2
  • The most interesting part of the Global Congress for me was in talking to the attendees and different leaders of the conference. I was honored to be able to facilitate a PMI® X-change breakfast discussion on Program Complexity two mornings of the conference, where I got the chance to talk with attendees who had concerns or challenges around managing large programs and the multitude of requirements that typically go with them. In both sessions the teams concluded that the most important factor for success is in the communications, specifically around setting and managing the expectations of stakeholders – and requirements were recommended as either the chief topic or the bulk of the content delivered via that communication.

The other fun thing that made the rounds was a campaign by many-the-BA professional asking the Project Managers to stop using the term “Gathering Requirements” as quickly as possible within their project plans or discussions — Eliciting Requirements should be the clear campaign winner going forward!

As fun and exciting as the PMI® Global Congress was with its new focus on the Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBASM), there was one notable disappointment we suffered (myself and our marketing director, Kaley) while speaking with the PMI members stopping by the B2T Training booth. When asked what they thought about the new certification, the majority said “Hmm, I really don’t know much about it” (yet?).

PMI® leaders admitted at the conference that the PMI-PBA launch hadn’t really happened ‘big’ yet by the Congress start date, but they did say that they are planning a big splash in the new year once it’s ready. Since PMI® only just finished the pilot run of the exam for certification, I can understand: it takes some time to settle and normalize a certification exam, so they weren’t ready to shout from the rooftops yet. To their credit, the BAR track was chock-full of great topics, and PMI® worked to build awareness with the huge contingent of BA industry leaders attending and presenting. Knowledge about the certification should increase dramatically over the next year, if all goes well.

By the 2015 conference, #BAatPMI should be in full swing. PMs will no longer tell us “yes, we need strong BAs. Ok, take care!” They will instead tell us “yes, I’m getting to be a stronger BA! I’m taking care of it.”

Go ahead, PMPs, step up — accept our BA Challenge! We can’t wait for you to join us.

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