Value Focused Decision Making
Copyright AKAVEIL Technologies LLC all rights reserved
Written by D. Gowen
The Complexity of Decisions
Have you ever made a decision which you later regretted? Everyone can identify with that feeling. However, let’s not lament over the “could have”, “would have”, “should have” scenarios. Instead, the best way forward is to understand what is required to make better decisions from this point onward.
Poor decisions usually stem from inaccurate or incomplete information. Every business or enterprise invests funds to sustain itself for its purpose and those it serves. All decisions are financial in nature. Therefore, the need for decisions with Return on Investment (ROI) and Value on Investment (VOI) are essential.
If you think about the decision to buy or build a house for your family, the complex nature of either is overwhelming. Much understanding and analysis ensues to determine the pulse of the market, location, type, size, layout, exterior and interior aspects that will best serve your family. Many experts, skillsets and practices will be consulted and utilized even before a decision to buy or build and then ongoing until your family first crosses the threshold. Yet, even if the best house possible is initially purchased, the needs of the family will undoubtedly change over time and adjustments will be in order. Sometimes a decision, to move to another house or location altogether. Perhaps to renovate, repair, build an addition or reallocate the space and usage of the house or property will be necessary.
Realistic business cases for digital transformations and sustainability of business operations are equally complex in nature. Identifying the right projects for the right reason at the right time that best fit the business model and budget are tough decisions. IT spend is one of the largest business investments and yet, decisions are often misaligned or made too late to achieve intended ROI and VOI.
What is Business Analysis?
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) defines business analysis as, “the practice of enabling change in the context of an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders”. Although this is a simple and easy to understand statement, the guidance for the field of business analysis is laid out in a very thick book, A Guide to the Business Analysts Body of Knowledge (BABOK Guide) which is now on its 3rd version. The IIBA was formed in 2003 as a non-profit professional association to support the business analysis community by offering knowledge, standards, and certifications.
The BABOK guidance can be applied to any industry such as construction, manufacturing, retail, healthcare (or others) and is heavily practiced in the IT industry. The work of a business analyst includes working across stakeholders to understand strategies, true needs, specific requirements, identify the best solutions, track evolving and changing requirements and validate solutions. Although business analysis may not be as predominately known as project management, in fact the two are aligned and equally necessary. When the practice of business analysis is not formally recognized, other roles in the organization such as sales, technical architects, project managers and the like may be performing this work instead.
Information Driven Decisions
The role of a business analyst intertwines with all stakeholder levels and groups from business, to IT internal teams, to external suppliers. Studies have shown that 50% of the work involved in projects is Business Analysis (BA) related. Further, studies have proven the importance of BA engagement at the strategic levels in an organization. Often BA is brought into a project during the design stage, which is too late. The importance and purpose from which the business investment decision stemmed may be lost along the duration of the project. Scope creep, lost requirements, and/or an agreed solution that may not affect the level of value anticipated could possibly occur. The business analyst sits between the business and IT across all aspects of ensuring the desired value is advocated and achieved. There should be tight communication between the business analyst role and the product or project sponsor for example.
Even the Project Management Institute (PMI) has recognized the need for business analysis in its 2014 publication, Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide and offers a certification in the discipline as well. The PMI outlines five main domains: Needs Assessment, Business Analysis Planning, Requirements Elicitation and Analysis, Traceability and Monitoring, and Solution Evaluation.
The IIBA’s BABOK includes six knowledge areas, competencies, techniques and five perspectives. There is synergy and alignment regardless of which organization’s guidance is followed. The six knowledge areas included in the BABOK are: Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring, Elicitation and Collaboration, Requirements Lifecycle Management, Strategy Analysis, Requirements Analysis and Design Definition, and Solution Evaluation.
Through the inclusion of many experts, skillsets and practices the data collected and presented for business decisions will be more accurate and comprehensive. Business cases based on sound information enable improved results and increases in successful value-add projects.
The Bottom Line
Today, IT requires the combined set of best practices, methods, and frameworks to keep pace with the evolving business goals and objectives. Complete, accurate and timely information for data driven decisions is essential. Since 2003 the recognition and criticality of the field of BA has grown immensely. Those who are proficient in this field align their competencies to the BABOK guidance for improved success.
As the conduit between the business and IT, BA professionals will bring the right information forward to effectively manage value aligned business results. Products and services delivered by IT departments, and the teams within them, may be outsourced in part or in whole depending on an organization’s IT strategic model. Today’s CIOs and other top–level decision makers need to determine the appropriate mix of stakeholders, practices, and technology solutions to best serve their customers.
AKAVEIL Technologies leverages relevant practices with proven business management expertise and process knowledge in addition to its vast technical competencies. ITIL, DevOps, BABOK, PMBOK, Agile, Scrum, Lean, and continual improvement are how we operate and benefit clients when we engage. Remain competitive and grow your business with AKAVEIL.
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