In this episode, Lora McCoy shares her views on where business analysts should reside in an organization to enable better collaboration, growth, and prevent solution bias.
After listening to this episode, you'll understand:
- Why the right organizational placement is important to project success
- The pros and cons of BAs reporting to IT, the business, or independent from both
- How a Business Systems Analyst differs from a Business Analyst
- Why organizational placement leads to biases
What’s the right organizational structure that allows business analysts and other project roles have the greatest impact?
Some organizations have people assigned to Information Technology (IT), some have a pool of Business Analysts from which to pull for projects, and some have people assigned to specific business areas. Each of these structures have benefits and drawbacks.
Business analysis is intended to be a strategic function. As such, what’s the optimal organizational placement for Business Analysts?
Alignment with Technology
The most common structure is to align Business Analysts to the IT group.
The advantage with this approach is that Business Analysts understand the technical capabilities and feasibility of solutions. They can offer technical solution options and easily relay information to software engineers about the solution requirements.
Despite these advantages, there are a number of disadvantages that make alignment with the IT group less than ideal.
When you’re aligned with IT, every problem gets solved through technology. This is the case even when the best solution isn’t technology based. Perhaps the real problem can be solved by a simple process change or better communication. This type of bias leads to sub-optimal solutions.
When working with business teams, BAs aligned with IT are seen as outsiders. As a result, some business subject matter experts (SMEs) may become defensive and reluctant to share all relevant information with you.
Alignment with the Business
For Business Analysts imbedded in the functional areas of the business, they can develop a deep understanding of business processes and functions.
With a network of SMEs with whom you’ve developed a relationship, it’s easier to influence change.
There are several disadvantages with aligning the BA role with the business.
Because you’re so imbedded with the business functions on a daily basis, it’s difficult to think holistically. As a result, upstream and downstream impacts of changes may be missed. Additionally, you may be unable to see innovative or disruptive solutions because you’re too close to the problem.
Additionally, BAs aligned to the business are often less familiar with technology. When you work with the technology group to recommend solutions, they may be reluctant to consider your solution recommendations because you’re seen as an outsider.
Bridge the Gap from the Gap
Instead of alignment with IT or the Business, being part an objective, strategic group outside of both of those areas brings together the best of both worlds.
With alignment outside both IT and the business, you can learn just enough of both areas to avoid bias and see the problem holistically. You can be seen as a partner and an internal consultant.
This allows you to be objective and challenge both areas while offering an objective viewpoint. This gives you the potential to be seen as an expert and better influence change.
The challenge with this type of strategic alignment is that is can be difficult to manage. It takes an organization at a certain level of maturity and openness to learning.
Listen to the full episode to understand the benefits of this organizational structure, how it impacts your personal development, and the different types of BA roles,
The first action is to understand your organization’s culture and current level of maturity of business analysis practices. How does the organization see change? Is it ready for shifting its structure for the BA placement approach outside of both IT and the business?
You’re working toward a Center of Excellence, so you need to understand your organization’s current state. From there, influence leaders on making the culture shift to create the right placement for your Business Analysts.
Founder, LMc3 Consulting
Lora McCoy is the Founder and Principal Consultant of LMc3 Consulting, an organization focused on assisting organizations and individuals in understanding the “right” change at the “right” time while ensuring the change is enabled for the “right” reasons.
Lora is also the president of the IIBA Oklahoma City Chapter of the IIBA and a frequent speaker at industry conferences.
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