In this episode, I’ll share my predictions for 2017 and what they mean to you.

Based on what’s been happening in the industry, I’ve peered into my crystal ball and have four predictions that will impact Business Analysts, Project Managers, and other project professionals.

There are four industry trends that will shape your role in 2017.  Those trends are:

  1. Technology shifts
  2. The focus on products over projects
  3. The continued use of Agile & lean
  4. The evolving role of the Business Analyst


Prediction #1: Technology Changes Will Shape Your Role

There will be a greater push toward machine learning, the cloud, and DevOps.  You’ll need to understand at least at a high level what these tools and associated practices are in order to be able to advise your organization on potential solutions.

The other technology trend for 2017 is the Internet of Things (IoT).  What this really means is that devices will have more sensors which provide more data.  That leads us to greater usage of big data tools and practices.

Project professional who understand big data concepts and can mine data for business insights will be in high demand.


Prediction #2: There Will Be a Shift from Projects to Products

The shift in focus toward products is really a focus on value.  Businesses need better results from investments and they’ll need project professionals who can lead them to better business outcomes.

This is more than just selecting the right projects.  It’s focusing on features and capabilities that will be valuable to customers in a continuous flow and adapting along the way.

This means less project requirements in favor of features and capabilities with requirements evolving over time.  The approach of big design upfront (creating all requirements in the beginning) will be used less and we’ll deliver in smaller phases or increments, adapting along the way based on customer feedback.

With the focus on products, the skill (and role) of Product Management will be in greater demand.


Prediction #3: There Will Be a Continued Push Toward Agile and Lean Practices

Organizations that have not yet adopted Agile and lean practices will begin experimenting with those practices.  That’s because there is more pressure in the market to “be agile” and provide what customers perceive as faster and better delivery.

Many organizations will continue to struggle with Agile implementations and will adopt a hybrid approach in 2017.  Some that say they are fully Agile will be agile in name only, adopting some of the practices without the needed shift in mindset.

With this shift, project professionals will need to adopt light-weight practices and create less documentation.  The focus will be on outcomes over outputs.

As a result, highly collaborative approaches such as visual modeling and user stories will be used to reduce documentation.

Many organizations will also struggle to understand where the BA fits in an Agile environment.  Through that challenge, I think we’ll see the real value of the Business Analyst; value managers.

Organizations will also struggle with colocation versus a geographically diverse workforce.  As a result, companies will adopt more tools for virtual collaboration.  People who understand how to make the best use of those tools will be better off.


Prediction #4: The BA Role Will Evolve

Because of the trends mentioned earlier, technology shifts, focusing on products, and the emphasis on Agile, the Business Analyst role will evolve in 2017.

While business analysis will be wildly popular in 2017, we’ll see less roles with the title of “Business Analyst”.  There will be more combined Project Manager/Business Analyst roles in 2017 as organizations struggle to figure out where both roles fit in Agile.

More BAs will move into Product Owner or Project Manager roles and new specialized roles will emerge.  To be successful, Business Analysts will need to focus on value and look at initiatives through three lenses of business value, technical feasibility, and user experience.

The shift in focus also means that there will be an increase in the use of Design Thinking and Lean Startup approaches.

With much of the evolution in the BA role, practitioners who want to be successful will need to focus their training and development of soft skills.  Facilitation, communication, collaboration, and the ability to influence will be critical.

The biggest soft skill area that I see in 2017 is emotional intelligence (EI or EQ).  This is the ability to understand your own emotions and those of others to adapt your behaviors.  A higher EQ leads to better relationships and a greater ability to influence and collaborate.


Listen to the full episode to hear the full details of these four predictions including what will happen to the BA role with the emergence of new certifications.



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