How to use process models to avoid headaches as a business analyst

As business analysts, we often take it upon ourselves to own the problem, and the solution. This can lead to all sorts of headaches.

Because, you see…Big Headaches

  • We are not the ones doing the work.
  • We are typically not the ones building the solution.
  • And we are definitely not the ones who have to live with the solution for years to come.

This all falls to our stakeholders, whether they be on the business side or the technical side. Often ownership resides on both sides.

Let’s take a quick look at a real-world story.

One of our Business Process Analysis course participants was in a tough situation like this. An executive hired her to solve a specific business problem for him. Upon further investigation, she realized that none of the middle managers that reported to this executive believed the problem was really a problem.

The BA was stuck. The managers needed to help her solve the problem, but they didn’t even believe there was a problem in the first place.

The issue was about turn-around time on a certain set of activities. The executive assumed it was a business process issue that was preventing the teams of these three managers from delivering fast enough results. The managers thought their process was as good as it could be and the turn-around time was acceptable.

During our live Q&A session, I recommended the following approach:

  1. Establish some current metrics to determine with clarity what the current turn-around time is. Since, so far, the discussion had been relative (i.e. “we need a faster turn-around time” and “our turn-around time is fast enough”), numbers would make the current picture more concrete.
  2. Review the current metrics with the executive and determine the desired metrics. Include the middle managers in this review so that they hear the message straight from the executive and not by way of the business analyst.
  3. Partner with the managers to evaluate their business processes to find ways to meet the current metrics. Provide analysis and use discovery techniques to help brainstorm ideas, but enable the managers to make the final decisions about how to improve the process.

It’s often said that business analysts are leaders without authority. I believe this to be true. Delicately escaping ownership of the problem by facilitating the process of buy-in and agreement among business stakeholders is one way the BA leads without authority, and stays out of loads of trouble.

>>Learn More

If you are looking to learn more about how to help the business own the problem, I’d suggest checking out our Business Process Analysis course. We’ll walk through a step-by-step process for mapping and documenting a business process. You can also receive individual instructor feedback on your model and, with successful completion, 8 professional credits for your IIBA® or PMI® certification needs.

Click the link below to learn more about Business Process Analysis:

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