How to overcome the biggest and most impacting challenges faced by Business Analysts

by Zaydali Kesvani - Senior Consultant, Data Insights and Analytics
| minute read

Business Analysts often face a number of challenges when delivering their services to organisations. This article aims to highlight some of these, focusing on the biggest challenge - demonstrating their value. The article will identify and explain a proven model adopted by several large organisations, including Allianz Insurance, to alleviate this challenge.

The as a Service (aaS) model is a way of defining business service offerings that represent value through collaboration and co-creation. By coupling services and capabilities together into offerings, the aaS model enables leaders within an organisation to understand value propositions with defined outcomes. These offerings can be provided to many different business functions using a clearly defined, repeatable and adaptable model underpinned by effective communication with stakeholders. It's a way to ensure the value proposition and the need for collaboration are understood, supporting the achievement of consistent quality.

Despite grouping and defining repeatable service offerings, the aaS model appreciates that each organisation or project has its own characteristics. The model provides the flexibility to blend/ merge or remove offerings as you need, based on business needs and requirements.

The aaS model is an effective, proven model used with the aim to alleviate some of the most challenging and impacting problems organisations face.

The biggest challenge impacting BAs

It can be difficult for BAs to demonstrate their contribution to valuable outcomes and to gain recognition due to the intangible nature of the work they do. This is ultimately underpinned by the lack of direct revenue generated by business analysis. The challenge of communicating analysis to non-technical stakeholders who want tangible results, coupled with the lack of clear metrics highlighting where value has been realised, further heightens this challenge. BAs have the ability to shape and support organisational improvements but when management fail to recognise their contribution, they can be seen as a disposable resource.

How the aaS model addresses this challenge

The development and use of a BA Service Framework encourages education and advocacy of the Business Analysis role and the services offered, promoting the BA contribution within organisations.

The aaS model which encourages the ‘grouping’ of capabilities and services provided is a great way to demonstrate contribution and the potential value that business analysis offers. By having clearly defined, business focused ‘service groups’, an organisation can quickly and easily see the benefit they will receive when enlisting these services.

The BA Service Framework, which may be adapted by an organisation for their BAaaS model is shown below. It must be noted, each of the services, with their related value proposition and activities, should be specifically tailored to each specific organisation or project.

Image with six sections: Situation investigation and problem analysis, feasibility assessment and business care development, business process improvement, requirements definition, business acceptance testing and business change development

Slide showing six areas of the BA Service Framework.

Situation investigation and problem analysis. Investigate root causes of problems; identify where need for change exists and shape the project to address need.

Feasibility assessment and business case development. Evaluate options to meet business need for change; support the development of the business case for change.

Business process improvement. Analyse and define current and proposed business processes; apply gap analysis to identify required change actions.

Requirements definition. Elicit, analyse and define requirements for business and IT change initatives.

Business acceptance testing. Support business staff in testing new business and IT changes to ensure acceptability.

Business change deployment. Support the deployment of business and IT changes to ensure a smooth transition.

©Debra Paul, 2018

A core aspect of the aaS model is constant collaboration and communication with the business. There is a greater likelihood of, and pace to, success (ultimately the achievement of value), when activities are conducted collaboratively, and value is co-created. Therefore, for success to be recognised, collaboration is key in the following situations:

  1. When identifying where the value might be achieved.
  2. When developing the appropriate solution.
  3. Ensuring value is realised

Additional activities BAs can implement to demonstrate the potential value of their work include:

  • clearly aligning and communicating their technical insights to business needs and goals.
  • documenting success stories and sharing these during retrospectives.
  • proactively educating and advocating the role of the BA.
  • increasing collaboration and networking/outreach opportunities.
  • sharing work completed, and successes, in an open forum such as town halls.

As part of BAaaS, education and advocating are built in as part of the processes followed through the use of show and tells or highlight reports. The more the organisation sees the good work done, the more they will see the relevance and importance of BA activities.

Other typical challenges and the impact they can have on organisations

  • Misaligned ways of working across different teams and departments can impact projects negatively including inaccurate insights, delays, unclear or incomplete requirements, and missed improvement opportunities.
  • Poor collaboration can lead to essential information being missed, leading to incomplete or inaccurate requirements, resulting in delivery that’s not fit for purpose. It can also cause biases if decisions are made based on limited viewpoints.
  • Having a solution/ technology first mentality before conducting proper analysis can result in incomplete requirements, misaligning goals and objectives, wasted resources and unidentified constraints. It’s important for stakeholders to understand the required solution to the business problem and not shoehorn the problem into a solution that may not be the best placed.
  • Lack of skilled talent in particular areas if the team has focused on depth of skills as opposed to breadth of skills. This can lead to a lack of quality analysis resulting in a struggle to streamline operations to achieve maximum efficiency.

Overcoming these challenges

Streamlined frameworks and clear communication[h4] Effective business analysis relies on analytical thinking using relevant techniques and processes, clear communication, effective stakeholder engagement, and the ability to accurately gather and analyse data and information. This can’t be achieved without a defined service approach that sets clear expectations.

Challenges faced as a result of ineffective ways of working and poor communication can be overcome by ensuring there are relevant frameworks and processes in place, and importantly, that these are applied with any necessary adaptions. These can be enforced by building a strong BA community with defined services and good practices in place before deploying business analysis services within the organisation.

Communication and collaboration via semi/regular meetings/calls with the respective parties are essential allowing ideas to be shared, successes to be celebrated, issues to be raised and ultimately communication barriers to be removed.

Prioritise problem and opportunity analysis

It is important to prioritise thorough problem analysis, using business analysis techniques, before searching for a solution. Business analysts ensure that root cause analysis is conducted so that informed decisions are made to provide the most appropriate solution.

However, not all BA work concerns investigation and identifying options to resolve a predefined problem. Instead, it could be an opportunity to develop new products or services to capitalise on a gap in the market. Therefore, it is also very important that opportunities are prioritised to ensure options are analysed and the correct course of action is taken.

Part of the challenge faced by business analysts is knowing when to identify the problem is sufficiently understood and begin considering solutions. If this is done too early, there is a risk that the problem to be solved remains unclear and the solution may focus purely on the symptoms. If this is done too late, time may be wasted analysing the problem.

Invest in training and upskilling

A lack of business analysis skills is often a challenge. Organisations need to invest in high quality training to upskill existing staff. Creating clear job descriptions where the required skills and qualifications are defined is also beneficial for retaining staff and future recruitment. This can be supplemented by leveraging the skills of experienced external consultants who can help to shape working practices and provide mentoring while the former points are implemented. This combination of actions will help to develop a strong team of proficient, experienced business analysts that will support the future successes within the organisation.

Supporting your business challenges

One of the key benefits of the aaS model is that it supports organisations to improve their in-house business analysis service delivery. It sets a firm foundation for the organisation and allows the adoption of service defined and outcome-focused processes and frameworks that aim to realise value and organisational success.

Sopra Steria and our partners (AssistKD, Herd Consulting and Solirius), combined, have years of experience in supporting organisations to combat the challenges highlighted as well as implementing BAaaS to organisations.

Reach out to to see what we have done for other organisations and how we can help you if you have experienced any challenges deploying business analysts to your projects.

Click here for more suggestions on how to make your work more visible as a BA, written by our partner, Herd Consulting.

Special thanks to our partners in supporting the development of this article and allowing us to use some of their expert material to illustrate the points highlighted.



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