The harsh reality: your stakeholders do not want business analysis

Original author: Adrian Reed
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Slowly develop a range of covered areas of study. Here we are launching a new type for us - “Business Process Analyst” , the fourth in the pool of “Marketing and Business” courses. Therefore, we begin the usual cycle of interesting articles and notes on this topic.


I am sure that the readers of the site will agree with this thought - a qualitative analysis of a business can significantly increase its value throughout the entire project life cycle. But let me ask you a question. Have you ever met with stakeholders who do not “understand” business analysis? They just want to introduce a tactical, careless decision, without even understanding the root cause, operational needs and capabilities.

Have you ever heard similar from stakeholders:

  • “We don’t have time for a preliminary analysis of the company ... let's just start!”
  • “Why do I need requirements? It's very simple, I need the xyz system. This is my requirement. Now go and do it, and so that it’s ready by Tuesday, please. ”
  • “Why should we understand the system“ as it is ”- we are only concerned about changes!”
  • “Why do you keep asking about business goals? It shouldn't bother you. ”

If you have never heard anything like it, I envy it terribly! Based on the experience of working with organizations and practitioners of business analysis in the UK, such a misunderstanding, and in some cases resistance against the role of a business analyst , does occur. Sometimes it seems that they do not need a business analysis at all.

You can simply blame the whole community of the stakeholders for not understanding the role of business analysis. “These are stupid stakeholders ... why they just don’t see the benefits that structured change and analysis will give them?” Nevertheless, I believe that the time has come for us, as a community, to change the dialogue.

Task: Test at the Cocktail Party

One of the challenges that we face in explaining the importance of business analysis can be illustrated with a “test at a cocktail party”. Suppose you were introduced to new friends at a party — someone you haven't met before. They do not work in the field of business change, in fact they never worked in a project. Perhaps they are a chef or pastry chef. Suppose you told them that you were working as a business analyst - and in response you received a complete lack of understanding. Which was followed by the question: “What does this mean?”

How would you explain your role to them? Think about it before reading further.

Some call it the “elevator pitch”and many business analysts (including myself) believe that it is incredibly difficult to describe the role and value of business analysis briefly and meaningfully. Our area of ​​responsibility is very wide - we are working on a project from concept to release - and it is very difficult to reduce the essence to a short, but “juicy” proposal. Especially explaining it to someone who is not related to the scope of business change.

As if the brick wall between us ...

And if you ask 50 different business analysts to explain their role, you will receive 50 different descriptions, each of which will be true. Undoubtedly, there will be contradictions; The definition of “ system analysis ” or “design” varies from company to company.So, even if the analyst community itself cannot choose a brief and succinct definition of the role, it is not surprising that the stakeholders are confused!

You ask: “Why is this important?” The story is riddled with cases of expensive failed projects ... and we know that high-quality business analysis (combined with the work of our colleagues in the field - project managers, architects, etc.) can help to avoid this. But sometimes it seems that there is a brick wall between us and the stakeholders. We know that we could help them ... they turn to us before. If they had attracted us before key decisions were made. But they still do not see all the problems that we can solve for them.

The million dollar question is:

And here is my final question: Does anyone really want a business analyst? Or a project manager, or an architect? Controversial, but my answer is no. Using a boring cliché: people buy a drill, not because they need a drill. They buy a drill because they want a hole in the wall. Likewise, people attract business analysts and other professionals because they want effective change, valuable to business and the customer. Sounds obvious right?

However, even this makes it possible to disassemble a brick wall of misunderstanding. When we are faced with skepticism, it needs to be disassembled, brick by brick, explaining and showing what our value lies in the context of the change needed by the business. Then, we must faithfully make this change.

We can't bulldoze the wall, butreliable and stable performance of the work , in conjunction with the management and marketing of the stakeholders, will help to begin to disassemble it, bricks at a time ... which leads to a better early involvement and a better project and result.


As always, we are waiting for questions and comments that you can leave here or go to the course instructor Radia Vesnin for his open lesson .

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