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New Post 10/26/2007 3:31 AM
User is offline Dan
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Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 

The question  of a BA pool Vs. hiring on a demand basis is an interesting one, which the comapny I work for is questioning at the moment.

An essential element of this is how much visibility the BA Team Manager has of the forthcoming project pipeline [and the likely resource "hit]. If the visibility is good, it helps that manager manage/plan/juggle resources more effectively and helps to ensure that suitable resource is available at the right tiime.

The problem we face here, like many organisations, is that the visibility isn't great. As a consequence of this we can either have permenant staff with little work / free capacity, or have to rely upon bringing in contract BAs. Whilst the contract guys are usually good and are felxible about start dates, they obviously incur an additional cost.

The challenge we are addressing now is whether a central pool should sit in IS/IT, we should move the BA pool into a new Project/Change Delivery function or simply embed them into business units.

New Post 10/26/2007 9:00 AM
User is offline Chris Adams
323 posts
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Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 
Hi Dan,

I understand your dilemma of not having clear visiblility into the pipeline of projects. How big is your organization? If it's a thousand strong or larger then I think it would be large enough to sustain ongoing IT related projects.

With that said, maybe it's senior management that needs to be more aligned with the staff. Is Senior management adequately developing strategic plans for the future growth of the company, and are they conveying these plans to the middel management? This is where a pipeline of projects typically start.

If you know you are going to have some projects on an ongoing basis but are unsure as to how many and how large, I think you would be best suited by a small team of fulltime Business Systems Analysts that you could supplement from time to time with contractors during periods where capacity is too low. I think it works best if the analysts are part of the IT organization rather than the business units. Though i've seen it done both ways. Having the analysts in the IT organization keeps them working smoothly as a team. They tend to imbue the standards and processes used on the IT projects more so than analysts that are part of the business units.

Just my two cents ;-)


Chris Adams
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New Post 10/26/2007 9:03 AM
User is offline Adrian M.
764 posts
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Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 

Hi Dan,

On the BA pool vs. hiring on demand topic - maybe the better thing to do is to have a hybrid approach. Have an in-house pool of BAs large enough to handle 80% of the top priorities but not too big to have idle resources. The remaining capacity can be augmented with contract BAs as needed.

The reality is that in most organizations there is more work than resources available. Most of the instances of idle resources that I have seen have not been due to lack of business needs but due to lack of preparation. One thing that works in my organization is to have queue of projects/tasks which have already been reviewed, approved, and prioritized by the stakeholders. This way the BA team can pick from the next task on the list. Of course, the decision makers need to meet on a regular basis (maybe monthly) and review and revise the list in response to changing priorities and business landscape.

If an organization decides to go with a "central pool" it should be "central". I don't think it matters as much who the head of this pool reports to. What is important is that all Business Analysts are part of the same group. This ensures consistency in practices, training, communication, etc.

Embedding the BAs into the business units decentralizes the pool and causes certain analysts to be overloaded and others to not have enough work since the work load of each business unit varies. In addition, it is usually a conflict of interest for the business analyst to be embedded in the business units and report to the business units because it strips the analyst from the ability to provide constructive feedback to the stakeholders when the stakeholder is my boss.

Hope this helps!

- Adrian

Adrian Marchis
Business Analyst Community Blog - Post your thoughts!
New Post 10/29/2007 4:34 AM
User is offline Craig Brown
560 posts
4th Level Poster

Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 

I like the idea of embedding the BAs into a busines side team like the one Dan describes- that is a change management or programme management office.  It should ideally be a business nit that services the whole organisation so it doesn't get caught up in local politics and can service the business strategy.  But I digress.

One of the great advantages of having the BAs on the business side is that they don't get caught up in working to the IT depts agenda and that they are free to really take on a "service the business" culture.

My $0.0193 worth from AUstralia.

New Post 11/13/2007 11:52 PM
User is offline bofehr
10 posts
10th Level Poster

Re: What is the optimal operating model for a team of BAs 


first, as this is my first post here, I would like to say hello to all of you. My name is Björn and I am working for an international insurance company as a Senior Systems Analyst in the IS department.

Following your explanations, I thought I am going to share my experience a little bit. In my current job we have a setup of teams for Project Managers, Systems Analysts and Developers. Each team is headed by a Manager, who's responsibility is the HR aspect of the team. So he or she is looking after development of their team members, ensuring that all the questions you tend to forget are not overlooked. This works quiet well I have to say.

Another thing that I like to point out is, that there is difference within our organisation between Systems Analysts and Business Analysts. SANs are with the IS department, BAs are with the business. With this setup you ensure that you have expertise on both sides which helps in communication. It is much easier to have a talk with a BA who more or less uses the same language as yourself. This especially helps in environments where you have the problem of working in different countries with different languages. At least you have a defined "internal language" that both sides can use.

I made the experience, that depending on the projects you are running, you will have a mixture of employed SANs / BAs and contractors. If you keep the mix right, you can benefit from the long term experience of your empolyees and the knowledge that contractors bring in from other projects outside your business area. So I think each company that have continuing need of a BA / SAN should consider hiring at least one or two permanent staff and then get contractors to balance peek times.



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