Enterprise Analysis (BABOK KA)

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“…The Analyst will [...] facilitate the identification, design and implementation of business and systems solutions in a rapidly growing and evolving business…”   What strategic initiatives might a business analyst as described above discover, and how will they deliver the “business and systems solutions” in today’s 21st Century competitive environment?
 

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Ron Ross and Gladys Lam have written an important book for the business analyst community. It aims to get business analysts out of the technology ghetto that many of us get stuck in. Regardless of the type of analyst you are, I think it would be worth your time to get your hands on and read this book. I’ll explain why below.

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So many IT projects ultimately end in failure and are simply written off. Same old story, time and time again. Why is it so hard? Why can’t we figure out beforehand whether some solution will actually work once we roll it out? Most project management approaches and many IT methodologies include steps for building business cases and provide guidelines for project planning and estimating. What’s missing?

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Welcome to the new series of articles on the BA as the 21st Century Creative Leader. It was a perfect storm. As we entered the second decade of the 21st century, we found ourselves struggling to adapt. ... It is no coincidence that the business analysis profession is taking hold to address many of the 21st century business challenges.
 

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To remain competitive, it is more important than ever for an organization’s leadership team to use business analysis (BA) practices to execute strategies through innovative solutions. Over the years, business analysis has been rapidly developing as a profession and as a core business practice in many organizations; however, all too often business analysis is still in its foundational stages.

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Most business analysts will never interview a CEO and many don’t understand how a company’s real objectives cascade down to the little bit of requirements they’re doing for a particular system.

How does my system fit into the company’s business strategy? What is my role in the big picture?

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An enterprise exists for a purpose, stated in its high-level goals and business model. It also has everyday operations which may or may not serve this purpose. We need a link between the two and this is what Enterprise Architecture is about – the establishment of a link between an organization’s ultimate goals and its day-to-day operations.

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"Enterprise Engineering" is a term coined in to reflect the third and final part of the concept of Information Resource Management (IRM) representing a triad of methodologies to design, develop, and control all of the resources needed to support the information requirements of an enterprise, be it a commercial or nonprofit endeavor.

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Many organisations hire external consultants with no experience of their business to shape strategies and propositions. In doing this, they are unconsciously ignoring internal resource with exactly the same skills but additional knowledge and experience of the business – namely their Business Analysts. BAs have a unique skillset, offering holistic insight, analysis and recommendations.

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I believe the Problem Pyramid™ provides the appropriate structure for guiding effective business analysis, both for initiating and carrying out projects, whether for what BABOK® v2 calls projects or for topics that truly fit within Enterprise Analysis.

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For many business analysts (BAs), the IIBA Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®) Knowledge Area that is the least familiar is Enterprise Analysis (EA). In some ways, this may be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the BABOK® Version 2 (v2) EA area describes important topics and techniques that BAs should be conversant with: defining business needs, solutions, business cases, and project initiation. On the other hand, I have issues with the ways BABOK® v2 treats these topics, especially how it portrays business needs and considers defining them as only part of EA.

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“I may not know much about art, but I know what I like”. This famous punch line to a Monty Python sketch about a fictional conversation between a disgruntled Pope and innovative Michelangelo (who wanted extra disciples, multiple messiahs and a kangaroo in his first draft of the Last Supper), can also be seen to satirize our own modern fixation with creativity, feedback and the idea that ‘the customer is always right’.

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The benefits of Agile methods are becoming more obvious and compelling. While the most popular practices were developed and proven in small team environments, the interest and need for using Agile in the enterprise is growing rapidly. That's largely because Agile provides quantifiable, "step-change" improvements in the "big three" software development measures - quality, productivity and morale. Confirming Agile's benefits, hundreds of large enterprises, many with more than 1,000 software developers, are adopting the methodology.

Regarding software architecture, it's interesting to note that it is the "lighter-weight" Agile methods, specifically Scrum and XP, that are seeing the broadest adoption in the enterprise.

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Enterprise Analysis is a knowledge area which describes the Business analysis activities that take place for an enterprise to identify business opportunities, build a Business Architecture, determine the optimum project investment path for that enterprise and finally, implement new business and technical solutions. The question you may ask: Does this really differs from Enterprise Architecture, and if so, how?

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Although you can do ‘standard’ requirements gathering for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) projects, there is now an evolving a set of analysis techniques, methods and approaches that purport to be better suited to information gathering and design specification. I will call these generically Service Oriented Analysis.

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