As I am sure you know, the IIBA released BABOK v3 in April 2015. Though there were many changes (some minor and, some more profound), the change that I found and believe to have one of the greatest impacts on the BA community is
the disappearance of Enterprise Analysis!!!
Wait. What? Does this mean we no longer need to worry about Enterprise Analysis?
Quite the opposite…
The BABOK Committee has replaced Enterprise Analysis with a new and expanded Knowledge Area called Strategy Analysis.
Some of you are reading this and saying, “I don’t care that it is gone…I didn’t do it anyway.”
Or, maybe you feel there is no time given to perform it well in the first place so why expand it?
Maybe those things are true, but I think you’ll find out that even if you don’t do the work (in the Knowledge Area now referred to as Strategy Analysis), you need to be aware of what it involves.
And if you are not formally given the proper time, you’ll get tips of how to ease this work into your day-to-day activities. In the end, you are likely performing this work without anyone realizing it! Through this work, others can’t help but realize the value you bring to the team.
Strategy Analysis is becoming more and more critical to project success as enterprise solutions become more and more interrelated, integrated, and complex.
Don’t let this new, important Knowledge Area stress you out…keep reading this article and I’ll:
- Provide a quick review of Enterprise Analysis and Strategy Analysis concepts
- Discuss how Strategy Analysis can help projects succeed
- Identify some of the key questions that need to be answered during Strategy Analysis with our Strategy Analysis Checklist
Key Similarities Between Enterprise Analysis and Strategy Analysis
Now, let’s look at some similarities between Enterprise Analysis and Strategy Analysis and highlight some key extensions to Strategy Analysis as discussed in the BABOK v3. Enterprise Analysis and Strategy Analysis share many common goals and objectives.
For instance, both Knowledge Areas address:
- Business Need: Focus on identifying and defining the business need, problem, or opportunity facing an enterprise
- Solution Options: Define what a solution needs to look like to satisfy the identified business need
- Business Case: Provide information that determines if the proposed solution is justifiable from a financial or risk perspective
- Project Context: Set up the proper context for the project’s requirements analysis and solution planning
- Ongoing Effort: Analysis activities are ongoing, in response to changes in the business need or other factors affecting the solution
Both Enterprise Analysis and Strategy Analysis drive the key activities that Business Analysts know are critical to any business analysis project:
- Understand the core problem or business need to be addressed by the project
- Do the work to define what a successful solution looks like
- Help build a context for detailed requirements analysis activities
- Work to determine if the solution is justifiable based on enterprise criteria
So, what additional activities are involved in Strategy Analysis?
The Expanded Scope of Strategy Analysis
As the chart shows, three key areas stand out as part of the expanded view of Strategy Analysis:
1. Strategic Vision
As the name implies, Strategy Analysis has a broader scope and vision. This scope is critical as the project team develops their understanding of the current state and defining the future state.
Strategy Analysis must take into account:
- The broader enterprise context
- The project’s relationship to other initiatives, business needs, and a changing business environment
- Impacts of the project solution on other enterprise initiatives
- Influences from other strategies on possible solution options
2. Incremental Change Strategy
It’s not enough to simply define the current state and desired future state.
Strategy Analysis requires building an incremental change approach by:
- Providing a clear picture of current and future states
- Identifying logical interim initiatives and possible tool sets to achieve the final goals
- Assessing risk based on how predicable the interim and futures solutions are
- Developing a change strategy, based on the risk assessment, that balances a low-risk approach with a risk mitigation-based approach
3. Gating/Pre-Project Usage
Strategy Analysis can also be used as a pre-project or gating/portfolio management activity.
In this case, Strategy Analysis is used to:
- Assess a new business need
- Provide stakeholders the information needed to decide when or whether to address the need
- Review other portfolio projects and initiatives to help identify cross-project/initiative impacts
The critical question to ask now is this:
How can Strategy Analysis help projects succeed?
Project success is highly dependent on clearly identifying and defining two key points:
- Core problem to be solved
- Scope of the enterprise where the problem will be solved
We often define what success looks like and how an approach or technique contributes to that success. In the case of Strategy Analysis, it may be clearer to define what happens if it is not done, or not done well.
What can happen if Strategy Analysis is not done, or not done well?
Consider the impact of these on the project:
- Symptoms, not problems, are identified
- The wrong problem gets “solved”
- The solution works for a very limited scope or for a very short life span
- The solution negatively impacts other business processes or initiatives
- The solution is negatively impacted by other business processes or initiatives
- The solution does not support one or more stated enterprise strategies
- The business case falls apart as the solution moves across the interim states to the final state
- Interim steps required to achieve the final state are not identified
- Possible impacts on business and technical resources required for this and related projects/initiatives are missed or overlooked
Clearly, failing to perform Strategy Analysis introduces a significant level of risk by committing resources to a poorly thought out and scoped initiative that will ultimately not deliver value to the stakeholders and the overall enterprise.
At a minimum, you need to acknowledge your information gaps and be prepared to address them as the initiative moves forward.
What kinds of questions does Strategy Analysis need to answer?
To help evaluate your Strategy Analysis output and identify possible information gaps, or unknowns, we have provided the Strategy Analysis Checklist. It is organized into groups of questions that are categorized by Big Picture/Overview, Current State Analysis, Future State Definition, Risk Assessment, and Change Strategy. Consider this your quick guide to assess the information provided by the Strategy Analysis effort.
To use this checklist for your project, download our editable version.
So, now what do I do?
There is a lot to digest and learn as we look at the Strategy Analysis Knowledge Area. Hopefully this article has enlightened you enough that you now know what you don’t know.
- New skills
- New techniques
- New perspectives
Here are some tips on how to learn more.
1. Read/study the BABOK v3
- Study the Strategy Analysis Knowledge Area
- Seek to understand how the four tasks are related
- Review the Input/Output Diagrams and related text
- Review the techniques listed for each of the four tasks. Some key techniques include:
- Business Capability Analysis
- Business Model Canvas
- Root Cause Analysis
- Decision Analysis
- Scope Modeling
- Review the Strategy Analysis Checklist questions and add your own points
2. Review your current skills and competency in the Strategy Analysis area
- As you read/study the BABOK identify areas you know well and those you need to become more familiar with
- Identify resources to help you gain a better understanding, such as:
- Make a plan to systematically approach your learning objectives
3. Seek a mentor or coach
- Is there someone in your network that has Enterprise or Strategy Analysis experience?
- Consider approaching them to provide mentoring or coaching help as you grow in this area.
- Seek out an assignment where Strategy Analysis is required, and participate on the project team.
We want to hear from you!
Thank you for reading about why Strategy Analysis is so important to project success. We hope it was helpful and informative. Feel free to add a comment below.
All the best,