Monday, July 23, 2012

BA Applied Capability: You Are Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link.

by Kitty Hass, PMP and Lori Lindbergh, PhD

In a recent BA workforce capability assessment we conducted, the group average scores for the application of BA skills and competencies were fairly high. Based on our BA Workforce Capability Model (See our February 13, 2012 entry), the organization’s BA workforce consisted of three groups of BAs: Project Focus BAs who worked on moderately complex projects, Enterprise Focused BAs who worked on highly complex project, and Competitive Focus BAs who work on innovation projects and programs. Each groups’ overall average scores met or exceeded the associated BA model expectations and the current BA benchmark scores for each group. What does this mean for the overall organization? Do these findings translate into mature BA practices at the organizational level?

This is where BA Applied Capability comes into the picture. BA Applied Capability examines the consistency of the application of BA practices across the organization and is not affected or masked by computing average scores. What we found in the situation described above was moderate practice consistency across the organization aligned more with Level 2 BA practice maturity. A few BAs in each group (outliers), who indicated higher skills application, were raising the overall averages for each group. By examining BA Applied Capability, the organization was able to identify critical areas of inconsistent skills application and focus its BA improvement efforts.

However, examining BA Applied Capability is only possible if you have integrated and aligned BA measurement models, such as our research-based BA Practice Maturity Model and BA Workforce Capability Model. Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, an organization’s BA performance outcomes are only as strong as the least-consistent BAs. This inconsistency is often a symptom of knowledge and/ skill gaps and lack of organizational support for effective application of critical BA competencies and supporting competencies. BA Applied Capability translates these individual weaknesses into the weakest links in your BA Practice Maturity. Armed with this information, an organization will be better able to focus its improvement efforts on strengthening the chain and creating improved project outcomes and realization of business value for stakeholders.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Complexity Exceeds BA Capability: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

by Lori Lindbergh, PhD and Kitty Hass, PMP

We have been working on a BA Workforce Capability Assessment for the past few weeks. We have delivered each participant’s assessment report and professional development recommendations and will be conducting individual coaching sessions this coming week. Our workforce assessments also include a group summary report to provide managers with a current snapshot of their BA workforce characteristics and capabilities.

We always look forward to seeing the integrated charts that come out of the assessment findings. These charts examine project complexity, BA skills application consistency, and projected project status for budget, schedule, and scope, and forecasted business benefits. Not surprisingly, we find similar findings in most organizations: The BA capability level required to be successful on the complexity of the organization’s current projects exceeds the actual capability level of the organization’s current BA workforce. And, according to most experts, projects are only becoming more complex.

Most BA participants feel they are over allocated because they are working on multiple projects and have a number of maintenance/service nonproject work assignments. Many are required to play multiple nonBA roles, which further diminishes their ability to perform their BA activities effectively. With a lack of formal BA training, effective processes, and an organization less supportive of BA practices, you have a recipe for failure.

Take a look below at a sample integrated graph from a prior assessment client. The client’s projects included in the assessment were plotted on the graph with project complexity on the vertical axis and project budget, schedule, and scope status on the horizontal axis. Each diamond represents a project; the diamonds are color coded to highlight their status across the horizontal axis. The BA Applied Capability line represents the collective application of BA Technical Competencies in the organization and provides an indicator of BA skills application consistency across the organization.

As projects become more complex, you can see that they tend to become more challenged for budget, schedule, and/or scope (positive correlation). Furthermore, most projects that plotted above the BA Applied Capability threshold (increased complexity) are challenged. The most likely cause for this is: Complexity Exceeds Capability!

In our assessments and our ongoing research, we continually find that there is a statistically significant, positive correlation between project complexity and BA Applied Capability. This means that as projects become more complex, organizations need more consistent application of BA and complexity management practices across the organization to achieve success on these highly complex projects.

If this sounds like what is happening in your organization, where do you start your improvement efforts? The most obvious answers to this question, such as training and process improvement, may not always be the correct answers. Only a BA Workforce Assessment can provide you with the scientific study to help you make the right choices that will have the greatest impact on your BA performance and your organization’s bottom line.