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.

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