Is there a Role for Business Analysts in Strategic Planning?

Yes and the sooner we get them involved the better.
Yes and the sooner we get them involved the better.
Yes and the sooner we get them involved the better.

Well, the IIBA (International Institute for Business Analysis) certainly thinks so.

If your strategy is going to take you to someplace new or to a new product line or to a new level of operations – you would be wise to employ a resource, or a team of resources, to do the ground work before you get going.  This is what the business analyst does.

Maybe this is the problem with most strategic plans… we don’t look at them through the right lens.  We don’t do enough analysis at the front end to really understand if we are able to do what we are wanting to do. 

The business analyst’s typical role (among many others) is to create detailed requirements and specification for a project or a new process. If you agree that most strategic plans are really just large projects on steroids, then employing a BA to help at the front end only makes sense. 

I met with Ken Fulmer last week.  Ken is the President and CEO of the IIBA.  He paints a picture of a very different organization than the small group of 17 of us had in mind many years ago when we conceived of the idea of an association for BAs – and it’s really exciting.

It’s time, says Ken, to reintroduce the IIBA to the corporations of the world as a NEW community of professionals – resources that can play a key role in the development and execution of not just strong projects, processes and architecture, but of strategies as well.

In its purest form, the BA’s role is to help us better understand our client’s needs and requirements so that we can deliver what I have always said is ‘the right thing, the first time’.  These days, we are employing the BA at the project level.  Why stop there?

The BA has tools and techniques that can help every strategic planner make better decisions about the future.

Take data analytics for example.  I have never really made the connection between these often mistaken identities: business analysis and data analytics.  They are very different things.  Data analytics has quickly become one of the hottest roles in many of today’s organizations. (Think about the retail world’s use of our purchasing history to select how they market specifically to each one of us – this is data analytics.)  The IIBA is currently suggesting, while they are different ‘things’, they are very compatible.

The body of knowledge of today’s business analyst could well include the role of the data analyst.  If BAs understood the data component of the business and could include the analysis of that data in the delivery of their services – they will have taken their role to a whole new level.  That data is now one of the components of our strategic decision making and planning.

Data analytics is just an example.  Ken, and his team, want to build out the tools and knowledge of the current business analyst so that they can be part of a more strategic conversation. And they want to send out a message to the corporate world that this is possible.  

Yes, there a role for business analysts in strategic planning and the sooner we get them involved the better.


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