I was talking to a colleague about the basic skills every Business Analyst should possess. I mentioned process analysis as one of the key skills and while my colleague agreed, they also felt that the importance of these skills have taken a backseat to other skills more closely aligned with Agile methodologies. While I agree, I also think that it is a common misconception that process analysis is strictly for use with waterfall projects. This made me think of a few other common misconceptions that exist about business process analysis. I shared my thoughts with the Business Process Improvement group on LinkedIn and had several who joined in the discussion. Based on the discussion, here are three of the common misconceptions about Business Process Analysis (BPA):
1. There is no time for BPA in an Agile environment.
Business Process Analysis and Agile should not be considered mutually exclusive. It may be true that companies don’t have the resources to focus an extended period of time on business process improvement efforts. However, companies still need to constantly examine and improve their processes, and they need to do it faster. Using Agile methodologies, companies can make quick changes and see the results of these changes and adjust quickly if needed. In addition, improvements identified from conducting business process analysis can be used to identify new features or added as items to the product backlog to be worked on in future development efforts.
2. BPA should only be focused on technology.
Often times, business process analysis is done to support the development of a new system or technology. However, this should not be the only time that a company examines their processes. Also, it should not be an activity strictly driven by IT. Instead, the business process stakeholders should drive it. According to the Business Analyst Body Of Knowledge® (BABOK®), the goal of process analysis is to assess a process for efficiency, effectiveness, and identification of opportunities for change in order to improve or achieve organizational goals. The opportunities for change can result in either changes in technology or business process changes and sometimes both. I’ve witnessed a situation where a key feature was deemed unnecessary after a discussion about how the process could be improved instead. Moral of the story: don’t limit yourself to just examining how technology can improve the process.
3. BPA is a one-time activity.
Business Process Analysis should not be viewed as a one-time activity with a start and end date. Nor should it be relegated to documentation that’s filed or stored somewhere and ignored. Once improvement opportunities are identified and/or documented, this is where the real work begins. The business has to determine how to effectively implement change to realize value. Business Process Analysis should be thought of in terms of continuous improvement in order for businesses to realize value. Companies should constantly strive to improve their business processes in order to provide greater value to their customers.
Ultimately, business process analysis is what you make it and it can and should be tailored to meet the needs of your situation. Do you need help to determine where to get started with conducting business process analysis? Read my previous post that breaks the process down in three easy steps.
What do you think are other misconceptions about business process analysis? Please share your thoughts with us below.
Author: Kelly Hobbs, an Excellian since 2013, has a soft spot for process analysis. When she’s not drawing process maps for fun, she can be found on twitter @KellyAHobbs.