In a recent post, Jonathan ‘Kupe’ Kupersmith said:
“In manufacturing following a process step by step is a good thing. In our world [business analysis] this is not the case. Following an A to Z process for every project is a bad thing. Every project is different. Different people, different risks, different priorities, etc. You need to adapt your process to meet the needs of the project.”.
I believe what Kupe is saying is that the ‘business analysis process’ is not a traditional straight-line process (like old-style manufacturing). Instead, it is what is currently being called (variously) a ‘social process’ or ‘dynamic process’ or ‘case-based process’. Such a process is:
- Social in that interactions at various times with various people with various kinds of know-how must be orchestrated for optimal results.
- Dynamic in that the ‘flow’ is highly situation-based rather than predictably straight-through (static).
- Case-Based in that the ‘flow’ of events is based on the particular characteristics of the case (project) at hand, rather on forced conformance with some ideal.
Let me make a couple of observations (which are not points of disagreement with Kupe):
- There are many, many companies (even in manufacturing) now beginning to understand that their core business processes should be organized as social/dynamic/case-based rather than traditional/static/straight-line. Customization and personalization of products and services demand it.
- Achieving manageable customization and personalization at scale requires an appropriate infrastructure that is business-based.
- The need for infrastructure leads inevitably to business vocabulary (business semantics) and business rules. (What’s the alternative??) So business rules are probably even more essential for social/dynamic/case-based processes than traditional/static/straight-line ones.
What do these observations specifically mean for the ‘business analysis process’? I would suggest the following:
- Having a standard business vocabulary for the ‘business analysis process’ is key. How many organizations really have one? I see this omission as a huge hole in current BA standards and practices. (Plug: Our new book, Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules, has a 55pp Annotated Glossary. We practice what we preach. http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php)
- The know-how to support a social/dynamic/case-based ‘business analysis process’ should be expressible as rules. If the know-how can’t be articulated and properly communicated, then how can the process be repeated, learned and scaled? Tacit know-how is simply no longer adequate in a knowledge economy.
You can find Kupe’s original post on: http://www.batimes.com/kupe-kupersmith/why-business-analysis-processes-are-a-waste-of-time.html