Reinventing a pivotal role for IT

The fundamentals of the business analyst role are changing, thanks to a new emphasis on business over tech requirements

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When most people think about facilitation, they think about running meetings. That by itself isn't a small topic, and no matter how good you are at it, there are always ways to be better. It's a skill in which IBCs need to excel.

But meetings aren't the entire subject. Facilitation is helping people listen, inform, and persuade each other, and that goes beyond meetings. For example, it includes getting developers and end-users to interact frequently and informally. (See Agile above.)

IBC technique No. 2: Process (and practice) management. Most of an IBC's work will consist of helping managers throughout the company improve the effectiveness of their processes and practices. It will never happen if those managers don't understand how to manage a process or practice, as opposed to managing the work itself.

As an internal business consultant, you'll have to help them through what for some will be a radical change in how they think about their responsibilities. If you don't understand the subject yourself, let me be the first to wish you all the best of luck. You'll need it.

IBC technique No. 3: Culture change. While practices, including the single-actor practices we've been promoting in this space, are going to get increasing attention in the world of business, there will still be plenty of situations where process should be in the driver's seat. "Should be" will never turn into "is," though, if employees don't share a process culture -- one that has each of them thinking in terms of process and process improvement.

In America, in particular, this isn't a natural culture because other names for "process" are "bureaucracy" and "conformity." Process means following the instructions. It means coloring inside the lines. It simply isn't as much fun as the alternatives.

Whether it's better for the business really doesn't matter if it's against the business culture, which it almost certainly is unless "the business" -- that is, you -- hasn't expended considerable thought, effort, and time building acceptance of process into it.

It's never easy. It happens slowly, so progress is hard to see. There's never an end to it.

You're the adviser, not the doer -- better get started.

This story, "Reinventing a pivotal role for IT," was originally published at Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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