Business analysts aren't business analysts anymore. At least, they shouldn't be.
Or maybe it's that they should be, but haven't been. The bottom line is that business analysts should be the folks who analyze the business, helping managers figure out how to make things work better. But as the job's traditional responsibilities have been to determine what software is supposed to do -- what the "requirements" are -- there's no point fighting a vocabulary battle.
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And so, as proposed last week, the new title for true business analysts is "internal business consultant," or IBC. It's the pivotal role in building a next-generation IT organization because it lives on the fuzzy boundary where IT and the rest of the business either work together or at cross-purposes.
Which makes it the role that alters "IT" (another name that has to change, but we'll leave that for another day and another post) from an organization that delivers and runs software to an organization that collaborates with everyone else in the business to make things run better.
New role, new title, new skills -- what are they? Last week's column listed three core concepts and three areas of technique. The core concepts were value (revenue, cost, and/or risk), optimization (fixed cost, incremental cost, cycle time, throughput, quality, and excellence), and the distinction between process and practice (processes clearly describe how to perform each step; practices list the steps but rely on the expertise of the practitioners for performing them).
The techniques were facilitation (getting people to talk with one another, understand what one another are trying to say, and bring these folks into some semblance of consensus), process management (how to manage the process that manages the work, instead of managing the work itself), and culture change (changing the shared attitudes, assumptions, and responses to situations they drive).
That's just the start, though. Here are two more:
IBC technique No. 4: Process improvement frameworks. Just because practices will gain in importance doesn't mean there's no place for process. Quite the opposite -- many areas of practice, especially single-actor practices, will rely on the existence of reliable behind-the-scenes business processes for much of what they have to accomplish.