Can you offshore business analysis?

I’ve recently been involved in a debate on LinkedIn on offshoring business analysis (under the ModernAnalyst group Discussions).
Someone asked what seemed an innocent question but it raised a storm of responsesLinkedIn members only

It seemed to encourage a lot of interesting debate which boiled down to the fact that the best quality form of communication is face to face so why would you accept anything else considering the risks?

These may be the facts today but I think there will be increasing pressure to make this model work in the future. Who knows, it may become as commonplace as offshoring development or testing. However, there are a number of things that will need to be in place before it can happen and be (relatively) effective.

I’m working on an article which will paint this picture in more detail.

What are your views? Is it achievable and under what circumstances? What are the risks?

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About Alex Papworth

5 Responses to “Can you offshore business analysis?”

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  1. alexpapworth says:

    That's a hard job you've got there Angela.
    It could be quite politically sensitive as the original decision to offshore some of the BA work would be challenged.
    Let us know how you get on or if you need any advice/feedback

  2. Angela says:

    I've come into my present company as a BA Manager with 11 BAs – 7 of those off-shore. I'm currently building my case to on-shore the entire BA team as the quality is poor and the management time overhead is huge.

  3. DougGtheBA says:

    I saw the spit flying from everyone’s mouth in LinkedIn as they scrambled to respond in a furor. It didn’t seem worth it to get everyone riled up again with yet another post. Had I taken the plunge, I would’ve posted, “Are you out of your freakin’ mind?!”

    Seriously though, the one thing that an analyst possesses over all other roles is a set of soft skills that are often connected to the ability to communicate to other human beings. These are crucial in the success of requirements elicitation. Many times, when dealing with people, the issue may not be whether they know or don’t know or will or won’t tell you what you need them to, it’s whether they trust you. They don’t know why you’re there asking them what you are half the time, and they immediately get their panties in a wad and starting thinking about getting RIF’d as a result of automation. It takes time to build a rapport that is centered on trust, and that is facilitaated by one-on-one interaction.

    The other major thing that is encountered, which I believe someone alluded to in the LinkedIn discussion/rant, is that by the time a decision is made to enhance a process or build an application, the people that have been performing the manual task have been doing so for eons. Simply asking them what they do won’t get the answers in whole. So as analysts, we have to rely on techniques like role playing, story telling, manual hand offs of simulated documents, and such to basically pull the reqs out of them. THESE techniques rely on our senses; touch, hearing, vocal intonation, visual facial responses and body language and the smell of fear (had to include smelling somehow).

    Remote sensory perception, to my knowledge, has not been perfected and is not part of the economic stimulus plan, so I wouldn’t expect much traction on this. I cannot imagine that remote requirements elicitation will ever take off, but…..dumber things have happened.

    Best Regards,

    DougGtheBA

    • Alex P says:

      Great comment Doug. It really did get everyone worked up didn't it!
      I'm planning on taking all the valuable comments and suggest the types or BA engagements that could work today and what would need to change for other types to work in the future.

      Fot those who are LinkedIn members (and of the ModernAnalyst group), here's the discussion.

    • Alex P says:

      Hi Doug

      thanks for the comment. As you’ll have noticed, the debate doesn’t seem to have ended yet (40 comments at last count)!

      I think there is an ideal world position which would probably colocating BA’s and business stakeholders for the duration of the project but there are many shades of grey for many factors which need to be considered.

      For example, are there geographical separation issues that are unavoidable?
      How critical is the project?
      How complex is it (business process, stakeholder management, number of requirements, specialist knowledge)?
      Is it ‘green field’ or routine change?
      Who has the most relevant experience (regardless of location)?
      Where is ths QA activity to be conducted?
      Where is the available BA resource?
      What are the longer term resourcing requirements of the organisation (i.e. is the demand temporary?)?

      I found Don Hussey’s comments quite enlightening.

      Alex

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