How do you know when you are doing enterprise analysis?

Enterprise Analysis puts the Business Analyst in a strategic role, a frame of reference that we BA’s are uniquely qualified for but rarely engaged in.  We aren’t usually assigned to interpret business strategies at an organizational level, but when it does happen our work gives context to the plan for requirements gathering and solution definition.  Imagine how rewarding it could be to help optimize the alignment of Business and IT.

Stepping Up to Enterprise Analysis 

My own opportunity came as a former employer was dissolving. Ironically the leaders saw the need to analyze the remaining critical functions and assess the gaps in technology required to fulfill the new mission: to process legal claims against the organization and distribute the remaining assets. For four exhilarating years I contributed at this level, taking on projects that included functional forecasts, systems consolidation and streamlining, disaster recovery and business resumption planning.  I’d like to share my experiences in Enterprise Analysis with all of you in the hope that, when the opportunity strikes, you’ll have some ideas on where to start and how to approach the web of organizational complexity.

Expanding Organizational Context

IIBA’s BA Body of Knowledge describes Enterprise Analysis as a pre-project activity whose outputs “provide context to requirements analysis and to solution identification for a given initiative or for long-term planning.”  When engaged in Enterprise Analysis you may find yourself doing any number of familiar activities, simply expanded to consider the organization as a whole:

  1. Documenting the Business Architecture.  Modeling the components that make up the organization, in terms of people resources and roles, information flow and transformation, application infrastructure and interdependencies, technology platforms, and security practices and constraints.
  2. Defining Project Scope.  Elaborating what’s needed to move a new business opportunity forward, in terms of people, process, and technology.
  3. Conducting Feasibility Studies.  Researching the cross-functional impact of solution sets to find the optimal answer for enterprise objectives.
  4. Performing a Risk Assessment.  Evaluate risks, probability, and impact to the organization and its goals.
  5. Preparing the Business Case.   Reporting on the benefits and costs associated with a strategic solution proposal.
  6. Planning the Change Management Approach.  Defining the manner in which business change will be introduced, measured, and continuously improved upon organization-wide.

And so you see that you’ve done Enterprise Analysis all along, only within the narrower perspective of an individual project.  In upcoming posts I’ll explore each of these 6 topics in greater depth.

Your New Role in the Enterprise

It may seem a stretch to cross over into the broader sphere of providing analysis and benchmarking to the strategic planners of your organization, but with guidance you can meet the challenge.  I’d be happy to consult with you on your specific needs, whether it’s tackling those executive conversations, improving management of stakeholder concerns, or organizing the seemingly massive span of organizational information.  Today’s Business Analysts need to be able to apply their skills equally in projects that assess and improve the business domain, process components, or supporting systems.  I look forward to helping you to weave the enterprise view.  Click here to learn more.

Have you already started down the path toward Enterprise Analysis?  It would be great to hear your stories.  Please share your insights with a comment below.

About Joan Davis