I attended the November meeting of the IIBA on Wednesday of this week (26th). I have to admit that I was a little dubious as I have been to Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings of the British Computer Society (BCS) before and hadn’t found them very relevant or useful for business analysts. Apologies for the three letter acronymns – I think I’ve got them out of my system now!
Anyhow, by the end of the of the evening, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the number of attendees, the level of interest and demand and the quality and relevance of the presentations. My congratulations and thanks to James Archer and Martyn Wilson (from IIBA) for organising such a successful event. I am now kicking myself for not having attended previous events but I certainly plan on attending future events. Someone suggested people were attending for the free grub and booze as the credit crunch bites but I’m sure 230 people don’t put themselves out and waste a precious evening without some expectation of results. I know that’s certainly true for me – I had to forego my daughter’s bath and bed time and I don’t give that up lightly 😉
Back to the event itself – there was some mingling prior to the event followed by two presentations.
The first presentation was from from Ian Alexander who some of you may have come across. His website is here – Ian Alexander’s website – it’s the first time I’ve looked at his website and although the design is not great (people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!!) there is some interesting content and templates available.
He is an established author and expert in requirements engineering and consultant. I have read and commented on one of his books in one of my articles (see Requirements Engineering Part 1). Ian’s presentation style was engaging and interesting. It was fairly obvious he was promoting his new book but I think that’s a fair exchange and he did have some interesting things to say. The presentation was structured around a matrix which matched different methods of eliciting requirements against the context in which they could be applied (namely – individuals, groups, things). It was interesting for me as it was a whistle stop tour through various different methods, some of which I have never used and many of which I have not used for some time. Having being immersed in my current project for over two years and now looking to my next project, it was helpful in waking me up to the different techniques and thinking afresh what I should consider in my next assignment. I think it is fair to say that there are many different methods available which can be applied in many different contexts and it is completely wrong to try to establish the ‘right’ approach which will work in all circmstances. Every project is different and if you fail to consider the requirements engineering approach afresh for each project then you are likely to come unstuck. I agree wholeheartedly with this view and instinctively steer away from dogmatic, fixed approaches.
The second presentation was from an author and consultant called Chris Potts (Chris Pott’s website) who I had not come across. He works as a Corporate IT Strategist and CIO Futurist, taken from his website. I wasn’t sure what to expect but thought he would have something interesting to say. I wasn’t wrong on that score and it was an interesting counterpoint to the previous presentation. Chris’ presentation revolved around the premise that business analysts have skills of great value to the business. He described the evolution of IT strategy over the last thirty years or so which, in its current incarnation, finds IT as an internal supplier within the organisation. Typically, the IT department acts as a supplier which, by its nature is separate from the mainstream business.
Chris’ proposal for the next phase is that business analysts discard the IT badge, recognise the skills and value they offer, and move into the business to provide value within the business. The skills acquired in enterprise architecture, managing portfolios and so forth are desirable skills within the business and the skills developed in the IT department are in advance of those in the business.
It’s very unlikely I’ve managed to portray the essence of the speach as it was complex, challenging and suprising and, well, you really had to be there! It certainly makes you start to think about where the business world is headed and what part you want to play.
In summary, it was a very interesting event and I think the main benefit for me is taking the time to see what’s going on in the wider world of business analysis (and beyond), see how things are changing and keeping abreast of those changes. It’s far too easy to settle down into your work bunker and miss out on development and innovations outside of your organisation and immediate experience.
I will certainly pay up my IIBA subscription as it’s not a significant amount and the UK chapter of the IIBA need some recognition for their hard work.
The IIBA can be found here – IIBA website and at costs a mere £18 per annum to be a member.
Just spotted an error on this old post – I’ve paid for this and you really need to join the original US organisation first (US$100). If you don’t you won’t get free access to the BABOK and free access to UK events.