The role of BAs in change management
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We live in a global, interconnected economy. Shifting market conditions, customer demands, and evolving technologies mean that businesses constantly have to change to keep up. Now, thanks to the seachange forced upon businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are having to adapt quickly to survive.
However, change is scary, and if it’s managed with poor communication, it will inevitably lead to chaos. Having a business analyst (BA) acting as a strategic component of your change management process can be critical to successful change implementation.
As valuable as BAs are to change management, they’re often misunderstood. Learn the role BAs play in change management and see how they can deliver data and insights during this critical decision-making time.
What is a business analyst?
Business analysts provide business improvement recommendations based on data. They use data analytics to examine processes, determine desired outcomes, and deliver data-driven suggestions and reports to executives and stakeholders. Business analysts evaluate the current model of a business and see how it can be optimized.
The real value of a business analyst is in mitigating risk and providing strategic direction. That first part really can’t be overstated: risk mitigation is key to the process of change management. Change introduces the unknown to an environment and that can either spell success or disaster. A good business analyst will minimize uncertainty and guide the organization toward a greater likelihood of success.
What is change management?
Change management is, put simply, the process of guiding the adaptation of a business. A business that has grown stagnant and too comfortable with the way it operates will not survive the years to come. The evidence of that is all around us, from department stores not willing to reevaluate how modern customers shop to restaurants that don’t offer delivery.
Change management is the process of reevaluating your current business model and implementing the pivots necessary to keep the business healthy and competitive in an evolving market. Done well, change management minimizes the fear of change that inevitably arises and gets everyone on board with successful implementation.
Change management consists of five components:
- Vision–The desired future state of the business.
- Skills–The skills currently available within the organization.
- Incentives–The reasons for change.
- Resources–People and processes available to help guide the change.
- Plan–A comprehensive set of steps for implementing the change
Once these five components have been deployed, the business can measure the impact of the change and conduct valuable post-mortems.
BA change management tasks
What exactly does a business analyst do? Provide the expertise needed to make smart, impactful change. Here’s how:
Identifying and clarifying the current state of the business
Too often, organizations base their understanding of themselves on a myopic, inside-out view. A business analyst provides an objective, data-backed look at the actual state of your company: in other words, how healthy it is from a financial perspective. A BA can tell you how much money your business has on hand, what its debts are, and what your cash flow looks like. This is valuable for being able to make a rational decision based on facts and not conjecture.
Providing current data on the state of the market
A BA will also provide an objective look at where your business stands in context. It’s easy to feel, for instance, that your business is the top cheesemaker in the country if you never research other cheesemakers. So, a business analyst may look at market movement and use data to predict future trends.
For instance, a business analyst may tell you that your business should target enterprise companies instead of SMBs because your software is more appropriate for large-scale solutions and enterprise companies tend to have greater cashflow than SMBs. With that information, it’s easier to not only decide which route is best for your company in the present moment, but which changes will have favorable outcomes for years to come.
Researching how proposed changes might impact the business
Business analysts aren’t fans of conjecture. Instead, they’ll use data to simulate likely outcomes based on various fact-based scenarios. For instance, a business analyst may simulate what kind of impact raising your product pricing by 10% would have on everything from your bottom line to your competitive place in the market. A BA will give you an educated opinion based on all available data so that you can make informed decisions.
Collecting use cases
A BA can also help your business develop use cases. A use case is essentially how an actor (normally a customer) interacts with a system to achieve a desired end. If your business wants to understand, for instance, how customers are interacting with a purchasing process, a business analyst can look at the use case as well as alternate flows and exception flows to uncover gaps in the process or missed opportunities. This is useful for helping others think from the user’s perspective and describe the end result after the use case has been completed. In short, they give you a visual way to understand flows so your business can maximize them.
Defining and communicating the desired future state
Sometimes organizations don’t know what they want. They certainly want to make more money, but that’s not the entire story. It’s up to a BA to help define what an organization actually wants.
For instance, consider a company that currently makes dashboards for self-driving cars. Sure, the company wants a healthier bottom line. But what they might really want is partnerships with prominent car manufacturers, complete market domination, and to lead a transportation revolution. A BA can help define and articulate the big, audacious desires of an organization.
That vision of a desired future state will inform the best changes the business can make to achieve that future state.
Creating a comprehensive plan
It’s not enough for a business to know what needs to change. They also need to know how to change. A business analyst can look at all the moving parts in an organization and define their role in the change, how they contribute to the implementation, and what the expectations are around contributing to the change. They can create a clear, actionable plan that makes sense to everyone involved.
Preparing reports and presentations to communicate motivations, changes, options, and impact
An especially valuable role of BAs in change management is that of showing why a business should change. They present their data and rationale in reports and presentations to gain buy-in from stakeholders.
Seeing change options in a visual manner is vital when communicating both the motivation for the change and its potential impact. It’s also a great idea to create a visual flowchart of the comprehensive plan mentioned above so that there’s no doubt about how the implementation will proceed. These presentations help eliminate confusion and uncertainty.
As you can see, a business analyst is truly vital to assisting your business in navigating the world of change management. They can aid in everything from providing data-driven suggestions for meaningful change to providing roadmaps for how best to implement the change. They’re an invaluable investment in your business and can provide the right strategy to keep the organization healthy throughout any crisis or time of change.
Learn 7 tried-and-true change management models to help your organization implement real change.Learn more
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