Tag Archives: project management

The 2018 Business Analysis Europe Conference – a plan is formed

Rachel Drinkwater
Business Systems Analyst
Coventry University

Creating a well-rounded agenda

Earlier this year I was granted a bursary by UCISA to attend the IRM Business Analysis Europe Conference 2018, which is to be held in Westminster, London on the 24th-26th September 2018. Having worked as a business analyst for the last fifteen years, this conference has naturally been on my radar as a ‘must do’, but the cost has been prohibitive, so I’m delighted and excited to be able to finally attend.
One of the conditions of my bursary is that I will disseminate my learning from the conference to others in the education sector. Taking this further I’m hoping to combine the knowledge and ideas that I gain from the conference with those I have from my own experience to create a blog series, instructional vlogs and infographics to share with my network both in education and wider industry.  In addition to this, I intend to devise a session to present at upcoming conferences.
I’ve pre-selected my conference sessions and rather than focusing on one of the five streams (‘BA Careers’, ‘Techniques’, ‘People’, Innovation’ and ‘The BA Conference Through the Years’), I’ve instead aimed to create a well-rounded agenda for the three days I will be attending.
Day 1 will start with a practical and energetic-sounding full-morning session on ‘Gamestorming’  (I’m hoping there will be plenty of coffee to facilitate this!). I’m intrigued by the Gamestorming concept and how it differs from the workshop facilitation and requirements elicitation techniques which form what I consider to be one of my core skill sets. Even if it transpires to be the same practice rebadged, I’m expecting to learn some new techniques that I can bring straight back into the office and perhaps include in the public speaking skills workshops that I am delivering at the moment.
My afternoon is set to keep the hands-on approach, looking at ‘Digital Customer Journeys’. As one of my personal areas of interest is digital transformation and strategy, my agenda inevitably has a little bias towards those sessions addressing new ways of working in and the challenges posed by our digitally-focused society.
As if to illustrate that point, I’m starting Day 2 with the ‘The Digital BA’ session within the ‘BA Careers’ workstream. A question that is raised time and again on BA forums and in industry at the moment is ‘What does the digital world mean to us and our practice as Business Analysts?’ I am hoping that the discussions within this session will go some way to uncovering the answer. In fact I’m feeling a blog article coming on with that exact title! The remainder of my day is split between some core BA sessions within the ‘Techniques’ and ‘Innovation’ workstreams; investigating how to approach projects where there are no clear requirements  and managing difficult agile projects and some intriguing-sounding neuro linguistic programming sessions.
My choices for Day 3 kick off with a session within the ‘BA Careers’ workstream led by fellow education Business Analysts, Ed O’Regan and Suzi Jobe, from Nottingham Trent University, entitled ‘From Analyst to Strategist’. As I have progressed from business analyst to senior business analyst in my career, I’ve found that involvement in strategic work is forming an ever-increasing part of my role and it is certainly the direction in which I’m aiming to take my career. In addition to this, at Coventry University we are moving the Business Analysis team towards being a more strategic function and as such I’m keen to hear other organisations’ experiences of this approach. This links quite nicely with the following ‘Innovation’ session in which we will look at ‘Emerging Technology and the BA of the Future’.
To conclude my choices for the conference, I will be attending the very exciting-sounding ‘Stakeholder Skills for Drug Busts – Reflections on Dealing with Difficult People in Dangerous Situations’ delivered by former Police Officer, Charlie Payne. Whilst it’s unlikely that I’ll ever encounter a Breaking Bad-style scenario in the office, conflict does happen and I’m hoping to learn some skills and techniques to defuse and handle such occurrences.
Amidst this action-packed agenda, there are some excellent keynote speakers, a number of networking opportunities and of course the obligatory first night drinks reception. I wholly expect to be catching the train home on Wednesday evening exhausted, but brimming with ideas and inspiration, that I will be distilling into some interesting and informative materials to share with you all. Watch this space and follow me on Twitter at @REDrinkwater to read about what I’ve found out and my thoughts and theories on the content from the three days.
This blog post first appeared on: https://racheldrinkwater.com/the-2018-business-analysis-europe-conference-a-plan-is-formed/
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

UCISA bursary leads to new role

Kathryn Woodroof
Business Analyst
University of York

 

 

 

Lessons from the IRM UK Business Analysis Conference Europe 2017

In September 2017, I received a UCISA bursary which enabled me to attend the annual Business Analysis Conference Europe. This conference brings together over 500 Business Analysts from a range of sectors across the continent. At that time I was one year into my first formal BA post and I was excited about an opportunity to fine tune my practice and learn from others. I came back to work with a Padlet board full of conference notes, photos, ideas and contacts. Six months later I’ve been reflecting on the benefits of receiving a UCISA bursary.
For me as an individual, I came away from the conference with a sense of pride in my profession and confidence in the skills and strengths that I can bring to any IT project. I have used new tools and techniques that I learned at the conference, such as systems thinking and prototyping. I’ve also been following my manifesto for fun at work, which I spoke about in my UCISA blog post. Ultimately, the conference motivated me to aim higher and in March 2018, I was appointed to the post of Portfolio Manager for Enterprise Systems. This new role gives me the opportunity to leverage my business analysis skills to facilitate strategic decision-making at the University.
My learning from the conference has also been shared with my immediate team and it’s enabled us to improve our BA practice. We now meet fortnightly to share knowledge and work together on problems. In particular, we’ve been focusing on how we can support agile development practices; this was a hot topic at the conference and the discussions I had with other BAs have informed our thinking here at the University. I’ve also worked with my team to improve the Business Analysis section of our project toolkit, which is a shared resource open to everyone at the University.
I’ve shared my insight from the conference with others outside of our team, for example in a presentation at YO10, our community of practice for staff interested in business change. I’ve also used my conference learning to support Sarah Peace in preparing for a workshop on IT communications with the UCISA Support Services Group.
I also presented my conference takeaways at the Higher Education Business Analyst Forum in London so that my peers in HE could benefit from my experience. I’m still in touch with some of the BAs that I met at the conference via LinkedIn and Twitter and feel that I have a bigger network to tap into than I did before the conference.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.
UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

PPM and the importance of trust

Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

 

 

Gartner Program and Portfolio Summit 2017 – Guest Keynote

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Summit 2017.

Trusting the Ensemble by Charles Hazlewood, British conductor and music director

An emotional closing keynote was given by Charles Hazlewood. His message was one of ‘trust’ being the most valuable element in human relationship. He shared a film created in South Africa where he was the composer and music director. The clip was about people supporting each other through singing whilst living in fear during dictatorship.

The other message was around ‘Disability and Excellence’. In 2012, Charles formed the first British Para-orchestra, with musicians with disability to play at the Closing Ceremony of the London Paralympics. He shared a video of the group working together which was really touching and wonderful to see people with disabilities having an opportunity to perform and sing.

At the end, Charles cleverly led the audience and managed to get the whole room to sing in harmony. He finished the evening and the Keynote by saying ‘everyone can shine’.

Image by Axelle Vanquaille

I have blogged about specific sessions such as this one, but information on some of the other keynotes and events can be found here.

Reference:

Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: Trusting the Ensemble, Charles Hazlewood, British conductor and music director

Full details on the presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme

 

PPM and innovation

Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

 

 

Gartner Program and Portfolio Summit 2017 – Guest Keynote

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Summit 2017.

Track: Agile Business Impacts: Emerging Roles, Rules and Risks
PPM Innovation for Product Management by Michelle Duerst, Gartner

I saw Michelle as being very passionate about the help that the Gartner analysts offer. Her talk touched, in depth, on several interesting areas:

  • Product Portfolio Management
  • Project Portfolio Management
  • Digital Product Life-cycle Management.

I have learnt that Product Portfolio Management (PPM) is essential in the manufacturing sector. The PPM indicates where the growth is in the business, which in turn, provides the decision makers with data and information to set the portfolio priorities.  In manufacturing, the organisation has a lot to lose if the product fails, for example, ‘New customer cost’, ‘Consumer trust’, ‘Signed contracts’ and ‘Promotions and recall’.

The Project Portfolio Management is goal/scope and time driven with dedicated resources, the outcome of which supports a service or a product.

Michelle noted that ‘Product PM Builds Upon Project PM Foundation’1. My understanding is that the Project Portfolio Management is the basis of Product Portfolio Management, each with the same goals.  Michelle highlighted these goals as: ‘Objective’, ‘Focus’ and ‘Users’2.

In my opinion these goals have similar paradigms but hold different context and Michelle explained the differences. The Digital Product life-cycle management incorporates both areas, the Product and Project Portfolio Management and importantly provides the granular reporting and regulatory governance.

I will be blogging on specific Summit sessions such as this one, but information on some of the other keynotes and events can be found here.

References 1 and 2:

Duerst, M, (2017, p.23), Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: PPM Innovation for Product Management, Gartner, 12-13 June 2017

Full details on the presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

PPM and bimodal business transformation

Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

Gartner Program and Portfolio Summit 2017 – Workshop

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Summit 2017.

Track: The Changing Program & Portfolio Management Ecosystem: Building on Excellence
Bimodal Business Transformation: Connecting Agile to Lean Startup and Design Thinking by Bruce Robertson

I was looking forward to listening to the talk by Bruce, who kick-started the day by explaining the Bimodal practice:
‘Bimodal is the practice of managing two separate but coherent styles of work, one focused on predictability and the other on exploration.’1

In general, organisations are working on Agile and DevOps, however Bruce stated that this is not enough. The way forward is to have a new mind-set to incorporate design thinking and lean start-up by understanding people.

For design thinking, it is important to establish what the customer thinks and to enhance the customer journey. The practice of ethnography captures the customer view:

  • how the customer feels
  • how the customer thinks
  • what the customer does.

Establishing user experiences is a skill set. The process mapping helps the business to view what their employees experience and feel. Ideas and innovation are generated in this space.

Bruce explained the concept of integrating the design methods using Lean start-up to develop a minimum viable product by measuring, leaning and building. The build takes place in IT using the Agile method.

It was interesting to hear about the Bimodal Business Transformation and how this could be implemented.

I will be blogging on specific Summit sessions such as this one, but information on some of the other keynotes and events can be found here.

Reference 1:

Robertson, B (2017, p. 4), Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: Bimodal Business Transformation: Connecting Agile to Lean Startup and Design Thinking, Gartner, 12-13 June 2017

Full details on the presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Benefits of a steep learning curve by a UCISA bursary winner

Sara Henderson
Graduate Intern (Student Champion)
Student Systems Project (Corporate Information and Computer Services)
University of Sheffield

 

 

Sara Henderson was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Being awarded a UCISA bursary to attend the UCISA Support Services Group (SSG) 2017 conference was a highlight of my working year. Although SSG was not my initial choice, I felt privileged to be accommodated by the scheme nonetheless. Below is an account of how my attendance has positively shaped my professional development, institution and how this interacts with the wider HE IT sector.

For context, I am no longer working at Student Lifecycle Project at the University of Sheffield (formerly Student Systems Project), but the experience of UCISA-SSG has still had a lasting effect on my experience of the sector, as I will detail in the following paragraphs.

Professional development

Many aspects of the conference were a steep learning curve. Although I had attended conferences before, these were alongside my peers as an undergraduate, whereas UCISA-SSG17 allowed me to network with established and influential people in the sector. In some ways this was challenging – introducing myself and my involvement in the Project made me feel slightly vulnerable, but everyone I spoke to was interested and encouraging in equal measure.

Most notably, I was asked to speak on the Panel session – the headline event of the conference. Members of the panel were James Smith, Director of IT Services, Birkbeck, University of London; Adam Kearns, Students’ Union Postgraduate Office, University of Bath; Sebastian Barnes, IT Support Specialist, Leeds Beckett University, and myself. Although I was taken aback by the offer, I’m glad it was given relatively last minute, as it didn’t leave much time for the nerves to kick in. I had given presentations and spoken on a panel and in front of moderately-sized groups of people before, but never on this scale. I was accompanied by confident and competent speakers who luckily had most of the spotlight, and despite the topic areas being somewhat unfamiliar I was still able to draw on my experience as a student and university staff member. I was extremely proud of myself for accepting such a daunting but exciting opportunity, and grateful to UCISA for the experience.

Institutional benefit

Unfortunately, I was unable to present my experience of UCISA to student representatives at the University of Sheffield as I had hoped to, because the recruitment of said students was delayed for the duration of my contract on the Project. The time-scales and priorities of such a major business change project are extremely variable, so this is to be somewhat expected. However, I did share my experience with colleagues, conversationally rather than formally, and believe my attendance at the conference had a genuine impact on Student Lifecycle Project.

Firstly, I’m reminded of the ‘Adding Value with Values’ talk given by Alistair Reid-Pearson, IT Manager at the University of Huddersfield. I was heavily involved in the communication and marketing of the Project to stakeholders, and contributed to the development of our ‘Vision’, including our core values and principles. We acknowledged the importance of gaining buy-in from our team by inviting everyone to participate in the process of developing this piece.

Secondly, the electric discussion by Paul Boag, ‎User Experience Strategic Designer, Boagworks about User Experience How to start a user experience revolution’ carried through all the work I’ve done since hearing it. Being heavily involved in the prospective student enquiry management element of the project, I helped design enquiry categories in the new system, and formulate FAQs for student support and guidance. From content to layout, I began every consideration from the user’s perspective, as championed by Paul.

Lastly, Francesca Spencer’sTechnophobe Testing – an experience of providing a service to those who fear, dislike or avoid technology’ put accessibility at the forefront of my mind when supporting the development of software and services. I made it my priority to advocate for the needs of all staff and students, be it ‘technophobes’, disabled or differently-abled people, by urging their inclusion in the room.

Wider sector

It was a pleasure to contribute my dissemination to UCISA’s website (Part 1: Fresh meat and learning about user involvement and Part 2: Not in the IT crowd (and that can be a good thing) ), and I hope this was well-received. I connected on LinkedIn with some of the people I met at the conference, which has since provided plenty of reading material and food for thought, and allows me to learn from the hard-work and perseverance of others in the sector.

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

PPM, business operating systems and business strategy execution

Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

Gartner Program and Portfolio Summit 2017 – Workshop

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Summit 2017.

Track: Transformation Gets Real: Executing Against Strategy
How Business Operating Systems Can Guide PPM Leaders to Manage Business Strategy Execution (Advanced) by Marc Kerremans

This session was targeted towards Business leaders and PMOs. Marc spoke of his practical experiences of working with business operating systems and building a strategy around them.   Interestingly, Marc delivered the presentation using a navigator as a concept and the audience were the stakeholders.

There were some key takeaway points around planning and execution and Marc talked about ‘Required Practice’1He also addressed three terms:

  • Term A. ‘Visibility’2 – my understanding is that this refers to what is going on in the organisation and that there is visibility of information and whether benefits are being realised around methodology.
  • Term B. ‘Accountability3 – my opinion is that the person who is responsible is getting the things done and is accountable for it.
  • Finally, Term C. ‘Adaptability’4 – my view of adaptability is that we need to understand what is happening around the organisation and then manage the work priorities accordingly.

I will be blogging on specific Summit sessions such as this one, but information on some of the other keynotes and events can be found here.

Full details on the presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

References 1, 2, 3, 4:

Kerremans, M, (2017, p. 7), Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: How Business Operating Systems can Guide PPM Leaders to Manage Business Strategy Execution (Advanced), Gartner, 12-13 June 2017

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

PPM as change agents

Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

 

Gartner Program and Portfolio Summit 2017 – Guest Keynote

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Summit 2017.

I will be blogging on specific Summit sessions such as this one, but information on some of the other keynotes and events can be found here.

How PPM professionals need to embrace the digital

I really liked Jonathan MacDonald’s vibrant entrance on stage. Founder of the Thought Expansion Network, he delivered his talk with immense energy and the music captured the audience’s attention and thoughts immediately. He was able to relay that PPM professionals need to embrace the digital changes and how we think and react will determine our future. He stated that ‘Success is response dependent, not size dependent’ ¹

Jonathan provided examples of wireless in households, message apps and the e-commerce sales making huge shifts in growth, changing how we do business. We must all accept the changes as change agents, otherwise we will fail.

Jonathan worked on an analogy of a big oil tanker and a speed boat both needing to be fuelled, navigated and translated. In my opinion, we need to take responsibility and manage the relationships involving how senior stakeholders handle certainty versus uncertainty. The term ‘fuelled’ was used in the analogy. I think that regardless of the size of the business, they still need to continue to exist and be ‘navigated’, that is providing leadership and direction to the workforce whilst taking risks.  Finally, the term ‘translated’ was used, and in my view, this could be ways of communication so that the ‘oil tanker or boat’ does not crash or stray.  Typically, in business the same would be keeping the stakeholders informed and providing them with choices.

Jonathan is an extremely effective speaker who ended his talk with a statement about ‘Risk Of Inaction’ ².

In my view, this had two meanings: a) we must do something as not doing anything is no longer an option and b) the initial caps of each word forms ROI which means, Return On Investment, therefore activity in business is important for gain profits.

Full details on the presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

References 1 and 2

Macdonald, J, (2017), Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: Innovation – How PPM Professional Need to Embrace the Digital, 12-13 June 2017, pp. 3 & 23

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

PPM in the digital age at Gartner’s Program and Portfolio Management Summit


Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

 

Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017 – Setting the scene

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017. The conference was titled ‘Driving Innovation at the Speed of Business’ and the agenda primarily focused on ‘Results-driven [Project Portfolio Management] PPM: Leading Change and Delivering Value in the Digital Age’. The attendees were from all business sectors both nationally and globally. I was surprised by the scale and the 106 sessions that were offered. These were based around four theme tracks: ‘Transformation Gets Real’, ‘Agile Business Impacts’, ‘The Changing Program & Portfolio Management Ecosystem’ and ‘Empowering People’, together with vendor run or assisted sessions. Throughout the event, I shared information with the community on #GartnerPPM, @UCISA, @bruneluni, @HinaTaank  and @UCISA_PCMG

I am grateful to Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA) having successfully won and was awarded a bursary through their bursary scheme to attend the event. I am also grateful to Brunel University London and the Information Services for allowing me the time to attend the conference.

I had always wanted to attend a Gartner event as it is one of the world’s leading research and advisory companies. The event allowed me to learn about the trends around the Program Portfolio Management (PPM) space, together with lots of tips and actions on how I can make a difference in my job.  I am therefore grateful to Gartner for organising this event for like-minded people to learn and network.

 

 

 

 

 

I will be blogging on specific sessions, but some of the useful events outside the keynotes and workshops were as follows:

Orientation session for first-time attendees: how to get the most out of your conference attendance

Andrea White started the event for first timers to a Gartner event and briefed the group on how to make the most of the two days. Help was available via a helpdesk, appointments could be made to meet Gartner Analysts and the most useful was the Gartner Events Navigator. The Navigator app was widely used as it provided real-time information on all the sessions, (even those cancelled or replaced), session attendees, speakers and exhibitors. It also provided an area with personal agenda, notes and highlighted the exclusive sessions primarily for C-suit attendees.

Networking lunch

Over lunch, I really enjoyed networking with people with similar issues and problems, nationally and globally. It almost felt like a speed meeting.

Evening networking reception hosted by the showcase suppliers

The evening reception was hosted by the showcase suppliers and they did a grand job by providing a variety of food and drinks. I was treated to some lovely vegetarian food by one of the vendors. Importantly, it allowed me to further network and speak with the showcase suppliers and the attendees at the event. The key exhibitors were CA technologies, Changepoint, Clarizen, Microsoft and Planview.

Closing remarks

A really good and informative wrap round summary of the two days was provided by Donna Fitzgerald. She mentioned all the key messages that were addressed at the conference.  The artwork during many sessions by Axelle Vanquaille was absolutely fabulous, as she visually captured what the speakers relayed, for example, in the keynote ‘Trusting the Ensemble’ by the British conductor and music director, Charles Hazelwood. (This will be covered further in a future blog).

 

 

 

 

 

(Image by Axelle Vanquaille)

My two days sailed by. The Gartner team did an excellent job in the planning and running of this event, allowing all attendees to take away some action points.  Gartner provided a ‘save the date for 2018’  for the next event which I have added to my diary.   A truly valuable and thought-provoking event and one that I would not like to miss in the future.

Full details on presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

References:

Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: Orientation Session for First-Time Attendees: How to Get the Most Out of Your Conference Attendance, Andrea White, Gartner, 12 – 13 June 2017

Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: Closing Remarks, Donna Fitzgerald, 12-13 June 2017

Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: Trusting the Ensemble, Charles Hazelwood, British conductor and music director

 Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

HE survey on business analysis and making the most of the UCISA bursary

Sarah Cockrill
Business Systems Analyst
Coventry University

Member of UCISA-PCMG

 

 

 

As business analysts, we are constantly learning how people perform their jobs roles. Gaining an understanding of how they capture, process and output information in order to achieve the desired outcomes. We capture this information so that we can identify areas of improvement. We also help to implement new ways of working, new software systems or processes that enable our organisations to achieve their strategic goals. As business analysts how often do we take a step back and analyse our own ways of working? Do we stop and benchmark ourselves against other Business Analysts working in the HE community or beyond in the corporate world?

In 2016 as part of my role on the UCISA Project and Change Management Group (PCMG) committee, I carried out a survey to measure the maturity of the business analysis community within the higher education (HE) sector. This informed our understanding of where we were as a community in terms of maturity.

The survey which was sent out to all members of the PCMG mailing list received a 32% response rate, which falls well within the expected response rate for an email survey. The survey results showed that every responding institution was undertaking business analysis activities, with over 65% having a dedicated business analysis team. This clearly shows that there is a recognised need for business analysis activities in the sector. When we looked at the average size of the business analysis teams, we found that it came in at around five members of staff on average, which shows that it is still considered a relatively small area of operations for most organisations. The majority of business analysis teams had been in existence for less than ten years, however most institutions had been undertaking analysis activities prior to the formation of a dedicated business analysis team. The question that gave us a real insight into the maturity of the business analysis function, showed us that 70% of organisations still see the business analysis function as an IT related one. In a mature organisation, we would expect to see the business analysis function sitting with and supporting the senior management team of the organisation. One may argue that just because they are located in an IT function they still may be closely aligned to senior management.  However, evidence shows that most organisations still consider them to be an IT asset with half of business analysts in the sector only working on IT change projects.

Overall, the survey results show us that as a sector we have not matured enough to be in a position to assist in driving the business strategy. As a sector, we are still working mainly on IT driven change initiatives and are based within the ITS function. The majority of business analysts are not undertaking market and competitor analysis or getting involved in pre-project work, such as feasibility studies and business case development.

In 2011 and 2012, the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) undertook a similar survey in the UK. The results showed that the average maturity levels for business analysis functions based in industry matched those found from our 2016 survey of HE institutions. However, as the IIBA survey was four years older than the HE one I carried out, we can hypothesise they have made some progress in maturing as a sector in those intervening years.

The question then arose, how do we as a community compare against business analysts working in the commercial sector?

I wanted to get an understanding of the tools and techniques they were using, to see if they were ahead of the game compared to the HE sector. Do they experience the same issues when undertaking their analysis, did they have the same frustrations as us and encounter the same blockers? What methods did they employ to attempt to overcome obstacles?

Through UCISA’s Groups and Communities of Practice, the HE community is offered an excellent platform to share knowledge, experience and good practice. To step outside this community and gain knowledge of the commercial field, the UCISA bursary scheme allows you the opportunity to attend conferences such as the IIBA conference. This gives you the opportunity to meet and hear first-hand from Business Analysts working outside of the HE sector.

In 2016, I was lucky enough to be awarded a UCISA bursary to attend the IIBA conference in London. I found the experience gave me an invaluable opportunity to gain knowledge on the role of a business analyst working in the corporate world. Listening to presentations from speakers who came from a mix of corporate backgrounds on the topics that mattered to them, gave me an insight into the issues they faced, the tools they used and solutions that had worked for them.

The main recurring theme of the conference was not one of the newest tools, or methodologies but one of the age old issues that faces every business analyst, one of capturing the requirements effectively. I saw several speakers that presented this topic in unique ways and from different angles but the message boiled down to the same fact. As analysts when capturing requirements, we must listen to what our stakeholders really want and stop trying to solutionize and jump to conclusions without capturing the real facts.

The second topic that seemed to be prevalent at the conference was of course, Agile. I know from personal experience in the HE sector many of us are only just starting to dip our toe into the world of Agile project delivery. I found that while the corporate world had been using Agile for a number of years they were still struggling with the same basic issues of trying to fit Agile into organisational structures that were not designed to support this type of delivery. For example:

  • Off shore development teams supporting project managers and analysts working in the UK.
  • Trying to fit Agile delivery into project management structures where the supporting processes were originally developed to support waterfall delivery of projects.
  • Gaining real buy in from senior management to support Agile delivery and provide the Agile teams with someone from the business that would be not only a dedicated resource to the project, but one with the authority to make the business decisions required by the development teams.

Of course, the conference providers ensured there were lots of chances to network in between sessions and this gave me the perfect opportunity to chat one-to-one with other business analysts and delve a bit deeper into their experiences.

The key learning point for me from the whole experience is that there are very little differences between our worlds. Yes, our products or services may differ but the challenges we face as business analysts remain the same. We all struggle to get recognition for the importance of the analyst’s role, we are all bought in too late to projects to have a real impact on the outcome, and we are all given too little resource to undertake the analysis effectively. The funding from the UCISA bursary to attend the conference informed my knowledge of the business analysis sector outside of the HE environment. I believe this knowledge is invaluable to business analyst working in HE as it enables us to mature and grow beyond the confines of our own sector.

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.