STAR BASE Consulting
is conducting a new pulse survey this month asking the question “is there really a rivalry between IT and Business or is this all just sensationalized hype?” I am very interested in seeing the results of this survey, but I believe I can predict the results. In almost every organization I have ever worked in the “Us vs. Them” culture existed. The relationship between IT and Business was more segregated, even adversarial at times, than that of a partnership.
Kupe tackles this topic this week on BA Times
, where he discusses creating an environment in which the business wants to work with IT to derive technology-driven solutions. Doug Goldberg does an in-depth analysis of the subject on his blog
, in which he describes approaches that a business-side analyst and an IT-side analyst to take to create a collaborative environment.
This topic is nothing new, just as the relationship between IT and Business is nothing new.
It took decades to get it where it is today. I am sure you can find bright spots in which IT and Business work together to achieve their goals, but in more organizations than not, this is not the case. Just as business processes and technology advance year by year, the relationship between IT and Business can be made better. I believe the Business Analyst is in prime position to turn the relationship around to a positive, collaborative, trusting relationship in which the two work together to achieve the strategic goals and initiatives of the organization. Why the BA? The BA is one role that works on both sides of the fence. The BA works with business stakeholders to bring out requirements for business improvement or application development solutions. The BA also works with the IT Solution Delivery Team to develop the solution that meets the business requirements. As the BA works with both teams, they are in prime position to bridge the gap between the two. So how should the BA go about bridging the gap?Build a Relationship of Trust
One of the often overlooked roles of the Business Analyst is that of liaison between IT and the Business. In order to fulfill this role the BA must have a relationship with both sides of the organization. That relationship has to be built on trust. The business must understand that the BA is there not only to gather requirements but to understand the needs of the business and represent those needs to the IT delivery team. The IT delivery team must feel that the BA will represent the capabilities and limitations of technology to the business. Communicate
The greatest factor that creates the “Us vs. Them” relationship is a lack of understanding. The business wonders why it takes IT so long to make a seemingly easy change. The IT application development team feels that business can not communicate effectively and does not understand the process of making application enhancements. Last month
I spoke about creating a shared vision
in relation to requirements and IT solutions. The BA should also create a shared vision
of the needs and limitations of one organization to the other. The BA can communicate not only the requirements for IT solutions, but the stakeholder concerns surrounding those requirements. This adds context and can improve the ultimate solution developed as it increases the IT delivery team’s understanding. The BA can communicate to the business that the process of making application enhancements is more involved then changing a little piece of code and there it is. Testing, Quality Assurance, moving changes to production, Sox regulations, post-install processes and support are all time consuming tasks and increase the amount of time it takes the IT application development team to make an application enhancement. The more the business understands about these processes and the value they add to the solution, the more considerate they will be to the needs of the IT delivery team.Build the Bridge
Through effective communication of the needs and limitations of one side of the business to the other and representing the other team to each team the BA can build a bridge
of understanding between the two groups. By making each side realize that we are all in this together and desire the same outcome, you can build a relationship of trust and get rid of the “Us vs. Them” scenario and replace it with a collaborative working relationship that brings about better IT solutions to business needs.
So take the liaison role of the BA seriously and work to replace the adversarial relationship with a collaborative, understanding relationship. In this way you can show the BA value to the organization.