Monday, 07 March 2016 09:09

Realizing Value:The Latest Trend or Here to Stay - Part 2

Written by Elizabeth Larson & Richard Larson

In January we published our annual article about the seven trends in business analysis and project management. In Part 1 of this article we discussed the relationship of value to all of the trends. We also defined that very ambiguous term.

We showed how innovation for the sake of being innovative and Agile for the sake of being Agile was meaningless as ends in themselves. Finally, we looked at the first two trends through the prism of adding value to the organization. In Part 2 we will discuss value in relation to the other 5 trends.

Trend #3 Moving beyond our traditional PM and BA roles

We predicted that traditional BA and PM responsibilities would be augmented by involvement in strategic activities. This strategic focus is needed to ensure that our initiatives bring value to the enterprise as a whole, not just segmented interest groups. We said that project managers would be increasingly focused on delivering the benefits and value outlined in the business case and charter and that business analysts who can question the strategic implications of projects and facilitate understanding the real business need behind stated needs will provide increased value to the organization and its customers. In other words, both project managers and business analysts will be expected to add value by ensuring that they deliver it.

Trend #4 Lightweight practices are not just for Scrum anymore

We emphasized that project managers and others are finally making peace with the idea that delivering value is what matters, not whether or not they’re Agile or how Agile are they. As we said, the angst increasingly is no longer about whether organizations or teams can call themselves Agile; but rather whether what they’re doing benefits the organization. We are happy to see that the industry conversation has already begun to shift from being Agile to providing value “agile-y.”

Trend #5 Certifications - and the winners are. . . .

Certifications and professional designations are almost always obtained to provide value. Sometimes the value is to the organization. For example, hiring certified PMs, BAs, or scrum masters means that the hiring organization can rely on a level of knowledge and consistency, thus avoiding training and onboarding costs. Sometimes the perceived value is to the individual who feels that the designation will increase their value to a hiring organization. We do not know which certifications will be perceived as providing the most value to individuals or organizations or, for that matter, how much value they provide. However, we do know that the number of PMPs, CBAPs, PMI-PBAs, CSMs, and CPOs continues to increase and will for the foreseeable future.

Trend #6 Designs during analysis bring business value quicker



To understand how this trend focuses on value, it is helpful to understand the distinction between requirements (descriptions of the business need) and designs (descriptions of the functionality needed to build the solution). Requirements help us understand what problem needs to be solved and/or what opportunity is out there for the organization to take advantage of. Designs are not technical specifications. They are features of the solution which will address the business need. Remember that requirements and designs are not separate phases of the project lifecycle. They are both part of business analysis. So how do designs add value? By developing designs in conjunction with requirements rather than waiting for the requirements to be fleshed out, we enable each feature to be developed and delivered sooner, thereby creating value sooner.

Trend #7 Workforce trends are impacting project work and organizations

There are a number of trends related to getting work done and the need for value.

  • Communication is increasingly becoming less formal and more frequent. Therefore, the cost of meetings, formerly associated with formal, scripted, inflexible agendas is decreasing. That is not to say that we will return to the chaos of disorganized, unproductive meetings. It means that the facilitator as dictator and gatekeeper of a formal agenda is a thing of the past. As part of this trend, we are starting to reclaim some of the connectedness we recently lost working virtually. People now realize that face-to-face meetings are generally more effective and can be shorter than virtual meetings, despite the improved online tools. This translates to lower costs and increased value.

This means that meetings will need to be valuable to the participants. Having short, informal, face-to-face meetings that can quickly get to the desired meeting outcome enables participants to spend more of their time working towards their operational business objectives. It follows that the better they can meet their goals and objectives, the more value they bring to their organizations. Meetings that are “fantastic wastes of time” and which do not add value will no longer be accepted.

  • Similarly, to address the preferences of many younger workers, learning events are becoming shorter and more personalized. Increasingly they need to be seen as highly valuable. Social media will help ensure that large numbers of people become aware of low-value learning events, which will ultimately lead to low attendance and eventually its demise.
  • Organizations are beginning to adjust to the fact that they need to add value to employees if they have any hope of retaining them. Both younger workers with new ideas and older workers with knowledge and experience will present a challenge to organizations who have to continually find ways to provide value to these workers and motivate them to stay.

In summary, the seven trends that we discussed in January are not separate trends. Each contributes to the overall value that PMs and BAs provide to organizations. And, they are definitely here to stay.

About the Authors

Elizabeth Larson, PMP, CBAP, CSM, PMI-PBA is Co-Principal and CEO of Watermark Learning and has over 30 years of experience in project management and business analysis. Elizabeth’s speaking history includes repeat presentations for national and international conferences on five continents.

Elizabeth has co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation. She has also co-authored chapters published in four separate books. Elizabeth was a lead author on several standards including the PMBOK® Guide, BABOK® Guide, and PMI’s Business Analysis for Practitioners – A Practice Guide.

Richard Larson, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, President and Founder of Watermark Learning, is a successful entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in business analysis, project management, training, and consulting. He has presented workshops and seminars on business analysis and project management topics to over 10,000 participants on five different continents.

Rich loves to combine industry best practices with a practical approach and has contributed to those practices through numerous speaking sessions around the world. He has also worked on the BA Body of Knowledge versions 1.6-3.0, the PMI BA Practice Guide, and the PM Body of Knowledge, 4th edition. He and his wife Elizabeth Larson have co-authored five books on business analysis and certification preparation.

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