Are you getting the complete view of your IT projects?

13 September 2016

What do IT projects and houses have in common? They’re both big investments, something that you’ll have to live with for an extended period of time, and with the potential to cost more than it’s worth if not investigated properly.

Many of us have walked into an open home and been blinded by love. The ambiance and homely feel have masked the borer holes in the floorboards, the rot under the window sills and the draft in the living room. The flaws are dismissed as ‘character’ and the hunger for possession overtakes even the most sensible of people. And then there are the things you don’t see.  What’s the land like? Is it structurally sound? What’s the property actually worth? Simply put, we’re not experts, and so we call in the specialists; lawyers, building inspectors, property valuers, and mortgage brokers.

 It’s common knowledge that when evaluating to purchase a property, it’s wise to get a second, third and even fourth independent opinion as peace of mind and assurance that your investment is a practical one. So why should it be any different when developing a significant IT project?

A high performing team of Business Analysts (BAs) is required for carrying out substantial IT projects, but getting the balance right between internal and external judgements is key to project success. Too much emphasis on external analysis and you may lose sight of the in depth understanding of the company’s needs - just like you wouldn’t purchase a home you’ve never visited, but had had all the external evaluations completed. On the flip side, only having internal analysis completed may result in missing certain issues due to having a narrower view - like buying a house without having it inspected by a qualified builder.

The difference between internal BAs and consultant BAs is breadth of experience; insular but strong domain expertise gained from their environment, or a wider picture approach gained from multi-industry best practice expertise. Business analysis is a dynamic discipline involving regular innovation in practice and tools. Remaining ‘methodology agnostic’ (utilising best practice and applying appropriate approaches in any given situation) is necessary for success.

Injecting independent, external BAs into the mix will create the shift your business needs by providing insights, neutral opinions, and findings that are hard for internal or vendor BAs to provide. 

Externally resourced BAs also give you an “on demand” resource that can scale with your projects, helping reduce overhead costs as well as enabling you to respond quickly. You also get access to a broad range of practical experience across different domains and industry sectors, and a wide and current awareness of best practice methodologies. 

The process is an independent analytical and pragmatic one, as external BAs aren’t restricted by being on-staff or allied with a vendor. They are focused on quality outcomes from the early stages of the project, resulting in requirements that are inherently more testable, and making the process of tracing faults found in the testing back to requirement easier. 

Just like buying a house, engaging with independent analysts who can view the situation without being blinded by love or ulterior motives is crucial to bringing assurance that you’re on the right track to making a good IT investment that will bring value to the company.

Qual IT have published a white paper that discusses the role of the BA in an IT project’s success and ways they can be better utilised. Download the white paper Creating more BA superheroes to learn more.