23 March 2010

Business Analysis: Theory and Practice

It had been quite a few years since I went to a British Computer Society meeting (my techie days are long behind me) but I was tempted to go to one on business transformation in local government.

It was a meeting in two halves and my reaction to these was quite different.

First up we had Debbie Paul giving us Business Analysis 101. This was a bit basic but was obviously useful to the techies, i.e. most people there, who are more used to dealing with boxes and code than business processes and people.

I had no real complaints over this part, as demonstrated by the lack of the usual derogatory comments in my notebook. I would argue that some of what was described crept from Business Analysis in to Business Consulting (this is where I think Business Change sits) but there is no point in arguing over imprecise terms so I was happy to let this ride.

In the second half of the talk James Archer gave a detailed explanation of a current project where some Business Analysis techniques were used.

There were some good parts to the story but it brought back too many bad memories from Lambeth of how bad local government is.

In particular, the project was not that ambitious, it was little more than a new web site, but it had still taken almost a year to get to the initial, and not yet working, release.

And secondly, the approach seemed to be well behind the latest thinking. For example, they had made the step of realising that they should describe their care homes in as much detail as their hostels but had completely missed that the current expectation is to include user feedback too. Sites like Amazon and Trip Advisor have done this for years and, frankly, this should be a minimum requirement these days.

The speaker was sincere, enthusiastic and knowledgeable but I felt that he was trapped in a small cage without seeing the bars.

The evening ended well with some networking over unexpected wine and nibbles which probably did just about enough to tempt me back to another BCS event if they ever stray into Business Consulting territory again.

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