The Global State of Business Analysis

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1 The Global State of Business Analysis Buil

2 2 Business Analysis Global Survey Report EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Organizations around the globe are using business analysis (BA) to define requirements and determine courses of action and solutions to help them achieve their goals. BA activities are critical to project and organizational success, but success requires standards of practice and adherence to the BA discipline. How good are organizations at practicing BA? Are they realizing its full potential? In September 2011, ESI International conducted a survey of professionals with varying titles within organizations worldwide to ask about their experiences and perceptions of BA. This global study seeks to determine the actual business impact that BA has on organizations, and examines its current state by inquiring into BA practices, trends, challenges and applications of the BA discipline. The more than 1,600 respondents, who represent a broad spectrum of industries, including the public sector, answered questions about their organizations, including the following: How do they rate the proficiency of their overall BA function? How do they rate the proficiency of their individual BA activities? What are the key success factors for their projects? We found that proficiency in BA can vary among activities and among organizations, but respondents are essentially satisfied with their BA practices and outcomes. While people believe their organizations BA practices are good, analysis shows there is room for improvement, indicating that good isn t necessarily good enough. Gaps exist in certain BA areas, such as: Proficiency in BA activities The practice of BA at the enterprise level Levels of experience Achieving certification in BA ESI International, Inc This report is the copyrighted property of ESI International, Inc. All rights reserved.

3 3 SURVEY RESULTS THE SURVEY REVEALED SOME KEY FINDINGS: Respondents view BA as crucial to successful projects and in fact, the overall rating of BA functions is highly related to project success rates. CHART 1. PROJECT SUCCESS AND BA PROFICIENCY ARE POSITIVELY CORRELATED Percent of Respondents 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% BA Overall Rating Poor BA Overall Rating Fair BA Overall Rating Good BA Overall Rating Very Good BA Overall Rating Excellent Less than 25% 25% - 50% 51% - 74% 75% - 99% 100% % Projects Successful Contradicting external findings of project results, more than 90 percent of respondents consider more than half their projects to have been successful over the last three years. Sixty-eight percent of respondents consider 75 percent or more of their projects to have been successful. Middle management is more critical of the BA function than senior management, yet business analysts also see room for improvement.

4 4 CHART 2. RATING OF BA PROFICIENCY BY ORGANIZATIONAL TITLE Percent of Respondents 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% Poor Fair Good Very Good Excellent C-Level Executive Manager/ Vice President Senior Manager Project Manager Business Analyst Organizational Titles Respondents at all levels of the organization rated the most important success factors of their projects as: Customer satisfaction: 81 percent Time completion: 62 percent Budget delivery: 52 percent Product quality: 46 percent Survey results indicated that BA is not viewed as being impactful to business results. Only 22 percent of respondents said profit impact is an important success factor for BA. Just 15 percent said acquisition and retention of customers are important success criteria for BA, while four percent said market share. Just under 20 percent of total respondents said that they are responsible for enterprise analysis, and only seven percent said that they spent most of their time on enterprise analysis. Among BAs, only 26.3 percent are responsible for enterprise analysis and 6.5 percent said that they spent most of their time on enterprise analysis. Nearly half of BA practitioners have five years or less of BA experience; of them, 15 percent have less than two years of experience. Twenty-one percent have six to nine years experience and 30 percent have 10 years or more. Thirty-seven percent of organizations have increased their number of BA positions in the last two years, and 27 percent expect to increase them over the next two years. The key challenges faced in BA are communication (47 percent) and cross-functional collaboration (46 percent). BA certification is not widespread in organizations. Only 2.5 percent of total respondents said they have their CBAP certification, and 6.4 percent of BA respondents have their CBAP certification. Less than two percent of total respondents and one percent of BA respondents said they have a SCRUM Master certification. CBAP is a registered certification mark owned by International Institute of Business Analysis. This certification mark is used with the express permission of International Institute of Business Analysis.

5 5 CONCLUSIONS ORGANIZATIONS ARE USING BUSINESS ANALYSIS TO WIN THE BATTLE, BUT THEY MAY NOT WIN THE WAR The survey shows respondents make the connection between BA proficiency and project success, but that a disconnect still exists in recognizing the impact of BA and successful projects on business value and results. This could likely be the result of individuals granular focus on projects without seeing the big picture. In addition, BAs do not always understand their impact on the organization from a financial or business perspective since they often conduct task-oriented work with stakeholders who may also lack an overall perspective. Both business analysts and project managers need to become more involved at the enterprise level. Not surprisingly, enterprise analysis ranks lowest in proficiency among business analysis activities. Without an enterprise analysis perspective, BAs lack the connection between what they are doing and why they are doing it. So while they may be winning the project battle, they don t have the enterprise-wide perspective to win the war. MOST BELIEVE GOOD IS GOOD ENOUGH The majority of respondents believe that their BA competencies are good to excellent, and that 75 percent or more of their projects over the last three years were successful. However, since real-world evidence indicates otherwise, organizations may be in need of a reality check. BA IN DEMAND DESPITE INEXPERIENCE AND IMMATURITY OF THE PROFESSION The survey shows a relatively large population of less experienced practitioners of BA, with nearly half reporting five years or less of experience. The still maturing nature of BA has numerous implications for organizations since it impacts performance, including the potential for business analysts to work from an enterprise perspective, handle challenges within their discipline and their organizations, and achieve a level of proficiency and success equated with more seasoned professionals. Despite this, organizations recognize the critical importance of requirements management and BA, with survey results showing an increase in the number of business analyst positions in the last two years, and an increased number of business analyst positions projected over the next two years. CERTIFICATION, TOOLS LACKING TO SUPPORT THE BA DISCIPLINE IN ORGANIZATIONS Establishing BA as an organizational discipline may be undermined by a lack of the supporting elements of the profession. The survey results show that BA certifications are held by a very small percentage of those practicing the discipline, unlike its project management counterpart, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Just as surprising may be the small percentage of SCRUM Master certifications, given the importance of Agile as an explosive development methodology. In addition, BA tools are not as prevalent as might be expected given their potential enhancement to the business analyst s output, with more than one-third of respondents reporting no use of dedicated tools at all. SUMMARY In a competitive and economically challenging environment, there is always room for improvement in BA, as well as in other areas. Organizations that allow themselves to stand still will be left behind. Raising expectations for and the proficiency of BA in organizations is key to helping organizations realize the full potential of the discipline and maximize BA s business impact. PMP is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

6 6 SURVEY RESULTS PROJECT PARTICIPANTS MISSING THE BIG PICTURE The ultimate impact that projects have on decreasing costs and increasing revenues is directly related to profitability; profitability is the reason that organizations do projects at all. In our questioning of respondents about the state of BA, we believe the most significant finding is that project participants are failing to make the connection between their tasks and activities and their impact on business profitability. Organizational profit impact ranked fifth among the top criteria for successful projects when survey respondents were asked which were most important to them and the organization. CHART 3. THE TOP CRITERIA YOU CONSIDER KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF PROJECTS (RANK THE TOP THREE) 1400 Number of Responses Customer Satisfaction On-Time Completion On-Budget Completion Quality of the Product Organizational Profit Impact Retention of Current Clients/Customers (External/Internal) Number of Defects Number of Changes Requests Acquisition of New Clients/Customers (External/Internal) Impact on Market Share Being First to Market Other Project Success Measures While the larger business issue of profitability could be understandably overlooked at the task-oriented level, organizations should be aware that such inattention could be a root cause of related and unrecognized project deficiencies. Given these results, organizations have the responsibility to establish the training and communication needed to point out these links at the project level. BAs LACK ENTERPRISE PERSPECTIVE The project activities for which most survey respondents said they are responsible are project management (69 percent), requirements analysis (69 percent) and requirements management (68 percent). Among the activities for which the least number of respondents were responsible are portfolio management and enterprise analysis (both cited by 20 percent).

7 7 CHART 4. SURVEY RESPONDENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FOLLOWING PROJECT ACTIVITIES (SELECT ALL THAT APPLY) Percent of Respndents 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 20% 20% 32% 40% 47% 49% 52% 59% 63% 63% 68% 69% 69% Portfolio Management Enterprise Analysis Program Management Systems Analysis Requirements Elicitation Project Evaluation Solution Assessment and Validation Requirements Monitoring Requirements Planning Requirements Communication Requirements Management Requirements Analysis Project Management Project Activities Looking at the time spent on project activities, 44 percent of survey respondents said that project management takes up the greatest amount of their time, followed by requirements analysis (39 percent) and requirements management (37 percent). CHART 5. WHICH ACTIVITIES TAKE UP THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF YOUR TIME? (SELECT THE TOP 3) Number of Responses Project Management Requirements Analysis Requirements Management Requirements Elicitation Solution Assessment and Validation Program Management Requirements Monitoring Requirements Communication Requirements Planning Total Respondents: 1632 Systems Analysis Project Evaluation Portfolio Management Enterprise Analysis Given the focus on project management, it is likely that not enough BA muscle is being flexed, and organizations are relying on project management to steer the right course. Project Activities

8 8 Since PM focuses on what is urgent while BA focuses on what is important, the results indicate that a more balanced portfolio of project activities between the two disciplines will prevent the urgent taking precedence over the important. REPORTED BA PROFICIENCY, PROJECT SUCCESS IN QUESTION Survey respondents reported high rates of proficiency of overall BA and individual BA activities, although later in this report, we will see that a lack of experience and professional certification call these ratings into question. Thirty-five percent rated the overall proficiency of their BA function as very good or excellent, while 39 percent rated it good. CHART 6. RATE THE OVERALL PROFICIENCY OF THE BUSINESS ANALYSIS FUNCTION WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION 4.7% Poor 5.5% Excellent 20.5% Fair 30% Very Good 39.3% Good Respondents also rated their organizations proficiency as good to excellent in: Business analysis, planning and monitoring (70 percent) Elicitation (62 percent) Requirements management and communication (68 percent) Enterprise analysis (52 percent) Requirements analysis (73 percent) Solution assessment and validation (69 percent)

9 9 CHART 7. RATE THE PROFICIENCY OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING BUSINESS ANALYSIS ACTIVITIES IN YOUR ORGANIZATION Number of Responses Don t Know Poor Fair Good Very Good Excellent Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring Elicitation Requirements Management and Communication Enterprise Analysis Requirements Analysis Solution Assessment and Validation Business Analysis Functions As noted in the executive summary, organizations should be aware of contradictions between reported project success rates and BA proficiency rates, compared with the known realities of projects and failure rates. CHART 8. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE PROJECTS THAT YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN OVER THE LAST 3 YEARS DO YOU CONSIDER TO HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL 6.1% 25-50% 2.3% Less than 25% 11.9% 100% 23.4% 51-74% 56.3% 75-99% If current BA proficiencies are so highly rated and a large majority of projects are considered successful, then the challenge remains for organizations to establish and achieve higher standards of excellence.

10 10 BUSINESS ANALYST CERTIFICATIONS LAGGING Part of the challenge in achieving higher standards of excellence may be due to the relatively small numbers of certified business analysts. Survey results show that business analyst certifications are currently lagging behind PMP certification among those practicing BA. Thirty-two percent of respondents have their PMP, although this is not surprising given it has been available far longer than other project professional certifications. Only seven percent of respondents said they have a business analyst certification. However, 9 percent said they are planning to earn a business analyst certification within the next six months and 18 percent are planning to in the next two years. Twenty-five percent of overall respondents and 24 percent of business analyst respondents said they are not planning on obtaining any certification. CHART 9. WHICH BEST DESCRIBES YOUR CERTIFICATION STATUS (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Percent of Respondents 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 32.4% 25.2% % 1.9% 1.8% 0.6% I have a PMP certification I am not planning on obtaining any certification Other I plan to earn a BA certification within the next two years I plan to earn a BA certification within the next 6 months I have a CBAP certification I have a Prince2 certification I have a SCRUM Master certification I have the ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis Responses PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE SHOWS BA STILL MATURING Responses regarding the amount of time spent actively performing BA activities provide indications of experience levels as well as insight into why a relatively low number of CBAP certifications has been earned. Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) have only five years or less of experience, while the CBAP requires seven or more years of experience. Twenty-one percent have six to nine years while 30 percent have 10 or more years of experience. The years of BA experience reported by respondents is also an indication of the immaturity of the profession.

11 11 CHART 10. AMOUNT OF TIME SPENT ACTIVELY PERFORMING THE BUSINESS ANALYSIS/REQUIREMENTS MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE 15% Less than 2 years 34% 2-5 years 21% 6-9 years 30% 10 years or more ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGES FACING BUSINESS ANALYSTS Survey results showing the challenges business analysts face in the organization offer few surprises. Communication and crossfunctional collaboration lead among top challenges with 47 percent and 46 percent of respondents, respectively, citing them. These difficulties underscore the importance of training and professional development to reduce impediments to better performance and improved project and organizational results. CHART 11. WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING POSE CHALLENGES IN YOUR ORGANIZATION AS THEY RELATE TO BUSINESS ANALYSIS/REQUIREMENTS MANAGEMENT? (SELECT ALL THAT APPLY) Percent of Respondents 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 47.3% 46.1% 34.1% 33.7% 33.4% 33.1% 29.2% 27.4% 24.3% 24% 20% 15.2% 4.1% Communication with Executives, Project Managers and Business Unit Heads Cross-Functional Collaboration Stakeholder Management Involvement at the Initial Project Stages Training/Professional Development Balance of Technical and Soft Skills Purchase and Adoption of Requirements Management Tools Executive Support Communications with IT Understanding of Career Path Progression Involvement with Quality Assurance Practices (Testing) Certification None of the Above Business Functions

12 12 FEWER PROJECTS OF LONGER LENGTH The majority of respondents said that they work on a fewer number of projects of longer length; 33 percent said they have worked on one project lasting 18 months or more in the last three years. When considering years of experience respondents reported, it can be inferred that there is a relatively inexperienced population of people working on mission-critical, long-term projects. CHART 12. NUMBER OF PROJECTS YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH IN THE LAST THREE YEARS THAT LASTED 18 MONTHS OR LONGER Percent of Responses Months or more One year to 18 months 6 months to one year 3-6 months Less than 3 months 1 Project 2 Projects 3 Projects 4 Projects 5 Projects Number of Projects TOOLS OF THE TRADE As mentioned previously, business analysts have a surprising lack of dedicated tools at their disposal. Fifteen percent said they do not use any tools, 14 percent are using basic Microsoft Office software and five percent are using, in-house developed solutions. While this is a likely a reflection of the lack of maturity of BA in the marketplace, it is foreseeable that in five years, these results will be significantly different.

13 13 CHART 13. WHICH TOOLS DO YOU USE REGULARLY IN BUSINESS ANALYSIS ACTIVITIES? (SELECT ALL THAT APPLY) Percent of Respondents 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 34.6% 46.1% Other IBM Rational Software Suite Rational RequisitePro 14.6% None 13.6% Microsoft Office 5.4% Case Complete 5.1% 4.9% None of the Above Homegrown/In-House Developed Tools Borland Caliber RM 4.6% 4.4% 2.7% 2.3% 1.6% 1.3% Blueprint Requirements Center irise Suite of Product Rally Software Ravenflow InteGREAT edev Technologies Business Analysis Tool A GROWING POPULATION OF BUSINESS ANALYSTS Despite the challenges and immaturity of the profession, the BA community has grown and organizations are continuing to invest in their BA competency. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said their organizations had increased the number of business analysts in the last two years, and 27 percent of respondents said their organizations plan to increase their number of business analysts in the next two years. While the survey results did not indicate whether these positions would be filled in house or outsourced, these robust employment findings are a testament to the importance of the BA function amidst economic uncertainty and lingering unemployment. CHART 14. HOW MANY BUSINESS ANALYSTS ARE EMPLOYED BY THE DIVISION OR ORGANIZATION YOU WORK FOR? 24.5% 50 or more 3% % % Less than % % 10-19

14 14 CHART 15. COMPARED TO TWO YEARS AGO HAS THE NUMBER OF BUSINESS ANALYSTS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION INCREASED, DECREASED OR STAYED THE SAME? 24.5% Don t know 36.8% Increased 26.5% Stayed the same 17% Decreased SOCIAL MEDIA TAKING A KEY ROLE IN INFORMATION EXCHANGE FOR BA In a sign of the times, social media has taken on an integral role in training and career development in business analysis, as it has in most other professions. People are using some social media channels, including LinkedIn (35 percent) and YouTube (13 percent), more than traditional BA communities of practice. CHART 16. WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING HAVE YOU USED FOR TRAINING OR CAREER DEVELOPMENT? (SELECT ALL THAT APPLY) Percent of Respondents 40% 38.9% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 34.9% 20.4% 17.2% 13.1% 12.5% 8.6% 8.3% 7.7% 5.7% 4.2% 2.1% None of the Above LinkedIn IIBA Community of Practice YouTube Business Analyst Times Modern Analyst BA Center of Excellence Facebook BAMentor Twitter RQNG Career Development Tools

15 15 SURVEY METHODOLOGY In September 2011, ESI International sent an survey of 24 close-ended questions to organizational professionals from the executive to project level who are responsible for project activities in public and private organizations in the Americas, EMEA and Asia/Pacific regions. A total of 1,632 respondents participated in the survey, but not all respondents answered every survey question. The survey was anonymous unless respondents wanted to receive the results, in which case they had to provide additional information. SURVEY DEMOGRAPHICS CHART 17. RESPONDENTS BY ORGANIZATIONAL TITLE 17.9% Other 4.4% Business Unit Manager 1.6% C-Level 3% Executive Manager/Vice President 7.6% Senior Manager 11.3% Program Manager 6.1% Consultant 0.9% Head of PMO 22.3% Business Analyst 25% Project Manager

16 16 CHART 18. RESPONDENTS BY INDUSTRY 4% Aerospace/Defense 4% Telecommunications 5% Manufacturing 5% Energy/Utilities 21% Government 7% Pharmaceutical and Healthcare 19% Financial Services 23% Other 12% Information Technology CHART 19. ORGANIZATION SIZE BY NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 13.9% 50,001- or more 10.8% % 25,001-50, % % 10,001-25, % 6,001-10, % 501-1, % 1,501-6,000

17 17 CHART 20. RESPONDENTS BY GEOGRAPHICAL REGION 4% EMEA 23% Asia Pacific 73% North/South America THE ESI SOLUTION ESI International, the leading provider of project management, program management, business analysis, business skills and contract learning programs, has helped some of the world s most successful organizations turn learning into business results. ESI can help identify pre- and postprogram design Talent, strategies Driving and processes Results that can drive successful learning transfer and identify Building training techniques to support on-the-job application of learning. These insights can help domestic and international corporations and public agencies actively manage and refine their learning programs so that learning objectives become concrete business objectives. With the support of our educational partner, The George Washington University in Washington, DC, ESI has helped more than one million professionals and 1,000 clients worldwide achieve individual and organizational objectives. Visit ESI at or call

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