Webinar: Business Analysts in State and Local Government Agencies

This is the continuation of the transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of "Top Trends for Business Analysts." The speaker is Rick Smith, Senior Business Analyst at InetSoft.

If we look at business analysts in state and local government agencies, it’s a little bit different story there. State and local government agencies are often played with. And gosh I don’t how they do it, but they really are played with a lot. The biggest one of late is because of budget cutbacks at state and local agencies, there is a tremendous push to eliminate waste, waste where projects are concerned.

One of the first places that they are looking are at the requirements and practices. It’s interesting to know that as these requirements practices are getting better, there has been increased pressure on some of the outsourced vendors that are working with state and local agencies to also get better.

So, you are going to see some of the other trends manifest themselves as a result of this one as well. And this is not an isolated situation. This is not just the U.S. government. It’s the Canadian government. It’s the Singaporean government, the Japanese government, and the Indian government. It has spread all over the world. We are starting to see you a very slow proliferation as the world of business analysis grows.

In the federal government I'll add this, too. One of the things that we're seeing requirements management practices really starting to show signs of life is in contract management or acquisition where we have these contracting officers who are responsible for preparing request proposals or request for information and doing so based on the merits of requirements that they are receiving from maybe subject interactions with the business unit owners.

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Validation of BI Requirements

And so in order for them to a qualify and make certain of their requirements are sound before they send them out to tender, they need some sort of validation process.Some of the contracting officers we talk to say that we have selection criteria, and it’s largely based on a dollar value, but there is a huge initiative within the federal government to say we're trying to evaluate this is not only based on value, but quality of services and quality of requirements and quality of goods procured.

So we’re starting to requirements manifest themselves throughout that acquisition process as well. I think it’s going to be a slow trend, I think we could probably safely say that next year this is why it will probably be like, and we can hopefully make the case today that this will continue to grow through government agencies around the world.

Agile methods, I mean I had to throw this in. I have got to tell you that everywhere you turn you hear agile, agile, agile and I think the biggest struggle that we’re looking at here is how does the role of the business analyst fit? While I don’t have all of the answers, I could share with you what I have seen. Certainly a project owner is a good opportunity, although I am certain that there are folks on the phone out there who might argue otherwise, and that’s fair. I am open to that.

We know there are what we would call supporting task members that support strong projects moving forward. Business analysts definitely have a role there as well, entity and opportunity for business analyst in an agile world as maybe the individual or group of individuals who initiate a project or evaluation through an agile lifecycle. I think the business analyst will facilitate conversations and discussions and look at high level requirements and begin to develop those high level user stories with audiences that are involved in that procurement of goods and services.

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So, I think that is a wonderful opportunity for BAs to look at it, but one thing that I would advise and caution on, and I think it’s a big area for debate is, let’s not be so stringent and structured about our titles so much as we are stringent and structured about the discipline of capturing requirements of a function of our role more so than our titles. I think we debate far too much on whether or not that role should be that role and vice versa.

If we can contribute to a self-organizing team then we certainly should be there, for instance, contributing as much as we can. But I agree and again there is still lots of room for debate over there, and these are some of the things that I see going on out there in the world, again points for pontification and conversation.

All right, we got a poll here. Here is the question, is your organization currently practicing or thinking about putting into place agile practices and/or scrum, Kanban or XP methods? Let’s see what the audience has to say. We think the group is going come out fine.

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