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What Roles Can Business Analysts Play in a BPM Projects?

If you are a Business Analyst (BA), you may have already been asked to contribute to a BPM improvement project or even played a major role in the project. How can a Business Analyst (or Process Engineer or Systems Analyst – other names I see companies use for very similar jobs) provide real value for a BPM process improvement project?  What capabilities does the BA bring and what additional skills are needed?

What the Business Analyst does varies by size, type of company, and whether the position reports to IT or the Business. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) says the role can range from executing business or IT projects, to guiding them, to strategically creating them.

Sample job requirements for the Business Analyst include:

  • Translate complex business inputs from Business and Operations into technical solutions
  • Influence the technology team to implement solutions and enhancements that ensure technical compatibility and user satisfaction
  • Have solid subject matter expertise in one or more areas such as Data analysis, Data integration, specific organizational functions or products, ERP Systems or other applications
  • Apply a focused set of techniques to resolve complex business problems – such as business rules analysis, data modeling, process modeling, Agile, Lean Six Sigma, key performance indicators, change management, and communication
  • Facilitate subject matter experts, end-users and other stakeholders to identify business requirements, recommend solutions, and conduct user acceptance testing and training
  • Skills in object-oriented analysis and design, system integration, and Service Oriented Architecture design, process modeling and BPMS tools
  • Monitor implementation and ongoing operations
  • Assist in identifying short term improvements that align with business/program goals and recommend longer term solutions

So what BPM roles does this wide range of job qualifications apply to?

Roles for the Business Analyst in BPM Projects

There are four leadership roles in the i4Process BPM Methodology:

  1. Executive Sponsor
  2. Process Owner (See my blog Getting Started with BPM: Find the Right Process Owners –parts 1 and 2 or more information on these first two roles)
  3. Project Lead
  4. Team Facilitator 

The most obvious role for the BA is the Team Facilitator. The Team Facilitator facilitates workshops and team meetings with the BPI team.  In that role the BA  should bring a strong knowledge of the BPM methodology and group process skills. Unlike the Project Lead he does not have to have subject matter expertise and experience in the work and information in the process.  It’s also unlikely that the Business Analyst would be an Executive Sponsor or a Process Owner.

As the Team Facilitator the BA brings his knowledge of the phases, concepts and techniques to the BPI Team. But he does not act as an expert; instead he gets the leaders and the team to use process techniques (charter, modeling, analysis, and design) and formulate ideas.  In some companies the BA runs ‘solo’, taking the techniques out to individual leaders, SME’s, and stakeholders and gathering their input individually, combining it and forming a summary.  I do not recommend this approach because it takes longer and does not allow all the SME’s to see varied points of view, work through the differences and tensions together, forming a team recommendation vs. just giving input to the BA.  But it can work, and BA might gather the information individually and then bring an SME group together for a consolidation discussion. See blog on A Faster Way to Gather Requirements for how BA’s can work with large groups.

Depending on his position in the company, the BA could also be a member of the BPI team and play an individual role there. He could be a

  • Subject matter expert –if he did real work in the process
  • IT person  -Since the IT person is person who knows the systems used in the process (not usually a developer) and can recommend new technology as well. The BA might have that knowledge for certain processes.  
  • Documenter – to document process models and other artifacts
  • Data person – This person recommends process data that the team should collect

Possible skills the Business Analyst might need to learn:

  • How to model using particular software
  • When to use the full BPM methodology vs. a shortened version
  • How and when to use new analytical techniques
  • How to keep the project on track with the Project Lead
  • Selecting which techniques to use; keeping to what is relevant vs. just using more techniques
  • The craft of BPM- not only using the techniques, but knowing how to customize them, seeing the red flags
  • Interactions with and presentations to senior management
  • How to assist in change management

Business Analysts have many roles in a BPI/BPM project.  The most notable is the Team Facilitator which uses facilitation skills, process improvement and analytical concepts, BPM technique knowledge, and project management structuring.  The less experienced BA might start as an individual member of the process improvement team and then take on a larger role later as the Team Facilitator working with the executive leaders, Project Lead and Team. 

What do you think?  Add your comments from your experience as a BA or on a BPM Process Improvement team.

Want to read more about BA’s and BPM.  See How the Business Analyst Scores with 5 BPM Techniques (parts 1 and 2)

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2 comments to What Roles Can Business Analysts Play in a BPM Projects?

  • Laurie Mann

    Good Stuff- thank you for the blog. I’m sharing on my profile!

  • This is a great article about why and how business analysts do the work they do. It also helps that you listed the details of a business analyst position.

    Within a Finance department, for example, a culture of continuous improvement can undoubtedly generate significant benefits – streamlined business processes, a leaner organizational structure, reduced costs, more analytical review time, and improved internal customer service – but they also take commitment and hard work. The unexpected challenges along the way often undermine even the most determined efforts for those without the proper tools. Not every business analyst will be able to transform the finance department in a short time-frame, but even a small continuous improvement program will produce substantial rewards. Those more modest initiatives, however, can still encounter stumbling blocks and almost no one provides effective resources for business process improvement for free.

    Most business analysts who want end-to-end Finance business process maps will have to wheel and deal with executives and convince them to hire an expensive consulting firm to come in and make business process maps of their processes, with no guarantee that any real improvements will be made. Additionally, these external business process maps will be made by the consultants with no sort of framework for the business analyst to follow if they attempted to try business process mapping themselves. However, for business analysts with no executive-level decision making capabilities, some resources actually are available. This free online source provides Finance business process map templates, KPIs, best practices and other improvement opportunities:

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