A colleague and I attended a well respected Business Analysis conference this week. One of things that we both noticed was that, whilst there was much talk of lean/agile approaches and customer engagement, there was precious little talk about data analysis. With the rare exception of a ‘green field’ situation, all technology developments will need to consider legacy data. So, can you do effective Business Analysis without Data Analysis?
A cynic might say, “So what’s the problem not having done any/enough data analysis?”
Well, here’s a range of problems that could arise:
- The costs and challenges of data migration from legacy systems come as an unpleasant surprise
- The data migration process ends up degrading the information as a result of trying to hit project timescales and budgets
- You end up creating an additional data source which will increase the challenge of knowing what is the correct master data set
- Existing data is not used effectively in the new solution – this could be a loss of data or meaning or that data definitions in ‘new’ systems conflict with existing data definitions
- Regulatory audit trails may be lost
- Personal data is incorrectly managed
- Strategic planning and decision support tools are no longer able to obtain the required source data, thereby compromising outputs
All the above can adversely affect some or all of the key constraints of any project – time, cost and quality. Depending on the nature of these problems, the overall business impact could be very high.
Whilst an experienced Business Analyst may use a range of tools and techniques, such as business process modeling, constraints analysis, stakeholder mapping, requirements analysis, sentiment analysis and benefit cost analysis, without suitable data analysis, the outputs of these techniques will be compromised.
So, whilst we recognise that many different business analysis tools and techniques are required in the effective planning and development of new systems, we would make a plea to those involved in planning and delivering business analysis activities “Don’t forget the data!”
How have you ensured that data is given suitable priority in business analysis activities?