We have worked with a number of companies recently to help implement Requirements Centers of Excellence (RCOE) – also sometimes called Business Analysis Centers of Excellence. One question that we get occasionally is “how long will it take to implement one?”.
Frankly, that is a really hard question to answer because it varies drastically from organization to organization. But we have some standard questions we talk through to help lay out a top-level plan for a RCOE and give rough estimates for the timeline to implement one:
1. How many BAs there are in the organization already? What are the 1-2 year growth plans for adding more resources to the team?
An organization of three BAs will take less time to implement a RCOE as compared to one with 50 BAs. And if there are plans to add a number of BAs, then that adds to the timeline as well. It may take 1-2 months to hire new BAs, but if significant numbers are going to be added, it’s worth assessing the current team’s skill sets first to identify what exactly to look for in the new hires.
2. What BA skill sets does the team have already?
If they are brand new to business analysis and requirements, more time should be spent on teaching the fundamentals. They will also require more time in the mentoring phases. If they are experts who have been doing it for more than five years, the fundamentals should be covered but can be done so more quickly.
3. How consistent or diverse are they now in how they execute?
It’s not uncommon to see an organization with multiple senior business analysts who actually have a good skill set, but they all execute differently from one another. Implementing a RCOE in this type of organization means utilizing more of their time to ensure they are bought into the standards developed and on board with adapting them (changing their own habits!). Conversely, there may be an organization that is very junior across the board, but they all execute the requirements basics in the same fashion. Implementing a RCOE in this type of organization will mean that the team is already used to working together with the same approach, but there is a lot more training and RCOE content to be produced.
4. Have they already done some training, or none at all; and if they have done some training, what were they trained on?
There are some obvious courses that the team should go through if they haven’t had any training: a course about requirements basics, elicitation, modeling, and agile requirements if the organization is applying agile approaches to development.
5. How excited or resistant is the team to learning new practices? How quickly does the organization make decisions and move to execution?
This is really a question about the culture of the organization. If the team resists changes, or debates change for months, you need to devote a lot more time to leadership activities and getting their buy-in along the way. You have to do this anyway, it’s just a matter of how much time you devote to it.
6. How much do they already have in terms of templates/defined methodology?
This is part of developing a RCOE – if there is a lot done that can be reused, less time has to be spent on developing these, and the focus can be on refining them and then getting adoption for them. If there are few to start with, then more time will be spent deciding which pieces of methodology and templates are needed and roadmapping the development of those.
7. How many strong lead BAs can help champion the effort?
You will need some lead BAs who can help “rally the troops” on this effort. If you have people that have been in the organization a while and are well respected, this will help your implementation go more smoothly and likely faster. If not, then work on developing some while you continue to move forward. Look for natural leaders that other BAs look to when sharing opinions.
Those are the obvious questions I would ask to get started in helping estimate a timeline! Typically speaking, it’s an ongoing evolution and probably will take 1-2 years to implement, but every organization has different needs. There are many more details to work out than this list indicates, so take this post as just some guidelines to start thinking about implementing a RCOE.
For a high-level look at the strategic value of a Requirements Center of Excellence, download the PDF here: http://seilevel.com/requirements-resources/