In implementing a Requirements Center of Excellence (RCOE) or a Business Analysis Center of Excellence (BA COE), it is important to measure the success of the endeavor. These measurements keep your funding in place to continue the effort, and they motivate BA organization improvement. If you aren’t trying to improve something in your organization, then you wouldn’t implement a COE!
Management buy-in will literally make or break a BA COE effort—simply put, if management does not buy in to the importance of the COE, when budgets get tight, they will cut this effort long before they cut an actual software project. Management must not only understand how the BA COE is important to the organization’s success, there must be at least one management champion for the COE. The easiest way to gain management support, and to find your champion, is to have metrics that demonstrate the need for a BA COE and periodically show improvement on those metrics. Further, BAs know they need to do what they are measured on; if there are success metrics for a COE in place, the BAs will behave accordingly to improve those metrics.
Types of Metrics for a RCOE or a BA COE
The success of the BA organization should align with delivering overall business value on a project. The very best metric to measure the success of a BA organization is whether the business objectives for each project were met. That said, whether or not business objectives are met is difficult to measure; you may need to use other metrics to get good indicators of success.
When setting metrics to measure success of a COE, understand the current baseline and set a reasonable target improvement. A goal that is too lofty will serve to demotivate the team rather than inspire improvements. It is also helpful to involve the BA team to set target metrics so they are more likely to help achieve them.
Once the metrics are set, they also must be measured periodically (monthly or quarterly at minimum). If there isn’t any improvement in the metrics, then change the COE approach accordingly. This is very much like running an iterative project: Implement, measure, iterate and implement more, measure, iterate, etc.
If you are not taking regular, periodic measurements, there is no way to know if the effort is on track for success. If progress and likelihood for success is unknown, and management has to cut a project for budget reasons, this effort is likely to be cut. Simply put, if your BA COE doesn’t have the support needed in the organization, it will fail; these success measurements are an easy way to build that support.
Thanks to IIBA® for encouraging and posting this article as well!
An added resource: for a high-level look at the strategic value of a Requirements Center of Excellence, download the PDF here – http://seilevel.com/requirements-resources/