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  1. Ooops forgot the WHY!

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    So the previous post talks about WHY in the title and after reviewing the post I did not even scratch the surface or even answer the question of Why.  So this post is the follow up to Why you need a Social Business Analyst.  The Business Analyst has evolved to be a very intragel part of the software development lifecycle and plays a major role (yes this is a biased opinion) in keeping the worlds of business and technology synthesized.  The role has evolved to be a skilled and well positioned professional for a company, thinking about how to integrate the business’ strategy, process, technology, and implementation of a its Social Business architecture and operations.

    Just check out a google search on Social Business Jobs, you will notice many of the skill sets this implementation needs, now look at what a good Business Analyst comes with, now integrate their personal and professional social profile and BOOM the Social Business Analyst.

    Here is a diagram of the dynamic skill set of the Business Analyst:


    The Social Business Analyst

    The Social Business Analyst



    Here are some criteria to answer the question Why:

    1. We know how businesses work better with technology

    The Social Business Analyst is well versed at understanding what the business processes are and how they are made more efficient within technology.  This understanding is critical to implementing the Social Business, because about 70% of your business is run with technology.  The other 30% is run by people making decisions about the information coming from those technologies.  Scary, hey….not really technology has freed us up to actually have more conversations and better data for making decisions.

    If you look at the Enterprise2.o & “Social Media” landscape, technology plays a huge part in your ability to execute your strategy and operations.  People will say “It’s not about the technology, blah, blah, blah!”  I disagree!  It is about technology and technology from the perspective it helps make your Social Business run efficiently, effectively and in the most cost effective way.  A Social Business analyst must know how this ever changing world of social technologies (Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Jive, SocialText, Crimson Hexagon, Radian6,  and operational technologies (SAP, PeopleSoft, Concur, Salesforce.com, SAS, POS, Sterling Commerce) must integrate to make the Social Business work.


    2. Organic nature of requirements gathering

    Yes, you heard me right requirements come to a project or initiative in very organic and dynamic nature.  There may be methodologies methodologies step by step processes, structured traceability, but how to get and gather requirements can be rather  organic.  This typically is the best way to design solutions that people will actually use.  When you become to robotic or “order takerish” with going to meeting, gather, document, ask questions, going to another meeting, gather, document, send email, meeting…..can you see how fast collaboration, organics, and innovation gets stifled in this process.  A good Social Business Analysts does not have to think “Oh what is my next step in this methodology”, we just think this way, to easily get, analyze, model, document, use, and communicate information for the betterment of the business.



    3. Document and model everything

    Yes almost to a fault….but isn’t this what is going on all over consumer technologies these days.  The Social Business Analyst document requirements in an organized fashion so people can actually use the information to make decisions.  You will never see me produce a laundry list of requirements!  We make pictures for all of our words in the form of process models, state change digrams, user interface process models, conceptual data models, and wireframes (yeah we like to mock up screens to get people talking).  This helps the widest audience use information to make decisions.  Managing this information in well architected, maintained, and open tools makes a project or initiative run soooooo much smoother.  If you run projects devoid of these tools or run your organization like the “cobbler that never provides his\her children with no shoes” it will be a painful thorn in your side. I have seen both and thorns hurt!



    4. We are  precocious 5 year olds when it comes to asking questions

    Why do you do that?  Why is that free form text?  Why is there so many hand offs?  Why don’t you make that required?  Why not a drop down there?  Why did you change for two days ago?  Why would a customer do that? What questions do you want to ask of your information? What market-share would you like to capture? What do you want to capture from the customer engagement? How many users will you have? How will you service these requests? Who will use this?  What do you think?

    See this is what we continually do when we receive information or produce it for people to talk about.  Typically the highlighted question is the one we use when we bring information to the table to discuss.  The questions we use come from a place of curiosity, fill in the blanks, connect the dots, validate the dots we have connected, and always wanting to make the business more efficient for their customers, employees, investors, and communities.



    5. We love figuring out how the ecosystem works together

    There are no silver bullets! We understand that to solve most business problems an ecosystem must be developed and implemented to help support the ecosystem that is the business.  Being that social, enterprise2.0, and cloud technologies are maturing everyday, businesses need people that have been maturing along with them, hence the need for the Social Business Analyst.  With the world of clouds, API’s, sharable on just about everything, consumer technology outpacing corp technology and most businesses needing to work internally and externally, a Social Business Analyst help gather, present, and make recommendations on a platform basis, not a silver bullet.



    6. We like data and finding new conversations for improving

    Yes based on using the information above you achieve good data in and good data out.  We continually think about the questions a business is going to have along the way once the information is being populated.  We understand the value of good data architecture, good information management, what a required field does to the process, what free form text fields vs structured data in drop downs gets you down the road.

    I personally love “geeking out” with data architectes to understand how we structure the data to get it back out to make good business decisions.  Once did a project in Mexico City where every data field was in english and in spanish behind the scenes so you could run reports in spanish and english.  This skill set comes in very handy with working with monitoring tools of the social landscape.  Having a solid understanding and the ability to speak with data and information geeks will make a Social Business Analyst vital to your team.



    7. Connecting the dots quickly is our DNA

    The dot connecting is really evident when you go back up and look at the Social Business Analyst cube.  See the solid and dotted lines intersecting all over the place.  Those are just the dots to connect the resources together.  Now image all the dots that need to be connected across your organization…..now think about the dots connecting the internal to the external…..now lets go really big the dots that are connecting all your costumers.  Got it mapped out? Well if not a Social Business Analyst kinda sees the language of the matrix when it comes to this.  The good part, with the skills above we model, decompose the information, organize it, and “bucketize” it for easier consumption and decision making.

    There is the WHY of putting this job description on the docket for 2011.   The WHY on hiring a Social Business Analyst in 2011, if you are heading down the “social” path (eventually it is the path, but that is another discussion). I do believe a the Social Business Analyst plays well in the Marketing, Advertising, Communication, Digital, Customer Service Call Center, Sales, and HR sandboxes.

    What are your thoughts?  What is missing?  What were your perceptions going into this information and now what are they? Look forward to hearing from you in the comments!  I want to thank Jessi Howard for emailing some feedback on the  Social Business Analyst Job Description post (see email is not dead!) and encouraging me to explain the WHY in a little more detail.  Thank you Jessi!

  2. What is a Social Business Analyst and why YOU need one!

    3 Comments

    I have been kicking around this idea about what I want to do next and thought “It is a New Year, right!”  So I thought to myself “Hey if you write a job description so people can understand the role, skills, and projects I would be looking for!”  Additionally, people kept asking “What the hell is a Social Business Analyst?”

    A Social Business Analyst is a role, skill set is deeply rooted in understanding how businesses run and applying how that business can run within technology.  With the ever growing maturity of the Social Business architecture and operations, a Social Business Analyst comes with the above mentioned DNA, they also have infused not only living in the social business community, they know how to apply skills and techniques to build, document, test, and implement what it means for the business and it’s people.

    There are some similar architectural principles, processes, and tools, but every business, culture, and business DNA is different.  One size does not fit all and a great Social Business Analyst will be a huge asset to the team and company in making the shift to becoming a Social Business.

    Here is what a Social Business Analyst Job description would look like:

     

     

     

     

    Purpose:

    Business Analyst plays an important role in a lot of aspects of a company. A business analyst’s job involves a lot of research, data analysis and to some extent problem solving.  The BA is responsible for the success of the Requirements Definition (RD) Process including system requirement definition, business scenario development, conceptual and logical modeling, class diagramming, conceptual wireframing, and tools used to make information processing more efficient for initiative team.  The BA supports application development in the Systems Domain.

    The BA must understand the social landscape from an internal and external context. They must have participated in different online communities and technologies and be proficient at understanding the context and potential.  The BA must be a facilitator of training, coaching, and mentoring the utilization of new tools and cultures that develop based on people utilizing these new tools.  The BA works closely with tool vendors, social business consultants and other firms to ensure the business scenarios and technologies fit the Enterprise as well as individual units responsible for owning the context of the business execution.  The BA must navigate and integrate the ecosystem of people, processes, and technologies from a culture and community aspect for planning and execution for operational success.

    The BA understands the technology and business environments, application and process capabilities, and architectural constraints, and is capable of leveraging and successfully applying this information to bring the best solution forward.  The BA works closely with Business Representatives (Supply Chain, Distribution, Marketing, HR, Communications, Customer Service, Product Development, and any other Business Unit you have for executing the Business), Application Architects, Data Analysts and Software Developers to provide analytical support to ensure system and business requirements are clearly documented and understood during the design and development of the application.  The BA owns and manages system and business requirements definition. The BA participates in a supporting role in the overall design and development of the technology solutions.  The BA must be able to resolve conflicts in non-threatening manner.  The BA must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and written requirements.

    Job Duties:

    The job of a Social Business Analyst involves many aspects that span from business operations to technology implementation. It requires them to have constant interaction with the clients / customers and for them to be able to provide appropriate solutions in a timely manner. A Social Business Analyst will need to have good understanding of Business, Technology, and Culture of Social (eventually it will be the way a business is run, but must mature just like other business organizations like HR, Marketing, or Legal).  Here is a visual representation of where the job duties will fall:

    Social Business Analyst - Current

    Social Business Analyst - Current

    Social Business Analyst - Future

    Social Business Analyst - Future

    A summary of the job duties of a Social Business Analyst are given below.  Many of the job duties fall within each one of the specific spheres above and can be applied to Business, Technology and Social.  A Social Business Analyst is going to need to perform many of these duties simultaneously, which is part of BA’s DNA.  Many of these job duties can be spotted on a resume based on project work, but can only be assessed by interacting online and or face to face interviews.


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Opportunity Analysis

     

    • Identifies cause-and-effect relationships and implementing solutions to address causes.
    • Selects the most appropriate course of action.
    • Develops initiates or leads an effort to improve procedures or implement new approaches for supporting solutions to problems or opportunities.
    • Modifies their own behavior with the need, priorities and goals of the organization’s changing circumstances.
    • Comprehends appropriate channels to quickly expedite customer services and deliverables.
    • Demonstrates knowledge of the IT organization’s customers, policies and practices.
    • Demonstrates a sufficient overall knowledge of technology to use internal and external resources of technology assistance effectively.
    • Formulates specifications for complex systems or application programs.
    • Stays abreast of new developments and attends professional development activities.
    • To be able to understand and collect all the business requirements of the clients as well as partners a part of the initiative
    • Making of proposals and interacting with the client to ensure that the solutions that are being suggested are what he or she want and that they are viable enough to be implemented.
    • Conducting basic analysis and research of the industry that the customer belongs to.
    • Prepare and define the scope of the project.
    • Determining the effort and the cost of the project.
    • Drafting business requirements.
    • Interacting and working with a team to ensure that they understand the project requirements and deliver solutions accordingly.
    • Sets an example by behaving in ways that are consistent with company vision and values.
    • Creates an environment in which employees have ownership of their jobs and area able to achieve job expectations.
    • Assumes ownership and accountability for own performance management.
    • Projects personal and company high standards and develops constructive, trusting relationships in all interactions.
    • Assesses one’s own strengths and weaknesses and takes actions to improve.

     

    Requirements Analysis

     

    • Translates pure business elements and functions as well as technological concepts into language that is understandable to the audiences receiving the information.
    • Identifies and analyzes problems and opportunities based on business and IT strategic and tactical goals, objectives, and visions.
    • Analyzes business processes problems and opportunities based on business strategic and tactical goals, objectives, and visions.
    • Works at one’s own discretion, independently of outside influence or control, contributing to high morale and group commitment that supports goals and objectives.
    • Originates action to achieve goals or influence events beyond what is mandatory.
    • Restates the content and feelings expressed in information received from the spoken communication of others accurately.
    • Communicates effectively, in both verbal and written form, with diverse groups, regardless of level or function.
    • Sensitive to hierarchical structures of groups and organizations.
    • Seeks ways of going beyond the limits set by structure to help bring out the best in individuals and groups.
    • Encourages highly energized, productive, inclusive and meaningful participation and knows how to engage people in planning and decision making.
    • Conducts meetings to obtain, qualify and evaluate information to support the definition and clarification of requirements and needs.
    • Understands what customers really want and then measures actions and improvements against that vision.
    • Provides friendly, caring service and handles any customer situation with confidence and a sense of urgency.
    • Develops rapport, mutual trust and understanding of customers overall business and related computing needs.
    • Produces and communicates the meaning of business process and domain models.
    • Creates business cases to provide support or definition to the strategic direction of a business area
    • Studies situations and actions, separating them into parts, and identifying common elements, themes, and risks.
    • Seeks growth of knowledge an understanding of customers, business, industries, technologies, processes and systems.
    • Identifies and analyzes system objects and presents the findings in a manner that supports facilitation to differing audiences.
    • Gathers, organizes and evaluates information in a logical systematic fashion, recognizes patterns and similarities between past and present and across customers and industries.
    • Produces and communicates the meaning of system process and domain models.
    • Understands the relationship of business processes and domain models to system models.
    • Identifies the specific data elements and their attributes as they relate to business needs for returning and reporting information.
    • Identifies the sources of data and how the data is used and interacts with systems and applications.
    • Identifies the specific data structures as they relate to the sources and targets in order to facilitate collection, storage, and extraction of data.

     

    Requirements Management

     

    • Identifies and determines the impact to changing requirements on scope and development effort.
    • Traces requirements to understand dependencies.
    • Utilizes people effectively by allocating responsibilities and authority to them as appropriate.
    • Mentors for knowledge, skill and behavior development.
    • Identifies and offers opportunities to learn and develop.
    • Participates in cross-functional teams to work on problems or opportunities.
    • Works cooperatively with other team members to accomplish goals.
    • Develops effective work relationships on all levels of the organization.
    • Plan, tracks, and manages the components required to support successful completion of projects.
    • Adheres to project management methodology to staff and projects or significant assignments.
    • Follows current enterprise standards and methods to provide consistency in the environment using preferred tools and techniques.
    • Identifies the need for new or improved standards and methods to provide better communication and stability within the technology and business areas.
    • Assigns resources, ideas, time and people to accomplish a goal.
    • Uses criteria to determine the relative importance of problems/goals/options.

     

     

    Knowledge and Skills

    • An understanding of .NET/J2EE/HTML/PHP/JS/HTML5/FBML
    • Understanding or working knowledge of API’s, Integration Technologies, Mobile, Data Modeling
    • An understanding of Social Technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Youtube, Disqus, Pluck, WordPress, Posterous, Sharable Widgets, JIVE, Newsgator, Sharepoint, RSS Readers and Socialtext.  Must have an understanding of integrating these tools and technologies internally and or externally or both
    • An understanding of Social Monitoring Tools configurations, implementation, and reporting such as  Radian6, Crimson Hexagon, Lithium, Google Analytics, and Google Alerts.  Must have an understanding of what is needed and how to use working knowledge is a must.
    • An understanding of applications for managing customers, employees, and businesses management information such as Siebel, MS Dynamics, Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Peoplsoft, SAP, Kenexa, Taleo
    • An understanding of analysis concepts, database design, SQL, UML and software engineering is an added advantage.
    • Excellent presentation, written and oral skills.
    • Working knowledge of Software Development Lifecycles and methodologies and tools to get technology.  These would include Visio, Quality Center, Jira, Caliber, MSTFS, BluePrint, Sharepoint, Clarity, Basecamp

     

    Educational Qualifications and Experience

      • B.A. or B.S. degree in Information Systems, Computer Science, Marketing, Communication, Journalism, or related field, or equivalent work experience
      • 10+ years of systems and/ or business analysis or design experience in a systems or technical type role (e.g., application development, use of SDLC)
      • 5+ years of personal experience with utilizing and participating with Social Technologies and Online Communities
      • 10+ years of Business experience within Retail, Healthcare, Financial Services, Product Management, Software, Government, and or Non-Profit
      • Works on extremely complex problems; assignments involve new technologies or new applications; recognized as enterprise-wide resource
      • Assist in the definition of objectives to support project success, review and track the completion
      • Mentor other associates within the IT and Business disciplines.
      • Assigned projects of critical importance to support of key customers, development of new projects of strategic importance
      • Exercises independent judgment in developing methods, techniques and evaluation criteria for obtaining results.
      • Prior experience in dealing with technical teams.
      • Prior experience working on rapid technical development and collaborative project environments.
      • Experience in drafting proposals.

     

    So this is the job description I am looking for in 2011.  Does this job description exist yet?  No it does not?! That is why I am proposing it so the folks figuring out their 2011 plans and budgets may take this into consideration.  If companies have these types of questions going into 2011; “What do we need to infuse Social into our company?” “What types of jobs and people do we need to hire?” “Do we have the job descriptions for hiring new types of roles at our company?” Hopefully this job description would answer some of those questions.

    What do you think? Would you add to this job description?  Please feel free to use this within your companies it can only further my chances of landing this career path somewhere in the near future!  Happy planning and budgeting for 2011 and make sure to make room for me, my skills, and my job description!

     

     

  3. A Business Analyst on a Social Media Team….Blasphemy!

    5 Comments

    Well that seems to be the general feeling I get discussing this topic with marketing, communications, pr, and leadership in those groups. So I am going to present why this role is highly suited for being part of the social team. The core skills and specialties of this role make integrating social strategies, processes, and technologies for problem solving and innovation essential to be apart of these newly forming teams. The following are my reasons to challenge the blasphemy or heresy perspective and rhetoric!

    A Business Analyst………


    1. Looks at problems and assesses viable solutions using people, process & technology

    Yes the Business Analyst realizes there is no silver bullet. You need all three aspects of people, process, and technology to problem solve or innovate. The Business Analyst is aware the solutions will work these things as an ecosystem. The Business Analyst will ask the right questions, document the information gathered, analyze that information and have the ability to put that information into readable content for business and technology disciplines to understand. Business Analysts helps the social media project teams co-create these solutions in a rapid fashion because we understand how and what the ecosystem needs for execution. One of the biggest soft skills we use is curiosity to discover information. With every problem or potential idea to innovation we turn into a 5 year old kid discovery their world around them…..we all know a 5 year old right?

    2. Diggs for information to get solutions

    Business Analysts are tenacious to find, illicit, document, and fix information for a solid solution for a problem or innovation. We are good at asking questions for clarification, we will admit when we don’t understand or don’t know, but with that admission we will educate, find, and ask again if need be. This is all done from a place of curiosity, wanting the people, project, and organization to succeed. We explore the possibilities of where it could be or what it could be. All along the way we keep documenting with content to ensure we have words, pictures, and prototypes to make better fact based decisions. Well on occasion a little leap of faith based on experience is needed to be worked in also. The question why comes up a lot, but in a curious manner. That is the best way to spot a good business analyst! How do they ask the question Why?

    3. Documents for review, clarity, and decision making

    Documentation, Documentation, Documentation……yes I know what you are thinking. Good Business Analysts make this documentation flexible, dynamic, and not set in stone. Every hour on a project or a team the information you need to make good decisions changes. Now with social we see this information changing every minute. You need a role that can absorb information and categorize and reproduce in a rapid fashion. Now think about all the disciplines operating on a social media team: interactive designers, creatives, lawyers, HR, marketing, advertising, technical architect, infrastructure architect, testers, project managers, customers, call center reps, PR, Communications, etc etc. Yes I take the approach the social media\social business team internal and external are one team (future post on social business, enterprise2.0, and social media is much larger and more dynamic than what I have seen at any company today). Think about all the information that is being created that needs to be curated and reproduced for decision making and impact analysis.

    4. Presents information for diverse audiences

    Business Analysts are smack dab right in the middle of the ecosystem. Being that we have functioned within the Business culture and Technology cultures we have to take all the information above and synthesize this information for non-business people understand businesses and non-techie people understand the worlds of technology. With this skill set comes the ability to fashion a presentation around 1 screen or one process model or one requirements traceability diagram. Oh there is that word Requirements. Those silly little information snippets that cause most projects headaches and heartburn, if not gathered, managed, and traced to other forms of requirements to ensure connectability and workability of the solution or innovation. All your business, test, project, and technical information should plug into the requirements traceability hierarchy…..another blog post hey? Oh and the presentation does not mean powerpoint, most good Business Analysts want to present diagrams or working prototypes based on the requirement statements.

    Information Integration with a Social Business Analyst

    5. Talk business and tech languages and dialects

    Yes we speak that foreign language called “techie”, but we do speak a special dialect of “techie” called “biz techie”. Yes that is right we understand how technology makes businesses work and how businesses make technology work. I do believe this is probably most crucial part of being apart of the social media team. Majority of the execution of the social media\business plan and strategy will be done through technologies or technologies will be apart of most of the activities. Business Analysts can quickly and effectively put together the tools and processes necessary for social media execution and operationalization for long term success.

    The Social Business Analyst

    The Social Business Analyst

    So there you have it the blasphemic reasons why you need to really start looking at this role, skill, and people with the Business Analyst title to be apart of your social media\business team. Now a word of warning some folks are walking around with just the t-shirt that says they are a Business Analyst. It is a little like me wearing a professional baseball teams uniform and calling myself a professional baseball player.

    So what do you think sound advice or blasphemy? Need to hire or heresy? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

     

  4. What does the C-Suite and other Senior Leaders value about a Business Analyst

    1 Comment

    Being that the Business Analysis discipline and role is becoming more standardized and consistent with the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis), BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge®) and a Certification called the CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional™). What do senior executives and leadership feel about this discipline and role?   There is no right or wrong answers just starting a dialogue to find out the views and opinions that are out there within the Social Platforms community.

    Would also like to know how Business Analysts can play a vital role in the era of companies moving towards Social Business Architecture, Enterprise 2.0, Social Media, and Social Technology Platforms.

    I obviously have my biased opinions and views on the subject, but would really like to know other views.  Especially from the people that make strategic decisions about an organization.   They ultimately sign off on spending money on this discipline. I would love to get a cross section of senior leaders from the C-Suite to the Rank and File (which is where I am at on the ladder) to weigh in on this often overlooked or generalized role in most companies (believe me I have worked at many).

    The one main stereotype I am trying to break most of all is “Well anyone can be a BA, so just give them the title” Additionally, I am always interested in new ideas.

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