Mirror, Mirror - How Fair Are My Business Analysis Competencies?

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22 March 2011
Michael Fitzgerald

The identification, communication and management of business requirements is a critical skill set in any company pursuing significant change. In order to determine the state of the business analysis function in the financial services industry, Celent teamed with the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) to survey banks and insurance firms and take a snapshot of current performance in key business analysis skill areas. The survey was designed to hold a mirror up to the industry and reflect its perception of its performance. These are reviewed in a recently published report – Business Analysis Competencies: Mirror, Mirror: A Self-assessment by Banks and Insurers.

The data confirms what many people say in discussion on this topic – that skill development in business analysis is often insufficient to maintain sustained performance at sufficient levels. Very few companies rate their performance in any business analysis area as a strength. The highest rating was for the elicitation skill in banks and this level was assigned by only 21% of the banking participants. The study also collected opinions on which BA competencies are most critical to successful implementations. The good news for insurers is that both Life/annuities/health and P&C insurers report a close match between their highest ranked importance areas (elicitation and requirements analysis, respectively) and their performance. That is, delivery in these areas is ranked at or above average, indicating that investments that have been made are beginning to pay off and deliver benefits.

Many financial services companies are updating automation systems and continuing to improve business processes. For organizations that are modernizing their platforms, an expected benefit is to reduce the dependency on IT and move maintenance and some development into business analyst areas. Many software vendors are producing products which are designed to be configured, not programmed. This is intended to increase flexibility and speed in system development and maintenance. Neither group will realize its goals without solid business analysis skills. The Celent/IIBA survey identifies the specific gaps in business analysis skills in banks and insurance companies. Celent encourages financial services firms to use the results of this survey to examine their current approach to business analysis, place their bets on which areas are most important, and invest in skill improvement.

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