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The Main Thing

There was a recent session of a Government committee where several senior managers were grilled about the failure of an IT project. One of the comments made about the problems was that 'people kept changing their minds'. 

Now, apart from the fact that anyone with more than a couple of years' of business change experience will be thinking that this is a statement of the glaringly obvious, it led me to wonder if there was any chance that business analysts had been involved in the project. Given that handling stakeholders with their ideas and opinions is our stock in trade, I didn't feel confident that this was the case. And if BAs weren't involved, was this just 'people changing their minds' or was there a fundamental change in the underlying business need? And who were the 'people' mentioned, the external customers or internal stakeholders?

We seem to be awash with IT project failures at the moment and everyone seems to reach the conclusion that there was a problem with governance. While this may be quite correct, the lack of any mention about understanding the problem or ensuring that the right solution was developed is a bit worrying. Perhaps of even more concern is the sole focus on IT without any mention of a broader business system.

Does this reflect the general lack of recognition of business analysis outside some well-informed organisations or departments? Or is this because many of the consulting companies involved focus on management consultancy with a strategic focus, rather than execution of strategy with its more tactical and operational focus?

We know that one of the first things lead business analysts need to do is uncover the real issue, problem or business need. And then, the business analysts make sure that whatever requirements or ideas are suggested, they align with the thing we were trying to address in the first place.

Speaking to a colleague recently, he reminded me of a saying:

The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.

A wise saying that needs to be promoted beyond the BA world.Any thoughts on how we do this?

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