Reducing the waste of Traditional Business Analysis

Explore Assurity 22 July 2015 David Morris

When you have hard deadlines but were delayed starting, when you have teams waiting but have not yet fully defined the work, then the last thing you need is to force yourself through the wasteful approaches typical of so many Traditional Business Analysis practices. You need an approach that reduces this waste and gets to the valuable outcome much faster. You need Lean Business Analysis.

By late 2014, we had just completed our fifth year in a row of helping Christchurch organisations achieve significant success with their projects and strategic plans. As we also had Business Analysis practitioners and consultants in our Wellington and Auckland branches, we recognised the time had come to roll out a Business Analysis service nationally.

In thinking through how to position this, we looked at what had enabled us to help our customers so much, and how we could offer something unique to the market, to stand out from the more established consultancies. 

Through the rebuild, strategic planning and projects we supported, we found we focused increasingly on producing what was needed, when it was needed, on working with the right people at the right time, on collaboration, on building quality in from the outset, and on avoiding unnecessary steps that don’t add value.

In short, we realised this success had been achieved by reducing waste and we sought ways of expressing this value. As a consultancy recognised for thought leadership in Lean and Agile techniques, we realised that a Lean Business Analysis service would highlight the value of what we were doing in a way that was perfectly in tune with our other service lines.

Lean practices provide a systematic approach to eliminating waste in any type of process – and are part of the philosophy behind Toyota’s approach to manufacturing, since been widely used throughout many disciplines.

At their heart, Lean practices are designed to reduce or avoid eight key forms of waste (Toyota originally had seven, then an eighth was introduced in 2003).

The eight forms of waste, as they apply to Business Analysis, are unfinished work, unnecessary features, silos and handovers, unnecessary processes, working on too many things at a time, queues, rework and knowledge hoarding. Together, these cause delays, block or take time away from more important work, increase the chance of mistakes and block collaboration.

Over the coming weeks, we will be exploring each of these, how to recognise when we are doing them, what we can do to reduce or avoid them altogether, and any alternative approaches that help with that.

Lean practices are vital today; with an increasing pace of change and less time to plan everything, you need a new approach. After all, when you no longer have business as usual, you can no longer run with Business Analysis as usual.