Low business analysis maturity hampers skills retention

Johannesburg, 29 Sep 2009
Read time 3min 10sec

Unlocking the value of business analysts will lead to employers enjoying better retention rates. To achieve that, they must increase the level of maturity of the business analysis function in the organisation, says Robin Grace, business analysis principal consultant at IndigoCube.

One of the primary business analysis problems that organisations in South Africa face today is that they cannot find the requisite skills, and when they do they are quickly poached by rival firms.

Organisations desperate to get business analysts aboard have to resort to poaching employees from competitors since there are too few business analysts to go round and there are too few experienced business analysts emerging from training institutions.

The result is that qualified and experienced business analysts hop from one organisation to another, which exacerbates the problem in two ways:

* Firstly, the process serves to rapidly and artificially inflate salaries in the industry. Business analysts are lured to competitors by offers of higher pay. This is an expense that few organisations can afford in the current economic climate.
* Secondly, experienced business analysts take a great deal of intellectual capital with them when they go, which leaves the parent organisation in an intellectual slump. Overcoming that slump means finding different business analysts, probably at a premium, and allowing them the time to rebuild the intellectual capital - time and finances that many companies today simply do not have.

Companies that want to halt the cycle and retain their analysts must either offer them far more pay than the industry can afford to poach their employees away, or give them another valid reason to remain.

Business analysis maturity in South Africa and the rest of the world is still low. One of the contributing factors is the lack of a career path for business analysts in most organisations.

A person who becomes a business analyst today will probably be called on to perform the same functions in the future that they perform today. That leads to boredom and job dissatisfaction and, besides offers of higher wages, is a major contributor to business analyst attrition.

If organisations can improve the maturity of the business analysis function and provide a meaningful career path, then they have won a huge part of the battle in retaining their experienced professionals, thereby building their intellectual capital and possibly reducing their salary bill.

One and two and three...

The first step to mapping out the road to business analysis maturity is to assess the current situation. It is a critical first step that organisations departing on this journey will return to in the future to assess their progress. The next step is to determine the maturity goals of the business and then implement a skills development plan, a standards plan, and establish governance measures. Plans must be executed and progress then constantly monitored, which leads back to assessing the new situation in the future.

It is a lengthy process that ranges anywhere from six months to several years, but the precise length depends on every individual company that embarks on the journey. Some companies will already be more mature than others, while others will require different levels of maturity.

One of the rewards, however, should be to bring a career path to business analysts, halt the skills merry-go-round, and standardise the function, besides a host of other softer, related benefits.

The ultimate reward will be a marked reduction in systems rework, and much happier business users.

Editorial contacts
Predictive Communications Lisa Cooper (011) 452 2923
IndigoCube Robin Grace (011) 759 5907
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