“You try to make plans for people, and the people make other plans.” – Terry Pratchett
“The planning fallacy occurs when individuals and groups try to plan complex projects and underestimate the true cost, expanse, and time of the project. Mario Weick and Ana Guinote found that people in a position of power are particularly vulnerable to the planning fallacy. Perhaps feeling powerful causes them to focus on getting what they want and to ignore hurdles, or having so much self-confidence causes them to avoid worst case scenarios.” – Michael A. Roberto, Transformational Leadership
“It is important that we know where we come from, because if you don’t know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you are going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.” – Terry Pratchett
“Always remember where you are going and never forget where you’ve been.” – today’s cookie fortune
Performance. Your business analyst concludes the study by setting the stage for performing a business transformation based on requirements gathered. The study results are presented formally, and the reports and supporting work documents are handed over to you. These materials should include, at least, a problem definition document, a description and assessment of the current business state, a description of the desired future state, and a pro forma execution plan allowing you to move from the current to the future state. Additionally, the analysis materials may include a list of alternative solutions, a list of circumstances considered in choosing the recommended solution, a list of risk factors and mitigating actions associated with moving to the future state, and a high level cost estimate for implementing the execution plan.
Transformation is not complete until each task has been executed AND verified. Verify each task independently based on your same requirement statements. Verification planning and execution can easily eat up 60% of your transformation budget, so be careful. Verifying task outcomes is not necessarily about massive regression testing programs, but more about selectively performing the correct tests.
When you engage a business analyst to advise you on a transformation, what should you expect? What work will be performed and what tangible work products will you receive as the result of that work? That’s the next topic.
Each requirement statement can be turned directly into a task statement for inclusion in the execution phase plan. Insert your task statements into a project plan, determine which tasks are subordinate to the main ones, establish task interdependencies, and link the tasks together for orderly completion. Then estimate task completion times with costs, and assign your change agent resources to perform them.
The implementation plan for a simple transformation consists of three phases: planning, execution and verification. The planning phase organizes, estimates, assigns, and monitors the tasks for putting your transformation project into action. The execution phase comprises the work of the change process, and the verification phase spans the work of the inspection process. Verification normally follows execution, which in turn follows planning. However, in complex projects much of the work can proceed concurrently if it is carefully staged.
In simplest terms, a transformation project organization consists of a manager, a change agent, and an inspector. The manager plans and directs the work, and ensures that it is performed satisfactorily. The change agent designs the solution and executes the work to implement each requirement. The inspector verifies that the objective of each requirement is met.
A good business requirement just aches to be fulfilled! Objectives become clear, and volunteers step forth with a variety of good solutions. The shared urge to get the job done unifies team members. So powerful is the motivating force of a clearly stated requirement, however, that the rush to get to work can interfere with and even overwhelm completion of your overall transformation project with scope creep. This is especially true when there are many different requirements to be fulfilled. Organization and implementation plans are needed. An orderly process keeps scope creep in control.
Hang with me now, there are two more important steps: execution and verification. For the uninitiated that means doing the real work, and then proving you did it. This is why we say that business requirement statements must be both actionable and testable. Track these processes with a scorecard or dashboard that summarizes incremental completions for all your business requirements.
In summary, you should see that defining your business requirements leads to design, execution and verification of the work that will lead to transforming your business. Because the work is carefully specified, it can be finished and tested to the satisfaction of all your stakeholders.
In my next blog post, I’ll go into more detail about planning the execution and verification phases, as well as some pitfalls and pratfalls to avoid.
Next, you use your business requirement statement to design the business transformation. This is not usually easy, because you need to backtrack some. That is because your business requirement states only what needs to be, but not what is the case now. So, you must prepare a realistic and descriptive report of the current state of your business practice or process. Once you have described your current situation, and also what you want it to be instead, then you can design the transformation. That is, you can now map the steps you need to change from the current state to the future state of your business practice.