When I joined Mitra 5 years ago as a Business Analyst (BA), most of my work was with entrepreneurs. Businesspeople who had brilliant ideas, and some with firm views on what they didn’t want, but often not what they did. With our entrepreneurs, BAs were required to do more than just requirements gathering. We had to share the vision, design the end-to-end process, carry out workshops and build prototypes. We gathered feedback and iterated, bringing ideas to life, and to the marketplace.
At that time, every customer and every product or service was very different, and we had to be extremely flexible when catering to different needs, budgets and timescales. But the process wasn’t adept at capturing the accumulated wisdom of each BA and each project. Imagine having the ingredients for a cake but no recipe, if you try often enough, you’ll hit on the perfect proportions of each ingredient, but having done so, there’s no way to guarantee a repeat of your success each time. This, coupled with more enterprise clients, who were asking for our documented approach to project delivery, Mitra decided a recipe or two was needed, not only to guarantee the repeat of success, but to share the knowledge.
There followed a debate as to how best to do this, to capture the art of repeating success without stifling creativity and the Mitra Framework was born, providing the recipe but also leaving room for creative flair. The Mitra BA practice, along with Project Management(PM), Quality Assurance(QA) and Development practices worked both separately and together to formulate a delivery model that would repeat success whilst being independent enough to address the needs of individual projects.
We did our research and used guidelines from the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) and we developed a three pronged approach.
- Organisation/Delivery – this part of the Framework is all about the methodology we use to approach a project and its requirements. It details the documents that must be completed, how to set expectations with your client, the core checkpoints along the way and details the Discovery Phase. The approach is flexible, and the experiences of the BAs provides a continuous feedback loop to refresh the steps herein.
- Project – with such different clients we must be able to meet a range of requirements and add value to each of them. Some may focus on compliance and regulatory boundaries, where the priority for others may revolve around the customer experience. With such a range of projects, our approach must be agile and inclusive at the same time. The Framework is designed to be adapted as required so we can apply a light touch when needed. We also must accept that our clients often have their own best practices, and we have to work collaboratively through negotiation and education.
- Person/People – What makes Mitra’s Framework so powerful is the third prong, People. As BAs we are communicators and problem solvers via collaboration, but the Framework has taken this collaboration to new heights. Every BA has a mentor, with whom they have a face to face meeting every month. There are also weekly meetings with all BAs to offer the status of their projects, share insights and ask for advice. Furthermore, quarterly reviews on the project work are done to maintain quality and provide support. Through continuous knowledge sharing, training and support to solve requirement challenges in projects, BAs learn from their own and each other’s experiences, and our clients benefit from the wisdom of the BA collective. This helps the practice function as a continuously evolving entity.
– Ayantha Martil