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KCI Presentations

Business Alignment

Strategic Alignment for Business Analysts in 3 Easy Steps

IRM London:
Strategic Alignment

Frank Kowalkowski, President Knowledge Consultants Inc.
Strategic Alignment for Business Analysts in 3 Easy Steps

Presentation Synopsis:

It is not sufficient today for an organization strategic planning process to assess potential markets, look at alternatives, identify and assess competitors, and choose a new or updated set of strategies. As good as that sounds and how well it worked in the past, a more complete approach is needed. Strategic alignment as a key business analysis offering is that approach.

Strategic Alignment is part of a larger scope called Business Alignment. Business alignment links four perspectives of the organization so management can see the end-to-end impact of external changes on operations and conversely the changes in operation that impact strategic direction.[1]

Strategic alignment is a key business analysis method in the analyst’s toolbox that sharpens the focus on strategic options for going forward and meeting key growth and performance goals. Critical to alignment are relationships identified through business analysis efforts. Alignment identifies those relationships between high level perspectives (layers) of the organization. Clear articulation of landscape and strategic factors with their relationships, improves the quality of the strategic plan. This in turn improves tactical and operational planning.

The starting point is characterizing the landscape components, the strategic factors, and the relationships between them in an orderly and systematic manner. Four layers are used that follow established organization perspectives: strategic, tactical, and operational layers plus the landscape the organization operates in.

The business analyst supports the strategic plan with the alignment outputs that complement the rest of plan components such as input to tactical business analysis, degree of impacts on strategies, time frame, resources of staff and funding, priorities, focus, expectations and so on. The next step of organization planning would be a strategic to tactical impact assessment.

Three steps are needed to link the landscape to strategies are shown in the diagram below along with the business analysis assessments required to filter and focus the perspectives on the issues pertinent to management. The arrows depict the connections for analysis using all the available information from the 3 steps or a subset filtered by the pertinent issues. The subset approach also controls the scope and cost of the analysis effort.

A business analyst should possess the basic understanding of strategic alignment as a core skill in supporting the management in their efforts to direct the organization.

The 3 key steps are:
  1. Defining and assessing 8 categories of structure data that define the landscape. This is done using the PESTLE approach and adding Markets and Executive concerns, this includes identifying the relationship between the landscape factors and ranking the categories to identify the most significant issues to focus on.
  2. Defining and assessing the strategic categories of interest, usually 6 to 10 such as goals, objectives, initiatives, strategies and so on. These categories may differ slightly from organization to organization depending on management interest, need and industry. They may also be custom by organization and industry.
  3. Identifying and analyzing the relationships between the landscape factors and the strategic factors. It includes filtering the relationships to the ones that are most significant to the organization.
A set of management analytics is needed to make all this happen. Find out more about the analytics by watching the strategy podcasts under the resources tab.

PMI Talk:

Alternatives for Alternatives

A manager makes business decisions every day. Along with analysts and others they are ranking or prioritizing the criteria and objects that are of interest. Often the objects are projects of varying length and resource intensity. Ranking is often done by one or two criteria like cost and benefit. Taking more criteria into account or having a structure of alternatives to work with make the decision more time consuming and fraught with risk. The Analytic Hierarchy Process, AHP and the related ANP and ANNP are a good approach to increasing the reliability of decisions. However, they are also cumbersome and complicated to work with as well as difficult to understand.

There are alternatives such as composite ranking, orchestrated decision analytics and modifications to the AHP approach. Plus, there are now tools to make all of these easier. In this presentation the attendee will learn about more recent ranking and priority techniques for project decision making.

Find out more abut the analytics by looking at the Data Analysis course outline under resources and watching the upcoming management and business analysis analytics videos.