25 March 2009

Is Enterprise Analysis really portfolio management?

Version 2 of the BABOK is coming out soon, so the IIBA's position on this might be changing, but upon inspection of the BABOK v 1.6 you get the feeling Enterprise Analysis is coverring the same ground as the project management community's concept of project portfolio management.

Let's take a closer look at the two concepts, and then in the not too distant future follow up with some commentary.

The BABOK's summary descripion says;
This knowledge area is the collection of pre-project or early project activities and approaches for capturing the necessary view of the business to provide context to requirements and functional design work for a given initiative and/or for long term planning. In some organizations this work is treated as an investigative, feasibility or business architecture initiative and treated as a project in itself.
This description is followed by a list of activities that may be used to support the process.
  • Creating and maintaining the Business Architecture
  • Conducting feasibility studies to determine the optimum business solution
  • Identifying new business opportunities
  • Scoping and defining the new business opportunity
  • Preparing the Business Case
  • Conducting the initial Risk Assessment
  • Preparing the Decision Package.
Conceptually this model is looking at a 'high level' requirements analysis process aimed at the organisation. Then, rather than features deliverred in software, or new processes designed and implementyed, the outcome of the analysis process is one or several projects.

This analysis process can generate significant information and so can aso inform how you initiate and plan projects.

The framework seems fair enough. I have done this myself and have seen other BAs work on this process also. When you come right down to the idea of business analysis it is about analysing the current situation, identifying problems/opportunities and their potential worth, and then assessing where to best spend the money.

You can do this in the context of a project, programme or at an organisational, or even industry level (hence the 'other BA community' of financial analysts.)

This work can be quite technical, but often also involves advanced consulting skills, as part of the process involves getting executivs to align their views and agree on a project investment startegy.

Some of the tools I have used to support me in the EA process include the balanced scorecard, strategy map, business model analysis, process modelling (at the higher levels), customer interviews and workshopping with execs.

The purpose of this post is to just put together a snapshot on the topic in preparation for a later discussion so I'll wrap up now with a request to the IIBA team to offer comment or clarification on my take.


  1. OK, I'll take the hint. ;-)

    In version 2, the Enterprise Analysis KA focuses much more on the issues relevant to a specific initiative or project, rather than on selection of a project from a portfolio.

    I do think the other broad strategic issues fall within the scope of business analysis, though. Those topics were removed because we wanted to emphasize the idea that EA is something that every BA should be engaging in on every project, and that was getting lost. People looked at the cross-project stuff and concluded that EA was something only specialists in it did.

    We are planning to kick off a committee to define an application area extension to the BABOK in the near future to define the knowledge required of an enterprise-level or strategic BA.

    Does that help?

  2. Thanks Kevin, it does.

    So now my next question... Enterprise Architecture?

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