Starting a Business Analysis Community of Practice : tips from the community

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Since I took a break from teaching last year, I try to fulfill my urge of sharing my knowledge about Business Analysis through this blog and I hope you enjoy it! However, I’m missing face to face interaction with real people (or really, just interactions… because you guys are not very prone to commenting my posts 🙂 ). A few months ago, I figured out I could fix this by trying to implement a Business Analysis community of practice at work.

In order to get it done right, I decided to first ask other BAs for tips and resources about starting a BA community of practice (following my own advice to become a better Business Analyst). As a first step, I headed to the official IIBA group on LinkedIn to start a discussion on this topic and get a better understanding of the subject.

Thanks to more than 30 relevant interactions, I was able to gather a lot of information to kick-start my own community. Here’s what I found!

Quick tips to make your BA community of practice a success

To my surprise, a lot of people joined and provided useful insights on things to watch for when creating a community of practice. The 3 key elements that came out from the discussion were to get executive sponsorship, to provide value to the participants, and to get hands-on with them. Here’s a quick summary of what everyone has to say on these factors.

Get executive sponsorship

Get sponsorship for running them from someone senior in the organization or they might lack legitimacy.

Craig Rollason

Executive buy-in is crucial; you will need to have someone with implementation leverage to take the ideas from your community and institutionalize them and keep them sustainable.

Marbey Hidalgo

Provide value to participants

My tip is you want to make sure you provide value. One way is to understand what the potential participants want out of it. Maybe more important is understanding what the people that lead/manage the BAs want out of it. If the leaders in the organization are looking for a change/improvement, then you provide a service that helps get the team there.

Kupe Kupersmith

Get hands-on

Just be mindful that the ‘type’ attracted by CoE doesn’t always lend itself to CoP and vise verse. Set a tone of mentoring and cross-training with case studies, lessons learned and CBAP study groups and you should attract and good group.

Ingrid Colquitt

Get a good facilitator to run them to keep them focused. But also get the team to run them to develop their skills. Create space for people to get help in solving their own problems so they walk out the practice events with a problem solved.

Craig Rollason

Resources to build successful communities of practice

Many people also suggested various resources to support the implementation of a community of practice. I quickly checked them, and here are the most promising ones.

  • Study: Business Analysis Center of Excellence | An exhaustive review of key success factors when implementing a community of practice/center of excellence by Kathleen Hass.
  • The value of BA Standards | This presentation from Mark Owen brings some interesting points about BA standards, which could/should be one of the output of a good community of practice.
  • Many also pointed out a book by Emilie Webber (Building Successful Communities of Practice), which is not specific to Business Analysis, but nonetheless seems like a powerful resource to kick-start a community of practice. I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s been added to my must-read list 🙂

Thinking about starting a community of practice? You’re not alone!

My next action to start “my” community of practice was to poll anonymously my colleagues at work about their interest to participate in this kind of activity. To my surprise, most of them answered positively! This seems in line with many comments left by participants on LinkedIn, who expressed the same interest in participating in such an initiative.

This comforted me in my journey, even if I knew that it was only the beginning. This comment left in the LinkedIn discussion sums it all:

Much of what is being suggested above is super key to critical success, but how to apply it is also is not always straight forward.

Samia Osman

In this context, I decided to share with you my progress in the implementation of a Business Analysis community of practice in my organization. In the upcoming posts on this subject, I’ll get through the various steps we’ll go through, as well as share good (and bad) moves in our journey. If you don’t want to miss this, sign up for Eric the BA Newsletter below and get notified when new posts come out (about once every 3-4 weeks)!

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If you want to add your contribution to the discussion, you can do so in the comments below, or in the LinkedIn discussion directly!

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