https://dwpdigital.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/15/building-a-cross-government-business-analysis-community/

Building a cross-government business analysis community

As Head of Business Analysis (BA) at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) I’ve always been interested in working with others performing the same role, both in and out of government.

Richard Knight, DWP's Head of Business Analysis
Richard Knight, DWP's Head of Business Analysis

All of us have new things to learn and it’s great to be able to share our successes as well as ask people for suggestions for ways to fix our blockers. I’m also motivated by great communities that have been formed, based around roles like service designers and user researchers.

Pooling our connections

A few months ago I was approached by David Durant, the head of the BA community in Government Digital Service (GDS), who was thinking the same thing. By pooling our connections across government we found lead business analysts in over a dozen departments and other organisations who were keen to stand up and represent their colleagues doing the same job.

After a few in-person and virtual meetings of that group I became Head of Role for BAs for the cross-government community.

Our next step was to engage with the Digital, Data and Technology Professions team in GDS on their plan to grow the Civil Service Digital Data and Technology Profession. Business Analysis is one of the 13 key job families defined within that group.

The first cross-government BA meetup

What we didn’t have was an opportunity for the important folks on the ground, the BA practitioners doing the work in digital teams across government, to get involved. So, Kevin Thompson from the Home Office, Anna Hirschfeld from DWP and David decided it was time to organise the first cross-government meetup for our community.

Fast forward to August 18 and the National Audit Office building in London, where BAs from across the country came together.

The DWP Business Analysis team
The DWP Business Analysis team

We organised a full set of presentations in the half-day event including: An introduction from myself about why BAs are important in digital teams, the state of the DDaT career work, the Digital Academy BA course, BA apprenticeships, becoming an accredited BA and two cases studies of how BAs work in digital teams - one from Universal Credit and the other from Carer’s Allowance.

All the slides from the event are on the BA cross-gov community Hackpad.

What we learned

At the end of the day we held a retrospective. We had a strong overall positive feedback with people having learned new things and enjoyed the opportunity to network with people doing the same role elsewhere in government. The only negative responses were about trying to fit too much in and having a bit too much of a DWP focus.

More than 30 BAs attended from a range of government departments including Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and DWP, as well as other organisations including the Parliamentary Digital Service and the British Library!

Overall, people really enjoyed the opportunity to meet up and are looking forward to attending another session in a couple of months, alongside colleagues from The Department of Education and NHS Digital who couldn't make it this time.

Get involved

If you are a BA in government and would like to get involved, get in touch with David or myself, leave a comment below or come join us in the #businessanalysts channel in the cross-government Slack.

And if you are in the digital profession, regardless of role, I’d encourage you to take part in any cross-government meetups organised around what you do. It’s a great way to learn, make new friends and come back to work more energised.

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