One of Canada’s largest banks has formed a Business Analyst Council to improve BA, IT and financial department cooperation.

Business analysts can play a critical role when corporations are considering rolling out IT solutions by clearly defining challenges, modeling project requirements,

testing user response to the proposed solution and creating a strategy for best carrying out the plan. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is a case in point.

“”A BA’s role is one of the unique roles that really span across the organization,”” says Jennifer Drakes, chairperson of the CIBC Business Analyst Council. “”It touches many different areas. When working on a solution we deal the project manager but also all the component areas within the project like support groups, facilities groups, vendor management groups. That changes from project to project,”” she adds.

Keeping BAs informed about development opportunities available to them, industry practices and even practices employed by other BAs within the same enterprise have proven challenging for larger organizations, Drakes says.

CIBC launched the BA council four years ago, which represents 350 business analysts working within its Technology and Operations organization. This is a unit comprised of workers in its card products, national collections, mortgages, retail and small business lending, insurance and also technology and operations departments.

“”There needed to be an avenue where like-minded individuals could share experiences, get information and really have an organization that will look at industry best practices,”” says Drakes.

The BA council has a small group of committee members who meet once a month to discuss issues relevant to the group and its members and organizes seminars, training sessions as well as distributing printed material to the rest of CIBC’s business analyst community.

“”The majority of what we do can be considered a mentoring program. We offer lunch-and learns, professional development days, workshops on topics like customer relationship management,”” says Drakes.

Although Drakes says CIBC has no plans to expand council membership outside of the Greater Toronto Area in the near future, there has been growing interest in the BA ranks to be involved.

“”Originally the council was meant to represent only departments within the T&O organization but the council name and reach is starting to go beyond that,”” she says. “”We’ve already added members from ABM card management services, PC Internet and telephone banking.””

The increased business analyst presence in most enterprises comes with its own set of challenges, says Glenn Brule, manager of the business analyst program at Toronto-based CDI Education Corp., which trains some of CIBC’s business analysts.

“”The increased sensitivity to cost of most companies has meant that the role of a business analyst as a translator between stakeholders, managers and the IT crew has become key,”” says Brule. “”The BA affects all people within a corporation and yet there still exists a lack of understanding of what the analysts’ full role can be and how to best support them in it.

“”CIBC has been very progressive and proactive in coming up with this council to provide a structured framework around the development of competencies in business analysts,”” Brule adds. “”They’ve clearly understood the importance of these individuals. The importance of BA’s can only grow in the future, and as it grows, so will the importance of these types of internal support organizations for them.””


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