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Gathering Stakeholder Perspectives for Analysis

CATWOE

Ever wished there was a tool or framework that would help you to gather details on project stakeholders thoughts and perspectives on where a project or system should go in terms or direction or where it should be focused? Well, here’s some good news; there is one; it’s called the CATWOE framework. ‘CATWOE’ is a good methodology/framework to help get a good understanding on what peoples priorities, values, opinions, beliefs are on a system change, addition or closure. The framework frames their perspective, who, from their perspective, the customer is, owner is and who should be involved. This information comes in handy when reviewing and analysing what kind of need a system should fulfill – you will have detailed information on stakeholders thinking behind the project and its objectives.

The CATWOE methodology was developed by Peter Checkland and was a part of his Soft Systems research; a research study that seems to have been going on for a long time, trying to deal with and manage issues and problems that may lack proper, formal problem definition.

Findings from the analysis is typically used to synthesise with findings from other stakeholders or gather the needs of the key stakeholder that are responsible for setting the objectives of the system.

The framework is a good one and equips you with the tools to gain a good understanding on why a stakeholder of a potential system might want it a certain way and why another may want it another way. CATWOE will also give you good understanding of where the general consensus lies for the system; where the conflicts are; where overlapping occurs and more. The ‘CATWOE’ acronym is as follows:

  • Customer
  • Actor(s)
  • Transformation
  • World View
  • Owner
  • Environment

NOTE: The reason it is presented as ‘CATWOE’ is so it is pronounceable. The proper format of the framework is as below. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it in this way; you can do it however you want! This methodology is a guideline because it is simply, logical. 

  1. World View
    • Here is where you ask the stakeholder why the new system is needed or why it should be changed; you could ask questions like; ‘in your opinion, why…”; “what made you come to that conclusion…”.
    • It is important to remain tactful, a good listener and a good listener at this point; as the more information you have, the better off you are.
    • An answer might be something as simple as, ‘market research has shown there’s a growing demand for plimsole type footwear at cheap prices’
  2. Transformation
    • Transformation is concerned with what process is to be transformed – changed or created.
    • This would typically be in response to the world view and thus comes consecutively
    • Could be something as simple as, ‘sell plimsole type footwear at cheap prices’
  3. Customer
    • Who is the customer that is affected by the process or system change?
    • In the context of our scenario, it would be a consumer wanting to buy plimsole type footwear at cheap prices
    • There may be scope to go in to further detail that might incorporate any analysis the stakeholder has done related to the market
  4. Actor(s)
    • ‘Actor’ is concerned with who will be involved in the process and who will perform the transformation
    • This cold be someone along the lines of in-house footwear designers, sales staff, marketing staff and store managers
  5. Owner
    • Who has authority to close this bad mama jama system?
    • Typically the commissioning authority; project board or board of directors
    • If the owner of the system is the retail department; the retail director may have authority to further change, stop or close down the system
  6. Environment
    • What’s the environment like in which the business system operates? 
    • A good framework to use for this is ‘PESTLE‘, which looks at the macro-economic forces at play, that may potentially have an impact on your system
    • It may even be worth considering some of the internal business processes related to system implementation; items related to the scope of actual implementation, constraints of doing so, any assumptions that are made and what risks there may be. A good framework for this is the ‘BOSCARD‘ framework – the ‘B’ stands for background for a little context; the ‘O’ stands for objective; the objective in this context would be to implement the new system and ‘D’ is deliverables.

So this exercise is what one would typically conduct with project related stakeholders, in order to gather information on where they think the system should go in terms of direction and focus. There is no reason why this framework cannot be used informally. I use it a lot in my day-to-day life when trying to understand reasoning behind decisions.

The CATWOE analysis can then be translated in to a business activity model (BAM), which is a conceptual model of the system as envisaged or imagined by the stakeholder, that was interviewed. You will notice that, for the most part, the CATWOE analysis is simply common sense. You probably already ask the questions and consider the environment etc. All this framework does is add a little structure to that process. Have fun.

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The Business Analysis Process: 3. Analysing Needs

So you’ve now done your perspective analysis and have documented stakeholder perspectives in to relevant diagrams, such as the Business Activity Model (BAM). The BAM is basically the model outlining and describing the system as it is envisaged by the stakeholder, based on their CATWOE analysis.

Once you have reviewed all BAM’s, including the CCCRUTT, which are Conflicts; (In)Consistencies; (lack of)Clarity; Relevance; Uniformity; Testability and Traceability and you have come to a final conclusion on what is important to the stakeholders and what items take precedence over others, in order to meet the goals of the project, divisions and wider company’s objectives, you can finalise you BAM.

So the next step is to create what’s called the ‘Gap Analysis’, which is basically an analysis of the needs of the division, department, product etc.

Okay, right, so with the BAM in your right hand, the process for creating your gap analysis/needs analysis is as follows:

  1. Review BAM to see how each activity is supported by systems and the resources available
  2. Identify activities that may benefit from reviewing and change
  3. Priorities activities based on the following: Time, Cost, Quality, Risk – the one that has the highest ratings for all four, will be higher up on the priority list for addressing
  4. Once you have determined your activities that need addressing, you will need to model ‘as is’ business process maps; I would use swim lane process maps because they present more data.
  5. Next, create ‘to be’ process maps based on your BAM, again in swimlane format
  6. Analyse the gaps between both process maps and
  7. Document a list of potential solutions that would work towards reducing the above variables (time, cost, quality and risk).

The next step includes analysing the defined options, using a range of techniques from cost-benefit analysis, risk analysis, heptalysis investment appraisal techniques to any other tool that would allow you to effectively appraise an option.

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The Business Analysis Process: 2. Considering Perspectives

You’ve now completed step 1 and you’ve now got a good understanding of the situation and are ready to progress your business analysis activities. The second activity within the business analysis process is to consider the perspectives of your stakeholders.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Find out who your stakeholders are. You can typically do or should have done this this by gathering details on the situation, from the first activity within the process. With this information you can then decide how to manage your stakeholders by conducting stakeholder analysis. A good way to do this is by using the power-interest matrix; the power-interest matrix will give you a framework for management.
  2. Once you have considered who your stakeholders are, it would be important to conduct the CATWOE analysis to understand what the stakeholders thoughts, feelings and values are with relation to the system/process addition/update/closure. The CATWOE analysis gives the analyst good details on the system from the users perspective; it takes in to consideration, why the stakeholder thinks the system should be implemented, what the definition of the system is, who the customer is, who plays a part within the system implementation, the owner and the environmental factors that need to be considered in which the proposed system will sit. You will conduct the CATWOE analysis with your stakeholders that you have identified as value-adding.
  3. Each perspective that you gather from a stakeholder, would be documented in a business activity model that outlines the main activities within the system, from the individual stakeholder’s perspective.
  4. Once you have gathered the above details and produced the business activity models, the next step is to determine one unified business activity model that synthesises all business activity models gathered. Now, naturally it may not be possible to create a synthesised model that incorporates every single requirement of all stakeholders. BA’s must recognise that stakeholder play a part in systems development because they have good context and understanding of user requirements; naturally people will have different opinions, however it is up to the BA to understand which activities within the documented business activity models that add most value, while meeting each stakeholders requirements. Often negotiations will need to take place, as it may not always ben feasible to deliver all requirements as outlined by the stakeholders. The way negotiation facilitation is highly personal and for that reason I won’t discuss this much.
  5. Compile all information gathered and document all of the details including the business activity models for reference, if required.

This will then take you on the next stage of analysing the needs within that one business activity model that you have now created, amalgamating most, if not all of the activities outlined in all stakeholder business activity models.

The Business Analysis Process: 3. Analysing Needs

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Are You A Leader or Manager? Here’s Your Answer

The difference between a Manager and Leader

  • Managers make the rules; Leaders break the rules
  • Managers execute culture; Leaders shape culture
  • Managers avoid conflict; Leaders know there’s no movement without conflict
  • Managers take credit; Leaders give credit
  • Managers make decision; Leaders facilitate decisions, encourage buy-in in a healthy way
  • When it comes to vision; Managers tell and Leaders sell
  • Managers are transactional; Leaders are transformational

SELF ASSESSMENT

Ask yourself:
If my position, title, role or formal authority, were removed; would the people that i’m leading, still gladly follow me?

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.”

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The Balanced Scorecard is Really Useful. Here’s Why

The Balanced Scorecard. What is it? It’s a performance management framework alright – what’s that you ask? 

Probably one of the most useful frameworks around to support in the management of performance and strategy. The framework has been commended by both business people and academics alike.

Now, I’m not going to bore you with too many details but the Balanced Scorecard is essentially a tool that gives a company a template on how to manage both financial and non-financial strategic performance in line with goals and objectives that are set by the company or owner. Objectives, measures, targets and initiatives are set to implement, monitor and respond to, to ensure that the company is working towards it’s overall and longer-term objectives.

Now before we begin, it is probably worth defining, success.

  • Increased profits year on year?
  • A happy customer base?
  • A competent team?
  • Is it being efficient in all aspects of the company?
  • Or all of the above + more?

The Balanced Scorecard response to this question is that, all of the above definitions define success collectively. The Balanced Scorecard takes a “holistic” approach to strategic performance management, ie. managing different ‘dimensions’ of the business collectively, successfully.

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The Balanced Scorecard has four distinct sections to it and they are as follows:

  1. Financial – Focuses on financial objectives and ‘shareholder’ opinions of the organisation.
  2. Internal Business Processes – Focuses on the processes and systems in place to help the business excel.
  3. Learning and Growth – Focuses on the resources and infrastructure the company must establish and maintain to ensure growth, learning and development, resulting in innovation, effective team etc.
  4. Customer – Focuses on the approaches, processes and systems to ensure the customer is always satisfied.

The Balanced Scorecard poses a number of questions to Managers that contextualise the scorecards into a more accessible, friendly format, in order to allow Managers to better respond. The questions ask Managers to consider what metrics are important based on each scorecard. The questions are as follows with some example metrics:

  • Financial: “How should we appear to our Shareholders?”
    Example metrics include, ROI (%), Liquidity, Profitability Margins etc.
  • Internal Business Processes: “What business processes must we excel at?”
    Example metrics include processing times, individual steps needed for a process, wastage, errors etc.
  • Learning and Growth: “How will we sustain our ability to change and improve?”
    Example metrics include, Research and Development spend, innovative solutions, speed to market, corrective action response times and success rates etc.
  • Customers: “How should we appear to our customers?”
    Example metrics include delivery times, quality control, customer experience statistics etc.

In order for Managers to choose metrics that add real value, they must first understand what the company wants to achieve over the long term. With this knowledge, companies can then answer the above questions and choose measures, targets and initiatives to direct day-to-day activities that ultimately meet longer-term objectives.

For details and examples on the subheadings to each scorecard, with examples, please read this fabulous post, here.

The overall results of the implementation of the Balanced Scorecard can be improved processes, greater customer satisfaction, educated and motivated employees, better overall internal systems, increased and sustained profits and overall value added to all dimensions of the business. Why would you not want to use this tool to help determine what to monitor? It helps the company align its day-to-day operations with longer-term objectives and ambitions as all short-term objectives, targets and initiatives are based on long-term objectives.

You might be thinking, but why do I need this now? I’ve been doing just fine without a framework; indeed this is true but the point of the Balanced Scorecard is to provide a template on which to build upon. You may already be using the Balanced Scorecard unknowingly. The Balanced Scorecard simply provides a template, a structure, a guideline on how to structure performance management and strategy.
 
Related read: Balanced Scorecard In Detail.