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Friday, January 29, 2016

Defining Goals

The business analyst is often associated with goal making, the definition of a goal. While the project manager is the role primarily responsible for the goal of the project, the business analyst is the one who defines the goal of the product, what does the organization intend for the product to do for it. Is the goal of a new product to increase revenue, stay competitive, move into new markets, complete a product line?
Clearly the goal associated with solving the particular business problem has a great effect on how the project is done and how success is determined.
To assist the organization in defining an achievable goal business analyst needs to understand what a goal is.
A goal according to the dictionary: "the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end."  Being the result, it must state something to be achieved. However, saying "our goal is greater safety for our workers (using Georgy's last item)" does not help us.  How high? Will one defect less than before be considered 'higher quality'? It satisfies the goal. 
So we need to apply a measure to the goal for it to have meaning: "Our goal is to have ten percent fewer worker injuries."  The goal now has more meaning in terms of achievability, but the results are still questionable. Ten percent fewer injuries over the next day? the next month? the next century? 
For the goal to be effective - and what is the purpose of stating a goal if we don't care whether it achieves the results? - we need a time frame for achievement. "Our goal is to have ten percent fewer worker injuries this fiscal year than last fiscal year." 
Three elements of a functional goal (functional means the results are achieved and not just stated): a statement of achievability, a measurement that prove it has been achieved, and a time frame by which it should be achieved. Then we can state the goal (what results we expect) and achieve those results - and most importantly for everyone, know that we have done so. 

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