5 Questions with John Fraser about North Highland’s Business Analysis Practice and Recent 2021 IIBA Corporate Membership Award for Leadership Excellence

Congratulations to North Highland Company for being awarded the 2021 IIBA Corporate Membership Award for Leadership Excellence in Business Analysis Advocacy and Corporate Engagement. The award is presented to the organization that has consistently demonstrated leadership excellence by advocating the value and role of business analysis to their shareholders, customers, and business partners and by supporting the involvement and engagement of their employees with the local and global business analysis communities through volunteerism and thought leadership opportunities. I recently put John Fraser, Lead Business Analyst and BA Practice Lead for North Highland in the hot seat, to unpack the award and North Highland’s unique approach to business analysis. Details of that discussion are below: 

1. Are there specific industries more in need of business analysis skills than others? If so, why and what solutions or services is North Highland uniquely equipped to deliver? 

As a mindset, a discipline - business analysis helps organizations approach their business problems with thorough solutions. These fundamental skills are even more critical in the evolving digital world than ever before. Simply put, understanding the big picture, and the why behind the what. What is the real problem that is being solved? That’s where BAs come in, and that’s what separates North Highland’s Business Analysts from our competitors. We get it from day 1, and believe our Business Analysis Teams drive collaboration and is directly connected to the PROBLEM STATEMENT to the VALUE of your SOLUTION”

The industries that typically need business analysis are:

  • Information Technology
  • Consulting
  • Health Care Clinical research / Pharma companies
  • Finance / Banking /Investment Sector
  • Human resource management / Talent acquisition
  • Retail / E commerce
  • Logistics / Supply Chain
  • FM-CG /Consumer Durable

2. Share a client story you’re most proud of. What was their challenge and how did we help?

The pace of disruption is accelerating and has become the new norm. A recent client challenge was a global hospitality leader began seeing the industry go through major change with customers beginning to want their hospitality experiences personalized. Currently, restaurants are outpacing hotels in their ability to deliver innovation quickly.

North Highland was chosen to apply our BA Maturity Assessment model, which includes a detailed evaluation consisting of a mix of industry best practices along with proprietary maturity comparison models based on cross-client and cross-industry evaluations. This is a sweet spot for North Highland and differentiates us from our competitors. Our assessment is designed to help baseline our client’s existing BA Capability. We help set priorities for improving service quality and provide a framework for continuous improvement. Then, we evaluate our clients quality in four dimensions against our unique maturity framework.

3. The recent award from IIBA – what does it mean to North Highland and the way our BA team of consultants has been upskilled over the last several years? 

To me, this is just the first step. Our business analysts work hard, and this award is for allthe team members who put their time in (day in and day out) to make our clients happy. We’ve said we were leaders in the industry, and this puts our work in the forefront in the industry. It makes me proud that the vision that Ross Capel, Scott Rainey, Chad Carmichael and I had a while ago came to fruition. It’s beautiful to watch.
 

4. Why is it important to build consulting capability and not dependency? How does this differ from other firms?  

Organizations are pursuing technology and data transformation powered by processes and ways of working that accelerate change. But in North Highland’s recent Beacon Survey, 730 business leaders across key functions and industries with annual revenues > $1B, we uncovered a crucial reality: The workforce, not technology, is the vital missing piece. We invest in our people and there is a reason why Process & Business Analysis is one of the strongest Capabilities in our firm. It’s the people and the thirst to get better as a Capability. That is enabled by our leadership team.

5. Lastly, what types of challenges has the BA team been tasked with since the pandemic and how will this change or remain the same in a post COVID environment?  

We, like the rest of the world, have been challenged by the pandemic. But, we were able to lock arms and embrace the change and be NIMBLE enough to pivot to where we want our Capability to go. We’ve gotten better and people have taken the time to increase their trainings to be better. That’s what the pandemic should have taught us – push yourself to be better. And when this is officially over, we will be better and stronger with the lessons learned.