Business Analyst Interview Question: What Does “The Enterprise” Mean In The Context Of Business Analysis?
“The enterprise” refers to the entirety of a business when speaking in the context of business analysis. It’s the essence of everything that a business is and what it does. It transcends individual organizations, units, products, services, and individuals. Instead, it speaks as a whole to everything a business does, its vision, and what it represents.
It’s perhaps no surprise that the dictionary definition of the word “enterprise” is a project undertaken, especially a complex and difficult one needing lots of effort. That describes a business enterprise perfectly. It’s a complex web of people, ideas, business processes, and the technologies that support them all.
What business challenge does every enterprise face?
The problem with every enterprise is that the people who work there rarely think of their work in the context of the entire business. Instead, they focus purely on the here and now in their immediate environment. They miss the forest for the trees.
So much of what a business does often occurs in what can be called silos. A silo, literally, is a large self-enclosed tower you see on a farm that’s used for storing grain. In the context of a business, it means that people, processes, and technologies often work in their own little worlds and stay in their own little lanes. They don’t pause to think about what people in the other silos are doing.
Here’s a simple example. Suppose someone (Person A) needs a business solution that counts widgets in a particular way. Person A belongs to a certain department within the business. So Person A gathers requirements, and his organization then chooses and installs a solution to count the widgets.
Unbeknownst to Person A, the person in the office next door (Person B) works for a different department and a different set of people. Person B also needs to count widgets, but she has no idea what Person A is doing, nor does she know Person A already bought a widget solution. So person B duplicates the effort of person A and buys a widget solution too.
What’s wrong with this picture?
These people are working in silos. Neither one knows what the other is doing. This causes duplication of effort and wasted money. Maybe they could have both benefited from the same widget solution. Having one solution instead of two means you can save money and have one less system to maintain.
But that can’t happen when you work in silos. Silos are the exact opposite of what an enterprise should be: a unified whole.
What is the role of the Business Analyst in addressing silos within an enterprise?
One of the most valuable things that a Business Analyst can do is to think holistically about the entire business. She must consider the needs of the entire enterprise, not just what’s good within a silo.
The unique skills of the Business Analyst makes it possible to break the bonds holding people in silos. The BA can ask smart questions such as:
- Is this solution good for the entire enterprise, or just good for my business unit (silo)?
- How could this solution provide value for another part of the enterprise rather than just mine?
- Who could we cooperate with in other parts of the business to share expenses and provide a common solution to a problem faced across the enterprise?
- Can my business unit share data in such a way that it will help others make better business decisions?
- Could my solution interface with other business solutions to offer a better enterprise service?
Think of the power within those questions. Asking questions like this forces others to stop thinking in their own little silos and start thinking holistically about what is best for the business. It gets people out of their silos and thinking holistically about the common good of the enterprise. It gets people on the same page about the best ways to meet the enterprise’s mission and vision.
Can you summarize an answer to an interview question about the relevance of “the enterprise” to business analysis?
“The enterprise” refers to the entirety of a business. It crosses all business organizations, and includes all the products and services a business offers to meet the vision and mission of the business. The enterprise can be large and complex, though. This causes people to lose sight of the enterprise and instead focus on their individual business units and needs. They start working in silos rather than working together. This causes inefficiency, duplication, and waste of money and resources. The role of the Business Analyst in the context of the enterprise is to break the bonds of the silos that people work in. A Business Analyst adds value by thinking holistically about the needs of the enterprise, rather than solely about the needs of a single business unit, product, or service. A Business Analyst can help people see outside their silos and collaborate when solving business problems.
How would you answer an interview question about the relevance of “the enterprise” in the context of business analysis? Leave your thoughts in the comments!