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Interdisciplinary efforts in graduate education
The theme of the next issue of Professional Education News will be interdisciplinary efforts in graduate professional education. Do you know of a graduate project or program at UD that gets extraordinary results by crossing disciplinary lines? Do you know of an outstanding interdisciplinary effort to serve our professional graduate students? Please send your ideas for feature
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Associate Provost for Professional Education
Office of Graduate and Professional Education
AAA Mid-Atlantic partners with UD to offer business analyst training
Business research studies all underline the importance of the business analyst in helping companies achieve increased project success, better products and improved customer satisfaction. The business analyst plays an essential role in bridging the gap between an organization's business needs and the IT requirements and solutions to address those needs.
A recent CIO.com article encourages organizations to look in their own backyards to cultivate and develop that business analyst expertise, seeking out IT and subject matter experts already in business analyst roles and other typically untapped areas of the business.
AAA Mid-Atlantic, the travel, insurance and roadside assistance giant with regional headquarters in Wilmington, did just that when it partnered with the University of Delaware's Division of Professional and Continuing Studies to offer in-house business analyst training to IT and management professionals within the organization.
[Photo courtesy of AAA Mid-Atlantic]
Business analyst role is vital to IT processes
"Our business analysts play a crucial role in AAA's business and IT processes," says Vicki Lanzidelle-Kenney, a AAA-Mid-Atlantic IT director who helped coordinate the organization's first business analyst training program in 2009. "Some are placed within the business lines, but the IT business analysts are assigned to every IT project executed; this is an extremely strong focus for our project methodology and execution."
"Business analysis is definitely a growing position and a growing field," says UD's Business Analyst Certificate program director Scott Fabel, a corporate training consultant with Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI) with over 16 years' training experience working with Fortune 1000 companies. "Organizations are looking to their business analysts to find creative ways to address a variety of issues: much is riding on the business analyst's skills and knowledge." Fabel led the 2010 business analyst training at AAA Mid-Atlantic, and teaches UD's open enrollment program as well.
Developing talent within the organization
"Another factor driving the effort to develop business analysts at AAA is definitely the career path advancement," says Lanzidelle-Kenney. "This certification allows professionals to develop in their career path, so we saw that the next step for them would be to be formally educated in the business analyst process."
AAA Mid-Atlantic business services manager Joe DeFrancesco and his e-business team took part in the 2010 offering of UD's business analyst programs. His group included IT professionals who were already functioning as business analysts, but he saw the training as means of standardizing the group's processes. "AAA has a strong philosophy of promoting from within," adds DeFrancesco. "We had some talented, skilled people working in business analyst roles, who may not have had formal training in that area."
"For my team, as a growing group, initially our processes were more informal and we completed a lot of projects on the fly," comments DeFrancesco. "But as our projects grew in size and complexity, we realized there was the potential to miss critical business needs, causing issues later on."
"Back in the very first days of our department, a project for us might have been building an online form," says DeFrancesco. "But it's different when you're looking at a large scale project. For example, last year we replaced our entire membership system housing nearly 4 million members' data plus five years of legacy data. If things fall through the cracks in a project of that size, it's much more troublesome to recover."
DeFrancesco cites the redevelopment of a complex customer lead management system as an example of a start-to-finish project implemented by his group since participating in the business analyst training. The project cycle coincided approximately with the course duration, giving the team an opportunity to work through business analyst methodologies using their own real-time IT project. "When we arrived at the project testing phase we encountered minimal issues and bugs, and no major business needs or requirements uncovered beyond the requirements stage," DeFrancesco says. The project was deemed a success, with the AAA insurance group ending up very pleased with the application, says DeFrancesco.
AAA Mid-Atlantic has a well-established track record as one of Delaware's top-rated employers, for its benefits offerings and workplace climate. For the sixth consecutive year, they've been listed in the top ten of the News Journal's "Top Places to Work" annual list.
UD began offering the Business Analyst Certificate in 2007, and partners with numerous other Delaware businesses and organizations to offer customized training programs.