The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) and PAL

Published by Hilary Fong

The California Department of Technology’s (CDT) Project Approval Framework (PAL) has been around for several years now. It describes the four stages that State agencies undertaking large-scale IT modernization projects must go through to obtain approval and establish a foundation for project success. Stage 1: Business Analysis is the first stage and the one that agencies are most familiar with, since they must obtain this initial approval before moving to the later stages.

However, the act of business analysis does not end with Stage 1. The later PAL stages focus on developing requirements, analyzing alternatives, recommending a solution, developing a solicitation, and procuring a solution. Yet according to the leading industry standard—the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK)—these activities are all part of “business analysis.”

The BABOK guide is published by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and is the globally recognized standard for the practice of business analysis. As defined in the BABOK, the scope of business analysis is wide-ranging: moving from initial planning through current and future state assessments, it also includes requirements development and management, strategy analysis, and solution implementation and evaluation. At a high level, the PAL stages run in parallel to the chapters in the BABOK, and the BABOK provides valuable information on the activities within each PAL stage (although the terminology can be slightly different).

Given this relationship, I have found that BABOK is a useful tool to help our State clients navigate the PAL process and their IT modernization projects. The BABOK reminds us that business analysis is not only a “stage,” but an ongoing analytical practice encompassing an entire project lifecycle. In fact, Highlands Consulting has helped more than 15 State clients embrace these business analysis concepts and often navigate the PAL process from planning through procurement.