Cherifa Mansoura Interview — IBM

Cherifa Mansoura Liamani  was one of the initiators of the business analysis community not only at IBM, but also of the Montreal section of the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysts), which she played an active role in setting up. She talks to us about her background and sheds light on the role of this new function in her group.

INTERVIEW

“IBM played an avant-garde role in business analysis”
Cherifa Mansoura Liamani, Senior business analyst

Business analyst at IBM for nine years, Cherifa Mansoura Liamani has 12 years of experience in this profession altogether. She was one of the initiators of the business analysis community not only at IBM, but also of the Montreal section of the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysts), which she played an active role in setting up. She talks to us about her background and sheds light on the role of this new function in her group. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated with a bachelor’s in computer engineering, then worked as a programmer and programmer analyst for eight years. In 1989, I decided to do a PhD in artificial intelligence in England. I learned about object-oriented analysis when this discipline was in its infancy. 

Following this PhD, I taught myself modelling techniques, working as an independent consultant. I immigrated to Canada in 1997, where I became a consultant in business analysis and modelling. A year after that, I was hired by IBM as a business analyst, where I still am today. 

WHAT IS YOUR JOB AT IBM? 

I am a certified senior business analyst with the Software unit in Montreal. I take care of business analysis in general, but am also involved in modelling, implementation and adaptation to methodologies. 

Before, I was with the Global Services unit, where I worked on major projects for six years. I then asked for a transfer to the Software unit, because I wanted to add knowledge of new tools to my expertise. 

WHEN DID IBM INTEGRATE THE BUSINESS ANALYSIS DISCIPLINE? 

IBM was avant-garde in this regard. It was one of the first groups to identify customer requests as business analysis needs. 

This demand is directly related to the upsurge of outsourcing in computer development at the end of the 1990s. The use of outsourcing incited companies to strengthen their upstream analysis: a company that outsources to India or China cannot get away with not doing an in-depth analysis of business requirements, unless it wishes to lose a lot of time and money.

IBM has been using the business analyst title for this function since 1998 , while leaving it under the IT specialist umbrella. In 2003, we set up the first business analysis community within IBM, and in 2004, we attended the first BA World in Toronto. IBM Canada now employs more than 300 business analysts

WHERE DO BUSINESS ANALYSTS WORK IN IBM? 

We have two types of organization. There are business analysts who work with the Global Services unit and provide customer services. Then there are many gradually being set up in the various units to meet specific needs. For instance, I work for the Software group. Customers are increasingly calling on the various units for their services, including business analysis, as a complement to their products. The implementation of the latter group advocates having a plan, a process and practices aligned with the support required for these tools.

DO YOU HAVE THE SAME SKILLS AS AN INTERNAL BUSINESS ANALYST?

We are complementary. Business analysts in a company are thoroughly familiar with their area and tend to focus more on the business side than on the technical aspects. As consultants, we provide a real expertise in business analysis. We have multi-industry experience, and very advanced analytical skills and techniques. And of course, we provide flexibility. 

So most of the time, companies call on us to complement their internal business analysts. They are able to shed light on the industry in question, while we bring the application of best practices, the knowledge of industry standards and of advanced analytical techniques. 

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH BA CERTIFICATION AT IBM? 

The business analyst certification has existed at IBM since 2004. I passed it at the end of 2005. For that, I had to put together a file showing my experience (seven years are required), my training in business analysis and project management, along with other skills such as financial analysis and risk management. A final interview validates the certification. 

WHAT ABOUT THE MONTREAL CHAPTER OF THE IIBA ?

We’re just starting out. The Montreal chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysts was founded in November 2006, and as of now, have some 70 members. I am Vice-President and Clément Côté is President. Our Web site is under construction, at http://montreal.theiiba.org.

Thank you!

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