Building a Center of Excellence for Business Analysis and Advancement

Building a center of excellence for business analysis modernizes your advancement programs and expands your fundraising initiatives—from programs such as peer-to-peer, corporate foundations, as well as, grateful patient fundraising.


But first, you must consider where you’re starting from. This includes understanding your baseline with documented business processes and procedures. Specifically, who does what, when they do it, and how it gets done.


A keen understanding of your baseline enables you to identify opportunities. These opportunities improve your business analysis and advancement proficiency. And the outcomes—from an operational standpoint—support new initiatives or expand existing ones.


On the contrary, if you don’t establish your baseline, you will likely experience chaos from an operational perspective when you expand your center of excellence for business analysis and advancement. This is because no one knows what’s happening, and there is no clarity.


Here are some options—including challenges—as you consider building a center of excellence for business analysis and advancement.


Option 1: Outline Processes and Procedures

The tricky question remains: Who will be responsible for creating or maintaining the documents for business analysis and advancement? You can’t neglect maintenance; otherwise, you risk them becoming obsolete. The most common practice is for the manager to maintain documents, but not all managers have the proper skills and tools to be successful.


If managers are supposed to be responsible for building and maintaining the center for business analysis and advancement, then each manager must understand the differences between process diagrams, operating procedures, and user guides for the Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) platform.


But sometimes, those often have many similarities.


  • Process flow diagram maps outline the end-to-end steps of the process. The purpose of the process flow diagram map is to provide a high-level view of the workflow, identify who’s involved and where the hand offs are, and help you clearly understand how you get from the beginning to the end. It is a complete overview of the inputs and outputs of the process.
  • The standard operating procedure outlines the standard operating steps to execute. This may be one or many, but the goal of a standard operating procedure creates consistency for training staff—their involvement in the process yields consistent results.
  • User guides explain how to use software systems like the CRM to support the process. This encourages system adoption and proficient usage and defines the ins and outs of the tool set you’ve been given.

It’s common for managers to have knowledge gaps regarding the processes and procedures—often, specifically with how things are done in their department. This is simply because they aren’t doing it themselves and not necessarily improper management. And it’s often assumed that every manager has good delegation skills and comprehensively elicits information from others. Again, that may not be the case.


Now that’s just gathering the information. In this model, it’s also assumed managers have the skill sets to know the difference between documentation and gathering information.


You risk creating chaos again if managers are tasked with creating their processes and procedures because everyone has different ways of doing things.


Using managers to build a center of excellence for business analysis and advancement requires training. The training should include elicitation techniques, process mapping workshops, and stakeholder interviews. Building a center of excellence for business analysis and advancement requires templates and tool sets to enable consistency and standardized documentation.

Option 2: Identify Business Analysts

The ideal state is to have dedicated business analysts. These experts are individuals with the proper skill set and training in methodologies for business analysis and can create and maintain rich documentation. General managers often lack this focused skill set and can’t capture processes or identify inefficiencies that might be a blind spot to management.


In this model, business analysts develop metrics and shape behavior toward objectives such as efficiency, collaboration, and transparency—all things you want within your department. The business analysts become the partner, acting as an external counsel to help you push toward the goal.


With the proper skill sets, your business analysts can also oversee some change management aspects. But of course, using business analysts do have a downside. An entire advancement division can’t just be supported by one person. You need multiple people to become a dedicated resource for advancement departments. But most institutions don’t have the budget to support dedicated business analysts.

Option 3: Establish a Consultative Model to Build a Center of Excellence for Business Analysis and Advancement

Establishing a consultative model to build a center of excellence for business analysis and advancement is more cost-effective because it provides oversight for consistency without long-term expense. This model is especially effective for small teams.


In this model, the department head still contributes in establishing the fundmental basis, but by partnering with a consultant, you now have someone to guide you through the process. And you’re still getting the back-and-forth communication while identifying potential blind spots and establishing direction with change management. The consultative model ensures the CRM implementation is not solely resting on the business analysts’ group—instead, the burden is shared and functionality is improved.