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Maximising target operating models for business success: Webinar Q&A

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of hosting a webinar on operating models for the UK chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA UK). Drawing from my extensive experience in designing and implementing operating models, I shared insights on how business analysts can leverage their expertise to drive sustainable transformation within organisations.

This topic, which I initially presented at the IRM UK Business Analysis Europe 2023 conference in September, resonated deeply with the audience and sparked lively discussions. Given the overwhelming interest, I was thrilled to extend this conversation to a broader audience of business analysts and change practitioners through the webinar.

The engagement from the over 150 attendees was remarkable, and I'm excited to share some of the intriguing questions that emerged during the session.

Role of the business analyst

Several participants raised the question around the role of the business analyst and the relationships business analysts, business architects, and product owners, specifically regarding their collaborative dynamics and defined respective responsibilities.


This is a great question, one that was asked during my presentation at the IRM Business analysis conference. It is correct that the work of a business analyst in the operating model domain may overlap with the responsibilities of other roles and I’m not suggesting that as business analysts we overrule these. However, in some organisations, particularly smaller or less mature ones, there may not be dedicated business architecture or product owner roles. In these scenarios, business analysts can bridge the gap by leveraging their skills to drive operating model initiatives forward.

When these roles do exist within an organisation, collaboration would be highly advantageous. Business analysts often possess valuable insights into the affected areas of the business, understand the needs of the business and stakeholders, and can serve as allies in this this instance.

Strategy and target operating model relationship

The webinar also explored the relationship between strategy and the development of a target, leading into the question of if it should be created separately or whether there should be a crossover in delivery.


My view is that the strategy should precede the target operating model development, so that the strategy informs the target operating model. The target operating model, in turn, acts as an enabler that drives the successful implementation of the strategy.

However, it is entirely appropriate for business analysts to be involved in both in both the formulation of strategy and the development of the target operating model. Business analysts have all the skills to support strategic analysis, helping  organisations shape their future - Consider the use of analytical tools like PESTLE, Porter's Five Forces, and resource audits, as well as employing the VMOST model to capture the strategy.

‘It was such an insightful talk, thank you for sharing Caroline. I particularly valued the practical application of tools to the task of developing an operating model. I will be putting this into practice very soon!’

Multiple operating models

A webinar attendee asked whether it is legitimate for an organisation to have multiple target operating models.


In my perspective, having multiple target operating models is a valid approach. Target operating models can be designed at various levels, including the organisational level, for specific business areas, or for individual capabilities within an organisation.

During the webinar I shared an example where the target operating model design was driven by the need to transform a specific business area, which involved the introduction of new tools. This operating model coexisted alongside operating models for other capabilities, ultimately forming part of a broader, business unit-level operating model.

It is important to note that when multiple target operating models exist, there may be points of intersection between them. To ensure alignment at these touchpoints, it is good to have open communication with the respective operating model leads. Collaboration is key!

Measures of success

An attendee acknowledged the importance of success measures in engaging stakeholders and driving change and asked about my approach to defining them for the target operating model.


A fantastic observation, embedding measures of success into your target operating model is really important. From my perspective, if I were sponsoring the target operating model initiative, I would want to ensure that the investment in defining it brings tangible business benefits.

Defining a set of performance measures is good practice. The measures will vary, depending on the nature of the operating model but but some examples include adherence to best practice guidelines and the percentage of users trained.

I would work on defining the measures with my business lead, set targets (which can be adjusted over time) and put a process in place as to how these could be reported. Remember to make your measures SMART – concise and measurable.

Operating model templates

Another attendee asked whether there was a standard format or template to capture an operating model, as they were encountering difficulties in reconciling the diverse expectations of stakeholders, including executives, the project team, and clients.


The situation is one I sympathise with and I have not encountered any standard templates as such. I've always created my own templates and tried to create formats that I believe will appeal to my stakeholders. Every project is unique and so is every company.

For senior leaders I try to keep the content high level and visual to help with the engagement. However, there is nothing stopping you from expanding on the detail for the stakeholders who require deeper understanding. The key is to strike a balance between clarity and comprehensiveness.


Remember that no two operating models are the same so the scope and approach for each one needs to be well considered, strategically aligned and endorsed by it’s sponsor.

The insightful questions raised during the webinar demonstrate the profound thinking within the business analysis and change community and it was great to see such active and positive engagement.

Thank you to everyone that attended.

‘Having just attended the webinar and as somebody who delivers target operating models myself, I found your presentation very clear as a means to communicate a complex subject.’

Find out more

If you wish to find out more about how Holley Holland can help your transformative journey please contact me, Caroline Beasley, for more information.

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