Ethical Analysis

This post originally appeared on September 22, 2010 on

The last few month’s I’ve been considering what area of business analysis is overlooked and, if I put a little effort into it, where I could possibly add a significant portion of information in the form of a publishable book. One area that keeps coming up in my mind is ethics for those in the business analysis role. The IIBA has an official code of conduct for CBAP recipients but no official code of conduct for business analysts. Doing a quick Google search for Business Analyst Ethics returns nothing more than job queries and a link to a single certification for analysts. If this is any indication of the state of study regarding this topic, the field is wide open.

My interest in the subject was peaked even further last week when it came out that a Google engineer was fired for having used his privileged access to inappropriately spy on minors and other customers. Almost every company that has hired me as an analyst has given me access to a significant portion of their sensitive data (and I have always respected that trust, never having breached that trust). But it is obvious that breaches are possible and it is an issue that every company and every project team member should consider.

It is ironic that, when I decided to write this post earlier today, only an hour later, today’s OneFTE comic came out:

Target Markets

Sadly, this isn’t far from what could be when ethics are divorced from access. I see that there are several avenues that an analysis of ethics in analysis could take.

First, I could see a discussion about the source of our ethical standards and how they can be a reflection of our societal values. Some cultures may have differing views regarding data security and what is considered theft, so a review of these differences may be appropriate as well.

From there, the topic could branch out into how ethical standards could apply in the areas common to most analyst roles. Items such as stakeholder interaction, data integrity, system integrity and process integrity could be included.

Lastly, I think the discussion needs to look forward towards the future as our job as analysts will be changing in the not too distant future. As technological processes continue to mature, how will analysts continue to provide value to the organization? What about the impact of massive data centers on our environment and will analysts help drive down the energy utilization by keeping our stakeholder’s expectations in check?

The biggest roadblock to me compiling this information, besides a day job, this blog and a family, is the question of would anyone actually take the time to read all this? Yes, a hungry audience is not the reason I would pick to write on the subject, but its always nice to know someone might actually read the work once it is complete! (Kind of like we all wish for our stakeholders to actually read our requirements documents!)

So what do you, the readership of think?