Nestled deep in the heart of horse country, home of the Kentucky Derby, you will find the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter. Lexington, KY was the 62nd largest city in the United States of America but did not have an IIBA® chapter. So in August 2013 a group of professionals got together and formed the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter to bring a business analysis educational and networking program to the Bluegrass region of central Kentucky. They received their charter from IIBA in January 2015, making them an official chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®).
In forming this local chapter of the professional association for business analysts, the organizers wished to:
- Champion Business Analysis excellence by providing an educational program, promoting best practices, and creating opportunities for local practitioners to grow personally and professionally.
- Develop Business Analysis practitioners and leaders who deliver organizational results.
- Cultivate alliances with organizations in the community to advance the profession in the Bluegrass.
- Provide networking opportunities for business professionals to learn from each other.
With the occasional snow driven inclement weather, that caused them to cancel program meetings, the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter has always delivered a consistent program. The program calendar was developed early in its life; it may have gone through some minor tweaking, but the chapter adheres to the original goal or providing a consistent program that the local business community can count on.
This program not only consists of program meetings, but social networking events, study groups, educational workshops, professional development days and special events of all kinds; which I will be glad to tell you about in a minute.
The Bluegrass IIBA Chapter quickly rose to being one of the most innovative chapters in the IIBA Chapter network. The chapter leaders organized and offered the community half-day educational workshops and full-day professional development days more quickly than other chapters. The Bluegrass IIBA Chapter was also innovative in their regular program meetings; offering varying formats to the meetings including audience discussions, Town Hall Meetings, and panel discussions to complement the traditional presentation style meeting.
The Bluegrass IIBA Chapter was the first IIBA Chapter to offer a BABOK v3 Virtual Study Group upon the publication of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide). IIBA® published the new version of the BABOK® Guide on April 15, 2015. The Bluegrass IIBA Chapter BABOK v3 Virtual Study Group began on May 27, 2015 and ran through July 29, 2015. The study group was facilitated by the Chapter’s Director of Certification at the time, Eric-Stephan Neill. Eric-Stephan is an Enterprise Architect at Lexmark International and was one of the founding organizers and Board of Director members of the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter. The study group had nine participants and was hugely successful in delivering the new content of the BABOK® Guide v3 to those participants. Each session of the study group was recorded as a webinar and shared among the participants of the study group in case they missed a particular session. Months later the recordings were shared with the members of the Chapter as a membership benefit.
Service to the community
From its inception the Chapter listened to the community. Polling the community on the types of services it wished from the Chapter, then providing those services is how the Chapter grew. The Chapter keeps the community informed of upcoming webinars on business analysis topics from many different educational providers on their website’s ‘Upcoming Business Analysis Webinars’ page. As you can imagine, this is ever changing content.
The Chapter reached out to education institutions in the area such as ITT Technical Institute, Bluegrass Community & Technical College, Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky to partner with them and have their program reach the institution’s students and faculty. The Chapter has always offered student pricing to all their events.
The Chapter reached out to businesses in the community such as Tempur-Sealy International, Lexmark International, Xerox, Toyota, UK Healthcare, Alltech, Inc., The Solarity Group, state and federal government agencies. This brought on new innovative programs including Business Analysis Center of Excellence Roundtable, Breakfast Club, Lunch ‘n Learns, and a Coffee Club.
What’s in a Name?
The central area of the state of Kentucky is known as the Bluegrass region; so naming of the chapter was easy, even though other names were considered. Before settlement, the region was mostly a savannah of wide grasslands with interspersed enormous oak trees. It contained large herds of bison and other wildlife, especially near salt licks. The name “Kentucky” means “meadow lands” in several different Indian languages and was specifically applied to this region. Europeans adopted it to apply to the state. Europeans named the Bluegrass region for the blue flowered Poa grass that grew there. Founding President, Aaron Whittenberger, remembered traveling the Bluegrass Parkway on a bright sunny summer day as a youth and looking out the car window at the blue-tinted grass along the highway.
Help Getting Started
From the beginning one of the benefactors of the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter was The Solarity Group. The Solarity Group is an education provider and consulting firm in the business analysis, project management and change management areas, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. President of The Solarity Group is Bud Ratliff. Bud got involved with the chapter from the beginning; not only its Charter Premier Sponsor, but a member of the Initial Board of Directors, serving as Vice President of Administration and Finance. Bud not only supplied the funds to launch the new chapter, but supplied energy and leadership to the chapter in its infancy. Bud was a Past President of the local PMI chapter, which gave him experience to draw on in helping this new chapter get off the ground.
Still going strong
Consistent Program, Innovation and Service to the Community are still hallmarks to the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter brand today. Continuous improvement on their strengths including marketing, community outreach, and strategic planning has helped this chapter to grow quickly, become a leader in the IIBA chapter network and become a servant-leader in the local business analysis community. They have raised awareness of the business analysis profession in the business community and continually promote the profession today.
Contact Bluegrass IIBA Chapter
Check out what this innovative and fun chapter has going on today on the Chapter Events page of their website (bluegrass.iiba.org) or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also connect with the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter through their LinkedIn Profile and Company page, or follow them on Twitter @IIBABluegrass.