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Context definition for my Business Analyst upskilling practice

To provide a foundation for personas and user stories, I stepped back to the beginning of my hypothetical project workstream to craft a company context and problem statement.

Before, in my practice work, I dove straight-away into (1) data visualization to guide sales regions restructuring, and (2) database design for an envisioned People Profile application.

Backing up to the origin story…


  • My fictitious company has a name, Manulean Consulting.
  • Manulean is a growing consulting firm that provides services only to the manufacturing sector.
  • The firm was founded in 2002 in Milwaukee Wisconsin and initially focused on assisting manufacturing companies with Lean and Six Sigma practices.
  • As Manulean matured, the firm expanded its focus to additionally offer digital transformation and Industry 4.0 management consulting. During the same time, it also expanded geographically by opening a second office in Cleveland Ohio.
  • With their broader portfolio, the firm increasingly found itself competing with major consultancies such as Accenture and KPMG. Manulean remained competitive by maintaining deep knowledge and experience in the manufacturing sector. For example, their typical consulting hire had 10 or more years of experience in the manufacturing sector prior to joining the firm.
  • In 2017 the co-founders again saw an expansion opportunity with a move into Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and edge computing technology implementation that would allow the firm to provide an end-to-end solution — from strategy all the way through to technology in production. Given the extent of the new capabilities required for this second expansion, a merger or acquisition was deemed to be the most viable path to realize the opportunity.
  • In 2018, the firm completed a merger of equals with Manufacturing Technology Partners (MTP). MTP, with its strong technology roots, had offices in California, Texas, and North Carolina. Post-merger, the Manulean name was retained for the combined company that now had five offices across the United States.


  • The combined company was struggling to become the envisioned end-to-end solution provider. A year after the merger, the majority of engagements remained as either focused on strategy, process, and human capital (legacy Manulean) — or technology implementations (legacy MTP).
  • Several layers of culture clash were evident, including:
    • An age and experience difference between the legacy companies. MTP incumbents tended to be younger and have less prior experience compared to Manulean incumbents.
    • The different predominant cultures at a management consulting firm versus technology system integrator. The original Manulean had prospered by building close long-term relationships with the client’s C-suite; whereas, MTP tended to work at the Director-level with one-off transactions.
    • Rust-belt (Milwaukee and Cleveland) versus high-tech clusters (California, Texas and North Carolina)
  • Corporate memory and knowledge-sharing where impaired. Both legacy companies had already suffered in these domains, were the challenge was exacerbated by geographical expansion. Now these challenges were becoming worse.

With the above origin story in place, I can now move forward with crafting personas and user stories that build on this set-up. Stay tuned.

Published in Business Analysis Portfolio


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