In this article, we will take you through the business analysis process that can be applied to any work environment or project size.
If you’ve been assigned a new project and want to shine as a business analyst, there are various tools and techniques that you need to consider. You may be wondering what is expected of you, what your deliverables are and how you can guarantee success in the project at hand.
While it can be a nerve-wracking task, there are a few key steps to follow to ensure the process goes smoothly with minimal errors.
What is Business Analysis?
Business analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs, reviewing them, and finding solutions to various business-related problems. This process is also understood as a set of techniques and tasks that work as a link to stakeholders, helping them understand the organization’s overall structure, as well as operation and general policies.
By focusing on successful business analysis processes, you can better understand how your organization functions, identify business needs and develop solutions to meet these needs. Skilled business analysts are crucial to any team as they can break down the bigger picture into smaller, more manageable pieces, allowing you to determine how many resources need to be allocated in various situations.
Business analysis involves defining the resources the organization needs to provide the necessary products and deliver value to the external shareholders. This can be done by understanding how the organization’s goals connect to the specific objective of the project at hand.
The business analyst will analyze and synthesize all the information provided by a wide variety of people who interact with the organization. Executives, staff, IT professionals and customers will all send in this information. The analyst then uses this information to identify areas and enables change to satisfy and deliver value to the stakeholders.
Why Use Business Analysis?
Business analysis has proven time and time again to be an incredibly useful tool within any organization. Whether they are building matrixes, collecting user stories or creating and documenting requirements, a highly skilled business analyst is integral to any business.
This is not the end of their role, however. With the right tools, a business analyst can provide a wide variety of useful skills throughout the lifecycle of a project and are not limited to an initial set of requirements. These highly skilled professionals can bridge the gap between IT and business staff, ensuring everyone is always on the same page regarding the business needs.
5 key reasons why business analysis is useful in any firm or organization:
- It allows you to fully understand the structure and dynamics of the organization or firm
- It helps identify current problems and understand them better so that you can find tailor-made solutions
- It allows you to identify improvement potentials and can recommend solutions that can help your organization achieve its short and long term goals
- It helps you to identify and easily articulate the need for certain changes
- It helps to maximize the value delivered by an organization to its stakeholder
Business Analysis Processes
Traditionally there are 8 steps to be followed for successful business analysis, they are as follows:
1. Get Well Oriented
Sometimes analysts may only get involved when the project is already underway. For this reason, it is imperative to give your analyst some time to get properly oriented. This allows them to clarify the scope, overall requirements and business objectives. Collecting basic information is key before starting any further analysis.
The following tasks should be the main focus in this step:
- Outlining and clarifying your role as the business analysts
- Determining who exactly the main stakeholders are
- Creating a clear understanding of the project and project history
- Understanding the existing systems and processes in place
2. Identify the Primary Objectives of the Business
A majority of business analysis processes start with defining the scope. It is imperative to understand the business’s overall needs before defining the scope of the actual project.
Responsibilities in this step are as follows:
- Identifying the main stakeholders’ expectations
- Merging any conflicting expectations and creating a shared understanding of the objectives
- Ensure that all business objectives are clear and attainable
- Making sure the business objectives set the stage for successfully defining the scope
3. Define the Scope
It is crucial to define a complete and clear statement as a scope. This scope will serve as the main concept going forward, helping the team understand and realize exactly what the business needs. It is important to take note that the scope is not an implementation plan, it is merely a guide detailing all the steps of the business analysis process.
The main responsibilities in this stage are to:
- Define a solution method that helps you find the nature and extent of technological and process changes that should be made
- Draft a clear statement of your scope and review it with the stakeholders
- Confirm the business case
4. Create Your Business Plan
The business plan aims to help provide clarity to the overall process of business analysis. This plan should answer several key questions.
Key responsibilities in this phase are:
- Selecting the most appropriate forms of the deliverables
- Defining a specific list of deliverables, covering the scope and identifying the stakeholders
- Creating timelines for completing said deliverables
5. Define and Detail the Requirements
It is important to have clear and actionable requirements. Detailed requirements will help provide the implementation team with all the information they need to find a usable solution.
Key responsibilities in this stage are:
- Collecting and collating information
- Analyzing the information and using it to create the first draft
- Reviewing and validating the deliverables set out
- Ask questions to fill any gaps
6. Support the Technical Implementation
The technical implementation team is in charge of building, customizing and deploying software on a project. Their duties include:
- Assessing and reviewing the final solution
- Updating the requirements document
- Working with quality assurance professionals, ensuring they know the importance of the technical requirements
- Managing requirement changes
- Leading user acceptance testing if possible
7. Help the Company Implement the Solution
This final step is crucial to support the business. The aim is to ensure that all members are ready to accept any changes.
Key steps in this stage are:
- Analyzing and developing interim business procedure documentation, stating what changes should be made
- Training the end-users, ensuring they understand all processes and procedural changes
- Working closely with business users
8. Assess the Value Created by the Solution
Throughout this process, there are several key steps involved with big business details and outcomes being discussed. Relationships are built as problems are solved and changes are made. It is crucial to stop and assess the value created by the solution.
Main responsibilities in this step are:
- Evaluating actual progress
- Informing the project sponsor, team and other members of the company of the results
- Proposing follow-ups
Business Analysis Tools and Techniques
Although there are a wide variety of tools and procedures available to analysts today, finding the right one to fit your business can be tricky. Below we have listed the most common business analysis techniques used:
MOST, which is short for Mission, Objectives, and Strategies, allows a business analyst to perform thorough internal analysis. This analysis focuses on what the organization aims to achieve and how to tackle this.
Pestle stands for Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal, and Environmental. This technique helps businesses to evaluate all the external factors that may have an impression on their business and how to address them.
Short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, SWOT helps you identify areas of strength and weakness and allows for the allocation of the necessary resources.
Also known as ‘Must or Should, Could or Would’, this technique allows you to prioritize the requirements by presenting a framework in which every requirement is evaluated relative to others.
This is an acronym for Customers, Actors, Transformation Process, World View, Owner, and Environmental. The CATWOE technique helps recognize processes that could be affected by any action taken by the business.
6. The 5 Whys
This technique consists of leading questions that allow analysts to single out the root cause of any issue by asking why the situation has occurred.
7. Six Thinking Hats
The Sex Thinking Hats technique helps you consider alternative ideas and perspectives, categorized as:
- Green: creative thinking
- Blue: big-picture/ overview discussions
- White: logical, data-driven thinking
- Yellow: positive thinking, mainly focusing on pros
- Red: emotion-based reactions
- Black: opposing thinking, focusing on cons
By understanding the structure and dynamics of the organization, business analysis will enable you to find more effective solutions to any problems that may arise within your business. With a wide variety of analysis tools and techniques available, you must find the tools that work best for your business to yield the best results.
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