Best Practices for Business Analysis Tools and Strategies
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Business analysts have become one of the most impactful resources in business. This comes as no surprise, given the value the discipline can create. Business analysis tools can create a shared understanding of the needs facing a business while offering legitimate recommendations for meeting them, successfully enabling positive change.
A growing number of companies are realizing that building and improving their business analysis competency, following professional procedures for utilizing the business analysis tools at hand, can not only reduce business risk, but can lead to far greater project success.
Utilizing practices and strategies in business analysis typically requires laying the proper groundwork to ensure agreement upfront on what is expected to be delivered from the analysis. This might include things like gaining a better understanding of how outside forces are impacting the business’ growth strategy, or establishing an action plan in response to a business unit’s SWOT analysis.
Considerations that are important to defining a company’s requirements and expectations may include the following:
Ensure the team understands the business issue being addressed and its context for the organization. This dictates the approach taken. Building a software solution is different than outsourcing it, for example, and can hinge on internal capabilities and culture.
Also important is the ability to define the type of project being undertaken. Understanding the problem is half the battle.
Don’t delay asking for help, if needed. Experience in similar areas may obscure new possibilities, and an outside perspective can be invaluable. The idea is to avoid wasting time and resources to devise the best solutions.
These considerations can provide the backdrop to the five steps of conducting a business requirement analysis that thoroughly breaks down the business needs in a way that can gain consensus.
Step 1 – Identify Key Stakeholders: Who has the biggest stake in the project, and who is the sponsor? The first step is to identify the stakeholders who have influence over the project’s scope. From there, end-users should be identified, as their insights are critical if the project is to meet their needs.
Step 2 – Capture Stakeholder Requirements: Each group of stakeholders should provide input on their expectations and requirements of the project. These can be solicited through individual interviews or group workshops. It can also be valuable to develop ‘use cases’ that help take the user through the system or process to add a better understanding of functionality. Building prototypes of the system or product can also be helpful.
Step 3 – Categorize Requirements: The analysis process can be made easier by grouping the stakeholder requirements in four categories: functional, operational, technical and transitional.
Step 4 – Interpret and Record Requirements: This aspect has several facets: The first is to precisely define requirements in clear detail, while noting the requirements’ relationship to business needs. Then, they should be prioritized to help organized the process. Interpretation also includes an analysis of the impact of change on processes, products and people. It’s also important to work with stakeholders in resolving conflicts with the requirements, and then to undertake a feasibility analysis to identify major issues.
Step 5 – Sign Off: This stage represents a formal commitment by stakeholders to requirements that reflect their needs. Sign off is critical to preventing scope creep.
Systematically identifying what the organization and its leaders want and expect from the new system, strategy or process is a critical practice for business analysis. In the end, it can help ensure resources have been invested with optimal effectiveness to match solutions with needs.