Business analysis - BA

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Business analysis - BA

Post by tvn » Mon 31 Oct, 2011 10:06 am

Business analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development. The person who carries out this task is called a business analyst or BA.

Those BAs who work solely on developing software systems may be called IT Business Analysts, Technical Business Analysts, Online Business Analysts or Systems Analysts.

Business analysis sub-disciplines

Business analysis as a discipline has a heavy overlap with requirements analysis sometimes also called requirements engineering, but focuses on identifying the changes to an organization that are required for it to achieve strategic goals. These changes include changes to strategies, structures, policies, processes, and information systems.

Examples of business analysis includes:

Enterprise analysis or company analysis
Focuses on understanding the needs of the business as a whole, its strategic direction, and identifying initiatives that will allow a business to meet those strategic goals. It also includes:
  • * Creating and maintaining the business architecture
    * Conducting feasibility studies
    * Identifying new business opportunities
    * Scoping and defining new business opportunities
    * Preparing the business case
    * Conducting the initial risk assessment
Requirements planning and management
Involves planning the requirements development process, determining which requirements are the highest priority for implementation, and managing change.

Requirements elicitation
Describes techniques for collecting requirements from stakeholders in a project. Some techniques for requirements elicitation are:
  • * Brainstorming
    * Document analysis
    * Focus group
    * Interface analysis
    * Interviews
    * Workshops
    * Reverse engineering
    * Surveys
    * User task analysis
Requirements analysis and documentation
Describes how to develop and specify requirements in enough detail to allow them to be successfully implemented by a project team. The major forms of analysis are:
  • * Architecture analysis
    * Business process analysis
    * Object-oriented analysis
    * Structured analysis
While requirements documentation can be in either form:
  • * Textual
    * Matrix
    * Diagrams
    * Models
Requirements communication
Describes techniques for ensuring that stakeholders have a shared understanding of the requirements and how they will be implemented.

Solution assessment and validation
Describes how the business analyst can verify the correctness of a proposed solution, how to support the implementation of a solution, and how to assess possible shortcomings in the implementation.

Business analysis techniques

There are a number of generic business techniques that a Business Analyst will use when facilitating business change.

Some of these techniques include:


This is used to perform an external environmental analysis by examining the many different external factors affecting an organization.
The six attributes of PESTLE:
  • Political (Current and potential influences from political pressures)
    Economic (The local, national and world economy impact)
    Sociological (The ways in which a society can affect an organization)
    Technological (The effect of new and emerging technology)
    Legal (The effect of national and world legislation)
    Environmental (The local, national and world environmental issues)

This is used to perform an in-depth analysis of early stage businesses/ventures on seven important categories:[3]
  • Market Opportunity
    Execution Plan
    Financial Engine
    Human Capital
    Potential Return
    Margin of Safety

This is used to perform an internal environmental analysis by defining the attributes of MOST to ensure that the project you are working on is aligned to each of the 4 attributes.
The four attributes of MOST[4]
  • Mission (where the business intends to go)
    Objectives (the key goals which will help achieve the mission)
    Strategies (options for moving forward)
    Tactics (how strategies are put into action)

This is used to help focus activities into areas of strength and where the greatest opportunities lie. This is used to identify the dangers that take the form of weaknesses and both internal and external threats.
The four attributes of SWOT:
  • Strengths - What are the advantages? What is currently done well? (e.g. key area of best-performing activities of your company)
    Weaknesses - What could be improved? What is done badly? (e.g. key area where you are performing poorly)
    Opportunities - What good opportunities face the organization? (e.g. key area where your competitors are performing poorly)
    Threats - What obstacles does the organization face? (e.g. key area where your competitor will perform well)

This is used to prompt thinking about what the business is trying to achieve. Business perspectives help the business analyst to consider the impact of any proposed solution on the people involved.

There are six elements of CATWOE
  • Customers - Who are the beneficiaries of the highest level business process and how does the issue affect them?
    Actors - Who is involved in the situation, who will be involved in implementing solutions and what will impact their success?
    Transformation Process - What processes or systems are affected by the issue?
    World View - What is the big picture and what are the wider impacts of the issue?
    Owner - Who owns the process or situation being investigated and what role will they play in the solution?
    Environmental Constraints - What are the constraints and limitations that will impact the solution and its success?
de Bono's Six Thinking Hats

This is often used in a brainstorming session to generate and analyse ideas and options. It is useful to encourage specific types of thinking and can be a convenient and symbolic way to request someone to “switch gears". It involves restricting the group to only thinking in specific ways - giving ideas & analysis in the “mood” of the time. Also known as the Six Thinking Hats.
  • White: Pure facts, logical.
    Green: Creative, emotional
    Yellow: Bright, optimistic, positive.
    Black: Negative, devil’s advocate.
    Red: Emotional.
    Blue: Cold, control.
Not all colors / moods have to be used

Five Why's

Five Whys is used to get to the root of what is really happening in a single instance. For each answer given a further 'why' is asked.


This is used to prioritize requirements by allocating an appropriate priority, gauging it against the validity of the requirement itself and its priority against other requirements.
MoSCoW comprises:
  • Must have - or else delivery will be a failure
    Should have - otherwise will have to adopt a workaround
    Could have - to increase delivery satisfaction
    Would like to have in the future - but won't have now

Main article: VPEC-T

This technique is used when analyzing the expectations of multiple parties having different views of a system in which they all have an interest in common, but have different priorities and different responsibilities.
  • Values - constitute the objectives, beliefs and concerns of all parties participating. They may be financial, social, tangible and intangible
    Policies - constraints that govern what may be done and the manner in which it may be done
    Events - real-world proceedings that stimulate activity
    Content - the meaningful portion of the documents, conversations, messages, etc. that are produced and used by all aspects of business activity
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