This article talks about the Business Analysis Framework
Introduction to Business Analysis Framework
In general terminology, a business analysis framework is nothing but a conceptual structure which talks more about the utilization of knowledge, process techniques, a critical analysis which helps in getting on the required business requirements. Using this framework, the individual will be able to understand the pain points of the business and also emphasize more on business enhancement opportunities.
The business analysis process might be different from one organization to the other. The approach might be different as well. For example, especially in Information technology vertical, the solutions that business analysts provide are related to software development and involve in constant process improvement or organizational level change.
Also, the business analysis process helps the organizations to define and validate the solutions whether they actually meet the business needs and objectives or not. The study will help the organizations to bridge the gap between what is already available vs. what else should be built.
Sounds interesting! But, who does this job at the organization level? Is there any specific role or a designation available?
Well, yes. These kinds of studies are actually performed by a Business Analyst. A business analyst is an individual who is well capable of understanding the business process (i.e. current state vs. future state) and documents the process. Also, the titles differ from one organization to another organization. Few of them call it as an analyst, business analyst or business system analyst, etc.
Why do we need a Business Analyst?
In this section of the article, we will discuss the necessity of a business analyst and will try to understand the typical role played by a business analyst within a project / an organization.
- He/she helps to understand the structure of the organization and their business process
- Understands if the organization is having any unaddressed pain points and also suggests appropriate improvements.
- Actively participates in meetings where they make sure that the business process is completely fed to the development teams and clarify their questions during the development phase or brainstorming phase.
- Makes sure that the customers and end users are well trained with the new software system that is deployed.
A business analyst plays a crucial role at the beginning of an IT project. When the requirements are translated to the developers and design team, a business analyst will make sure that the requirements are explained clearly. Further, they work closely with the technical leads and Project managers to make sure that the requirements are properly interpreted and executed as per the agreement.
In general, if it is a large scale organization, we get to observe an on-shore business analyst and off-shore business analyst, primarily responsible for building an effective communication channel between the stakeholders and the development team.
Root causes of Project Failure:
In this section of the article, we will discuss the main reasons or root causes for a project failure.
Firstly, a project is called a failure when it doesn’t meet the required requirement criteria. Also, the expectations of the business owner are not met completely. If the cost, time, and quality are not met as per the business use cases, then the project is considered to be a failure. The Root causes for project failure are as follows.
- Poorly defined scope, where the requirements were not properly discussed and documented.
- No proper risk management strategy in place.
- Not able to identify the key assumptions and features
- An in-efficient project manager who lacks proper exposure and necessary training
- No proper communication channels between the team.
- Key team members leaving the organization. This has a huge impact on the project.
- Failure to track progress, provide feedback at the right time.
- No proper time estimates and project plan
- Project progress is not tracked properly.
- No proper client communication during the project execution, so leave the client with last minute surprises.
Best Practices that can be implemented by every Business Analyst:
In this section of the article, we will discuss the best practices that every business analyst should apply within their daily duties:
Eliciting requirements :
This is a crucial part of the project engagement and one must make sure that all the requirements are gathered appropriately. Within this stage, the requirements should be properly documented. Also, it is important to address all stakeholder opinions.
Functional Requirement Document:
Often called as FRD, it is an important document that a business analyst should take up while requirement gathering. All the business use cases related to the business process should be included in this document.
In order to perfectly analyze the business process and list down the relevant requirement, it is essential for a business analyst to understand the available requirement gathering techniques and use appropriately.
Ability to portray requirements in the form of activity diagrams is very essential. It provides a visual outlook of the requirements and stakeholders will be able to provide quality feedback.
This is a very important aspect for a business analyst. A business analyst is the first point of contact with the business owner from the development team. Testing places an important role to validate the business requirements.
End-user support/ User acceptance testing
A business analyst should be patient enough to provide quality support during application deployment. Also, work with different stakeholders to identify any possible issues and try to mitigate them.
Fluency in IT
It is advisable for a business analyst to stay in touch with the current market trends and at least have an overall knowledge about the latest technology happenings. This will eventually help the individuals to grow their knowledge on the technical aspects.
Business Process Improvement
This is going to be an ongoing process where a business analyst will be able to provide quality suggestions to the existing business. With these positive aspects, a business can be improved and overall productivity can be observed.
Requirements of Business Analysis Framework:
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In this section of the article, we will discuss the tools and techniques that are widely used by business analysts to carry out their day to day work.
SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threat. So within this analysis, a business process is evaluated on the four key parameters and a detailed report is prepared by a business analyst. Using this approach, a business analyst will be able to understand the internal and external business processes.
Usually, the internal analysis includes the Strengths and Weakness of the organization/business process. The external analysis includes a study on Threats and opportunities. The key takeaways from this study:
- Strengths: During the analysis, the positive aspects of the organization/business process are highlighted when compared to the competitive businesses.
- Weakness: During the analysis, the negative aspects of the organization/business process are highlighted when compared to competitive businesses.
- Opportunities: During the analysis, the possible business improvements/ enhancements can be identified. Implementing these will help the business to grow.
- Threats: During the analysis, the possible pitfalls for the organization/business process are identified.
This type of analysis is helpful for organizations to understand their core strengths and also provides valuable insights to improve and rectify mistakes within the business process.
The MOST Analysis is a powerful tool for business analysts to analyze a business and provide strategic enhancements to it. With this type of analysis, an organization can get a fresh look at their business and helps to define the purpose and vision.
With the help of MOST analysis, definite targets are provided to the team for all the members of the organization across all levels. They are four elements within the MOST analysis:
- Mission: This is a critical part of the business operations, the fundamentals of the organization are defined. The business will be profitable and successful only when the mission is defined in specific.
- Objective: Objectives are nothing but part of the mission. They are line items within the Mission which will help the organization to stay focused and work towards a specific goal. The Objectives should be derived SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. If the objectives are not based on the SMART principle, then it is possible to have a goal creep and eventually makes it difficult for the organization to reach its end goals.
- Strategy: A strategy is nothing but an action plan or an execution plan to achieve the set of objectives/ goals. Using strategies, organizations can quickly review their status and take considerable steps to achieve the desired goals.
- Tactics: Tactics are nothing but the methods where the strategies are carried out. In reality, they should be simple and easy to understand so that every individual within the organization can grasp the details and work towards the common goal.
The MOST analysis is used mainly to provide a fresh look to the organizations where they want to redefine the purpose and the mission.
The PESTLE analysis is commonly known as PEST analysis. This tool is used to identify the key drivers of the change within a business environment. PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental. Using this tool, business analysts will be able to understand the key drivers and also go through the scenarios where the business is influenced by certain activities.
- Political: The internal politics within the environment is identified and also the impact on the overall business can be assessed.
- Economic: The economic factors like inflation and its adverse effects are identified within this stage. The impact on the business will also be assessed.
- Social: The cultural aspects are taken into consideration during this analysis stage.
- Technological: The technology trends are evaluated within this stage. Further, the technology adoption and possible impacts at organization level are analyzed.
- Legal: All regulations are taken into consideration. Further, the analysis will also foresee any possible scenarios which might have an adverse effect at the organization level.
- Environmental: All the possible environmental considerations are taken into account and gauge the overall wellbeing of the organization.
With the use of PESTLE analysis, the overall influencing factors are determined. These influencing factors should be kept under the radar so that it doesn’t have any adverse effects on the overall organization’s wellbeing.
Brainstorming is a requirement gathering technique which is widely used within the organizations. The brainstorming sessions consist of team members discussing a common point and provides valuable ideas to solve a complex problem.
Business Process Modelling
A business process modeling is nothing but a graphical representation of an organization's business process or a typical workflow that it has defined. Within this process, a series of suggestions and advice can be portrayed to the business owners to enhance their current business process and make it profitable and scalable.
- This activity is usually carried out by using flow charts, data flow diagrams, etc.
- The business process modeling activity can be carried out in two cases:
- Within As-is state, the current process is not disturbed much and minor tweakings can be done to get the desired improvement.
- Within To-be state, or else the future state, there is a scope to change the business processes accordingly which will eventually improve the overall business process.
It is really important to define a communication plan between the stakeholders and the development team. For a project to be executed successfully, a strong communication channel should be established where they can exchange the information.
A communication strategy is really important for the overall execution of the project. Within this process, a BA will engage with the stakeholder on a regular basis to evaluate certain key aspects of the requirements and also discuss regarding the status of the project execution.
Most of the meetings are carried out online and after every call, a business analyst should send out Meeting minutes, which is called as “MOM’s. It is essential to keep track of the discussions and eventually one has to make sure that they are stored in a secured place so that these files can be accessed at later point of time.
Requirement management: Most of the time, the requirements do change according to business demand. So it is really important for the business analyst to keep track of the requirements and also the changes. This can be carried out by using “Requirement Traceability Matrix”. This is a template where the business analyst will be able to keep track of the requirement ( past, present, and future enhancements of a particular use case/ module)
Analysis / Reviews: It is advisable to conduct weekly or daily meetings with the stakeholders based on the feasibility. This will help to review the process that has been executed so far. These sessions will help the team to take feedback from the stakeholders.
How to understand BA framework?
In this section of the article, we will discuss the business analysis framework and observe the important stages that a business analyst should concentrate on.
The entire business analysis framework can be classified into five sections. Within these sections, a business analyst or a business analyst team will be able to identify, analyze, and document the requirements. A lot of subtasks are carried out within these sections, which will in return help the business analyst to document the exact requirements from the business owners and the stakeholders.
- Investigate the situation
- Consider Perspectives
- Analyze Needs
- Evaluate options
- Define Requirements
Investigate the Situation:
This is the first stage/phase of the entire engagement process. During this process, the analyst should be focusing on the current issues and the problems the business is going through. Also, one has to make sure that the scope should be kept broad enough so that the current situation is analyzed appropriately. One key point that every business analyst should follow or remember is never jump into a conclusion without actually going through the entire scope. So, this is really important point for all the business analysts.
This stage is more about understanding the business owners and stakeholders. Try to understand their perspective on prospective solutions and issues. The important activity within this stage is to manage all the stakeholders and simultaneously understand the stakeholder who has the decision making capability. Also, while proposing solutions, it is really important to take considerations from the stakeholders and make sure that their comments are duly acknowledged.
Need for Analysis:
This stage is more of analyzing the current system and discuss the improvements and enhancements that can be made to the current business system. Based on the solutions identified, a gap analysis is executed. This study will help to understand the current process vs required process to achieve productivity. Within the gap analysis, they are three primary questions that a business analyst has to verify.
- Focus on where we need to be (i.e. process enhancement)
- Where are we now within the process?
- What needs to be changed to achieve the required productivity?
This stage is more of evaluating the possible options/improvements that are identified within the process. The improvements are analyzed by comparing the existing systems with the desired system.
This stage includes a detailed documentation activity for the business analyst, where they spend a quality amount of time to write the necessary requirements. The requirements are defined by discussing with the key stakeholders, and also the business owners.
Project Development plan and Techniques used:
There are a lot of requirement gathering techniques that are available for a business analyst to use. But in reality, only a few techniques are useful according to the project. So, in order to scale the requirements effectively, one has to make sure that a proper requirement gathering technique is utilized. The below section has a list of requirement gathering techniques that a business analyst can use:
Brainstorming is one of the techniques that is used by a business analyst to capture the requirements and also solutions towards a problem. Brainstorming is a process where a group of individuals is gathered to discuss possible ideas to resolve a particular problem. Often, this technique encourages out of the box ideas. Also, the number of ideas captured or generated: it is better for the session. This will help to provide quality solutions to the business needs/business requirements.
What happens within a brainstorming session?
- The entire activity is carried out within a group and not executed individually.
- Having a brainstorming session is completely different to that of focus group technique. The individuals gather within the session and discuss on resolving a particular problem.
- The brainstorming sessions are carried out to discuss and yield results on a specific question. For example, what are the primary factors affecting the delay in a development activity?
This is one of the most widely used requirement investigation technique used by a business analyst. This approach uses a qualitative investigation technique where formal and informal questions are asked to the stakeholder. Based on the answers, the requirements are formulated. There are several types of interviews, few of them are
- One-on-one face to face interview
- Group interview
If it is a group interview, a business analyst should make sure that the responses are properly noted so that relevant requirements can be judged based on the real need.
It is a very useful requirement gathering technique because the business analysts will get a chance to review/understand the business process in detail, and also, discuss the details with the stakeholders individually. Most of the stakeholders tend to portray their opinions in one-on-one sessions.
Observation or shadowing is a requirement gathering technique which will help the business analysts to perform their job better. This technique emphasizes on looking at the actual environment and also observe the end user reactions and problems. Observing these reactions, a business analyst will be able to document the current issues and also portray business improvements accordingly. They are two types of observations
- Passive observation
- Active observation
As the name suggests, passive observation is a process where the business analyst takes in detail notes about the process and doesn’t disturb the individual while he is working. Maybe, at the end of the process, the individual might be asked a few questions to get some clarifications but this observation process doesn’t disturb the workers while they are at work.
When it comes to Active observation, the business analyst has an option to interact and ask questions to the worker at any point of time. This helps the business analyst to understand the process in detail, and relatively, a requirement document is prepared.
Workshops is another technique that a business analyst can work towards. This technique is popularly known as JAD sessions, i.e., join application design sessions. Within this workshop, the entire team will meet and brainstorm on all the core activities of the business. The entire process is handled better if there are two business analysts working together, one will be able to handle the JAD session and another BA can take care of writing down the requirements.
Prototypes/ Visual Modelling:
Prototyping is one essential requirement gathering technique which will help the business analyst to get the relevant feedback. Especially, low fidelity prototypes help the business owners to understand a particular use case and provide their feedback. Also, going through design will help the business owners to understand better and be in a stage to provide feedback.
In a few projects, prototypes/visual models can also be considered as requirements. Based on the initial designs, the business analyst will be able to add more textorial information about the process in the form of “Use cases” and “activities”.
The main aim of using a business analysis framework is to make sure that every aspect of the business analysis is carried out without fail. Also, it is good to know about different requirement techniques that a business analyst can use during their requirement gathering sessions. To be a good business analyst, it is mandatory to know and adhere to the basic fundamentals of the business analysis framework.
Ultimately, whatever the process and techniques a business analyst use is to make sure that the stakeholders or the clients are happy and engaged. Always make sure that the client’s needs and requirements are met, as this is a crucial point for a project’s success.
A business analyst is a really important profile within an organization because he/she makes sure that the entire process is executed perfectly without any issues and grievances.