Business Analysis: Steps To Identify Problems

Business analysis roles are becoming increasingly popular. Why? They are the bridge between the business model (aka enterprise strategy) and the business functionality that is necessary in organizations. Business analysis involves aligning the expectations of various stakeholders when one or more wants a change, a new strategy, or a new policy that affects other stakeholders. The business analysis function could be placed in any of a number of different departments and described by any of several different titles. Let’s dig further into the world of business process analysis!

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Business Analysis Definition

The definition of business analysis is a research discipline that improves business operations by enabling projects involving a change (i.e., process improvements, organizational change, strategic planning, policy development). More specifically, business analysis is the collection of actions, understanding, and methods that are employed to determine how a business area can be improved upon and implementing the solution once it has been developed.

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The role of business analyst has been described as a kind of internal consultant. Why? There needs to be constant interaction with C-suite management where business structures are impartially mapped out so that opportunities to improve business systems, processes, and policies can be identified. Business analysis roles require both soft skills and hard skills in order to effectively communicate, influence, and maintain version control-type documentation of new requirements as they develop. In addition, analysts often need to translate top-down requests into technical needs that the technician (e.g., a software coder) can understand.

Business Analysis Techniques

The business process analysis has 8 clear steps:

  1. Business process analysis (orientation to the organization)
  2. Requirements planning and management (find primary strategic business objectives)
  3. Requirements elicitation (define and confirm business case for the project)
  4. Requirements analysis and documentation (formulate business analysis plan listing deliverables, a timeline and stakeholders)
  5. Requirements communication (define detailed requirements)
  6. Solution evolution and validation (define abilities own organization needs to provides products to customers
  7. Help implement technical solution with wider firm audience
  8. Assess value created by solution or demonstrate the financial or time gain for the time and resource investment for the issue.

A major part of business analysis is the sub-discipline or requirements elicitation. The most commonly used and effective business analysis techniques for this task and the others are listed below.

A Mind Map is a diagram for representing procedures, words, and theories focused on a central theme using a non-linear graphic layout that is intuitive and visually appealing. It is more complete in illustrating interconnectivity, but at the expense of being “neat” and structured.

Brainstorming is a group-based technique that involves collecting spontaneously offered thoughts that describe a situation or suggest solutions to a problem. It is a well-established initial effort when setting the course that needs some direction.

SWOT Stands for:

    • Strengths
    • Weakness
    • Opportunities
    • Threats

It is an assessment that can be internal or external. It inspects an organization’s competition as much as the organization itself. Why? It calls for describing the competition in relation to the self.

(de Bono’s) Six Thinking Hats is a way of generating a list of options. It accomplishes this by assuming a series of different perspectives or “moods.” The 6 moods are described by colors:

    • factual/logical (white)
    • creative (green)
    • optimistic and positive (yellow)
    • negative or playing the “Devil’s advocate” (black), cold
    • big picture perspective (blue)
    • emotional (red).

These could be used by an individual who would move through the perspectives, or in a group setting where the perspectives would also be rotated. The colors allow a quick assessment to see if an approach is balanced, or lopsided toward one or two perspectives.

Business Process Modeling is usually done during the analysis phase as a gap assessment between the current and future states. The four components are:

    1. Strategy Planning
    2. Business Model Analysis
    3. Defining and Designing the Process
    4. Technical Evaluation for the Multidimensional Business Problem.

The 5 Whys is a tool borrowed from the Continuous Improvement Six Sigma toolbox. The question “why?” is repeatedly asked for a particular event in an attempt to determine the root cause of the problem associated with the event. When a previous answer is interrogated by asking “why,” the motivation (appropriate or not) for actions is brought to light. Mistakes, misinterpretations, and the responsible parties can be identified.

PESTLE Analysis is an orientation on the external forces affecting a project in the following spaces:

    • Political
    • Economical
    • Sociological
    • Technological
    • Legal
    • Environmental

It is functionally equivalent to STEER (Socio-cultural, technological, economic, ecological, regulatory forces).

MoSCoW Method is a way to prioritize requirements by allocating an appropriate priority and then comparing it to the validity of the requirement itself and other requirements. Must have, or else failure, Should have otherwise will have to adopt workaround, Could have to increase delivery satisfaction, Won’t have this time.

MOST Analysis is an internal orientation to the business to establish the following:

    • Mission (where is the business trying to get to?)
    • Objectives (key goals which will achieve Mission)
    • Strategies
    • Tactics (actions to enable strategies).
  • CATWOE

CATWOE is a method for answering the question: what is the business trying to achieve? It is essentially an impact study of a proposed effort before any action occurs. It’s a model to process through the following questions:

    • Who are the Customers and Actors?
    • Transformation Process: process/system affected?
    • Worldview: big picture, wider impacts.
    • Owner: who owns the process or situation being investigated? What is his/her role in the solution?
    • Environmental Constraints: limitations or constraints that impact success of solution.
  • Business Model Analysis

Business Model Analysis is an essential management tool to help grade the strength of a business model. This is important because the strength of a business model is directly correlated to the success of the business.

Non-Functional Requirements Analysis determines ancillary attributes that are usually linked to the technical aspect of the solution that can be used to assess the performance of a system.

Knowing which business analysis model to use, takes some training or experience. What’s the goal of the client? What’s at the heart of what they’re trying to figure out? Is quantitative business analysis, qualitative, or both needed? Are they looking mostly internally, externally, or both? Often one has to start with the end in mind. Understanding what you need the end user to be able to do. Define all those requirements and user stories. It’s often a somewhat tedious process. Consultants expertise in this area really comes to light as businesses either lack the expertise, or the the bandwidth to do this type of strategic business analysis.

Business Analysis Skills For Consultants To Master

Looking to enter the world of business analysis? There are multiple routes you can take to become a business analyst. If you are early in your career (or early at heart!), you can learn business analysis skills and techniques as part of a college major at the undergraduate or graduate level. If you are not planning on suspending your career or returning to campus, there are online programs available that teach business analysis techniques (www.simplilearn.com or International Institute of Business Analysis, IIBA). There are varying degrees of rigor depending on the program you choose, with the most demanding requiring a certain number of hours or years in the role before certification is granted.

Conclusion

Business analysis is a challenging field with enough techniques to keep anyone engaged. There is enough real world relevance in this dynamic, competitive global economy to keep you employed as a business analyst for the rest of your life! You can settle down with 1 firm, or you can experience different cultures with different firms in different industries. If you are seeking a high-stakes, fast-paced role, it might be time to start your journey to becoming a business analyst today!

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