Business analysis is a research discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a software-systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development.
Key Learning Points:
- Clarifying your role as the business analyst so that you are sure to create deliverables that meet stakeholder needs.
- Determining the primary stakeholders to engage in defining the project’s business objectives and scope, as well as any subject matter experts to be consulted early in the project.
- Understanding the project history so that you don’t inadvertently repeat work that’s already been done or rehash previously made decisions.
- Understanding the existing systems and business processes so you have a reasonably clear picture of the current state that needs to change.
- Discovering expectations from your primary stakeholders – essentially discovering the “why” behind the project.
- Reconciling conflicting expectations so that the business community begins the project with a shared understanding of the business objectives and are not unique to one person’s perspective.
- Ensuring the business objectives are clear and actionable to provide the project team with momentum and context while defining scope and, later on, the detailed requirements.
- Drafting a scope statement and reviewing it with your key business and technology stakeholders until they are prepared to sign-off or buy-in to the document.
- Confirming the business case to ensure that it still makes sense for your organization to invest in the project.
- Choosing the most appropriate types of business analysis deliverables, given the project scope, project methodology, and other key aspects of the project context.
- Defining the specific list of business analysis deliverables that will completely cover the scope of the project and identifying the stakeholders who will be part of the creation and validation of each deliverable.
- Identifying the timelines for completing the business analysis deliverables.
- Eliciting the information necessary to understand what the business community wants from a specific feature or process change.
- Analyzing the information you’ve discovered and using it to create a first draft of one or more business analysis deliverables containing the detailed requirements for the project.
- Reviewing and validating each deliverable with appropriate business and technology stakeholders and asking questions to fill in any gaps.
- Reviewing the solution design to ensure it fulfills all of the requirements and looking for opportunities to meet additional business needs without increasing the technical scope of the project.
- Updating and/or repackaging requirements documentation to make it useful for the technology design and implementation process.
- Engaging with quality assurance professionals to ensure they understand the business context for the technical requirements. This responsibility may include reviewing test plans and/or test cases to ensure they represent a clear understanding of the functional requirements.
- Making yourself available to answer questions and help resolve any issues that surface during the technical design, technical implementation, or testing phases of the project.
- Managing requirements changes to ensure that everyone is working from up-to-date documentation and that appropriate stakeholders are involved in all decisions about change.
- When appropriate, leading user acceptance testing efforts completed by the business community to ensure that the software implementation meets the needs of business end users.
- Analyzing and developing interim and future state business process documentation that articulates exactly what changes need to be made to the business process.
- Training end users to ensure they understand all process and procedural changes or collaborating with training staff so they can create appropriate training materials and deliver the training.
- Collaborating with business users to update other organizational assets impacted by the business process and technology changes.
- Evaluating the actual progress made against the business objectives for the project to show the extent to which the original objectives have been fulfilled.
- Communicating the results to the project sponsor, and if appropriate, to the project team and all members of the organization.
- Suggesting follow-up projects and initiatives to fully realize the intended business objectives of the project or to solve new problems that are discovered while evaluating the impact of this project.