The Business Analysis role is ever-evolving, from a traditional business analyst focused on requirement gathering to a strategic business analyst dedicated to delivering strategic objectives of an organization. A Strategic Business Analyst is an individual who identifies business needs and solutions with the context of the overall direction of the company and drives the entire strategic process end to end from idea creation to implementation, This role may involve supporting C functions and leaders across multiple units (Finance, Operations, etc.) and may not be limited to just preparing and presenting the business proposal. It may also include performing research of the best market practice and presenting facts, advantages, and disadvantages for evaluating all the proposals and helping in making decisions objectively.
Strategic business analysts work across different industries, the top 5 beings:
Government and public sector
Healthcare and social services
There’s also increased involvement of SBAs in various initiatives such as Digital Transformation, Technology adoption, Capability enhancement, Business Process Reengineering, and much more.
Successful strategic business analysts require a wide variety of skills. It could range from strong research and information gathering skills to communication skills which are essential to collaborating effectively with a wide variety of stakeholders who may have conflicting interests. While the skillset required for strategic a BA role may be similar to any other business analyst roles, the emphasis is typically on the below-stated competencies: -
There is a well-known saying that ‘Knowledge is Power’, you will never know how to improve unless you know there might be an issue. The better you understand your business, the more creatively you can maneuver in it. When you are informed, you make a better decision and it helps to keep your business relevant.
Individuals who are able to resolve conflicts are often excellent mediators, rational and able to manage difficult personalities from a place of empathy.
Facilitation allows the leader to participate in the group and improves meeting efficiency.
A proactive BA is someone who is always doing more than necessary and it will help you in being prepared and remove hurdles.
Another important skill is the ability to make decisions. The strategic business analyst is called upon for sound judgement in a wide variety of business matters which could determine the viability of the business.
SBAs identify, define, scope, and prioritize projects/initiatives in line with business needs, goals, or objectives. In order to perform this job effectively, suitable techniques play an important role. There are many techniques and tools available for strategic business analysis and the most common ones are listed below.
SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats. This is an important strategic planning technique for SBAs. It is conducted by a group of people with different mindsets and perspectives in order to access a changing environment and react accordingly. In this framework, strengths and weaknesses are internal data factors, whereas opportunities and threats are external data factors. Understanding these factors helps in developing a strategy that distinguishes the organization from its competitors and comes up with a unique value proposition to compete in the market.
PESTLE analysis is sometimes referred to as PEST analysis. Here, P stands for Political, E for Economic, S for Social, T for Technological, L for Legal, and E for Environmental. It gives a bird’s eye view of the whole environment from different angles that one wants to check and keep a track of while contemplating a certain idea/plan. This is particularly useful when starting a new business or entering a foreign market.
Porter’s FIVE Forces
A Five forces analysis can help companies access industry attractiveness, how trends will affect industry competition, which industries a company should compete in, and how organizations can position themselves for success.
The Five forces are: -
Bargaining Power of Buyer’s
Bargaining Power of Suppliers
Threat of New Entrants
Threat of Substitute Products or Services
Rivalry among Existing Competitors
The BCG (Boston Consulting Group) matrix is designed to help with long-term strategic planning, to help a business consider growth opportunities by reviewing its portfolio of products/ services. It is also known as the Growth/Share matrix.
Business Model Canvas
This technique provides an understanding of the value proposition that the enterprise satisfies for its customers, the critical factors in delivering that value, and the resulting cost and revenue streams.
Other techniques like Business Capability Analysis, Financial Analysis, Business Cases, Data Mining, etc. are also used extensively by SBAs.
Strategic business analysts are the people who create order from chaos. In an atmosphere of rapid change, it’s easy to lose sight of priorities or neglect a critical business requirement. The strategic business analyst is the chief organizer of the project. They help in creating a digital strategy roadmap, a description of organizations goals, and a step and step plan for how to achieve them.
In conclusion, the strategic BA role is different from a traditional BA role in the sense that a strategic BA is required to be proactive in identifying business opportunities, present it to the management, help them assess the impact, and influence the leadership team with expected results. Once the proposal is accepted, SBAs lead the initiative and assist in the implementation by ensuring a smooth transition.
So, with the above-stated set of qualities, if you are able to contribute towards the growth of the organization, it means you are performing your duties as a strategic business analyst effectively.