A definitive BA approach

How about a definitive business analysis process?

Business analysis has become an integral part of the most progressive organizations which would like to improve their performance using information technology.

When we look at a possible business analysis process, we usually refer to the business analysis body of knowledge (BABoK) which is considered as the global standard for business analysis.

Unfortunately, BABoK does not give a definite business analysis process definition. It is rightly so because the situations are different, organizations are different, needs are different. Trying to propose a business analysis process in such varied conditions can really be a nightmarish approach.

At the same time, applying Pareto’s principle, it will be prudent to say that in about 80% of the situations, we can propose a solid business analysis process. For remaining 20% cases, of course, we need expert guidance and need to design custom process.

I am proposing a 10-step approach to business analysis.

Major reasons why organizations start a business analysis process would be:

  1. To solve some of the problems in their business processes.
  2. Trying to exploit an opportunity available in the market.

In my opinion, the following 10 steps business analysis process, could be good steps to follow:

Phase 0

There are certain activities which run across the BA life cycle. This is numbered as 0 as it is the foundation for the remaining phases. Phase 0 will involve continuous planning, monitoring, engaging stakeholders, managing issues, risks, requirements, traceability.

Process 1 – Plan to understand problem/opportunity and context

This would include identifying the problem or opportunity in a quantitative way.

Phase 2 – Evaluate problem/opportunity worth

To evaluate if the problem is worth solving. Sometimes the benefit of solving the problem or opportunity could be less than the cost of solving the problem. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to take up the problem or opportunity.

Phase 3 – Plan to understand stakeholder expectations

Do another round of planning where we try to understand the process and expectations in detail from various stakeholders to understand their expectations from the improvement.

Phase 4 – Elicit stakeholder expectations

Get to understand high-level expectations from the solution.

Phase 5 – Prioritize and analyze stakeholder expectations

Not all stakeholder expectations can be met given the organizational constraints. We need to understand which requirements are critical and feasible.

Phase 6 – Evaluate solution approach (Buy vs. Build)

Once we get the specifications we could do an analysis as to how do we fulfill these specifications would it be developing something in-house or we would like to buy a solution that is available in the market

Phase 7 – Develop detailed specifications

Develop detailed specifications for the solution which can be used to evaluate solutions or used for homegrown development.

Phase 8 – Buy or build the solution

If you decide to buy the solution from the market, we need to identify the right solution for the organization.

If we decide to make it ourselves, then we need to organize the project resources so that the solution can be built.

Phase 9 – Evaluate and improve solution performance

Periodically we need to evaluate the solution performance to see its suitability to organizational needs. Think about approaches to get better value from the solution.

This process is depicted visually below

I would be happy to receive feedback from BA experts and practitioners about how can we make this a better BA approach.



Author Details
Principal BA and Trainer , Adaptive US Inc

Mentor to 500+ Certified BA
25+ years of experience in IT Business Analysis
Author of 12 Books on Business Analysis
Part of IIBA Exam Committee

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