Defining Business Analysis
Business Analysis is increasingly vital to today's business environment. By identifying problems and opportunities, discovering and recommending solutions, and helping to foster a comprehensive understanding of stakeholder requirements, business analysts can help organizations choose and structure projects and initiatives more effectively.
Let's begin taking a closer look at Business Analysis and what it is that we seek to accomplish, what process we follow, and so on. First, as a business analyst we begin by determining a problem and identifying a business need. Oftentimes this may already be done in some capacity for us. Perhaps we have noticed that there's a problem or it's been brought to our attention by someone who might eventually become a project sponsor er, someone who is simply an upper level executive within an organization. They've noted that there's an issue, there's been a call for action to take place, but before we can begin we need a better idea of what precisely is going wrong or, in a more positive sense, what opportunity might be available for us to leverage.
In this case, we're going to compare our business goals and objectives to the current situation that we see. In doing so we can help to identify where a gap might exist between what we want to accomplish and what we are accomplishing. Then we can dive deeper into that problem using tools like root cause analysis to try and get past the symptoms that we might see on the surface to better understand the underlying issue, so that we don't just patch it, but instead we fix the issue for good.
From there we want to identify and recommend viable solutions that can meet these needs that we've identified. During this process we're going to seek to speak with different stakeholders and subject matter experts, those who have a good idea of what it is that needs to be accomplished, and how it might be able to be accomplished in order to solve this problem or meet this opportunity.
In the next stage we're going to elicit, document, and manage these stakeholder requirements in order to meet our business and project objectives, so first we were able to come up with some of the potential viable solutions, and now we incorporate even more of that feedback into the mix to make sure that the solution that we recommend and move forward with meets the requirements of all of those people involved.
This can include people who have to work directly with whatever the problem might be or those who might be impacted by its solution, either while it's being implemented or by its end result. Once we've come to a consensus, and we've been able to create a business case that proves that we should move forward with the solution. we can recommend this solution, and then help to facilitate implementation of this product service or end result .
After all, at the end of business analysis we haven't actually solved the problem, but rather we've set the stage. We built a foundation on which a new initiative can begin to take place.
A project can be chartered based on information first surfaced during business analysis. That project can then move forward to fix the underlying problem, and to help address those underlying needs that were developed and identified during business analysis processes.
Now business analysis isn't necessarily only conducted by someone as a business analyst. Of course, this can be the case, and there are full time business analysts, especially in many larger organizations today. In many cases, business analysts might be the first ones to identify a problem or opportunity in the first place. It might not come from a potential project sponsor or some sort of upper level executive or someone on the front lines who's noticed that an issue might be impacting their work.
Instead, the business analyst might be the first one to discover that this potential opportunity or area to address an underlying problem might exist.
However ,there are also a multitude of different part time business analysts. Often times these sort of roles are conducted in addition to other responsibilities. In these cases the business analyst might not be called a business analyst. They might be called a business architect, a business systems analyst, an enterprise analyst, systems analyst, process analyst, product manager, project manager or requirements engineer, among other titles. In each of these cases we're seeking to perhaps build processes or have a better understanding of how the business works or could work better.
In the case of a product or project manager, they're directly responsible for making sure that certain objectives are completed, and certain end results come about because of that work. In these cases they might also be able to identify these needs and incorporate it into the product or the project that they're helping to manage, so that those needs can be addressed. In any case, the business analyst job is actually quite simple, and it gives us some understanding of the many different types of people that can conduct these sort of tasks.
Summarizing the BA Role
What a Business Analyst seeks to do at a fundamental level, is to first understand what the present state is of either the organization as a whole or a certain subset that might be impacted by this problem or opportunity. They also need to be able to define the desired future state, not only where are we, but where do we want to go, and why do we want to go there?
Third, we then have to determine how technique get there. Tying these two together, having and understanding of what capabilities exist now, what capabilities need to exist in the future in order for us to get to that desired future state, and provide recommendations on the roadmap that we can follow in order to get from here to there.