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Business Analysis Process

The business analysis process or Business Process Analysis (BPA) can be regarded as a methodology for understanding the health of various operations within a business. This is to improve the efficiency of the process. It is a specialized method under the content of Business Process Management, done to analyze and check if the current processes are meeting the objectives.

The problem most business analysts face after acquiring a project is where to begin the project. Some of them also ask questions like how will I start the project, how to complete the project, and what outputs will I likely create?

For a business analyst asking these questions and can’t seem to find an answer, this article is made for you. In this article, we will look at the business analysis process as a concept. Also, some key techniques will be listed that you can follow to have a successful business analysis process. So, let’s get started.

What is the Business Analysis Process?

Business Analysis Process or Business Process Analysis (BPA) can be defined as the act of conducting a review on business processes. Also, it is gaining an understanding of the various business processes. This process involves conducting reviews on the procedures, inputs, outputs, applications, technologies, controls, data, and their interactions to produce the required results.

As a business analyst, using a business analysis process helps you to identify the unwanted elements in an operation and also how to overcome any obstacles that might be encountered. If a proper business analysis process is not conducted, your team would most likely waste time and effort switching from one software to another or solving the wrong problems.

Business Analysis Process should not be mistaken as Business Analysis as they are different disciplines. Business Process Analysis is used to collect data and also makes a recommendation based on the main processes of an organization. On the other hand, the Business analysis identifies any need or problem in an organization. This includes market research, financial controls, cost-cutting, and hiring practices.

What are the steps to follow in the Business Analysis Process?

The step-by-step approach involved in the business analysis process helps in understanding where a business analyst is in a project lifecycle. These steps are:

  1. Gathering information.

This is the first step involved in the business analysis process. It involves the gathering of relevant background information. As a business analyst, taking this step helps you to cover a large portion of business analysis. This is because business analysis always starts by gathering a reasonable amount of background information related to the project. Without enough information, a business analyst will be clueless about some of the projects.

You can gather relevant background information by asking questions to people who are connected with the project. These people can be the project sponsor, project manager, or business owner. Some topics that should be touched on when gathering information are; the current factors influencing the organization, the project boundaries and scope, the constraints and risks of the project, and a broader context of the organization structure. For companies or organizations involving stakeholders, a business analyst needs to conduct a stakeholder needs analysis.

After the relevant information has been gathered, you need to analyze your role in the project. Then you create a checklist of what you as a business analyst can do in the project. Some of this can include:

  • What you can bring into this project from your past experiences.
  • The planning and documentation process required in your present project.
  • Discussing with the stakeholders about the possible outcomes of the project.
  • Sorting out the members that are active in the project.
  • Looking for help from clients if needed.
  • Finding out the expected deliverables of the project, and in what format the deliverables are needed.
  • Reviewing the existing documentation to get a better idea of the project.
  • Figuring out what methodology will be appropriate for the project. it may be Agile or Waterfall models.
  1. Identify the stakeholders of the project.

This is the second step involved in the Business Analysis Process. In this step, the business analyst identifies the stakeholders that will be involved in the project. it is important to know the stakeholders in the early stages of the project because they are the ones that make decisions and determine requirements and priorities.

One technique to use as a business analyst to identify the stakeholders is the Stakeholder wheel technique. This technique helps in recognizing the level of influence each stakeholder has on the project.

There are various stakeholder categories in an organization. The first category is the owners. These are individuals like shareholders and trustees who have sponsored the project. The second category is the managers. They include the middle and senior managers who monitor the project progress and carry out communications. 

Suppliers, customers, and partners are vital stakeholders in a project. But most importantly, regulatory authorities are crucial stakeholders because they provide the project rules and ensure they are followed. For a business, a business analyst can choose to include competitors as part of stakeholders depending on the project type.

Important documentation in this step is the stakeholder matrix. This matrix provides details of the stakeholders classified in each category.

  1. Set up a review meeting with the required stakeholders.

As a business analyst, it is important to have a clear agenda for your project. To do this, a review meeting should be set up with the relevant stakeholders involved in the project. During the meeting, you have to be specific about what to expect from the current project. You should also ask the project manager who worked on the previous project domain.     

  1. Outlining the objective of the business.

This step involves identifying the objectives of the business. As a business analyst, this step is important because it helps them to maintain focus on the project vision. You can also use the business objectives of preparing the business scope and provide insights into areas of the project that require correction.

One important way to find the business objectives is by figuring out the need for the project. Some proven techniques that a business analyst can use in this step are SWOT analysis, benchmarking, and SMART goal setting.

SWOT-analysis helps in recognizing the weaknesses and strengths of the project. Benchmarking is a technique that helps the business analyst to understand the competitors who are working on the same level as the project. SMART goal setting also helps in classifying the correct criteria for the business objectives. This technique helps in creating measurable, specific, realistic, achievable, and time-bound objectives.

The act of brainstorming and organizing focus groups are promising techniques to identify the business objectives of a project. These techniques bring all the stakeholders on the same page so that the project can be approached with a single vision.

  1. Analyzing the relevant documents of the project.

As a business analyst, it is important for you to properly analyze all the documents present in the project. Some of these documents are:

  • Business cases.
  • Project plans.
  • Legislation and Policies.
  • Business process documentation.
  • Organization chart.
  • Business and system requirement documents.
  • Business plans and strategy documents.

It is also important for you to find any hidden information that may be present in the business requirement document and trace out any gaps with current processes, systems, operations, and procedures. Validate any information you discover because some of the documents might be outdated.

  1. Recording the information discovered.

When carrying out analysis and research, there is much useful information that you can discover that is relevant to your present change. This information should be recorded so that you can implement them in the project. Some of the information may pose as; functional and non-functional requirements, supporting systems and business processes, risks and issues currently affecting the project, and business requirements including reporting requirements.

  1. Defining the project requirements.

This is the most important stage of the business analysis process. The business analyst must define the project requirements and communicate these requirements to the project owners for approval.  

The requirements can be divided into two, which are functional requirements and non-functional requirements. The functional requirements involve use cases, wireframes, storyboards, and prototypes. The non-functional requirements involve performance, elements of security, and scalability of the project.

For a business analyst to properly define the business requirement, he/she must interview the stakeholders regarding the expected outcomes and objectives of the project. This is to ensure that the project requirements are defined from the user’s perspective.

The business analyst should also select the method for developing the project. The Agile methodology is highly recommended and in use. Companies don’t make use of the Waterfall model because it is difficult to effect changes in the project as it progresses. As a business analyst, part of your job involves sequentially arranging the deliverables to create development plans.

  1. Understanding the problem domain.

After defining the project requirements, the business analyst should have a good insight into what the project entails. The problem domain can then be identified. As a business analyst, there are some points you need to find out at this stage. They are:

  • Values that determine the importance level of the project.
  • Factors and risks that can affect the business.
  • Issues that are currently denying the business from achieving the outcomes of the desire.
  • The exact business functions that will be affected.
  • Constraints and policies that can influence the project.
  • Systems that currently support the activities of the business.
  • Documents that provide information about the problem domain. Examples including the Annual Report.
  1. Presenting the business requirements

At this stage, you as a business analyst must have gathered all the business requirements and also understood the problem domain. This step involves presenting your business requirements to the project manager or stakeholders. Some techniques can be used in presenting business requirements. You can make use of a graph or diagram, simulation or prototype, a table or spreadsheet, or a structured text template or structured sentence.

What are the techniques used in the Business Analysis Process?

As a business analyst, you will need to use techniques to understand how to analyze your business processes and their different metrics. Some of the common business process analysis techniques used are:

  1. Value-added Analysis.

This technique is used to find out every activity present in your process that adds value to the organization. Any activity that does not add value to the process or the organization should be removed.

  1. Gap Analysis.

This is an analysis used to find out missing information about the business analysis process.

  1. Root cause analysis.

This technique is used to find the main reasons for a problem, and also to see what can be done to fix the problem.

  1. Observation.

This involves observing the process that is used, and see if the process works the way it is supposed to.

  1. Experience Examination.

This is a technique involved in Business Process Analysis that involves talking to experienced staff present in your organization and see what they can add to the project in terms of value.

  •  provides huge data on how the process is performing.
  • It provides a better understanding and also clear documentation of the process.
  • The new employees are better trained when doing the process.
  • It identifies the inefficiencies of the process. It also identifies the user actions that hinder the process.
  • It also identifies the obstacles that are causing a delay in some processes.

Conclusion

As a business analyst, you should understand the general overview of the business analysis process. Also, these processes must be followed to ensure the success of the project. It also helps in understanding their relevance in improving the effectiveness of the project. There are some certifications that you can have that will provide a good roadmap to implement the business analysis process. Some of these certifications are CCBA, ECBA, PMI, PBA, and so on.

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