Business analysis plays an important part in many projects, and the role of a business analyst involves understanding systems, processes and organisational structures, identifying future needs, providing solutions, and helping project teams to achieve their goals. Nevertheless, actually being assigned a new project can be quite daunting.
After all, no matter how well prepared you are, or how well-equipped you have been made to feel through business analysis training, every job is different. Moreover, business analysts get dropped into projects at different points in the project life cycle, so it can be difficult to know where to begin, and what success in your role actually looks like.
To assist, we have created a step by step approach to business analysis, which should be compatible with all projects.
1. Background Information and Orientation
The first steps any business analyst should take are to properly orientate themselves within the team, and find as much background information as possible. In terms of orientation, this means getting up to speed, learning precisely where the project is in terms of its life cycle, and taking the time to identify the different stakeholders.
As Thejasree Prakash explains in an article for Glow Touch, you need to understand the domain the project is under, the history of the project, and the existing systems. It is also a good idea to carry out a PESTLE analysis, in order to identify the external forces that could have an impact on strategy and on the project itself.
2. Aims, Objectives and Scope Definition
The next step involves speaking to the most important stakeholders, in order to ascertain the key aims and objectives of the project. Essentially, this means finding out precisely why the project is needed and how success will be measured. Note these objectives and then create a scope definition document, explaining what is in and out of scope.
“Scope makes the business needs tangible in such a way that multiple project team participants can envision their contribution,” says Laura Brandenburg, writing for Bridging the Gap. “Scope is not an implementation plan, but it is a touchstone guiding all of the subsequent steps of the business analysis process.”
3. Formulating Your Business Analysis Plan
Once you have the necessary background information, understand the project objectives and have had conversations with the most relevant stakeholders, you can start to think about formulating your business analysis plan. This will primarily function as a written timeline, explaining the process you will go through to do your job.
Many online project management training programmes will stress the importance of this step in helping to set realistic expectations for yourself. You will also need to start defining the solutions that will help to improve the organisation or project, and it is best to keep your plan relatively simple in terms of language, as this will ensure it is understood.
4. Business Requirements Presentation
At this point, it is now time to present the business requirement to the project manager, or to other major stakeholders. This should be done through the creation of a formal document, and although there is no standard format, text-based documents are common and these can be further supported by tables, diagrams, graphs, and/or prototypes.
This stage is centred on providing business owners and project teams with all of the necessary information for them to be able to put your suggestions into action and carry out process change. Doing so will require you to put your business analysis training to good use, and you will need to clearly articulate the need for change.
5. Technical Implementation and Adoption
Finally, the business analysis process concludes with the technical implementation and adoption phase. At this point, you should work with the project leaders to ensure your solutions are put into action and to try and overcome resistance to change. Change management techniques are a common feature of online project management training courses.
“The business analyst, armed with the approved requirements and solutions list, collaborates with the technical team to ensure that the solutions are implemented,” explains Trina M, in a blog post written for Workzone.com. “The last step in the process is to facilitate the adoption of the manifested changes.”
The Last Word
The job of a business analyst is to be an agent for positive change within organisations. This means taking the time to understand current business processes and systems, identifying areas where change is needed, coming up with specific solutions, and working with business leaders to actually get these changes put into action.
Despite this, however, business analysts are often required to work with different businesses, understand different business strategies, assist with different projects, and join projects at different points within the project life cycle. This can make the role itself rather daunting and can create confusion about where to begin.
By following the step by step approach outlined above, it should be possible to overcome these issues, achieve a greater level of consistency across different projects, and produce outcomes that meet the wider business objectives.
Author Bio – Nadine Rochester
Nadine is a marketing director at Strategy Execution, a leading project management courses providers in London that also specialises in programme management, business analysis and adaptive leadership programmes. An experienced marketing strategist and technologist, Nadine is also passionate about project management, business analysis and agile PM, managing and contributing to the company PM blog servicing 40,000 monthly users.