Business analystA Business Analyst (BA) analyzes the organization and design of businesses, governmentdepartments, and non-profit organisations; they also assess business models and theirintegration with technology.There are at least four tiers of business analysis: 1. Planning Strategically - The analysis of the organisation business strategic needs 2. Operating/Business model analysis - the definition and analysis of the organisations policies and market business approaches 3. Process definition and design - the business process modelling (often developed through process modelling and design) 4. IT/Technical business analysis - the interpretation of business rules and requirements for technical systems (generally IT)Within the systems development life cycle domain (SDLC), the business analyst typicallyperforms a liaison function between the business side of an enterprise and the providers ofservices to the enterprise. A Common alternative role in the IT sector is business analyst,systems analyst, and functional analyst, although some organizations may differentiatebetween these titles and corresponding responsibilities.The Australian Institute for Business Analysis defines the role of the business analyst morebroadly than the more technically focused systems business analyst as "business analysis isthe capability to analyse the issues that need to be solved to deliver intended businessoutcomes."BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, proposes the following definition of a business analyst:"An internal consultancy role that has responsibility for investigating business systems,identifying options for improving business systems and bridging the needs of the businesswith the use of IT."In its book A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), the InternationalInstitute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes the role as: "the set of tasks and techniquesused to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies,and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization toachieve its goals."Typical Deliverables
Depending on the level of thinking about business analysis, the areas range from the technicalBusiness Analysis role (converting detailed business rules into system requirements), toconversion of shareholder return and risk appetite into strategic plans.The following section focuses on the IT sector perspective around business analysis, wheremuch of the deliverables are around requirements. The BA will record requirements in someform of requirements management tool, whether a simple spreadsheet or a complexapplication.Business Requirements (project initiation document), what the needed achievements will be, and the quality measures. They are usually expressed in terms of broad outcomes the business requires, rather than specific functions the system may perform. Specific design elements are usually outside the scope of this document, although design standards may be referenced. Example: Improve the readability of project plans.Functional requirements describe what the system, process, or product/service must do in order to fulfill the business requirements. Note that the business requirements often can be broken up into sub-business requirements and many functional requirements. These are often referred to as System Requirements although some functionality could be manual and not system based, e.g., create notes or work instructions. An example that follows from previous business requirement example: 1. The system shall provide the ability to associate notes to a project plan. 2. The system shall allow the user to enter free text to the project plan notes, up to 255 characters in length.User (stakeholder) requirements are a very important part of the deliverables, the needs of the stakeholders will have to be correctly interpreted. This deliverable can also reflect how the product will be designed, developed, and define how test cases must be formulated.Quality-of-service (non-functional) requirements are requirements that do not perform a specific function for the business requirement but are needed to support the functionality. For example: performance, scalability, quality of service (QoS), security and usability. These are often included within the System Requirements, where applicable.Implementation (transition) requirements are capabilities or behaviors required only to enable transition from the current state of the enterprise to the desired future state, but that will thereafter no longer be required.Report specifications define the purpose of a report, its justification, attributes and columns, owners and runtime parameters.The traceability matrix is a cross matrix for recording the requirements through each stage of the requirements gathering process. High level concepts will be matched to scope items
which will map to individual requirements which will map to corresponding functions. This matrix should also take into account any changes in scope during the life of the project. At the end of a project, this matrix should show each function built into a system, its source and the reason that any stated requirements may not have been delivered.PrerequisitesThere is no defined way to become a business analyst. Often the BA has a technicalbackground, whether having worked as a programmer or engineer, or completing a ComputerScience degree. Others may move into a BA role from a business role - their status as asubject matter expert and their analytical skills make them suitable for the role. Businessanalysts may overlap into roles such as project manager or consultant. When focused onspecific systems, the term Business Systems Analyst may be used.A BA does not always work in IT-related projects, as BA skills are often required inmarketing and financial roles as well.The Australian Institute of Business Analysis provides a certification approach for businessanalysts that provides multiple levels of comptency evaluation.The International Institute of Business Analysis provides a certification program for businessanalysts (Certified Business Analyst Professional or CBAP), as well as providing a body ofknowledge for the field (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge or BABOK).A few consulting companies provide BA training courses and there are some consultingbooks on the market (UML, workshop facilitation, consultancy, communication skills). Somehelpful text books are: Customer-Centered Products by Ivy F. Hooks and Kristin A. Farry (Amazon, USA, 2001). UML for the IT Business Analyst: A Practical Guide to Object-Oriented Requirements Gathering by Howard Podeswa, Writing Effective Use Cases by Alistair Cockburn and Discovering Real Business Requirements for Software Project Success by Robin F. Goldsmith. Business Modeling with UML by Eriksson &PenkerBAs work in different industries such as finance, banking, insurance, telecoms, utilities,software services, and so on. Due to working on projects at a fairly high level of abstraction,BAs can switch between industries. The business domain subject areas BAs may work ininclude workflow, billing, mediation, provisioning and customer relationship management.The telecom industry has mapped these functional areas in their TelecommunicationsOperational Map (eTOM) model.Finally, Business Analysts do not have a predefined and fixed role as they can take a shape inoperations (technology architect or project management) scaling, sales planning, strategydevising or even in developmental process. Hence they get a different name for the played
role. Even the International Institute of Business Analysis and its associates have had severaleditions of the roles and responsibilities of a person undertaking the BA role.Benefits of including Business Analysts in softwareprojectsThe role of the BA is key in software development projects. Typically, in organizationswhere no formal structure or processes exist, the Business Owners and Developerscommunicate directly. This can present a problem: the goal of the Business Owner is to getwhat they want very quickly, and the goal of the Developer is to give the Business Ownerwhat they want as quickly as he/she can give it to him/her. This leads to creating changes in avacuum, not necessarily taking the needs of all users of the system into account. There israrely any detailed definition of the requirements, and many times, the real reason for therequest may not make good business sense. There tends to be no emphasis on long term,strategic goals that the business wants to achieve via Information Technology. The BusinessAnalyst can bring structure and formalization of requirements into this process, which maylead to increased foresight among Business Owners.In recent years, there has been an upsurge of using analysts of all sorts: business analysts,business process analysts, risk analysts, system analysts. Ultimately, an effective projectmanager will include Business Analysts who break down communication barriers betweenstakeholders and developersBusiness analysis
Business analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions tobusiness problems. Solutions often include a systems development component, but may alsoconsist of process improvement or organizational change or strategic planning and policydevelopment. The person who carries out this task is called a business analyst or BA.Those BAs who work solely on developing software systems may be called IT BusinessAnalysts, Technical Business Analysts, or Systems Analysts.Business analysis sub-disciplinesBusiness analysis as a discipline has a heavy overlap with requirements analysis sometimesalso called requirements engineering, but focuses on identifying the changes to anorganization that are required for it to achieve strategic goals. These changes include changesto strategies, structures, policies, processes, and information systems.Examples of business analysis include:Enterprise analysis or company analysis focuses on understanding the needs of the businessas a whole, its strategic direction, and identifying initiatives that will allow a business to meetthose strategic goals.Requirements planning and management involves planning the requirements developmentprocess, determining which requirements are the highest priority for implementation, andmanaging change.Requirements elicitation describes techniques for collecting requirements from stakeholdersin a project.Requirements analysis describes how to develop and specify requirements in enough detail toallow them to be successfully implemented by a project team.Requirements communication describes techniques for ensuring that stakeholders have ashared understanding of the requirements and how they will be implemented.Solution assessment and validation describes how the business analyst can verify thecorrectness of a proposed solution, how to support the implementation of a solution, and howto assess possible shortcomings in the implementation.Business analysis techniquesThere are a number of techniques that a Business Analyst will use when facilitating businesschange. These range from workshop facilitation techniques used to elicit requirements, totechniques for analysing and organising requirements.Some of these techniques include:PESTLEThis is used to perform an external environmental analysis by examining the many differentexternal factors affecting an organisation.The six attributes of PESTLE: Political (Current and potential influences from political pressures) Economic (The local, national and world economy impact)
Sociological (The ways in which a society can affect an organisation) Technological (The effect of new and emerging technology) Legal (The effect of national and world legislation) Environmental (The local, national and world environmental issues)MOSTThis is used to perform an internal environmental analysis by defining the attributes ofMOST to ensure that the project you are working on is aligned to each of the 4 attributes.The four attributes of MOST Mission (where the business intends to go) Objectives (the key goals which will help achieve the mission) Strategies (options for moving forward) Tactics (how strategies are put into action)SWOTThis is used to help focus activities into areas of strength and where the greatest opportunitieslie. This is used to identify the dangers that take the form of weaknesses and both internal andexternal threats.The four attributes of SWOT: Strengths - What are the advantages? What is currently done well? Weaknesses - What could be improved? What is done badly? Opportunities - What good opportunities face the organisation? Threats - What obstacles does the organisation face?CATWOEThis is used to prompt thinking about what the business is trying to achieve. BusinessPerspectives help the Business Analyst to consider the impact of any proposed solution on thepeople involved.There are six elements of CATWOE Customers - Who are the beneficiaries of the highest level business process and how does the issue affect them? Actors - Who is involved in the situation, who will be involved in implementing solutions and what will impact their success? Transformation Process - What processes or systems are affected by the issue? World View - What is the big picture and what are the wider impacts of the issue? Owner - Who owns the process or situation being investigated and what role will they play in the solution? Environmental Constraints - What are the constraints and limitations that will impact the solution and its success?De Bono 6Hat
This is often used in a brainstorming session to generate and analyse ideas and options. It isuseful to encourage specific types of thinking and can be a convenient and symbolic way torequest someone to “switch gear. It involves restricting the group to only thinking in specificways - giving ideas & analysis in the “mood” of the time. Also known as the Six ThinkingHats. White: Pure, facts, logical. Green: Creative, emotional Yellow: Bright, optimistic, positive. Black: Negative, devil‟s advocate. Red: Emotional. Blue: Cold, control.Not all colours / moods have to be usedFive WhysFive Whys is used to get to the root of what is really happening in a single instance. For eachanswer given a further why is asked.MoSCoWThis is used to prioritise requirements by allocating an appropriate priority, gauging it againstthe validity of the requirement itself and its priority against other requirements.MoSCoW comprises: Must have - or else delivery will be a failure Should have - otherwise will have to adopt a workaround Could have - to increase delivery satisfaction Would like to have in the future - but wont have nowVPEC-TThis technique is used when analyzing the expectations of multiple parties having differentviews of a system in which they all have an interest in common, but have different prioritiesand different responsibilities. Values - constitute the objectives, beliefs and concerns of all parties participating. They may be financial, social, tangible and intangible Policies - constraints that govern what may be done and the manner in which it may be done Events - real-world proceedings that stimulate activity Content - the meaningful portion of the documents, conversations, messages, etc. that are produced and used by all aspects of business activity Trust - trusting (or otherwise) relationship between all parties engaged in a value systemRoles of Business Analysts
As the scope of business analysis is very wide, there has been a tendency for businessanalysts to specialize in one of the three sets of activities which constitute the scope ofbusiness analysis.Strategist Organizations need to focus on strategic matters on a more or less continuous basis in the modern business world. Business analysts, serving this need, are well-versed in analyzing the strategic profile of the organization and its environment, advising senior management on suitable policies, and the effects of policy decisions.Architect Organizations may need to introduce change to solve business problems which may have been identified by the strategic analysis, referred to above. Business analysts contribute by analyzing objectives, processes and resources, and suggesting ways by which re-design (BPR), or improvements (BPI) could be made. Particular skills of this type of analyst are "soft skills", such as knowledge of the business, requirements engineering, stakeholder analysis, and some "hard skills", such as business process modeling. Although the role requires an awareness of technology and its uses, it is not an IT-focused role. Three elements are essential to this aspect of the business analysis effort: the redesign of core business processes; the application of enabling technologies to support the new core processes; and the management of organizational change. This aspect of business analysis is also called "business process improvement" (BPI), or "reengineering".Systems analyst There is the need to align IT Development with the systems actually running in production for the Business. A long-standing problem in business is how to get the best return from IT investments, which are generally very expensive and of critical, often strategic, importance. IT departments, aware of the problem, often create a business analyst role to better understand, and define the requirements for their IT systems. Although there may be some overlap with the developer and testing roles, the focus is always on the IT part of the change process, and generally, this type of business analyst gets involved, only when a case for change has already been made and decided upon.In any case, the term "analyst" is lately considered somewhat misleading, insofar as analysts(i.e. problem investigators) also do design work (solution definers).Business process improvementA business process improvement (BPI) typically involves six steps:1. Selection of process teams and leaderProcess teams, comprising 2-4 employees from various departments that are involved in theparticular process, are set up. Each team selects a process team leader, typically the personwho is responsible for running the respective process.2. Process analysis trainingThe selected process team members are trained in process analysis and documentationtechniques.
3. Process analysis interviewThe members of the process teams conduct several interviews with people working along theprocesses. During the interview, they gather information about process structure, as well asprocess performance data.4. Process documentationThe interview results are used to draw a first process map. Previously existing processdescriptions are reviewed and integrated, wherever possible. Possible process improvements,discussed during the interview, are integrated into the process maps.5. Review cycleThe draft documentation is then reviewed by the employees working in the process.Additional review cycles may be necessary in order to achieve a common view (mentalimage) of the process with all concerned employees. This stage is an iterative process.6. Problem analysisA thorough analysis of process problems can then be conducted, based on the process map,and information gathered about the process. At this time of the project, process goalinformation from the strategy audit is available as well, and is used to derive measures forprocess improvement.Goal of business analystsUltimately, business analysts want to achieve the following outcomes: Reduce waste Create solutions Complete projects on time Improve efficiency Document the right requirementsOne way to assess these goals is to measure the return on investment (ROI) for all projects.Keeping score is part of human nature as we are always comparing ourselves or ourperformance to others, no matter what we are doing. According to Forrester Research, morethan $100 billion is spent annually in the U.S. on custom and internally developed softwareprojects. For all of these software development projects, keeping score is also important andbusiness leaders are constantly asking for the return or ROI on a proposed project or at theconclusion of an active project. However, asking for the ROI without really understandingthe underpinnings of where value is created or destroyed is putting the cart before the horse.Reduce waste and complete projects on timeProject delays are costly in three different dimensions: Project costs – For every month of delay, the project team continues to rack up costs and expenses. When a large part of the development team has been outsourced, the costs will start to add up quickly and are very visible if contracted on a time and materials basis (T&M). Fixed price contracts with external parties limit this risk. For internal resources, the costs of delays are not as readily apparent, unless time spent by
resources is being tracked against the project, as labor costs are essentially „fixed‟ costs. Opportunity costs – Opportunity costs come in two flavors – lost revenue and unrealized expense reductions. Some projects are specifically undertaken with the purpose of driving new or additional revenues to the bottom line. For every month of delay, a company foregoes a month of this new revenue stream. The purpose of other projects is to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Again, each month of failure postpones the realization of these expense reductions by another month. In the vast majority of cases, these opportunities are never captured or analyzed, resulting in misleading ROI calculations. Of the two opportunity costs, the lost revenue is the most egregious – and the impacts are greater and longer lasting.N.B. On a lot of projects (particularly larger ones) the project manager is the one tasked withensuring that a project is completed on time. The BAs job is more to ensure that if a projectis not completed on time then at least the highest priority requirements are met.Document the right requirementsBusiness analysts want to make sure that they define the application in a way that meets theend-users‟ needs. Essentially, they want to define the right application. This means that theymust document the right requirements through listening carefully to „customer‟ feedback, andby delivering a complete set of clear requirements to the technical architects and coders whowill write the program. If a business analyst has limited tools or skills to help him elicit theright requirements, then the chances are fairly high that he will end up documentingrequirements that will not be used or that will need to be re-written – resulting in rework asdiscussed above. The time wasted to document unnecessary requirements not only impactsthe business analyst, it also impacts the rest of the development cycle. Coders need togenerate application code to perform these unnecessary requirements and testers need tomake sure that the wanted features actually work as documented and coded. Experts estimatethat 10% to 40% of the features in new software applications are unnecessary or go unused.Being able to reduce the amount of these extra features by even one-third can result insignificant savings.Improve project efficiencyEfficiency can be achieved in two ways: by reducing rework and by shortening projectlength.Rework is a common industry headache and it has become so common at many organizationsthat it is often built into project budgets and time lines. It generally refers to extra workneeded in a project to fix errors due to incomplete or missing requirements and can impactthe entire software development process from definition to coding and testing. The need forrework can be reduced by ensuring that the requirements gathering and definition processesare thorough and by ensuring that the business and technical members of a project areinvolved in these processes from an early stage.Shortening project length presents two potential benefits. For every month that a project canbe shortened, project resource costs can be diverted to other projects. This can lead to savings
on the current project and lead to earlier start times of future projects (thus increasing revenuepotential).