Business analyst

A Business Analyst (BA) analyzes the organization and design of businesses, government departments, and non-profit organisations; they also assess business models and their integration 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 typically performs a liaison function between the business side of an enterprise and the providers of services to the enterprise. A Common alternative role in the IT sector is business analyst, systems analyst, and functional analyst, although some organizations may differentiate between these titles and corresponding responsibilities. The Australian Institute for Business Analysis defines the role of the business analyst more broadly than the more technically focused systems business analyst as "business analysis is the capability to analyse the issues that need to be solved to deliver intended business outcomes." 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 business with the use of IT." In its book A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes the role as: "the set of tasks and techniques used 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 to achieve its goals."

The system shall allow the user to enter free text to the project plan notes. scalability. Implementation (transition) requirements are capabilities or behaviors required only to enable transition from the current state of the enterprise to the desired future state. process. where applicable. User (stakeholder) requirements are a very important part of the deliverables. The BA will record requirements in some form of requirements management tool. although design standards may be referenced. up to 255 characters in length. The following section focuses on the IT sector perspective around business analysis. security and usability. These are often included within the System Requirements. but that will thereafter no longer be required. and the quality measures. its justification. This deliverable can also reflect how the product will be designed. and define how test cases must be formulated.g. Specific design elements are usually outside the scope of this document. Functional requirements describe what the system. e..Typical Deliverables Depending on the level of thinking about business analysis. The system shall provide the ability to associate notes to a project plan. where much of the deliverables are around requirements. 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. . the needs of the stakeholders will have to be correctly interpreted. what the needed achievements will be. These are often referred to as System Requirements although some functionality could be manual and not system based. They are usually expressed in terms of broad outcomes the business requires. y An example that follows from previous business requirement example: 1. create notes or work instructions. Report specifications define the purpose of a report. or product/service must do in order to fulfill the business requirements. 2. owners and runtime parameters. rather than specific functions the system may perform. Note that the business requirements often can be broken up into sub-business requirements and many functional requirements. attributes and columns. quality of service (QoS). to conversion of shareholder return and risk appetite into strategic plans. the areas range from the technical Business Analysis role (converting detailed business rules into system requirements). y Example: Improve the readability of project plans. developed. Business Requirements (project initiation document). For example: performance. whether a simple spreadsheet or a complex application.

The International Institute of Business Analysis provides a certification program for business analysts (Certified Business Analyst Professional or CBAP). The business domain subject areas BAs may work in include workflow. workshop facilitation. and so on. or completing a Computer Science degree. Others may move into a BA role from a business role . A BA does not always work in IT-related projects. . Goldsmith. this matrix should show each function built into a system. consultancy. its source and the reason that any stated requirements may not have been delivered. Writing Effective Use Cases by Alistair Cockburn and Discovering Real Business Requirements for Software Project Success by Robin F. The Australian Institute of Business Analysis provides a certification approach for business analysts that provides multiple levels of comptency evaluation. Hooks and Kristin A. Business analysts may overlap into roles such as project manager or consultant. Business Modeling with UML by Eriksson & Penker BAs work in different industries such as finance. communication skills). BAs can switch between industries. USA. Some helpful text books are: y y y y y Customer-Centered Products by Ivy F. the term Business Systems Analyst may be used. telecoms. At the end of a project. utilities. Often the BA has a technical background. UML for the IT Business Analyst: A Practical Guide to Object-Oriented Requirements Gathering by Howard Podeswa. provisioning and customer relationship management. Prerequisites There is no defined way to become a business analyst.their status as a subject matter expert and their analytical skills make them suitable for the role. 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. mediation. as BA skills are often required in marketing and financial roles as well. 2001). billing. When focused on specific systems. Due to working on projects at a fairly high level of abstraction. A few consulting companies provide BA training courses and there are some consulting books on the market (UML. whether having worked as a programmer or engineer. as well as providing a body of knowledge for the field (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge or BABOK). banking. insurance.The traceability matrix is a cross matrix for recording the requirements through each stage of the requirements gathering process. software services. The telecom industry has mapped these functional areas in their Telecommunications Operational Map (eTOM) model. Farry (Amazon.

This leads to creating changes in a vacuum. there has been an upsurge of using analysts of all sorts: business analysts. strategy devising or even in developmental process. the real reason for the request may not make good business sense. in organizations where no formal structure or processes exist. strategic goals that the business wants to achieve via Information Technology. which may lead to increased foresight among Business Owners. Business Analysts do not have a predefined and fixed role as they can take a shape in operations (technology architect or project management) scaling. Even the International Institute of Business Analysis and its associates have had several editions of the roles and responsibilities of a person undertaking the BA role. not necessarily taking the needs of all users of the system into account. There tends to be no emphasis on long term. Typically. the Business Owners and Developers communicate directly. Benefits of including Business Analysts in software projects The role of the BA is key in software development projects. The Business Analyst can bring structure and formalization of requirements into this process. system analysts. business process analysts. Hence they get a different name for the played role.[3] In recent years. and many times. and the goal of the Developer is to give the Business Owner what they want as quickly as he/she can give it to him/her. Ultimately.Finally. There is rarely any detailed definition of the requirements. risk analysts. an effective project manager will include Business Analysts who break down communication barriers between stakeholders and developers . This can present a problem: the goal of the Business Owner is to get what they want very quickly. sales planning.

The person who carries out this task is called a business analyst or BA. These range from workshop facilitation techniques used to elicit requirements. Requirements elicitation describes techniques for collecting requirements from stakeholders in a project. and information systems. Solutions often include a systems development component. policies. The six attributes of PESTLE: . how to support the implementation of a solution. to techniques for analysing and organising requirements. and managing change. and how to assess possible shortcomings in the implementation. Requirements planning and management involves planning the requirements development process. Business analysis techniques There are a number of techniques that a Business Analyst will use when facilitating business change. Examples of business analysis include: Enterprise analysis or company analysis focuses on understanding the needs of the business as a whole. and identifying initiatives that will allow a business to meet those strategic goals. but may also consist of process improvement or organizational change or strategic planning and policy development. Those BAs who work solely on developing software systems may be called IT Business Analysts. structures. determining which requirements are the highest priority for implementation. Business analysis sub-disciplines Business analysis as a discipline has a heavy overlap with requirements analysis sometimes also called requirements engineering. or Systems Analysts. Some of these techniques include: PESTLE This is used to perform an external environmental analysis by examining the many different external factors affecting an organisation. Solution assessment and validation describes how the business analyst can verify the correctness of a proposed solution. Technical Business Analysts. its strategic direction.Business analysis Business analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. processes. Requirements communication describes techniques for ensuring that stakeholders have a shared understanding of the requirements and how they will be implemented. Requirements analysis describes how to develop and specify requirements in enough detail to allow them to be successfully implemented by a project team. These changes include changes to strategies. but focuses on identifying the changes to an organization that are required for it to achieve strategic goals.

What obstacles does the organisation face? CATWOE This is used to prompt thinking about what the business is trying to achieve. Business Perspectives help the Business Analyst to consider the impact of any proposed solution on the people involved.Who owns the process or situation being investigated and what role will they play in the solution? Environmental Constraints . This is used to identify the dangers that take the form of weaknesses and both internal and external threats.What processes or systems are affected by the issue? World View .Political (Current and potential influences from political pressures) Economic (The local.What are the constraints and limitations that will impact the solution and its success? .Who are the beneficiaries of the highest level business process and how does the issue affect them? Actors . There are six elements of CATWOE Customers . 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 . who will be involved in implementing solutions and what will impact their success? Transformation Process . national and world environmental issues) MOST This is used to perform an internal environmental analysis by defining the attributes of MOST to ensure that the project you are working on is aligned to each of the 4 attributes.Who is involved in the situation. 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.What is the big picture and what are the wider impacts of the issue? Owner . 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) SWOT This is used to help focus activities into areas of strength and where the greatest opportunities lie.

giving ideas & analysis in the ³mood´ of the increase delivery satisfaction Would like to have in the future . social. beliefs and concerns of all parties participating. facts. White: Pure.or else delivery will be a failure Should have . emotional Yellow: Bright. Blue: Cold. optimistic. messages. Red: Emotional. For each answer given a further 'why' is asked.the meaningful portion of the documents.trusting (or otherwise) relationship between all parties engaged in a value system . tangible and intangible Policies . control. It involves restricting the group to only thinking in specific ways . Black: Negative. They may be financial.otherwise will have to adopt a workaround Could have .constraints that govern what may be done and the manner in which it may be done Events . It is useful to encourage specific types of thinking and can be a convenient and symbolic way to request someone to ³switch gear.constitute the objectives.real-world proceedings that stimulate activity Content . gauging it against the validity of the requirement itself and its priority against other requirements. that are produced and used by all aspects of business activity Trust . Values . conversations.De Bono 6Hat This is often used in a brainstorming session to generate and analyse ideas and options.but won't have now VPEC-T This technique is used when analyzing the expectations of multiple parties having different views of a system in which they all have an interest in common. Also known as the Six Thinking Hats. etc. but have different priorities and different responsibilities. positive. logical. devil¶s advocate. MoSCoW This is used to prioritise requirements by allocating an appropriate priority. MoSCoW comprises: Must have . Green: Creative. Not all colours / moods have to be used Five Why's Five Whys is used to get to the root of what is really happening in a single instance.

and the management of organizational change. often create a business analyst role to better understand. are well-versed in analyzing the strategic profile of the organization and its environment. often strategic. advising senior management on suitable policies. Although there may be some overlap with the developer and testing roles. the focus is always on the IT part of the change process. referred to above. comprising 2-4 employees from various departments that are involved in the particular process. Strategist Organizations need to focus on strategic matters on a more or less continuous basis in the modern business world. such as business process modeling. This aspect of business analysis is also called "business process improvement" (BPI). Three elements are essential to this aspect of the business analysis effort: the redesign of core business processes. only when a case for change has already been made and decided upon. Particular skills of this type of analyst are "soft skills". or improvements (BPI) could be made. . Business analysts contribute by analyzing objectives. A long-standing problem in business is how to get the best return from IT investments. serving this need. In any case. and suggesting ways by which re-design (BPR). the term "analyst" is lately considered somewhat misleading. Systems analyst There is the need to align IT Development with the systems actually running in production for the Business. insofar as analysts (i. processes and resources. there has been a tendency for business analysts to specialize in one of the three sets of activities which constitute the scope of business analysis. the application of enabling technologies to support the new core processes. importance. such as knowledge of the business. Selection of process teams and leader Process teams. Business analysts. are set up. Business process improvement A business process improvement (BPI) typically involves six steps: 1. or "reengineering". Architect Organizations may need to introduce change to solve business problems which may have been identified by the strategic analysis.e. and the effects of policy decisions. requirements engineering. stakeholder analysis. aware of the problem. Each team selects a process team leader. and generally. typically the person who is responsible for running the respective process. and define the requirements for their IT systems. Although the role requires an awareness of technology and its uses. which are generally very expensive and of critical.Roles of Business Analysts As the scope of business analysis is very wide. this type of business analyst gets involved. it is not an IT-focused role. IT departments. problem investigators) also do design work (solution definers). and some "hard skills".

According to Forrester Research.2. and is used to derive measures for process improvement. Additional review cycles may be necessary in order to achieve a common view (mental image) of the process with all concerned employees. 6. This stage is an iterative process. Review cycle The draft documentation is then reviewed by the employees working in the process. For all of these software development projects. process goal information from the strategy audit is available as well. they gather information about process structure. Reduce waste and complete projects on time Project delays are costly in three different dimensions: . asking for the ROI without really understanding the underpinnings of where value is created or destroyed is putting the cart before the horse. Problem analysis A thorough analysis of process problems can then be conducted. Possible process improvements. However. are integrated into the process maps. as well as process performance data. discussed during the interview. based on the process map. Keeping score is part of human nature as we are always comparing ourselves or our performance to others. keeping score is also important and business leaders are constantly asking for the return or ROI on a proposed project or at the conclusion of an active project. on custom and internally developed software projects. Process documentation The interview results are used to draw a first process map. 4. Goal of business analysts Ultimately. Process analysis interview The members of the process teams conduct several interviews with people working along the processes. Previously existing process descriptions are reviewed and integrated. and information gathered about the process. Process analysis training The selected process team members are trained in process analysis and documentation techniques. During the interview. 3. more than $100 billion is spent annually in the U. wherever possible.S. At this time of the project. business analysts want to achieve the following outcomes: y y y y y Reduce waste Create solutions Complete projects on time Improve efficiency Document the right requirements One way to assess these goals is to measure the return on investment (ROI) for all projects. no matter what we are doing. 5.

This means that they must document the right requirements through listening carefully to µcustomer¶ feedback. Rework is a common industry headache and it has become so common at many organizations that it is often built into project budgets and time lines. The BA's job is more to ensure that if a project is not completed on time then at least the highest priority requirements are met. the lost revenue is the most egregious ± and the impacts are greater and longer lasting.y Project costs ± For every month of delay. each month of failure postpones the realization of these expense reductions by another month.B. Of the two opportunity costs. it also impacts the rest of the development cycle. the costs of delays are not as readily apparent. When a large part of the development team has been outsourced. Some projects are specifically undertaken with the purpose of driving new or additional revenues to the bottom line. Improve project efficiency Efficiency can be achieved in two ways: by reducing rework and by shortening project length. Experts estimate that 10% to 40% of the features in new software applications are unnecessary or go unused. The purpose of other projects is to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Opportunity costs ± Opportunity costs come in two flavors ± lost revenue and unrealized expense reductions. and by delivering a complete set of clear requirements to the technical architects and coders who will write the program. If a business analyst has limited tools or skills to help him elicit the right requirements. they want to define the right application. as labor costs are essentially µfixed¶ costs. the costs will start to add up quickly and are very visible if contracted on a time and materials basis (T&M). then the chances are fairly high that he will end up documenting requirements that will not be used or that will need to be re-written ± resulting in rework as discussed above. these opportunities are never captured or analyzed. the project team continues to rack up costs and expenses. y N. resulting in misleading ROI calculations. The need for rework can be reduced by ensuring that the requirements gathering and definition processes . On a lot of projects (particularly larger ones) the project manager is the one tasked with ensuring that a project is completed on time. It generally refers to extra work needed in a project to fix errors due to incomplete or missing requirements and can impact the entire software development process from definition to coding and testing. Essentially. Fixed price contracts with external parties limit this risk. For internal resources. Again. Coders need to generate application code to perform these unnecessary requirements and testers need to make sure that the wanted features actually work as documented and coded. The time wasted to document unnecessary requirements not only impacts the business analyst. a company foregoes a month of this new revenue stream. For every month of delay. In the vast majority of cases. unless time spent by resources is being tracked against the project. Document the right requirements Business analysts want to make sure that they define the application in a way that meets the end-users¶ needs. Being able to reduce the amount of these extra features by even one-third can result in significant savings.

This can lead to savings on the current project and lead to earlier start times of future projects (thus increasing revenue potential). project resource costs can be diverted to other projects. Shortening project length presents two potential benefits.are thorough and by ensuring that the business and technical members of a project are involved in these processes from an early stage. For every month that a project can be shortened. .

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