Are you starting a new project? Now that you have a project to start, it is possible to think of ways to approach the project. What is the most important thing that you should look into? The answer is the business analysis process.
The analysis is the key to effective preparation and includes a wide range of tasks. With business analysis, project managers could identify the requirements of the project. However, business analysis involves various stages. Each of the stages is associated with particular tasks, principles, and documentation.
Furthermore, the duration of the steps followed in a business analysis process could vary according to the type of project. In this article, we would outline the business analysis process flow with detailed insights into each stage. As the discussion would proceed ahead, it will help you in observing the role of business analyst in improving the simplicity of the project.
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Steps Involved in Business Analysis Process
The step by step approach for understanding a project can be accounted for as a promising intervention. Most important of all, the business analysis process can help in understanding exactly where you are in a project lifecycle and your objectives. The steps involved in a business analysis process are:
1. Collecting information
The foremost step in a business analysis process model is the collection of background information. You can cover a major share of business analysis with this step. Business analysis should always start by collecting a substantial amount of background information related to the project. Whether you have a new project or an existing one, information prepares the platform for the project. Without sufficient information, you would be just shooting in the dark! Almost every business analysis approach starts with collecting information. The first thing that you need to establish in this stage is the domain in which the project is included.
- The industry-related information such as trends and present industry environment can work wonders in the business analysis process. If the business analyst does not find sufficient information related to the industry, then research is the solution. They need to find out more about the industry in which a project is based. Business analysts have to make a lot of efforts to understand the terminologies related to the particular industry.
- The next important concern in this stage of business analysis process flow is identifying influential circumstances. Business analysts have to find out the conditions that can influence the strategic approach for a project.
The proven tools for this purpose are PESTLE analysis and Porter’s Five Forces framework. The PESTLE analysis technique is suited for evaluation of the impact of six crucial external forces. The six forces are vested in political, economic, social, technological, legal, and ethical concerns. These factors have a crucial impact on an organization and result in implications that can influence strategy. Porter’s Five Forces framework is used for identifying the factors which could impose pressure on the project.
The five forces include competitors in the industry, buyers, suppliers, substitutes, and new entrants in the market. The evaluation of these forces helps in determining the extent to which they can influence a project. Business analysis process also involves a clear understanding of project history and relevant documentation. This can contribute to better identification and collection of project requirements.
In addition, business analysis needs to take the various related business processes into account for understanding the project. Some of the helpful documents in this stage include a glossary of terms and system and process records.
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2. Identify Stakeholders
The second stage in the business analysis process model is recognizing stakeholders in the project. Stakeholders in a project are the individuals making decisions and have an important role in determining priorities and requirements. Hence, it is essential to identify the stakeholders in the early stages of the project.
- The stakeholder wheel technique can work best in this stage of the business analysis process. This technique can help in recognizing each stakeholder and the level of influence they can have on the project.
- The first stakeholder category refers to the owners, which includes trustees, shareholders, and individuals who have sponsored the project.
- Next, in the line are managers such as senior and middle managers who carry out communications and monitor progress. Employees such as developers, analysts, and quality assurance specialists help in the delivery of the project.
- Customers, suppliers, and partners are also included as vital stakeholders in a project.
- Most important of all, regulatory authorities are also crucial stakeholders as they ensure the following rules in the project.
- Competitors are also included in the stakeholder list for a project.
This business analysis approach can help in finding out how the behaviors of stakeholders can influence project conditions. The important documentation required in this stage is the stakeholder matrix. The stakeholder matrix provides details of groups and the stakeholders classified in each category.
3. Outline the Business Objectives
The next stage in the business analysis process flow is the identification of business objectives. Business analysts should try to plan out the business strategy and objectives. This can help them as well as project managers to keep their focus on the vision of the project. The objectives can also help in preparing the scope definition for the project. Objectives can also provide insights into areas that need correction.
The most important question that can help in finding business objectives is the need for the project. If analysts are aware of the reasons for which a project is being implemented in the first place, it becomes easier to create objectives.
Some of the proven business analysis techniques for this stage include benchmarking, SWOT analysis, SMART goal setting.
- Benchmarking helps in understanding the competitors working on the same level as the project.
- The SWOT analysis tool can help in recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the project.
- SMART goal setting could help in classifying the exact criteria for objectives. This tool can help in creating Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound objectives.
In addition, focus groups and brainstorming are also promising business analysis techniques for identifying business objectives. These techniques also help in bringing all stakeholders on the same page and approach the project with a single vision. The important document at this stage is a list of business objectives.
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4. Narrowing Down the Options
The fourth stage in the business analysis process is related to the evaluation of available options. In order to achieve this, there are many alternatives. However, brainstorming and focus group meetings are helpful tools to identify the options. The options can include customization or enhancement of an existing solution. You could also choose to purchase an existing service or system.
The option of building a product from scratch and ensure integration to other systems. After you get a list of all available options, you can narrow down the options to a shortlist. The factors which can help in narrowing down the objectives include feasibility and business case for the objectives.
Furthermore, you should also take the availability of funds and possible return on investment into account. Business analysts could fulfill business analysis requirements in this stage with impact analysis, risk analysis, and cost-benefit analysis.
- Cost-benefit analysis refers to the evaluation of costs related to a particular option and the benefits of the same.
- The risk analysis can help in finding various risks that accompany a particular action.
- The impact analysis can help in finding out the actions that can influence the project.
Finally, the business analyst can present all the business case options to stakeholders. The stakeholders can review the options and round upon a final decision. The business case document is produced during this stage.
5. Emphasis on Scope Definition
The scope definition is one of the important steps in the business analysis process. The scope of a project is defined based on project objectives and opinions of stakeholders. The scope definition involves outlining different project development goals and the items excluded from the project. The different elements in the scope definition document refer to development items in and outside the scope. The scope definition also outlines integrations that are in and out of scope.
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6. Develop Business Analyst Delivery Plan
The creation of a business analyst delivery plan is the next entry in the business analysis process. In this stage, the project owner and business analyst could provide a detailed timeline for delivering requirements to the development team. The timeline for business analysis requirements would have to rely on project scope and methodology. In addition, the stakeholders and their availability for the project are also important concerns for creating the timeline.
Business analysts have to classify requirements into deliverables and prepare realistic deadlines for them. As a result, planning of resources and project deadlines can be improved. The most important document produced in this stage is the business analyst delivery plan. This document acts as the game plan for the project under concern.
7. Define Project Requirements
The most crucial stage of the business analysis process is vested in the definition of project requirements. In this stage, analysts have to communicate the project requirements to the owners and obtain their approval.
The different requirements can be classified into functional and non-functional categories.
- The non-functional requirements refer to elements of security, performance, and scalability. These requirements can be outlined clearly in a business requirement document.
- The functional requirements are reflective of wireframes, use cases, prototypes, and storyboards.
Business analysts depend on interviewing stakeholders regarding the expected objectives and outcomes from the project in this stage. This helps them in defining project requirements from the perspective of users. As discussed here, requirement defining techniques also include templates for use cases, wireframes, and storyboards.
The next important concern in this stage is the selection of development methods. Presently, agile project methodologies are highly popular. The development method can help in upfront delivery of requirements. Generally, companies do not prefer waterfall technique as it can be difficult to make any changes in the project along the way. The role of a business analyst in this stage also involves the sequential arrangement of deliverables to create development plans.
There are a number of business analysis techniques that are used in various steps of the business analysis process. Here are the best business analysis techniques that are widely used in the industries.
8. Supporting the Project Implementation
The next significant stage in the business analysis process is to support implementation. Business analysts should be involved with the technical implementation of the project requirements. They have to make sure that every aspect of the project is carried out according to the plan. This stage in the business analysis process includes specific steps.
- Business analysts should review the technical deliverables concerning requirements.
- They should also gain feedback from the development team and update requirements for implementation.
- One of the significant tasks of business analysts in this stage refers to collaboration with quality assurance specialists.
- This is necessary to ensure testing of requirements and effective understanding of requirements.
- Business analysts are also responsible for managing changes in the project requested by the business owner.
- The management of changes is realized after the delivery and implementation of initial requirements.
- After completing the requirement implementation, analysts should ensure user acceptance so that the project is completed effectively.
- The final verification of user comfort with the solution created from the project is crucial.
9. Evaluating the Value Added by the Project
The final stage refers to the analysis of value added by the project. Frequent evaluation of the business outcomes of a project can contribute substantially to the effectiveness of a project. This also helps in keeping the project on the right track. Most important of all, this stage in the business analysis process helps in ensuring that the project provides desired benefits. If a project is delivering the value that was initially estimated then it is accounted as a successful venture. Business analysts could evaluate the project progress by review of project progress through the timeline and business objectives.
This stage of business analysis process can also include communication of updates to stakeholders and answering their questions. Business analysts could also choose to introduce modifications or initiatives that can align project implementation with business objectives.
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On a concluding note, it is clearly noted that business analysis has a formidable influence on project success. Each of the stages in the process contributes a unique element to the project. For example, the information gathering stage helped in preparing the context for the project. Scope definition stage helped in determining the inclusions and exclusions in the project. Therefore, the whole process established the tone for the complete project. The above-mentioned stages can be implemented for any project and ensure the successful realization of the project objectives.
The general overview of the business analysis stages helped in understanding their importance in improving the effectiveness of the project. If you are a business analyst it is important to follow the business analysis process for the success of a project. Certifications like ECBA, CCBA, CBAP, and PMI-PBA provide an excellent roadmap for business analysts to implement the business analysis process.
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