In the beginning, it looks so simple but whether you are developing a new software system from the scratch or purchasing software and tailoring it to meet the specific business processes of the organization, you need to go through the toil of gathering business requirements. Gathering business requirements is a primary step in every project. Both stakeholders and project development team expect the Business Analysts to align the business requirements with the business objectives and needs.
Common Problems Faced by Business Analysts During the Requirement Gathering
Business Analysts encounter most of the challenges during the requirement gathering phase. Business Analysts have to understand the challenges and get ready to face the same. Also, they need to make sure how to smoothen the process. Below are the some of the challenges that are commonly faced by business analysts:
Lack of Business Decisions to Conclude the TO-BE Process
Most often business analysts fail to understand the organization’s goals and objectives. Clarity of business objective allows a business analyst to make decisions that are true and consistent.
Inconsistent or Ambiguous Statements from Business Users
Most of the time, the business users may well start with desires, and expectations that may contain vague, ambiguous statements that may delay the business analysis activities.
Lack of System Thinking
Business Analyst’s lack of understanding of business processes and it’s linkages with overall systems. System thinking to problem-solving enables the business analyst to view the problem as part of the larger system and recommend a solution.
Barriers to Getting FaceTime with Business Users
The common problem business analyst face is that the key business users do not attend the key meetings to give business needs. It could be because of their busy schedule, timing, attitude or lack of interest.
Communication Issues with End Users
Business Analyst must select the communication method that will most efficiently resolve the conflict with the end users. Sometimes it is essential to bring the end users together in a face-to-face meeting. After the elicitation, the business requirements are usually presented to more than one end user. The business analyst should decide which format will be the most effective and efficient to show requirements information.
Lack of Understanding of the Behaviour of AS-IS Systems
Some business analysts do not see the value in understanding and working of the “AS-IS” systems. They think it is a waste of valuable time, but it is proved that better understanding of AS-IS system will save significant time during the requirements gathering phase.
Stakeholders Frequently Change their Minds on the Requirements
When business analysts are planning on how best to communicate with the stakeholders they need to consider each stakeholder’s ability to give requirements in a timely fashion. It includes business analysts identifying stakeholders who may often change their requirements, and with such stakeholder, they should plan for more formal reviews and re-reviews.
Change in Organizational Priorities
Organizational Priorities is the number one challenge facing their organizations. Business Analyst should understand how the business requirements fit in with the organization’s overall business goals and objectives; and recommend right solution to the organization.
Dependency with Third Party Vendors
Every project is reliant on to some extent by third parties. It is important to identify, understand, measure, and manage their possible impacts.
How Business Analysts can Overcome These Challenges
Know the Organization
The first phase of a project is to understand the organization and the business unit. It provides the big picture so that the business goals and objectives of the requirements that are to be captured must align with the business goals and objectives of the organization and business unit.
Identify the Scope of Analysis
This broad understanding of the organization will provide us the magnitude of the problem and opportunity.The next important task is to understand the business under consideration, and the scope of the system being worked upon. There are many ways to do it, and one of the ways is to get a full understanding of the AS-IS process diagrams available in the organization.
Understand the Big Picture
This process diagrams will help you to understand the process from the high level. We call it “Level 0”. It can be drilled down from “Level 0” to the lowest level possible – Level1, Level2, Level3, and so on. If AS-IS process diagrams do not exist, it is the responsibility of business analyst to create it. It will provide the business analyst with a good knowledge of the existing processes and give him or her insights to define the TO-BE processes.
Optimize the Process
A good understanding of AS-IS process helps the business analyst to identify pain points, bottlenecks, inefficiencies, manual processes, bright spots, and non-value-added activities within processes.TO-BE processes defined by the business analyst should resolve all the inefficiencies and weaknesses, apart from providing new features and functionalities. Once TO-BE processes are documented, it needs to be validated by the business users. This validation is a mandatory one.
Know Business, Not Requirements
Business Analysts should not look at requirements in isolation. Requirements do exist to enable a business process. Always understand the business – every single element of what it supports. It will help the business analyst to connect the dots and the requirements will merely fall into place. Knowing what is critical and why is critical will help the business analyst to recommend right solutions to the business problems.
Transform Process, Don’t Duplicate the Existing System
Many times, the end users want to see the new system doing things the same way as in the existing system. Sometimes the senior management agrees to this, considering the cost of training in the new system and avoiding errors during the implementation. But business analysts should help the organization to leverage the new technology platform that they would be using. Business analysts should recommend doing things more innovatively and efficiently though it may not be familiar to the users. After all, the organization is transforming its business processes, and it is not duplicating the old system on the new platform.
Grow the Ability to See the “Sky” and the “Stars”
The keyword here is “and”. The requirement could relate to a small portion of the overall business processes. But it is always good to understand the requirement from a big picture view, as it may trigger a business process change somewhere else. A change in a related system may be required if this requirement is to be fulfilled.
Approach a Problem in a Logical Way
The biggest challenge to requirements gathering is to approach it randomly. Business Analysts should define the start and end points and plan a rational process in between. It will help the business analyst to transform the requirements into a system, as we all know that the requirements are mere inputs to a software design, and it is, therefore, logical that the requirements gathering should also be executed logically in a way that the transformation becomes easy.
Why? Why? Why?
Yes, use this word as much you can. So, to get a right response, “Ask a question”. Most essentially learn to ask appropriate questions. One question could lead to another. The best way is to create requirements questionnaire, and this will have the list of questions about the business requirements. Typically the question needs to be organized by features, business requirements or business objectives.
How PMI-PBA Framework helps Business Analysts to do Effective Requirement Management
Business analysis is a subject of increasing importance in project management. The market reflects this importance, as business analyst practitioners increasingly embrace PMI-PBA certifications.This introduces them to a number of techniques for uncovering business needs, managing business requirements, and creating effective solutions to complex business problems.
Having PMI-PBA certification helps a business analyst to effectively work with stakeholders to define their business requirements, so they can shape the projects and drive successful business outcomes. Performing business analysis on projects and programs lets organizations implement desired changes and achieve strategic objectives. The PMI-PBA certification highlights the expertise in business analysis. It spotlights the ability to work effectively with stakeholders to define their business requirements, objectives, and shape of projects to drive successful business outcomes.
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