Business Analysis

Business analysis is a research discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development. The person who carries out this task is called a business analyst or BA.

Business analysts whose work solely on developing software systems may be called IT business analysts, technical business analysts, online business analysts, business systems analysts, or systems analysts.

Business analysis as a discipline has a heavy overlap with requirements analysis sometimes also called requirements engineering, but focuses on identifying the changes to an organization that are required for it to achieve strategic goals. These changes include changes to strategies, structures, policies, processes, and information systems.

Examples of business analysis includes:

  • Enterprise analysis or company analysis
  • Requirements planning and management
  • Requirements elicitation
  • Requirements analysis and documentation
  • Requirements communication
  • Solution assessment and validation

Business analysis techniques

Also, there are a number of generic business techniques that a business analyst will use when facilitating business change. Some of these techniques include:

  • PESTLE: This is used to perform an external environmental analysis by examining the many different external factors affecting an organization. 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 organization)
    • Technological (the effect of new and emerging technology)
    • Legal (the effect of national and world legislation)
    • Environmental (the local, national and world environmental issues)
  • Heptalysis: This is used to perform an in-depth analysis of early stage businesses/ventures on seven important categories:
    1. Market opportunity
    2. Product/solution
    3. Execution plan
    4. Financial engine
    5. Human capital
    6. Potential return
    7. Margin of safety
  • 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 four 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)
  • SWOT: This is used to help focus activities into areas of strength and where the greatest opportunities lie. This is used to identify the dangers that take the form of weaknesses and both internal and external threats. The four attributes of SWOT analysis:
    • Strengths – What are the advantages? What is currently done well? (e.g. key area of best-performing activities of your company)
    • Weaknesses – What could be improved? What is done badly? (e.g. key area where you are performing poorly)
    • Opportunities – What good opportunities face the organization? (e.g. key area where your competitors are performing poorly)
    • Threats – What obstacles does the organization face? (e.g. key area where your competitor will perform well)
  • 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. 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?

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