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What is Business Analysis? And what is a Business Analyst? | Video

What is Business Analysis? And what is a Business Analyst? | Video

Project Management and Business Analysis. It’s like strawberries and cream – you can’t have one without another. But what is Business Analysis and what does a Business Analyst do?

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Business Analysis

Business Analysis is the process of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. So, Business analysts work with organizations to help them improve their processes, systems, services, and systems. Their toolset is that of research, analysis, and presentation.

Solutions will be implemented through the creation of one or more projects, such as:

  • Process improvement
  • Systems development
  • New policy 
  • Organizational change

The Role of a Business Analyst

Therefore, the role of a Business Analyst is principally to:

  • Research, understand, and document business systems. This includes understanding how different systems interact, to form the whole. Systems include people, technology, processes, policies, and strategy
  • Gather and document requirements from the full range of stakeholders, and to evaluate them for overlaps and conflicts
  • Identify and evaluate actions to resolve problems or make improvements

Business Analyst Specialization

Some Business Analysts specialize, for example, in:

  • Strategic business analysis 
    focus on market opportunities and threats and what the business needs, to respond to them
  • Business operating model (or business model)
    focus on policy and organizational structure
  • Business Process analysis and design 
    focus on optimizing individual processes
  • Systems Analysis 
    focus on interpreting operating policies and processes into functional requirements and rulesets for development into IT systems (also known as Systems Analysts)

The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK® Guide)

Just as Project Managers have our Bodies of Knowledge – most notably the PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge – the PMBOK Guide… So, the International Institute of Business Analysis has its Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK® Guide). This is the standard for the practice of business analysis.

This has sections on:

  • the Key Concepts of Business Analysis
  • Underlying Competencies (also called Knowledge Areas) – there are 6
  • Techniques – 50

The Six Business Analysis Knowledge Areas

The Six Knowledge Areas (or Core Competencies) of the BABOK Guide:

  1. Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
    Organizing and coordinating the work of business analysts and stakeholders. 
  2. Elicitation and Collaboration
    Preparation and conduct of research activities and confirming the results obtained. Includes communication and the ongoing collaboration with stakeholders. 
  3. Requirements Life Cycle Management
    Managing and maintaining requirements and design information from inception to retirement. Includes documenting the relationships between requirements and designs, and managing a process of change control. 
  4. Strategy Analysis
    Collaboration with stakeholders to identify strategic needs, and then supporting the organization in finding ways to address those needs. 
  5. Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
    Structuring and organizing requirements, validating the information, creating designs, identifying  solution options, and estimate the potential value from them. 
  6. Solution Evaluation
    Assessing how solutions perform and produce value to the organization. Also includes looking for constraints and blockers, and how to remove them. 

The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge Definition of Business Analysis

The current (third) edition of the BABOK Guide defines Business Analysis as:

“Business analysis is the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. Business analysis enables an enterprise to articulate needs and the rationale for change, and to design and describe solutions that can deliver value.

They go on to say…

Business analysis is performed on a variety of initiatives within an enterprise. Initiatives may be strategic, tactical, or operational. Business analysis may be performed within the boundaries of a project or throughout enterprise evolution and continuous improvement. It can be used to understand the current state, to define the future state, and to determine the activities required to move from the current to the future state.”

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About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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