The Essence of Business Analysis Methodology

A methodology can be described as a way of thinking and acting that guides the decisions we make.

It could be decisions on:

  • What level of detail to go into when documenting requirements
  • What mode of communication to employ when dealing with stakeholders or
  • What approach to take when handling change requests.

 A methodology can also be described more formally as a theoretical lens or a set of principles for understanding which techniques, methods or best practices to apply to a project (this could be research work or business analysis tasks).

 A huge part of planning business analysis work involves identifying which methodology to apply. According to BABOK, there are 2 major approaches to Business Analysis. These approaches are typically applied to projects involving software development and may also be combined to form a “hybrid” approach.

Here's an overview of the 2 main business analysis methodologies.

1. The Plan-Driven Approach – This methodology has characteristics consistent with the Traditional/Waterfall and Process Engineering Approach (define, measure, analyze, improve & control).

As the name implies, it involves significant upfront planning in a bid to elaborate project details. Business analysis tasks and other project activities happen in pre-defined sequential phases with little chances of overlap. The objectives of plan-driven approaches are to reduce uncertainty by clarifying requirements upfront (as much as possible) before system development begins. In reality however, projects do not stick strictly to this course. Improved versions of this methodology involving iterative executions of project phases have been employed over time.

 2. The Change-Driven Approach – This methodology is based on the premise that:

  1. Uncertainty decreases as the project progresses and more information becomes available
  2. Requirements will reveal themselves. They will change and can be refined as uncertainty reduces.
  3. Changes to requirements can be implemented based on priorities.

Examples of Change-driven approaches include Scrum, Extreme Programming, Kanban & Crystal, to mention a few.

The diagram below represents a comparison of the 2 approaches.

This is a comparison of the Plan-Driven & Change-Driven Approaches to Business Analysis

Methodologies define the general approaches available for making critical decisions that can make or break your project. It is important to understand the implications of each methodology to determine which is best under each circumstance.