The Heart of Business Analysis Planning: 8 Questions To Answer In Your Work Plan

Business Analysis Planning is about identifying the collection of tasks that need to be completed to ensure that the business analysis effort is successful. The term, successful, could mean that deliverables are turned in on time or that the business need is met.

Developing an effective plan involves identifying and outlining all the key tasks that must be completed within the allotted time. With a detailed plan, key stakeholders are able to see the estimated amount of time needed to complete the analysis effort. In some cases, the Business Analyst may use this plan as a basis of negotiation for more resources (more time, more staff, etc) on the project.

Who Prepares the Business Analysis Plan?

The Business Analyst is responsible for creating the plan but is expected to seek input from key project team members like the Project Manager, SMEs and the technical team (in cases where technical expertise is required to judge the feasibility of requirements) to determine how work will be carried out.

Who signs off on the Business Analysis Plan? 

If it's an external project in which the Business Analyst is brought in as a consultant, the commissioners/sponsors of the project would sign off on the plan. Depending on the structure of the organization, the Project Sponsor, Project Manager of the team the BA is assigned to or the Functional Head in charge of the unit in which the BA works would be responsible for signing off on the plan.

This post discusses some of the questions you should seek to answer in your Business Analysis Plan:

  • What is the scope of work? Consider the scope of work that needs to be completed and outline all the tasks and associated deliverables for each task. Part of scope definition is identifying which business analysis processes need to be initiated and completed.

  • What methodology will be applied? The methodology applied on the project has a strong influence on the activities that will be performed and the sequence of those activities. For example, using a Plan-driven approach implies that analysis will need to be completed before development can begin. Using a change-driven approach on the other hand, implies that requirements elicitation and analysis will be iterative and that requirements will be developed and clarified as the project progresses. See Agile, Waterfall & Somewhere In Between.

  • Who are the stakeholders? Stakeholders form part of the team that create and validate the deliverables produced by the BA. BAs need these stakeholders to be available during the course of the project. You will need to consider them in your plan by outlining the roles and responsibilities of each of the stakeholders and the time commitment that will be required of them. 

  • What is the schedule? The BA plan should contain a list of tasks to be completed as well as the time estimates for each task. This insightful article, How to Compile Your Business Analysis Work Plan makes a distinction between the actual time needed to complete a task and the lapse time (duration) needed to complete the task and recommends that BAs agree with the PM on which should be documented in the work plan.

  • How will requirements be managed? As part of developing a comprehensive plan, the BA plan should include the approach for managing requirements. For example, how will requirements be traced and prioritized? How will requirements be approved during the course of the project?

  • What deliverables will be produced? The main outcome of the Business Analysis effort is a set of deliverables that result in customers' needs being met. These deliverables must be clearly outlined in the BA plan to guide stakeholders on what to expect. Examples of Business Analysis deliverables include Requirements Specification Documents, Business Case, Process Models, Data Models and so on.

  • How will communication be handled? The Business Analysis Plan should indicate how the BA intends to receive, access and distribute information. When will communication happen? Who will the communication be sent to and in what format? Consider the 5 Ws & H of communication (Who, What, Why, Where, When & How of communication). The plan should also indicate the frequency of communication.

  • How will Business Analysis work be assessed? When a BA is hired to do a job, it follows naturally that the requesting organization would want to assess how well the BA performed or if their work was up to par. The quickest way to do this is to define a set of metrics from the beginning for assessing the effort. For example, assessment can be done by identifying how quickly work was completed.

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.” - Antoine de Saint Exupery.

Planning your work can help you foresee and enable the vision you would like to achieve on the project. Spend some time planning and you will face less uncertainties down the road.

Picture Attribution: “Orange Heart Shaped Traffic Cone” by Ventrilock/