What do you want to achieve or avoid? The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy ― William E. Rothschild
The pace of change in the present global and competitive environment requires organisations to consistently reposition themselves to catch up or stay ahead of their competitors. In achieving this, organisations are quickly realising the need to implement efficient business strategy.
Organisations defining an effective business strategy require extensive business analysis from the start, because this sheds light on exactly what the business needs are.
Where does the BA come in?
1. Investigating problems/opportunities that require a clear strategy
The BA investigates problems/ideas, articulates possible alternatives for a way forward and develops business cases offering recommendations as part of strategy analysis.
Clearly understood business needs form the basis of developing a coherent strategy which helps move the business forward. When the current and future state of the business are known, developing a strategy for achieving the future state becomes achievable. Business analysts are charged with identifying needs, which may be of strategic or operational importance.
2. Ensuring that recommended changes are in line with business strategy
From an organisational point of view, engaging BAs at an early point places a crucial duty upon them – the requirement to make sure that all changes recommended to the business are in harmony with the strategy, mission, and objectives of the organisation.
Business Analysts are a key agent in ensuring that recommendations, changes, policy or process initiatives are in line with the business strategy.
3. Understanding the business to support identification of alternative strategies
Business strategy analysis involves understanding the values, management abilities, organisational accountabilities, and administrative structures that are able to connect tactical, operational and strategic decision making across all lines and at all levels of authority.
In summary, BAs are responsible for the following:
- Classifying the strategic choices for addressing a specific situation and supporting the execution of the business strategy
- Defining the choices/options that allow an organisation realise its strategy
- Assessing the situation after strategy implementation to examine business changes and ensure sustainable business benefits.
It is essential that all BAs understand strategic analysis techniques, given the emphasis on the requirement to align BA deliverables with the objectives and strategy of the business.
So, whether you are asked to tackle a case study that involves defining a business strategy as part of your interview process or you are faced with a real-life case study, here are 5 concepts to be aware of in strategic business analysis:
- External analysis: assess the existing opportunities and threats of the organisation’s external environment, comprising industry and environmental forces
- Internal analysis: assess the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation in its internal environment including its resources and competencies
- Strategy design: Design strategies that form and endure competitive advantage by matching the strengths and weaknesses with the opportunities and threats of the organisation
- Strategy execution: Apply the developed strategies
- Strategic control: Measure achievements and make adjustments in areas where the strategies are not generating the anticipated results.
Examples of analytical techniques that can be used in business strategy analysis include:
- SWOT analysis
- Porter’s five forces analysis
- PEST analysis
- Value chain analysis
- Porter’s four corner's model
- Early warning scans
- War gaming
BAs are key in supporting organizations in strategic planning, setting goals and executing business strategy. They should be aware of any existing business strategy (or support the business in defining one) so that they can apply this knowledge when proposing recommendations to the business.
When BAs are involved in or are knowledgeable about the business, they are better able to match project objectives with what the business needs to thrive.
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