Best Practices For Success in Business Analysis

Often, the failure of projects in many organisations is assumed to be the fault of the project manager. As time and research have revealed, this is not always the case. Indeed, all organizations must be able to address the various challenges that arise, real or anticipated, to deliver successful projects. Failure to do this poses risks of business problems or failure of the entire organisation. The competencies necessary for successful projects can often be linked to business analysis.

Despite this, many organisations do not have competencies that differentiate the role of a business analyst from that of a project manager. Since these two positions are very distinct, the business analyst and project manager need to have competencies that are clearly defined.

The duties of a person with the title, “Business Analyst” can also vary widely depending on the organisation. According to a poll conducted, several titles may represent the role of a business analyst as depicted in the figure below:

Source: (2006)

There are a number of essential competencies that help to correctly define the role of a business analyst. The business analysis competency model considers all the activities and tasks performed by a business analyst as depicted in the diagram to the left.

Source: (2006)

The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on what practices to promote in the coming months. This piece lists the best practices of business analysis that all BAs should understand and participate in.

So, what are these practices?

The model is, principally, an explanation of what an experienced business analyst may get involved in. The competencies outlined above are broken down as indicated below:

Eliciting requirements: This is a key aspect of a business analyst’s job and it is to collect and document user requirements. The reason for collecting requirements is to offer a complete understanding of the problem before a solution is proposed. For more on this, see 8 Requirements Elicitation Tips You Should Know.

Developing functional requirement documents for the business: In establishing requirements documentation, the business analyst in collaboration with stakeholders, is responsible for describing the sources of requirements and their relevance. For more on this, see 15 Tips for Writing Better Requirements.

Structured analysis: This denotes the art of modelling. This competency requires a business analyst to be able to identify a variety of modelling methods that are simplified and full of relevant information. Visit Business Analysis Techniques for more on structured analysis techniques.

Object-based analysis: A business analyst may develop models (e.g. activity diagrams) to further clarify requirements. Diagrams may be used to design improved system functionalities. Visit Business Analysis Techniques for more on object-based analysis techniques.

Testing: In the business analysis discipline, testing would involve the business analyst validating requirements by supporting business users in the development and identification of test cases. For more on this, see The Role of Business Analysts in User Acceptance Tests: Identifying Test Cases That Work.

End-user support/Post-Implementation Reviews: Essentially, a business analyst during the post-deployment phase, may work with stakeholders to simplify any complications or issues that ought to be addressed. The business analyst may also be involved in post go-live assessment of deployed solutions.

Fluency in IT: With regards to IT, the issue of how much knowledge is sufficient for a business analyst has been widely debated. In reality, the answer varies depending on the level of IT knowledge requirement of the project. Ideally, however, a business analyst should be fluent in IT in order to offer the best advice possible. For more on this, see How Technical Should Business Analysts Be?

Business Process Improvement: This requires the business analyst to identify problems and opportunities of process improvement so that the business can reap the associated benefits. For more on this, see Tips for Business Process Improvement.

What other best practices for success can you identify?

Picture Attribution: “Best Practices Key Shows Improving Business Quality” by Stuart Miles/