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50 Shades of BA


Bill BakerThe term, “Business Analysis”, can mean different things to different people.  In this blog I take a look at some of the different interpretations of Business Analysis. 

I think the most common understanding of Business Analysis is the activities around analysis and design.  This incorporates analysis of the current state, documenting detailed requirements and evaluating potential options.  During these activities the key trait of good Business Analysts is to ask the right people the right questions.  This sounds simple in theory but in practice this is more of an art than a science.   

Whilst analysis and design is a key area for Business Analysis, a skilled Business Analyst can provide support throughout the project life-cycle; starting by gathering high level requirements during project initiation.  This can continue through analysis/design, build and test all the way through to reviewing the process a few months after go-live to make sure that things are running as expected.  A good BA will adapt to provide support to the project as it progresses.  Once again, the correct approach isn’t always black and white.  The Business Analyst needs to navigate through the project and apply judgement to arrive at the best response.

I like to think of Business Analysis as toolkit of techniques than can be used to solve common business challenges.  As a Business Analyst gains experience they can use a wider range of techniques and learn more complex approaches.   The real skill of an experienced Business Analyst is to know when to use each tool. 

In addition to traditional skills such as process mapping and requirements gathering there are other approaches that can be helpful to the Business Analyst.  Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) can be used to highlight weaknesses in processes so that they can be evaluated and remedied.  Use case analysis can be helpful to identify all of the actors, triggers and end points.  Process Optimisation can be used to identify opportunities to adjust a process within its constraints to maximise efficiency, throughput or to minimise cost. 

In summary, the role of the Business Analyst is crucial to a project’s success. However one size doesn’t fit all and it’s essential to tailor the Business Analysis approach to meet the requirements of the situation.

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