Category : Expertise
Publication Date : 06.05.2021

Business Analysis Fundamentals, by Ainos (Part 1)

70% of projects tend to fail, mostly because of a poor definition or prioritization of needs (*).  

In recent years, we have witnessed the (just) recognition of the Business Analyst's profession and its benefits, in a socio-professional context that has completely gone into "project mode".

→ What is Business Analysis?

Business Analysis includes all the tasks and techniques used to liaise between the stakeholders of an organization, to understand its structure, policies, and operation, and recommend solutions that will enable it to achieve its goals.

It will therefore provide a solution, which can take the form of a service, a process, a product, a standard/tailormade software, or a customized IT development project.

Let's just make one thing clear about project management:

  • The business analyst is, in principle, the one who analyzes the requirements and needs of the client ahead of the project and who proposes at the end of his study process, a solution, with its possible alternatives (first step of a project).
  • The project manager, on the other hand, is usually the person who will manage the implementation of the solution chosen by the client, within his environment (second step of the same project).

→ Why referring to Business Analysis?

  • To take time to fully understand the structure and dynamics of the company
  • To identify current issues and detect potential improvements
  • To design a comprehensive strategy, customized solutions or recommend technologies that will help the organization to achieve its short- and long-term goals.
  • helps to formalize the need for certain changes and articulate their implementation
  • Contributes to maximize the value that an organization can provide to its stakeholders

Whatever the context, the thinking progress of a company or the current issues, the skills of the Business Analyst help to structure the reflections, to build the action plan and to detail the needs:

  • Doing a global assessment to identify its optimization and digitalization opportunities, and to prioritize projects to be launched, based on Business added value, organizational or legal imperatives, for example.
  • Preparing the launch of a project with a specific functional/technical scope, building the roadmap and determining the organization of the project.
  • To intervene in a project that is being implemented, quickly understand the context, the potential difficulties to be addressed, and propose a reorganization strategy to improve the whole.
  • To work on an existing product, determining why adoption is unsatisfactory, and propose a strategy of change management/product re-engineering, for example.

→ How to integrate the Business Analysis according to its project organization?  

Business Analysis' activity is a card to play to secure a project, regardless of technological choices, functional domain, or project methodology. About the latter component, the challenge is then to adapt the interventions with the timing and key phases of the considered method:

The V-cycle method needs to define ahead a maximum of needs, technical arbitrations, and resources booking. It requires lots of business analysis work ahead of the technical implementation (detailed specifications, management of estimations and priorities), then taken over by the project manager (budget projections, planning follow-up and governance).

At the end of the process, the Quality & Acceptance team often needs support form the Business Analyst, to share the business vision and advise decision makers on potential trade-offs.

As part of an Agile, iterative and incremental approach, and with short-term objectives, Business Analysis's work integrates production cycles and intervenes with each sprint preparation, to clarify/detail User stories, bring business context to developers and support the Product Owner in the various steps of review/delivery to end-users.

The Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step methodology structures the deployment and implementation steps of Dynamics products, combining the benefits of detailed analysis at the beginning of the project with the incremental phases, the Sure Step Sprints. Here, the Business Analysis is practiced to produce the initial "Solution envisioning"  and then during the iterative phases to deepen the  features  selected during the diagnosis, and share the specification elements to the technical teams.

Stay tuned for the #Part2 of this article, coming out next week!


(*) According to the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Pulse of the Profession 2018 study of 5402 companies, the three main causes of project failure are:

- a change in the company's priorities (39%);

- a change in the project's objectives (37%);

- a mis-collecting of requirements (35%).