March 11, 2017

Business Analysis - The Function - A Detailed Explanation

Business Analysis is the set of tasks, knowledge, and techniques required to identify
business needs and determine solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a
systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement or
organizational change.

Business analysis is distinct from financial analysis.

IIBA is the professional body promoting business analysis.

The IIBA is an organization that is dedicated to advancing the professionalism of its
members as well as the business analysis profession itself.

This note is based on the  BA Body of Knowledge published by IIBA.

Definition of the Business Analyst Role

A business analyst works as a liaison among stakeholders in order to elicit, analyze, communicate and validate requirements for changes to business processes, policies and information systems. The business analyst understands business problems and opportunities in the context of the requirements and recommends solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.

Definition of a requirement
A requirement is:
(1) A condition or capability needed by a stakeholder to solve a problem or achieve an objective.
(2) A condition or capability that must be met or possessed by a system or system component to satisfy a contract, standard, specification, or other formally imposed documents.
(3) A documented representation of a condition or capability as in (1) or (2).

Requirements types

Business Requirements are higher-level statements of the goals, objectives, or needs of the enterprise. They are the reasons why a project is initiated and specify the things that the project will achieve.

User Requirements are statements of the needs of a particular stakeholder or class of stakeholders. They describe the needs that a given stakeholder has and how that stakeholder will interact with a solution. User Requirements serve as a bridge between Business Requirements and the various classes of solution requirements.

Functional Requirements describe the behavior and information that the solution will manage. They describe capabilities the system will be able to perform in terms of behaviors or operations – a specific system action or response.

Quality of Service Requirements capture conditions that do not directly relate to the behavior or functionality of the solution, but rather describe environmental conditions under which the solution must remain effective or qualities that the systems must have. They are also known as non-functional or supplementary requirements.

Assumptions and constraints identify aspects of the problem domain that are not functional requirements of a solution, and will limit or impact the design of the solution.

• Implementation requirements describe capabilities that the solution must have in order to facilitate transition from the current state of the enterprise to the desired future state, but that will not be needed once that transition is complete.

The Body of Knowledge

Body of knowledge will be described under the headings:

• BA Fundamentals
• Enterprise Analysis
• Requirements Planning and Management
• Requirements Elicitation
• Requirements Communication
• Requirements Analysis and Documentation
• Solution Assessment and Validation

BA Fundamentals

BA fundamentals explain what is business analysis and how is it carried out.

Enterprise Analysis

This activity is the collection of pre-project or early project activities and approaches for capturing the necessary view of the business to provide context to requirements and functional design work for a given initiative and/or for long term planning. It is important for those in the Business Analysis profession to understand the organizational environment in which they are working. They should understand how the project, which is being analyzed by him, supports the entire enterprise. Typical Enterprise Analysis activities are listed below. These activities are conducted concurrently and iteratively.

• Creating and maintaining the Business Architecture (understanding the current business architecture)
• Conducting feasibility studies to determine the optimum business solution
• Identifying new business opportunities
• Scoping and defining the new business opportunity
• Preparing the Business Case
• Conducting the initial Risk Assessment
• Preparing the Decision Package

Requirements Planning and Management

The Business Analyst must define the requirements activities that will be performed and how those activities will be performed on a project, in accordance with any existing standards in the organization. It includes identifying key roles, selecting requirements activities, managing the requirements scope and ongoing communication of the requirements gathering status. Proper planning and management of requirements gathering activities ensures the success of the requirements process and requirements deliverables.

Before initiating requirements activities and during the requirements process it is important to consider how the Business Analysis team is going about the requirements activities on a project.

Requirements Elicitation

The requirements serve as the foundation for the solution to the business needs. It is essential that the requirements be complete, clear, correct, and consistent. Leveraging proven means to elicit
requirements will help meet these quality goals.

The scope of the Elicitation work may be a new system or an enhancement to an existing system. The business analysis professional selects the appropriate mean(s) to gather the needed requirements based on the applicability of a technique’s process, key features and strengths and weakness.

Requirements Analysis and Documentation

The objective is to define and describe the characteristics of an acceptable solution to a business problem, so that the project team has a clear understanding of how to design and implement it.
Requirements analysis defines the methods, tools and techniques used to structure the raw data collected during Requirements Elicitation, identify gaps in the information (inform the requirement elicitation team to fill the gaps) and define the capabilities of the solution, which must be documented.

Deliverables from this process will be used by the project team to develop estimates for the time, resources, and budget required to implement a solution or solutions that will fulfill the requirements. The documentation is used to ensure that a consensus between all the stakeholders exists as to the behavior of the solution as it may require the concurrence of important stakeholders. The primary focus of documentation activity is to refine the proposed model of requirements based upon stakeholder feedback and iteratively ensure that  the proposed requirements support the business and user needs, goals and objectives.

Requirements Communication

The Requirements Communication step consists of  activities and considerations for expressing the output of the requirements analysis and documentation to a broad and diverse audience. Some requirements communication is done in parallel with Requirements Gathering and Requirements Analysis and Documentation. But bulk of it is done after requirements are finalized.  It includes presenting, communicating, verifying, and gaining approval of the requirements from the stakeholders and implementers of the project.

An effective business analyst must be able to clearly present the requirements in a format and structure that is appropriate for its intended audience. Business Analysts must understand the options and select the appropriate communication formats for their project. BAs must consider when and where communications need to take place, what communication approach is appropriate for each situation, and how each communication should be presented. Requirements must be “packaged,” reviewed, and approved before the solution is validated to ensure successful implementation.

Solution Assessment and Validation

This knowledge area covers the business analysis tasks necessary to ensure that the solution meets the stakeholder objectives, is thoroughly tested, and is implemented smoothly.

Once a solution design has been agreed upon, the Business Analyst assists the technology team with detailed design work including splitting a large project into phases, reviewing technical design deliverables, and helping to build usability into the application software.

In the case of a purchased solution, they will assist with any package customization decisions that need to be made and with interface requirements. As the solution is built and available for testing, the Business Analyst role involves supporting the Quality Assurance activities. They may help business stakeholders with user acceptance testing, defect reporting and resolution.

The Business Analyst is accountable for ensuring that the solution developed meets the defined needs and should assess project success after implementation. Business analyst is the first person to say that the solution takes care of all the requirements that he has specified.

Business Analysis For Dummies

Kupe Kupersmith, Paul Mulvey, Kate McGoey
John Wiley & Sons, 01-Jul-2013 - 384 pages

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