Principles of Business Analysis: 6 things that every BA should know
Posted on January 12, 2022
While training professionals over the years, we’ve come across a common experience where BAs sometimes feel to just get “things” done without the proper time and analysis. Many have succumbed to this at times in their career – and from talking to delegates on our courses, it is always to their ultimate regret. Especially for BAs that start in their role without a formal qualified background, it can be difficult to be the one that keeps asking questions when it feels like everyone else in the team has things figured out.
When self-doubt creeps in, you need a structure to fall back on. A framework to guide you forward and re-affirm that you are on the right track.
In developing our business analysis training, we often have to refer to the key principles of business analysis, these in turn highlight the attitude and mindset needed by a BA. A principle can be defined as an underlying fundamental law or concept. Therefore, business analysis principles are the basic rules that should be followed to manage changes in an organisation successfully.
Below is a brief summary of the 6 key principles, outlined by BCS, that we share with our delegates which helps them form a framework to refer back to throughout their career.
1. Work on the root causes of problems rather than the symptoms
Solving business problems is the main responsibility of a business analyst. Effective problem solving requires you to first distinguish between the symptoms of problems and the root causes. Once you have identified this, you can start investigating and come up with a plan to address these root causes of business problems. This saves you from wasting time and the organisation from wasting money, on creating solutions that only touch the surface of the problem and not eliminate it.
2. Business improvement not IT system change
Today’s business environment changes rapidly – change is continuous and at an increasing rate. To become and remain successful and competitive, businesses must continuously improve their processes. Failure to do so is likely to result in higher costs, lower revenues, less motivated employees and fewer satisfied customers.
A good BA should analyse opportunities for business improvement using IT systems and prioritise problem resolutions that enhance the customer experience.
3. Options not solutions
Having the ability to challenge pre-determined solutions. It is important to understand that there can be several solutions to a business problem. This is where a BA comes in to identify and evaluate these options for meeting the business’ needs.
4. Feasible, contributing requirements, not meeting all requests
Always be aware of financial and timescale constraints. At the start of a project, a BA will work with an organisation to understand their requirements and often this results in a long list, which can easily complicate the solution process. It is important to identify those out of the list of requirements that are not feasible and essentially do not contribute to the business objectives.
Always evaluate stated requirements against business needs and constraints.
5. The entire business change lifecycle not just requirements definition
Just providing and implementing solutions that meet the requirements is not enough! To support the effective development of a solution a BA should partake in the following stages: testing, deployment and post-implementation review of solutions.
Evaluate: Is the solution benefiting the business?
6. Negotiation not avoidance:
With multiple stakeholders involved in a project, it’s likely that conflicting stakeholder views and requirements will surface during the process. A skilled BA should be able to recognise and negotiate these conflicts between stakeholders, to finalise a mutual path forward for the business.
These are the core principles that clarify why business analysis is so relevant in today’s business world and set out the responsibilities that business analysts should recognise and accept.
To gain a more detailed understanding of business analysis best practice and develop the skills and knowledge to support successful business change within your organisation, view our BCS Business Analysis Diploma.