Today’s data-driven, the digital world offers countless new options and resources for consumers and businesses alike. We could even make a case of saying that, in many situations, there are too many choices to make.
An overabundance of options often brings paralysis, as people become overwhelmed into inaction in the face of so many choices. While this is annoying and inconvenient for the average private citizen, it’s catastrophic for the commercial sector, especially in cases where the latter are attempting to put together a successful business plan.
That’s why business analysts are such an essential element for an organization’s survival and success today. By using different structured business analysis techniques, these analysts help companies identify needs, root out flaws, and sift through a flood of data and options to find the right actionable solution.
We’re here today to explore some of the top business analysis techniques and how they are successfully leveraged for an organization’s success. There are many of these proven business analysis problem-solving techniques to choose from. Still, the ones highlighted here are the more commonly used methods, and it’s reasonable to infer that their popularity stems from their effectiveness.
Here is the list of top ten business analysis techniques:
- Business Process Modeling (BPM)
- MoSCoW (Must or Should, Could or Would)
- MOST (Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics) Analysis
- PESTLE Analysis
- SWOT Analysis
- Six Thinking Hats
- The 5 Whys
- Non-Functional Requirement Analysis
But before we dive into the actual Business Analysis techniques, we should square away some definitions.
A Quick Definition of Business Analysis
Business analysis is an umbrella term describing the combination of knowledge, techniques, and tasks employed for identifying business needs, then proposing changes and creating solutions that result in value for the stakeholders. Although a significant number of today’s business analysis solutions incorporate software and digital data-based elements, many professionals in the field may also end up advising on organizational changes, improving processes, developing new policies, and participating in strategic planning.
So, business analysts spur change within an organization by assessing and analyzing needs and vulnerabilities, then creating and implementing the best solutions. Much of the information used to draw these conclusions comes from data collected by various means, often falling under the term “big data.”
Next, let us understand more about Business Analysis techniques.
What is Business Analysis Techniques?
Business analysis techniques are processes used to create and implement plans necessary for identifying a company’s needs and delivering the best results. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” technique because every business or organization is different.
Best Business Analysis Techniques
Here are the top ten business analysis techniques. Keep in mind that business analysts who want to be project managers should be familiar with most, if not all, of them.
- Business Process Modeling (BPM): BPM is often used during a project’s analysis phase to understand and analyze the gaps between the current business process and any future process that the business is shooting for. This technique consists of four tasks:
- Strategic planning
- Business model analysis
- Defining and designing the process
- Technical analysis for complex business solutions
Many industries, especially the IT industry, favor this technique because it’s a simple, straightforward way to present the steps of the execution process and show how it will operate in different roles.
- Brainstorming: There’s nothing like good, old-fashioned brainstorming to generate new ideas, identify a problem’s root causes, and come up with solutions to complex business problems. Brainstorming is a group activity technique that is often used in other methods such as PESTLE and SWOT.
- CATWOE: CATWOE identifies the leading players and beneficiaries, collecting the perceptions of different stakeholders onto one unified platform. Business analysts use this technique to thoroughly evaluate how any proposed action will affect the various parties. The acronym stands for:
- Customers: Who benefits from the business?
- Actors: Who are the players in the process?
- Transformation Process: What is the transformation at the core of the system?
- World View: What is the big picture, and what are its impacts?
- Owner: Who owns the impacted system, and what’s their relation?
- Environmental Constraints: What are the constraints, and how do they impact the solution?
- MoSCoW (Must or Should, Could or Would): Not just a city in Russia, MoSCoW prioritizes requirements by offering a framework that evaluates each demand relative to the rest. The process forces you to ask questions about the actual necessity of any given element. Is the item a must-have or a should-have? Is the demand something that could make the product better, or is it something that would be a good idea in the future?
- MOST (Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics) Analysis: MOST is a robust business analysis framework—considered one of the best techniques for understanding an organization’s ability and purpose. This technique includes conducting a detailed, complete internal analysis of the organization’s goals and how to approach them. The acronym stands for:
- Mission: What is the organization’s purpose?
- Objectives: What are the key goals that help achieve the mission?
- Strategies: What are the options available for achieving the objectives?
- Tactics: What are the methods that the organization will follow to carry out the strategies?
- PESTLE Analysis: Business analysts use the PESTLE model (sometimes called PEST) to identify environmental factors that can influence their company and how best to address them when making business decisions. Those influences are:
- Political: Financial support and subsidies, government initiatives, and policies.
- Economic: Labor and energy costs, inflation, and interest rates.
- Sociological: Education, culture, media, life, and population.
- Technological: New information and communication systems technologies.
- Legal: Local and national government regulations and employment standards.
- Environmental: Waste, recycling, pollution, and weather.
By analyzing and studying these factors, analysts gain a better understanding of how they will influence the organization’s narrative. This understanding, in turn, makes it easier for analysts to develop strategies on how to address them.
- SWOT Analysis: One of the most popular techniques in the industry, SWOT identifies the strengths and weaknesses in a corporate structure, presenting them as opportunities and threats. The knowledge helps analysts make better decisions regarding resource allocation and suggestions for organizational improvement. The four elements of SWOT are:
- Strengths: The qualities of the project or business that give it an advantage over the competition.
- Weaknesses: Characteristics of the business that pose a disadvantage to the project or organization, when compared to the competition or even other projects.
- Opportunities: Elements present in the environment that the project or business could exploit.
- Threats: Elements in the environment that could hinder the project or business.
SWOT is a simple, versatile technique that is equally effective in either a quick or in-depth analysis of any sized organization. It is also useful for assessing other subjects, such as groups, functions, or individuals.
- Six Thinking Hats: This business analysis process guides a group’s line of thinking by encouraging them to consider different ideas and perspectives. The ‘six hats’ are:
- White: Focuses on your data and logic.
- Red: Uses intuition, emotions, and gut feelings.
- Black: Consider potential negative results, and what can go wrong.
- Yellow: Focus on the positives; keep an optimistic point of view.
- Green: Uses creativity.
- Blue: Takes the big picture into account, process control.
The six thinking hats technique is often used in conjunction with brainstorming, serving as a means of directing the team’s mental processes and causing them to consider disparate viewpoints.
- The 5 Whys: This technique is commonly found as often in Six Sigma as it is in business analysis circles. While journalism uses the “Five W’s” (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) in reporting, the 5 Whys technique just operates “Why” in a series of leading questions, this approach helps business analysts pinpoint a problem’s origin by first asking why the issue exists, then following it up by asking another “why?” question relating to the first answer, and so on. Here’s an example:
- Issue: The client refuses to accept the delivery of some 3-D printers.
- Why? Because the wrong models were shipped.
- Why? Because the product information in the database was incorrect.
- Why? Because there are insufficient resources allocated to modernizing the database software.
- Why? Because our managers didn’t think the matter had priority.
- Why? Because no one was aware of how often this problem occurred.
- Countermeasure: Improve incident reporting, be sure managers read reports, allocate budget funds for modernizing database software.
- Non-Functional Requirement Analysis: Analysts apply this technique to any project where a technology solution is replaced, changed, or built up from scratch. The analysis defines and captures the characteristics needed for a new or a modified system, and most often deal with requirements such as data storage or performance. Non-functional requirement analysis usually covers:
Non-Functional Requirement Analysis is commonly implemented during a project’s Analysis phase and put into action during the Design phase.
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