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Business Analysis Process Model

Having understood the catalogue of services provided by business analysis, it is useful to have a framework within which these services can be delivered.

What is a Business Analysis Process Model?

A Business Analysis Process Model is how business analysis activities are structured and linked together. An ideal Business Analysis Process Model helps business analysts and their stakeholders easily conduct all the necessary activities needed on a project.

Why is a Process Model Important for Business Analysis?

Three reasons:

Reason #1: A logically structured process model helps you identify and deliver all of the right business analysis activities needed for your project.

If the activities on your project follow an ad hoc process (or do not follow any process at all), you will have a hard time identifying and delivering the right activities.

But if your process model is logically structured, you can follow your process to deliver 100% of your business analysis activities:

Reason #2: A standard process gives authority to your business analysis.

When you (and the whole business analyst team) consistently deliver the key business analysis activities, the more expert authority (trust and influence) will flow into those activities. Which can help increase your impact in the organisation.

Reason #3: A repeatable business analysis process makes it easy for you to continuously improve your business analysis work.

(And indirectly helps your stakeholders learn how to best engage with you.)

Best Practices

Use a "Technique" Driven Approach

Experience shows, a "Technique" driven approach delivers better business analysis.

Technique Driven Analysis means that business analysts (and their stakeholders) can use any appropriate technique in their approach to focus on the business problem.

Here’s an illustration of a technique driven approach:

On the other hand, a “Template” driven approach means that certain activities focus on producing documentation:

Why is this important?

First, technique driven analysis means that expert authority flows into activities that tend to need lots of interaction (like a workshop) to activate soft skills (like problem solving).

Second, technique driven analysis means stakeholders can engage in all of the activities in your process (which maximises collaboration, communication, and rapport).

For example, let’s say that you just started a new project.

Ideally, you’d want your framework to look something like this:

As you can see, the key stages are all linked-to directly from the business strategy and objectives.

And all of your individual techniques are found under each stage (used to activate stakeholder engagement).

Keep things flexible

This isn’t super important if all of the projects or enhancements you deliver are of the exact same nature.

But once you start working on a variety of different types of projects (process improvement, regulatory compliance, or software requirements), flexibility is HUGE.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across organisations with a super prescriptive 'one-size-fits all' business analysis process flow like this:

Not only is this bad for business analysis, but it’s a bad business analyst experience too. Imagine that you just had the exact same, strict series of tasks to carry out your work every time. How likely is it that you'll find solutions your stakeholders actually need? Practically zero.

But when your business analysis process is flexible, it’s SUPER easy for business analysts to follow the process steps to deliver what their stakeholders need.

That’s why you want to establish a business analysis approach from day 1. And stick to it as your practice grows.

Here’s an example of how your approach might look:

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Most organisations that have a complicated process didn’t start off that way. They started adding additional tasks, decisions and deliverables… that ended up a complicated mess.

But it's not something that can't be fixed.

Steps in the Business Analysis Process Model

Business analysis projects can be varied in range and nature. This is often what makes the work so interesting. Set's out a process model for business analysis assignments.

The process is generally divided into multiple steps with each step involving specific tasks to perform, principles to follow, and artefacts to produce.

This is a 7 stage process that follows the role of a business analyst within the business change life cycle, which is covered in detail in our Foundation in Business Analysis course.

The key stages are: 

  1. Understand the strategic context
  2. Investigate the current situation
  3. Identify the business needs
  4. Assess the potential options
  5. Define the holistic requirements
  6. Deliver the business solution
  7. Realise the business benefits

Note: Not all stages will be required for every business analysis assignment. The model may be used in its entirely on some projects; on others fewer stages may be required.

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Step 1 - Understand the strategic context

Having a good understanding of the business strategy and objectives of the organisation (and the particular department or function you're investigating) makes your work super easy over the long term.

You can get this understanding by researching background material, using techniques like PESTLE Analysis, VMOST Analysis, and SWOT Analysis (amongst many others), and asking people in the know where anything's unclear.

The overarching business strategy and objectives must be kept in mind at all times when implementing business change.

Because without this strategic context guiding your work, the project/assignment scope can creep (or leap)... which often results in a failed project.

Step 2 - Investigate the current situation

The first stage of the process proper is to investigate the situation and uncover the issues and views. Some of these may not be facts but opinions.

Once we have some information, we may need to investigate further and obtain quantifiable data in order to see if the information is accurate.  

This stage uncovers issues and problems (or opportunities).

Study Background material

  • Terms of Reference
  • Project Initiation Document
  • Business Objectives and Strategy

Carry out initial investigation with key stakeholders

  • It uses investigation techniques such as interviewing, workshops, observation. scenario analysis, record searching, questionnaires, and prototyping.

Document results of investigation, perhaps using rich pictures and mind maps

And what you want to get out is:

  • A view of existing business situation
  • Meeting reports (minutes) and diagrams
  • List of problems, issues, and opportunities. 

This service is concerned with uncovering issues and defining problems and opportunities, and with shaping a change project.

BAs need to investigate the underlying causes of problems and make sure that they are fully understood. Without doing this, organisations are likely to adopt courses of action that are ineffective or irrelevant.

The BA may propose changes to the organisation, processes, people, information and technology, as described earlier under figure 3.2. The emphasis is on defining a holistic solution that will address the problem in the round.

Step 3 - Identify the business improvements

The second stage of the approach to defining business improvements is to explore where th usiness wants to be in future, often achieed by facilitating a discussion with key business stakeholders. The future state is often referred to as the 'to-be' or target state.

The third stage is to undertake a gap analysis in order to identify the gap between the current and target states.

This service involves the BAs researching, analysing, documenting and re-designing business processes. In addition, they will apply ‘gap analysis’ to identify changes to those processes to bring about improvements within the organisation and identify the actions needed to implement those changes and produce the business benefits.

Very often in business analysis work, we discover that different stakeholders have different views of their organisation, what it stands for and, where it should be going, and what it should be doing. We refer to these as 'business perspectives' and this stage of the process model specifically examines these and what they mean for the direction of the assignment.

Having understood these different points of view, we can now try to understanding what can be done about the business problems. We use gap analysis to compare the existing business situation with the desired, future business system.

This stage identifies improvements to the business system. It is often known as gap analysis where the current 'as-is' model is compared to the 'to-be' model. Gap analysis considers where we are now, where we want to be in the future, and what needs to change to get there.

Activities are analysed in the desired business system to identify omissions or issues that need addressing. 

Examine activities on the business activity model

Step 4 - Evaluate the options

Now you identify the options for business improvement, define the potential solutions, and assess their feasibility.

Here are the three perspectives for feasibility assessment:

  • Business feasibility 
  • Technical feasibility
  • Financial feasibility

Plus you conduct the following for each option:

  • Impact assessment
  • Risk assessment

Once you've prepared the business case, present your findings and recommendations to the decision makers.

Step 5 - Define the requirements

Having agreed the proposed solution, you now move on to defining the requirements for changes to business processes and information systems, by eliciting, documenting, analysing, and agreeing the more detailed requirements for the chosen solution.

Step 6 - Deliver the solution

Business Analyst's assist in the successful delivery and adoption of the business change solution.  

User Acceptance Testing

And supporting the business in the implementation of change can also involve providing training in the use of the new business processes and information systems.

There are also emotional issues involved in business change and BAs can help to assist business actors in adjusting to the new environment in which they work.

Step 7 - Review the benefits

In this final element of the BA Service Framework, They also provide support to the organisation in making sure that the expected business benefits are realised.

Stakeholder analysis and management

Stakeholder engagement isn’t an explicit step, as it is an auxiliary service that applies whenever the BA performs the six services defined in the BASF. It includes activities such as identifying, analysing, communicating with and negotiating with stakeholders, and is discussed more fully in chapter 6 (Analysing and Managing Stakeholders).

How to Get Started with The Business Analysis Process Framework

We can see that there is a sreies of activitis that follow a rough chronological order

First, it should be noted that, unlike other business processes, these activities are not always conducted, as their applicability to a particular project or business analysis assignment will be dependent upon the objectives and scope of the project/assignment.

But it is relevant for most projects.

Our Business Analysis framework provides a structure to the key stages you may wish to apply business analysis tools and techniques to help inform improvement and influence change. Every project is different and the tools and techniques you use will vary depending on the nature of the project. You would rarely be expected to use every tool in this list, but using a good variety will ensure that the project decision-makers are well informed, which can help make effective, sustainable change in an organisation.

Our Business Analysis framework provides a structure to the key stages you may wish to apply business analysis tools and techniques to help inform improvement and influence change. Every project is different and the tools and techniques you use will vary depending on the nature of the project. You would rarely be expected to use every tool in this list, but using a good variety will ensure that the project decision-makers are well informed, which can help make effective, sustainable change in an organisation.

As you leverage this process framework, you’ll gain increased recognition for the value of business analysis, and you’ll start to get pulled into more interesting projects, earlier in the process. 

I see BAs resist having a process because it seems like every project is different but without a process, you really feel like you have to make things up as you go along. While there are nuances of each project that are different, this is a framework you can fall back on to guide you. 

It’s both structured AND flexible. 

I invite you to start applying this process. 

If you want to learn more, join my Quick Start to Success workshop, where I teach you the ins and outs. We also do a deeper dive into each step of the process in the BA Essentials Master Class, which is one of the modules of The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program. 

And, again, this is about you increasing your effectiveness, and finding the confidence to do what’s right for your project and your team, even when there can be pressures to “just get things done.” 

We build our profession one business analyst at a time, and success starts with you. 


Evolution of Business Analysis