BA Process Framework

BA Process Framework

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 Framework?

A Business Analysis Process Framework is how business analysis activities are structured and linked together. An ideal Business Analysis Process Framework helps business analysts easily steer all the necessary steps needed on a project.

Why is a Business Analysis Process Framework Important for Projects?

Three reasons:

Reason #1: A logically structured BA process 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 BA process is logically structured, you can follow your process to deliver 100% of your business analysis activities:

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

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 framework makes it easy for you to continuously improve your business analysis work.

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

Best Practices

Use a "Technique" Driven Approach

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

A Technique Driven Approach means that business analysts (with 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 mislead the focus towards producing documentation:

Why is this important?

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

Second, a technique driven approach 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 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 range 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' BA process 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 deliver solutions your stakeholders actually need? Practically zero.

But when your BA 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 process model from day 1. And stick to it as your practice grows.

Here’s an example of how your BA process model might look:

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

Use Key Stages

Key stages make managing your BA process super easy over the long-term.

Want to launch a new BA Service? Map the activities to an existing stage (or create a new stage). And manage the new activities from that (new) key stage.

Want to add a set of new techniques (like a new methodology)? Create a new technique category (like Agile development). And link that new technique category to the key stage.

Without the stage structure, activities (and tasks, decisions and deliverables) get added haphazardly... which usually results in a complicated BA process.

Note: If you deliver a limited business analysis service, you may not need to organise things by stage.

For example, some business analysts only define requirements:

Requirements Definition

  1. 1
    Define requirements approach
  2. 2
    Elicit requirements
  3. 3
    Catalogue requirements
  4. 4
    Conduct user analysis
  5. 5
    Model requirements
  6. 6
    Analyse requirements
  7. 7
    Communicate with stakeholders
  8. 8
    Align requirements with strategic goals and project scope
  9. 9
    Manage requirements configuration and traceability 
  10. 10
    Package requirements
  11. 11
    Facilitate requirements review

And because each activity is closely interlinked, they don't have key stages set-up.

But if you run a Business Analysis Centre Of Excellence delivering the full stack business analysis service catalogue, key stages are critical.

The Business Analysis Process Model

Business analysis projects can be varied in range and nature.

The challenge is to develop a process model that is sufficiently flexible while providing a framework that will help business analysts carry out their work.

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

The key steps are: 

  1. 1
    Understand the context
  2. 2
    Investigate the situation
  3. 3
    Identify the improvements
  4. 4
    Evaluate the options
  5. 5
    Define the requirements
  6. 6
    Deliver the solution
  7. 7
    Realise the 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.

Step 1 - Understand the context

You need a good understanding of the business strategy and objectives of the organisation (and/or the particular department or function that you're investigating).

You can get this understanding by using techniques like PESTLE Analysis, Porter's 5-Forces, VMOST Analysis, Internal Resource Audit, 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 the strategic context guiding your work, the project scope can creep (or leap)... which often results in a failed project.

Step 2 - Investigate the situation

Study the background material and use investigation techniques to carry out the initial investigation with the nominated key stakeholders.

You are looking to uncover issues and problems, and find their root causes. Without doing this, organisations are likely to adopt courses of action that are ineffective or irrelevant.

Here are three go-to techniques you can use:

  • Interviewing
  • Observation
  • Workshop

Which can be extended with scenario analysis, prototyping, record searching, and questionnaires, amongst others.

Use a documentation technique like a rich picture or a mind map to capture your findings. An Ishikawa diagram can be helpful to show the root causes of problems.

Step 3 - Identify the improvements

This stage identifies improvements to the business system.

It creates understanding about the values and beliefs of stakeholders and analyses them using a CATWOE analysis and use business activity modelling to define a conceptual; model of the business system as perceived by the stakeholder/

It is often known as gap analysis where the current as-is model is compared with th eto-be model developed at the end of consider perspectives (agreed business activity model. Gap Analysis considers where we are now and 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.

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

Step 4 - Evaluate the options

This stage examines the potential improvements identified so far and develops business options.

It evaluates business options for acceptability and feasibility where each option represents different scope and different risks.

Feasibility is examined from three perspectives:

  • Business
  • Technical
  • Financial

Cost benefit analysis is then used to summarise the costs and benefits of each option, abd options are presented to business manager for consideration.

Present the business case for these options to the decision-makers.

Step 5 - Define the requirements

Having agreed the way forward, this stage eliciting, analysing, analysis, and agreement of of the more detailed requirements.

It uses the requirements engineering approach to rigorously define each requirement.

It also models the IT aspects of the requirement using appropriate models, for example, a use case diagram.

Building models helps you uncover omissions errors, inconsistencies that need to be investigated.

Step 6 - Deliver the solution

Support the business staff in testing new business and IT change to ensure acceptability

Support the deployment of business and IT changes to ensure a smooth transtition.

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

  • Assess business readiness
  • Support transition planning
  • Support the adoption of the IT and business changes
  • Develop and deliver training in the new IT and business systems
  • Support the post-implementation reviews

Step 7 - Realise the benefits

Support the benefits and post-implementation reviews.

Support the realisation of the business benefits.

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.

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. 

Learn more

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