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185 Business Analysis Techniques: The Complete List (2020)

by Joe Newbert · Updated on Nov 26, 2020

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As a business analyst you need a toolbox chock-a-block with go-to business analysis techniques.

But—given the wide-range of techniques available and that not every one will be useful for each time—you also need the knowledge, skills and abilities to be able to use them as and when appropriate.

Typically techniques are most relevant during a specific stage of the business analysis process, but many techniques can be also utilised across the different stages for different purposes, so it is important to bear the real-life context in mind when you are selecting the business analysis technique’s to use.

Here is the complete list of business analysis techniques at your disposal:

Environment Analysis

1. Boston Box: used to assess an organisation’s products and services according to their market share and their market growth prospects.

Variants/Aliases: Boston Consulting Group Matrix, BCG Matrix, Growth Share Matrix

2. PESTLE Analysis: provides a framework for investigating and analysing the external environment for an organisation, when attempting to identify the sources of change: Political, Economical, Socio-cultural, Technological, Legal, Environmental.

You can find a worked example of PESTLE and the City of Cape Town water crisis

Variants/Aliases: PEST, PESTEL, PESTLIED and STEEPLE or PESTLEE

3. Porter's Five Forces Framework: examines the business domain or industry within which an organisation operates, and identifies the business pressures that may be brought to bear upon that organisation.

4. Resource Audit: is used to analyse key areas of internal capability in order to identify the resources that will enable business change and those that will undermine or prevent such efforts.

Variants/Aliases: Internal Resource Audit

5. VMOST Analysis: analyses what an organisation has set out to achieve (the vision, mission and objectives) and how it aims to achieve this (the strategy and tactics).

Variants/Aliases: MOST Analysis

Strategy Analysis

6. Ansoff's Matrix: provides a set of strategic alternatives that may be considered by organisations when defining their business strategy for new and existing markets.

Variants/Aliases: Ansoff’s Box, Product/Market Expansion Grid

7. Balanced Scorecard: a framework of performance measures that would support the achievement of the vision for an organisation, and the execution of its business strategy.

Variants/Aliases: Balanced Business Scorecard

8. Critical Success Factors (CSFs): are the areas of performance that the organisation considers vital to its success.

9. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): are related to the CSFs, and define the specific areas to be monitored in order to determine whether the required level of performance has been achieved.

10. McKinsey 7-S Model: defines the areas of an organisation that need to be in alignment if it is to operate effectively. The model is used to identify areas that need to change when implementing a business strategy, and areas that will be affected by proposed business changes.

11. SWOT Analysis: is used to consolidate the results from the external and internal business environment analysis.

12. TOWS Analysis: is an extension of the SWOT Analysis, by going further in looking to match up the Strengths with Opportunities and the Threats with Weaknesses.

Investigation Techniques

14. Active Listening: paraphrasing what you heard during a conversation to confirm/clarify understanding.

16. Document Analysis: is the systematic examination of data sources, usually forms, but also screen layouts and reports if there is an existing system, to analyse the data requirements of a proposed computerised information system.

17. Ethnographic Study: means spending an extended period of time within a culture in order to understand how it works, what it does, how it is organised, what behaviours are accepted and expected, where power lies and so forth.

Variants/Aliases: Ethnography, Contextual Inquiry

18. Focus Group: brings together a group of people with a common interest or area of understanding to discuss a topic.

19. Interview: is a fact-finding, investigation or elicitation technique, usually, a one-to-one discussion with stakeholders.

20. Narrative Parse:

21. Observation: is going to see people at work, for yourself, usually in their actual work environment, to discover information related to the requirements.

Variants/Aliases: Structured Observation, STROBE, Shadowing, Protocol Analysis

22. Protocol Analysis

23. Record Searching

24. Repertory Grid

15. Sampling: is used to obtain quantitative data–particularly data about how people spend their time.

Variants/Aliases: Activity Sampling, Work Measurement and Record Sampling

25. Shadowing: is a form of extended observation (though not as extended as an ethnographic study, Technique 22) to gain a better insight into how people do their jobs and what difficulties and challenges they face.

26. Special Purpose Record

27. Survey

28. Workshop: a gathering of a group of stakeholders in a project to collaborate and achieve a specific outcome.

Variants/Aliases: Facilitated Workshop, Joint Requirements Planning Workshop,  IBM’s Joint Application Development Workshop™

Facilitation Techniques

29. Assumption Reversal: 

30. Brainstorming: It involves simply announcing a topic or posing a question, and inviting participants to shout out ideas.

31. Brainwriting

32. Collaborative Games

33. Columns and Clusters

34. Greenfield Site

35. Post-It Exercise

36. Round-Robin Discussion

37. Talking Wall

38. Transporter

Problem Definition

39. 5 Whys

Variants/Aliases: Five Whys, Stepwise Refinement.

40. Brown Cow Model

41. Context Diagram: shows a proposed (or existing) IT system in relation to the wider world–to the people and other systems with which it must interface.

42. De Bono's Six Thinking Hats

43. Fishbone Diagram: provide a highly visual way of showing how some undesirable effect or problem (for example, poor system availability) is related to its causes.

Variants/Aliases: Herringbone diagram, Ishikawa Diagram, Cause and Effect Diagram

44. Mind Map: a visual representation of a set of ideas, words, things or tasks and the relationships between them.

Variants/Aliases: Bubble Maps, Semantic Networks, Webs, Concept Maps

45. Problem Solving Model

46. Problem Statement

47. Rich Picture

48. Root Cause Analysis

Business Modelling

49. Business Activity Modelling: presents a view of the high-level business activities that we would expect to see in an organisation that espouses the world view captured in the stakeholder perspective (CATWOE).

Variants/Aliases: BAM, Conceptual Model, Logical Activity Model

50. Business Model Canvas: describes the rationale of how an organisation creates, manages and delivers value.

51. Capability Modelling: provides a representation, at a high level of abstraction, of what an organisation needs to do in order to deliver value to the recipients of its products and services.

52. Organisation Diagram: The organisation diagram pulls together the external business environment and the internal value chain, and provides a view of the high-level processes and the forces that impinge upon the successful delivery of the value chain.

53. Value Chain Analysis: It shows the different organisational activities that are grouped together to deliver value to customers.

54. Value Proposition: are the customer perspectives with regard to an organisation. They summarise why customers choose to work with certain organisations, and what the customers want from each of them. 

55. Value Stream Mapping: this technique focuses on the way different stakeholder groups perceive value and models the key stages of activity needed to deliver this value even if this involves a number of organisations working together in practice.

User Role Modelling

56. Business Use Case Model: models a high level view of an organisation, division or business system to represent the services that an organisation or business system needs to provide.

Variants/Aliases: Business Use Case Description, Business Use Case Diagram

57. Customer Journey Map

58. Empathy Map

59. Persona Analysis

143. Use Case Diagram

Gap Analysis

60. 'As Is' and To-Be' Comparison

61. Feature Evaluation

62. Gap Analysis Framework: is concerned with examining the two views of a business situation – that of the situation as it exists and that of the conceptual, desired situation – in order to identify the differences between them.

63. Leavitt's Diamond: a useful framework for analysing changes and their implications and helps with impact analysis for proposed change initiatives.

64. POPIT Model: sets out the four key areas to be considered when identifying the changes that need to be made to an organisation.

Variants/Aliases: Four-View Model

65. Process Redesign Patterns

Feasibility Assessment

66. Feasibility Analysis: assessing the feasibility of each option, considering three dimensions: business, technical and financial.

68. Force-field Analysis: examines those forces within or outside an organisation that will tend towards the acceptance of a proposed option, and those that will tend towards its rejection.

69. Options Identification: 

involves getting as comprehensive a list as possible of the options available, without eliminating any too early (before they have been properly considered).

70. Shortlist Options

Business Case Preparation

73. Cost Benefit Analysis: an investigation into the costs of taking a particular course of action and the benefits of doing so.

Variants/Aliases: CBA, Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) 

74. Impact Analysis: is the identification and presentation of those effects of a potential project or other business decision that need to be considered as part of the decision as to whether or not the investment should be authorised.

75. Investment Appraisal: is the process of comparing the financial benefits expected to flow from a proposal or project with the predicted costs, to see if it is worth undertaking.

Variants/Aliases: Payback Analysis, Payback Period, Breakeven Analysis, Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

76. Risk Analysis

77. Vendor Assessment

Business Communication

13. ‘4As’ communication model: is used to plan and develop presentations. The technique comprises four elements: aim, audience, arrangement and appearance.

Project Planning

78. Daily Stand-up: Each day at the same time, the team meets so as to bring everyone up to date on the information that is vital for coordination. According to the Agile Alliance, The daily meeting is structured around some variant of the following three questions:

  • What have you completed since the last meeting?
  • What do you plan to complete by the next meeting?
  • What is getting in your way?

79. Epic

Variants/Aliases: Geoffrey Moore model Crossing the Chasm

80. Estimation

81. Functional Decomposition

82. Gantt Chart

83. Kanban Board

84. Lesson Learned

85. MoSCoW Prioritisation: an approach to prioritisation of particular use when time-boxes are fixed and when it is possible to deliver products incrementally rather than in a one-off release covering everything.

86. Newbert's Business Analysis Triangle

87. OSCAR:

Variants/Aliases: BOSCARD (Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Assumptions, Risks and Deliverables)

88. Planning Poker

89. Product Backlog: in its simplest form is a list of requirements showing the specific items in order to be worked on by a development team.

Variants/Aliases: Solution Backlog

90. RAID Analysis

91. Retrospective

92. Scope Modelling 

93. SMART Criteria

94. Sprint

Variants/Aliases: Iteration

95. Time-Boxing

96. Triple Constraints

Variants/Aliases: Project Management Iron Triangle

Stakeholder Management

97. Background Research: locating and examining existing documentation to identify stakeholders.

Variants/Aliases: Background Reading, Report Analysis

98. CATWOE Analysis: unpacks what the stakeholders value and the impact this will have on the direction of the project.

Variants/Aliases: VOCATE, PARADE

99. Cynefin: recognises a series of (business) contexts within which decisions must be taken, change implemented and leadership exercised.

Variants/Aliases: Heimat, Sensemaking

100. Power/Interest Grid: a two-dimensional matrix on which stakeholders are plotted to categorises their power/interest.

Variants/Aliases: Influence/Interest Grid, P/I Grid, Power/Impact Grid.

101. Principled Negotiation

102. RASCI Chart: record and assess the stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities with regard to a business problem, a business process or a task.

Variants/Aliases: RACI, ARCI

103. Root Definition: This consists of the six CATWOE elements, assembled into a paragraph that encapsulates the stakeholder’s perspective.

104. Social Network Analysis: a diagram that shows the inter-relationships between the people.

Variants/Aliases: Network Analysis, Sociometry

105. Stakeholder Management Planning: provides a means of capturing all of the information, and setting out the actions to be taken with regard to each stakeholder.

106. Stakeholder Map: 

107. Stakeholder Nomination

108. Stakeholder Wheel: defines the groups within which we need to look for stakeholders, and includes both internal and external ones.

109. Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

110. World View Analysis

Process Analysis

111. Activity Diagram: defines processes and procedures that consist of several steps and, in particular, involve lots of decisions and alternative paths.

Variants/Aliases: Flowchart

112. Business Event Analysis: is concerned with examining a business system or an area of activity in order to identify the events the organisation needs to handle.

Variants/Aliases: Business Process Triggers, System Event Analysis

113. Business Process Modelling: shows the key elements of a business process: event, tasks, actors, sequence, decisions, alternative paths, timeline, endpoint, outcomes.

There are numerous approaches to business process modelling, and each has its own notation set.

Variants/Aliases: Swimlane Diagram, Process Map, Workflow Model, Workflow Diagram

114. Business Rules Analysis: understanding the impact of the rules and whether or not they are open to discussion or challenge.

Variants/Aliases: Constraints Analysis

115. Data Flow Diagram

116. Decision Table: provides a clear and unambiguous means of documenting conditions and the resultant actions to be taken.

117. Decision Tree:  shows a set of conditions that may be combined in different ways in order to determine the required courses of action. 

118. DMAIC

119. Human Performance Analysis

120. Process Redesign Patterns: examine business processes for improvement, providing approaches that may be followed and helping to identify aspects likely to be problematic.

Variants/Aliases: Business Process Improvement Patterns/Business Process Engineering (BPE).

121. SIPOC

122. Task Analysis

Requirements Elicitation

123. Data Mining

124. Hothousing: is an intense face-to- face workshops that bring together people from the IT development and delivery communities along with their customers, business partners and key users.

125. Interface Analysis

126. Prototyping

127. Scenario Analysis

128. Storyboarding

129. User Analysis

130. UX Diagram

131. Wireframing

Requirements Analysis

132. Categorisation

133. CRUD Matrix: cross references functions (process/use cases) with data (entities/classes) these to each other and showing the specific interactions (create, read updates and delete) between them.

134. Necessity, Feasibility, Conflict Resolution

135. Quality Criteria

136. Requirements Organisation

Requirements Documentation

137. Data Dictionary

138. Non-functional Requirements Analysis

139. Requirements Catalogue

140. Roles and Permissions Matrix

141. Use Case Descriptions

142. User Story

Data Modelling

143. Entity Relationship Modelling: a conceptual representation of the main data items (entities) used within an organisation and/or to be held in a computer system, and of the business rules that govern the relationships between these entities.

Variants/Aliases: Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD), Logical Data Model (LDM).

144. Class Modelling: shows the data to be held within a system and the way the various data items are connected with each other.

Variants/Aliases: Object Class Modelling

145. Data Definition

146. Domain Definition

Behavioural Modelling

147. Sequence Diagram

148. State Chart

149. State Machine Diagrams

Requirements Validation

150. Quality Characteristics

151. Reviews / Walkthroughs

Requirements Management

152. Change Control

153. Traceability Matrix

154. Version Control

Test Analysis

155. Acceptance Criteria Definition: provides a clear, quantifiable and measurable definition of what is required from the requirement in terms of expected results.

Variants/Aliases: Fit Criteria, Test Completion Criteria

156. Test Script

157. Test Case

158. User Acceptance Scenario

Training and Development

159. Active Summaries

160. Case Studies

161. Demonstration

162. Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles

163. Participant Control

164. Question Cards

165. Quizzes

166. Q & A Sessions

167. Role-playing

168. Small Group Discussions

169. Training Needs Analysis

Implementation Management

170. Rollout Planning

Change Management

171. Concerns-Based Adoption Model

172. Conscious Competence Model: considers the process of skill acquisition and the way people learn, and the challenges they may experience whilst doing so.

173. Cultural Analysis: considers the less tangible cultural characteristics that differentiate organisations from one other.

Variants/Aliases: Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Types, Charles Handy's Organisation Cultures, Geert Hofstede's Dimensions of Culture

175. Kotter's Approach To Change: a defined framework which forms the basis for many of the key aspects of any successful change.

176. Kurt Lewin's Model Of Organisational Change: a simple model to demonstrate a process for ensuring successful change.

177. Lean Change

174. Learning Cycle: the stages that people go through in learning a new skill which provides useful insights into the stages that the users of changed processes and systems go through, and into the differing ways in which they may need to be supported through changes.

Variants/Aliases: Kolb Cycle, Learning Styles

178. Outcome Frame: is a planning tool to help focus on the outcome and, as a result, helps us to understand which resources we require in pursuit of the outcome.

Variants/Aliases: Outcome Orientation, Outcome Thinking

179. Prosci ADKAR Model

180. SARAH Model: reflects the stages/reactions people go through, from their initial dismay on learning about the change to re-establishment of optimism once they begin to see the possibilities the change brings.

Benefits Management

181. Benefits Categorisation: an extension to the tangible and intangible, that characterises benefits as either financial, quantifiable, measurable, observable.

Variants/Aliases: Benefits Classification

182. Benefits Dependency Framework: a route-map towards the achievement of the business benefits.

Variants/Aliases: Benefits Map

183. Benefits Realisation Approach: the set of processes involved in finding out whether the benefits have been achieved – or are likely to be – and taking further actions required if they have not.

Variants/Aliases: Benefits Review

183. Benefits Timeline Chart: a bar chart which shows the deadlines by which the various changes and benefits should be attained.

185. CPPOLDAT: is a technique used for analysing the impact of business changes.

Variants/Aliases: POLDAT

Whether you're planning your business analysis approach, are in need some inspiration to get your work flowing, or are keen to try your hand at something new, refer back to these business analysis techniques to help shape your business change project and grow your business analyst repertoire.

Which is your most valuable business analysis technique and what is it that you love/value about it? Do you have a particular go-to business analysis technique that’s not included on the list? Let us know by posting a comment below.

  • Silungile says:

    Thank you for the list, will add to my Business Analysis techniques stash 🙂

    • Joe Newbert says:

      Fantastic to hear Silungile – keep that stash of techniques growing!

  • Mthokozisi says:

    Great list, I will add to my Inventory.

  • Mayur Naik says:

    This is really great and really useful. Thanks for sharing with all the rest of the good material you have here. Will you be enriching each like you have for the BAM and CATWOE with hyperlinks?

    • Joe Newbert says:

      Hey Mayur – that’s nice of you to say so, we’re glad it’s appreciated! Our intention is to enrich this list, though this will be over time as we find gaps to do so – you can always subscribe to our newsletter to get notified about our monthly content.

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