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:
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
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.
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
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™
29. Assumption Reversal:
30. Brainstorming: It involves simply announcing a topic or posing a question, and inviting participants to shout out ideas.
32. Collaborative Games
33. Columns and Clusters
34. Greenfield Site
35. Post-It Exercise
36. Round-Robin Discussion
37. Talking Wall
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
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
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
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
13. ‘4As’ communication model: is used to plan and develop presentations. The technique comprises four elements: aim, audience, arrangement and appearance.
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:
Variants/Aliases: Geoffrey Moore model Crossing the Chasm
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
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
92. Scope Modelling
93. SMART Criteria
96. Triple Constraints
Variants/Aliases: Project Management Iron Triangle
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
111. Activity Diagram: defines processes and procedures that consist of several steps and, in particular, involve lots of decisions and alternative paths.
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.
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).
122. Task Analysis
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
127. Scenario Analysis
129. User Analysis
130. UX Diagram
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
137. Data Dictionary
138. Non-functional Requirements Analysis
139. Requirements Catalogue
140. Roles and Permissions Matrix
141. Use Case Descriptions
142. User Story
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
147. Sequence Diagram
148. State Chart
149. State Machine Diagrams
150. Quality Characteristics
151. Reviews / Walkthroughs
152. Change Control
153. Traceability Matrix
154. Version Control
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
162. Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles
163. Participant Control
164. Question Cards
166. Q & A Sessions
168. Small Group Discussions
169. Training Needs Analysis
170. Rollout Planning
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.
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.
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.