SWOT Analysis

Business Analyst Techniques #1 SWOT Analysis

SWOT AnalysisThe SWOT analysis can be described as the foundation of developing your strategies and tactics which can later become a road-map for writing any business plan or case. SWOT is the strategic planning used to evaluate Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat involved in a project or business speculation. It is advisable to set the business objective after the SWOT analysis has been performed. This would allow achievable goals or objectives to be set for the organization.

  • Strengths: characteristics of the business, or project team that give it an advantage over others
  • Weaknesses (or Limitations): are characteristics that place the team at a disadvantage relative to others
  • Opportunities: external chances to improve performance (e.g. make greater profits) in the environment
  • Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project.

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Conflict Management

Conflict ManagementConflict may be defined as the struggle or difference or contest in the ideas between 2 different people or group or team with different understanding, belief, need, thoughts and goals. Conflicts are raised due to the change in the process, method, technique etc. Changes are normally not easily acceptable and in most of the times results into conflicts and in turn conflicts might escalate and results into non-productive results. Hence it is believed that managing or resolving these conflicts becomes the integral part for any high-performance team or group. The fact that conflict exists should not always be denied and it should be accepted that conflicts are good; if resolved effectively can results into personal and professional growth and development. Conflicts help us in becoming better communicators and improve relationships which in turn increase the business.

Managing these conflicts is the utmost important task for the organizations as it may result in getting benefits which were not expected earlier. If organizations can learn to manage this high probable event called conflict; the understanding of the team can be increased, people can increase self-knowledge and mutual respect can be developed remarkably. Continue reading

Program Management and Business Analysis

Program Management

As a business analyst, one should also be aware of project and program management. It helps a BA to justify the business case continuously throughout the life-cycle of the project. It is the matter of fact that there may be a case when a BA has to handle more than one project and then in that scenario it is always helpful to have an overview of program management.

The Program Manager has oversight of the purpose and status of all projects in a Program and can use this oversight to support project-level activity to ensure the overall program goals are likely to be met, possibly by providing a decision-making capacity that cannot be achieved at project level or by providing the Project Manager with a program perspective when required, or as a sounding board for ideas and approaches to solving project issues that have program impacts. According to the view that programs deliver outcomes but projects deliver outputs, program management is concerned with doing the right projects. The program management has been described as ‘playing chess’ and keeping the overview in mind, with the pieces to be used or sacrificed being the projects. In contrast, project management is about doing projects right. And also according to this view, successful projects deliver on time, to budget and to specification, whereas successful programs deliver long term improvements to an organization. Improvements are usually identified through benefits. An organization should select the group of programs that most take it towards its strategic aims while remaining within its capacity to deliver the changes. Continue reading

Business Process Management

BPM (Business Process Management)

BPMA business process is a “series or network of value-added activities, performed by their relevant roles or collaborators, to purposefully achieve the common business goal.” These processes are critical to any organization as they generate revenue and often represent a significant proportion of costs. As a managerial approach, (BPM) considers processes to be strategic assets of an organization that must be understood, managed, and improved to deliver value added products and services to clients.

Although the initial focus of BPM was on the automation of business processes with the use of information technology, it has since been extended to integrate human-driven processes in which human interaction takes place in series or parallel with the use of technology.

Because BPM allows organizations to abstract business process from technology infrastructure, it goes far beyond automating business processes (software) or solving business problems (suite). BPM enables business to respond to changing consumer, market, and regulatory demands faster than competitors – creating competitive advantage.

BPM tools allow the user to:

  • DMAICDefine – baseline the process or the process improvement
  • Measure – Simulate the change to the process.
  • Analyze – Compare the various simulations to determine an optimal improvement
  • Improve – Select and implement the improvement
  • Control – Deploy this implementation and by use of User defined dashboards monitor the improvement in real time and feed the performance information back into the simulation model in preparation for the next improvement iteration. Continue reading

Importance of Business understanding for business analysts

Understanding the business is one of the important qualities of a business analyst. You should know the essential background and foundation of the business you are working with. Having domain knowledge is advancement in the understanding in the field the organization is working. I don’t believe that BAs should be domain experts but if they have an overview of the domain, it can always be helpful in taking critical business decisions. So we can say in talking with business experts the communication skills are not the only requirement, you should also have domain knowledge in order to explain the business terms. You being finance expert would not be able to take decisions in telecom domain but that doesn’t mean you can’t understand the profit-loss definition. Business domain knowledge enables an analyst to be more efficient. While an analyst that is gifted with analysis skills and techniques might be able to do an adequate job without deep business domain knowledge, it’s reasonable to think that an analyst that does have a strong sense of business context should be able to more quickly determine the right questions to ask, and the right approach for handling business challenges.

A lower level to domain knowledge begets subject matter expertise. The type of work done decides the expertise you gain in any stream. A BA with the deep knowledge in any of the business domains and a specific area will be able to pinpoint the nitty-gritties of the business and help in taking the quick and reliable decisions. But I would say that doesn’t mean if you are a generalist you cannot take quick decisions. A debate on being specialist and generalist is never ending and thus depending on the organizational needs and requirements both are valuable. Continue reading

Personal skills and Business Analysis

Personal skills sometimes known as interpersonal or behavioral skills or people skills are most useful for a business analyst. First and foremost is the communication. A business analyst should be able to communicate with all the stakeholders in a way which is acceptable. There should not be much “I’s” in the communication when you are representing any team. It definitely portrays a wrong impression before the others. Communication is the only medium which helps in building rapport and relationships. It should not be half duplex. A good business analyst is one who is a good listener and accepts the criticism as well.   Learn to accept criticism as constructive and valued, rather than destructive and to be avoided at all cost.

A good BA looks at every problem as a new challenge and accepts it in a positive way. If the problem is so intense that there is situation of not implementing any optimal solution due to any of the reasons, a business analyst must be prepared to yield the least business benefit out of it. He should know how to make out the most from the least.

A BA should have problem solving skill. I believe instead of giving prompt responses at the time of critical situations a BA should check out for all the options available and then replies with the most appropriate one. The impact should not be fast at the time of critical decisions. A good listener can develop this kind of skill as he can analyze all the explained solutions. Preparing documents or listing down the necessary actions is another option which can help in providing solutions or develop problem solving skills. I would recommend immediately documenting thoughts that could be stored in short term memory. Continue reading

Introduction to business analysis

Success is not achieved by hard-work but by perseverance.

Over the past several years, one job title which has emerged out as the most prevalent is Business Analyst. When I started my career in 2007, I had a mindset that the business analyst must be those people who are the owners of any business, but as the years rolled and as I became more familiar with the IT industry, I came to know more about the business analysts and the task they perform.

business analysisOne should understand that the business analysts are not by birth but by the process. If I refer IIBA BABOK to explain business analyst, the definition would be like, “A business analyst works as a liaison among stakeholders in order to elicit, analyze, communicate and validate requirements for changes to business processes, policies and information systems”.

But business analyst is not only bound to this definition. He is the one who has lot more things to do well in time with quality. While most organizations have the designation “Business Analysis” and hire a high-profile “Business Analysts” to fulfill the demands but there is always a lack of clarity about the work should be given to business analysts. There are always many questions in the mind like, who are business analysts? What is business analysis? What do business analysts do? What should be the minimum qualification to be a BA? Etc.

In the glimpse of these unclear questions organizations are always in a dilemma in order to whom to hire as a business analyst. Business analyst’s posts can be filled by former product user, a subject matter expert (SME) or a senior developer involved in developing the product, a PM who has always been there to understand the requirement or a person having only business background having limited computer skills. But there are always many other dedicated IT professionals who worked as analysts for any product. If I give my example, I have been given a role of Business Analysts after gaining experience in Business Process Management application. This application was new to our organization and thus I had a lot of scope to develop my business analysts’ skills in order to understand the functionality of the application and the tool on which the application was built. One thing which I believe is most of the times is unacknowledged when we talk about BA and i.e. “customer service”. A BA is not just a liaison between the stakeholders but a bridge to support the customers. Customer satisfaction is one thing which a BA should develop in him.  Customer service itself is a broad area which varies from conflict management, stakeholder management, building rapport before the stakeholders and not the least building comfortable environment for all the members to perform. Continue reading