Business Planning and Monitoring

Business Planning and Monitoring is classified as one of the knowledge areas of Business analysts by IIBA in BABOK. Under this knowledge area the business analysts are assumed to perform certain planning activities which should be valid throughout the project life-cycle. The parameters which are defined and set during the planning phase should retain their validity throughout the project phases and it becomes the responsibility of the business analyst to perform the activities classified under this knowledge area precisely.

The activities which are marked under this knowledge area can be broadly classified as below:

  • stakeholder-managementIdentify the stakeholders: Stakeholder is defined as person or group that has stake and interest in the success of the project. Stakeholders are considered as the important aspect of the business and project life-cycle. The inputs from the stakeholders throughout the life-cycle are recommended. This is the task of the business analysts to identify the stakeholders and each one of them should be coordinated effectively as the project proceeds. These stakeholders review the requirements which was elicited, analysed and documented by the business analysts. The business analysts create a list of all the stakeholders associated in the project referring the available information on the type of the project and the skills required in the completion of the project.

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Gap Analysis

Business Analyst Techniques #4 GAP Analysis

Gap analysis is the technique used to define the difference between the current state and the proposed state of any business and its functionalities. This technique comes under Enterprise Analysis, knowledge area of business analysts. The technique revolves around two basic questions:

1. Where are we?

2. Where do we want to be?

Gap AnalysisUnder the first question, the present situation of the business is explained. It consists of the current factors like business attributes, competencies of the people involved in the business, performance factors etc. And the second question explains the future of these current factors. The delta between these two is known as gap and the technique which is used to fill this gap is known as Gap Analysis. It can also be defined as the process to identify the delta between the proposed and existing functionalities in any application. A gap analysis helps bridging that delta by highlighting which requirements are being met and which are not.

There is no formal method to conduct gap analysis and it can be performed in different perspectives like organization structure (HR processes), business processes, information technology etc. Gap analysis provides a foundation for measuring investment of time, money and human resources required to achieve a particular outcome.

In IT industry, Business Analysts or Project Managers have been given this task of performing gap analysis to identify the variation in the future processes or techniques and comparing it with the current ones. As I mentioned above there is no formal way to conduct this analysis, thus an excel-sheet can be used to draw tables with the details of the current and future processes and the delta found, if any. The same template can be embellished in different ways and many organizations have their set template for this process. The important points to be noted before performing any Gap-analysis can be listed as below:

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Root Cause Analysis

Business Analyst Techniques #3 Root Cause Analysis

RCADo you believe in getting into the roots of any problem or just happy with the work-around? Indeed root-cause analysis plays very important role in getting the exact reason of the problem. Before getting into roots, let’s understand the meaning of problem. An event which hinders the smooth flow of the process can be termed as an issue and recurrence of same issue is termed as Problem. Root cause analysis (RCA) is done to focus on the identifying and correcting the events which results into problem so that the same can be prevented in future.

RCA should be performed as soon as the defect or variance is detected to avoid major problems in future. Also if the process is delayed, there may be a possibility of information get missed. RCA is not the only responsibility of a business analysts but I believe all the stakeholders should be involved to understand the issue and its criticality. Involving stakeholders also help in getting away from the fictionalization or dilution of the facts. Thus it becomes the responsibility of the analysts to explain the purpose of the RCA to all the stakeholders so that they don’t feel hostile or defensive. We also should keep in mind that one corrective action is not valid for all types of the issues and this is also confirmed by the Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA).

There are certain techniques followed by different business analysts and organizations for root cause analysis.

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Is domain knowledge necessary for a BA

It’s always being a matter of discussion that a BA should possess domain expertise or the skills of a business analyst is enough to understand and work with any domain. It is widely accepted that experience in any domain, marks the BA out of the crowd and helps in easy recruitment by the recruiters but I have a different thought on it, I believe a BA with thorough understanding of knowledge areas can gain expertise in any domain.

DomainsDomain experience is hands-on business skills or domain knowledge acquired by working in a specialized industry such as automobile, banking, insurance, telecom and also IT. Some people believe that IT is not a specific domain for business analysts but I just want to mention here that most of the BAs under IIBA chapter are from the IT background and they qualify the knowledge areas mentioned in the BABOK. An IT business analyst thus should possess the IIBA qualified BA skills.

Domain knowledge develops with the time spend on the domain specific projects and its subjective to the type of project a BA is working with. So is it really important for a BA to stick to any specific domain for better career path or he can switch to different domains easily? I also believed like many others that switching to other domain is pretty much difficult and finding jobs in other domains is equal to impossible as mostly the recruiters are bound with the filter of domains and the resumes with domain experience percolates out only. But after doing some more study on the subject I came to know that this instead is not that much difficult and BAs can grow up in their endeavours even without having much domain experience.

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