Category Archives: Business Analysis

BA - choice

Business Analysis – By Choice

BA - career choiceDo you aspire to be a business analyst?

Do you think you have taken enough steps but still not got right opportunity?

Have you prepared yourself to grow in the field of business analysis?

Have you thought of other opportunities which better fit your goals?

These are some of those important questions which should be answered before a career plan for a business analyst is followed. Believe me there are certain scenarios where after working for many years people don’t find relevant profiles and this is only because the right approach of growing was not followed. Once you have decided becoming a business analyst, you need to do some introspection to prove your skills to nobody else but to yourself.

With the growth of technologies and techniques, every sector is now growing and the intellect of the people working in these sectors is increasing. With the involvement and growth of outsourcing industry the platter is always full with different ideas and a volunteer is needed to segregate the most correct ones (as no idea is right or wrong till the brainstorming is done on the same). This need of having someone skilled professional is catered by business analysts. Business analysts act as a liaison between different stakeholders and maintain the spirit of collaboration by managing the ideas and requirements. They need to take care of every idea pitched during different sessions of elicitation and document the most correct ones in understandable format. Business analysis is not inbuilt ability and certainly it can be taught and learned. There are different knowledge areas for business analysis which can be learned with course of time but I firmly believe that self-evaluation is needed before stepping into the career of a business analyst. Recognize your skills and groom them to grow in the field of business analysis instead of dying like an elephant whose hind leg is tied with a chain since he was an infant and he could not recognize his strength. Think like that golden eagle which despite of grown with the chickens recognized its strength and have flown in the sky.

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Knowledge Areas of BA

Business Analysis is all about tasks and techniques followed to qualify the business needs and finding the business solution. The solution may include the system development, process development or improvement and change in the organizational structure. It is about the process to complete the tasks with quality and those who follow these processes are known as business analysts. In some organizations, these business analysts are referred as system analysts, SME (subject matter experts), business process analysts, business system analysts and many more.

The tasks followed by business analyst require specific knowledge areas and a business analyst should focus on them while performing the activities. Many writers have defined these knowledge areas by different names and in different formats. BABOK (Business analysis body of Knowledge) has also defined these knowledge areas which group together related tasks and techniques.

Knowledge areas define the set of techniques which a BA should understand and try to practise during the routine activities. There is no arrangement for these knowledge areas and the tasks from all these knowledge areas can be performed in rapid succession depending on the pertinent inputs from the business owners.

As per BABOK, the list of these knowledge areas (KA) is as below:

  1. Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
  2. Requirements Elicitation
  3. Requirements Management and Communication
  4. Enterprise Analysis
  5. Requirements Analysis
  6. Solution Assessment and Validation
  7. Underlying Competencies

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Roles and Responsibilities of a BA

Over the last few decades the role of Business analysts has been evolved from just eliciting, managing or documenting the requirements to gap analysis, risk analysis, strategy and enterprise analysis and many more. The BA is now more prominent and has developed himself in certain other areas where he can utilize his skills in several other fields which are important for the successful completion of the project and to avoid any zany decisions which may lead to the delay in the completion of the project.

The roles and responsibilities of a BA is quite wide and scattered. A BA has to work with different teams and act as a liaison among different stakeholders to mitigate any ambiguity in the requirements. On one hand a BA works with the business owners to pull out exact requirements and on the other he helps the development team to grasp the requirement completely.

The area of BA’s work is vast and challenging. Depending on the organization, the responsibilities can be varied. In some organizations a business analyst is more inclined towards technical details and has very less business knowledge, on the other hand there are some organizations which hire Business analysts with very strong hold on business understanding. I believe a successful business analyst is one who can not only see “the larger picture” of the business scope but also able to understand the technical and architectural catalysts.

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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

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