What is business analysis anyway?

In the beginning (why?)

A good place to start is where a business analyst is first called upon. The business always has to justify any expenditure in changing the business by understanding the cost and demonstrating the value or benefit that the desired change supplies - this is supplied by the Business Case.

An early decision is made at this point whether to proceed - if the cost outweighs the benefit, clearly there is no point in proceeding. Of course, at this stage, the costs aren’t really that well understood so a more detailed investigation is required.

This comes in the form of a Feasibility Study which allows the business to invest a relatively modest sum to provide more reliable costs.

There are many other aspects to the feasibility study regarding, for example, the impact on the organisation of the proposed change and how it would be introduced.

The Study will make a recommendation on whether to proceed and, if so, how to proceed with the proposed change. The appropriate parties within the business (typically at executive level) will decide whether to proceed based on this information.

The middle (let’s do it)

Once the project has been authorised to proceed then some nuts and bolts work is required. There will be some planning to decide how to proceed with the project.

The project manager would have been appointed by this time and he will have overall responsibility for delivering the project. He will look to the business analyst (or lead business analyst) to provide the plan and approach on how to gather the requirements, document them and have them agreed with the stakeholders.

The initial task for the business analyst is to create a requirements plan which will determine the team required, the stakeholders , other involved parties and the approach to be taken.

The business analyst’s responsibility though the remainder of the project is often referred to as requirements engineering.

In creating the plan, it is necessary to understand the parties involved in the business who have an interest in the project whether directly or indirectly. They may have an interest because:

  • their day job will be impacted - maybe it will make them more productive
  • they are responsible for managing cost and the ultimate success of the project - usually the business or executive sponsor
  • they are managing the organisation risk with regard to regulatory compliance
  • they will have to support the business change once the project has completed


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