The primary responsibility of a business analyst is to elicit requirements and make sure that the requirements fulfills the business objectives. In this pursuit it essential that the business analyst should know the best practices and the techniques that are to be used along the way.
As we have seen throughout our website, the responsibilities of a business analyst are dictated by the stage the project is in and so does the techniques to be used. Each of the technique described could be used in one/many stages of the project and their purpose changes based on the stage they are being used in.
Below, you will find the major business analysis techniques along with their description, implementation and the project’s stage it’s used in.
An interview is a systematic way to get information out of a person/group of people through a formal or informal conversation.
The interviewer asks direct or indirect questions from the participant to elicit information and mold the questions as open or close ended to get the information he wants. In case of many participants, all of them should be interviewed to get all the details. He then documents and catalogs the information in a structured format.
This technique is widely used throughout the project life cycle and primarily in initiating, requirement gathering and monitoring and controlling phases.
2. SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis (alternatively SWOT matrix) is a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project or in a business venture.
SWOT can be used in exploring new solutions, revise plans and brainstorming. The SWOT framework helps in deciding whether a business objective is attainable and thus set up specific goals and milestone ta achieve that objective.
This technique is used in initiating and planning phase.
3. Facilitated workshops
A Facilitated workshop is a conversation amongst the carefully selected stakeholders and subject matter experts and is led by an experienced and neutral facilitator.
These workshops aids in requirement gathering, helps generate new ideas and reach an agreement about a discussion element/solution.
This technique is used in requirement gathering and planning phase.
Brainstorming is a group/individual technique aimed at finding a solution to a specific problem by gathering ideas from different people/sources.
Brainstorming is an informal and creative technique and the ideas generated through this technique are later reviewed and prioritized for implementation.
This technique is used in planning and executing phase.
Observation involves closely monitoring and assessing a process or an individual.
This technique is useful when there is a modification of the existing process and the observer watches the way of work closely. The observation might be active or passive and the observer prepares a documentation. Additionally, the observer might himself perform some hands on activity to get a better understanding of the process.
This technique is used in initiating and requirement gathering phase.
A prototype or mockup is an initial version of a product and gives a visual depiction of the end product.
Prototype are gradually iterated and helps the stakeholders visualize and ‘see’ the product. They also contribute in user interaction and getting feedback about the system. Prototypes are widely used to depict data/process navigation, requirements validation and scenario depictions.
This technique is used in requirement gathering, executing and testing phase.
7. Use cases
A use case is a methodology used to identify, clarify and document the business and system requirements.
A use case defines interaction between ‘actors’ and ‘system’ to attain a particular goal. A use case contains: Actors, preconditions, flow of events, post conditions, relationships and alternate/exceptional flows. Also, use case diagram, activity diagram, sequence diagram are often used to visualize a use case.
Use cases are used in planning, executing and testing phase.
8. Root Cause Analysis
Root cause analysis involves finding out the underlying source of the problem.
Root cause analysis is done to correct the main cause of a problem and prevent is re-occurrence, rather than simply treating the problem’s symptoms. The methods to find the root causes are fish-bone diagram (or cause and effect diagram) and Five whys.
Root cause analysis are used in executing and monitoring and controlling phase.
All the above defined techniques could either be used separately or in conjunction with each other and are widely used by business analysts to effectively conduct business analysis.
Is there any other technique you have used and found it to be more effective? we are eager to learn more about it. Let us know by commenting below.