Creating a Business Analysis Model
Business analysis is the first and most important step that comes before a project is initiated. As projects exist to create a product, service, or drive desired results, business analysis helps stakeholders to understand and define solutions that will deliver maximum value for specific business objectives. This essentially means that the roles of business analysts extend beyond data analysis to product development and testing in the project implementation process. Product testing helps business analysts to gather feedback so that a product is developed and delivered in line with the end-user requirements and at the right time.
A crucial part of business analysis is the creation of a business analysis model. A good visual model helps bring all stakeholders to a common understanding of complex product ideas or otherwise finer details in a large project.
What is a business analysis model?
A business analysis model is a visualization the outlines and strategies employed for a system, project, or process to be designed and implemented. Modeling is a crucial part of a product/service lifecycle as it facilitates the streamlining of processes and compliance with regulations.
A good business analysis model should highlight the following:
- Stakeholders, roles, and relationships
- Functional and non-functional requirements for the solution
- Justification for the solution
- Flow/sequence of activities and events
Types of business analysis models
Visual business analysis models are useful for relaying project information in a simplified and easily understood manner. Here are seven common models used by business analysts to drive projects/development processes and make informed decisions.
An activity diagram is a type of UML (Unified Modeling Language) behavioral diagram that visualizes the flow of processes in a system. Activity diagrams are commonly used to map business procedures and processes for instance money withdrawal in a payment system.
- Data flow diagram
A data flow model visualizes the step-by-step flow of information through a system or process right from the point of input, preprocessing, storage, analysis, and other subprocesses, through to the output.
- Entity-relationship diagram
An entity-relationship (ER) diagram outlines the relationships between different entities in a business IT system. These entities could be objects, people, concepts, events, places, etc. ER diagrams will include the entities, their attributes, and relationships between the entities. ER diagrams are commonly used to visualize the relationships between datasets in a database system.
- Organizational charts
An organizational chart visualizes the hierarchy of a business or department. It shows the accountability structure of employees in the organization. Organization charts are useful in planning and also help employees understand the organization of the business.
- MOST Analysis model
MOST is an acronym that stands for Mission, Objectives, Strategy, and Tactics. The MOST analysis is used for planning and organizing business projects and development activities so that they are aligned with overall business goals.
- SWOT analysis model
A SWOT analysis is usually undertaken to establish the business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Essentially SWOT analysis identifies factors both internal and external affecting the business hence facilitating better decision-making.
- Product roadmap model
Simply put, the product roadmap is an overview of a product’s development and evolution in the short and long term. It indicates all the details of a product including its features, time, resources, tools, and technologies required to develop and launch it. Also explains its goals and applications to highlight its value to the user.
How To Create a Business Analysis Model
The importance of a business analysis model cannot be underestimated. Learning how to create the right model for a specific use case highlights the competence of a business analyst.
Step 1 – Get to know
A crucial step for business analysts who intend to drive results within stipulated timelines is to gather background information on the project. One of the biggest causes of a drag in projects is ambiguity. Thus, it makes sense to first get the drift of the project details including its goals and objectives, scope, requirements, and others to determine the direction that the project will take.
Step 2 – Who are the stakeholders?
Stakeholders should be engaged in the project right from its planning, initiation, to implementation. Thus it is prudent to identify the key stakeholders for streamlined communication and because their input will be needed when coming up with requirements. Stakeholders could include:
- Business owners
- Business partners
- Customers and end-users
Step 3 – What are the primary business objectives
The solution being developed answers to a specific business problem. Therefore, without identifying the goals and objectives for the solution, it will be harder and time-consuming to keep the product development lifecycle focused on delivering value for the problem for which it was initiated.
A SWOT and SMART analysis come in handy at this point.
Step 4 – Defining the scope
With background information gathered, stakeholders identified, and the objectives established, it is time to define the scope. The scope documents the boundaries and deliverables in a statement of scope which should detail:
- The deliverables
- Participants and their roles
- Goals and objectives
- Measure of success
In the event that it is a product scope, the statement should detail the features and functions of the product or service being developed.
Step 5 – Business analysis plan
While the scope statement guides and helps participants stick to the vision of a project, the business analysis plan provides clarity specifically for the business analysis requirements of the project. It provides details about:
- Business analysis deliverables
- Business analysis scope, stakeholders, and their roles within the broader project scope
- Completion timelines for business analysis deliverables
Step 6 – Requirements defining and approval
Prior to the project being handed over to the development team for implementation, it requires approval by the business owners and other stakeholders. At this point, the role of the business analyst is to translate the features of the solution into detailed requirements that can be implemented by the development team.
For this reason, requirements should not only be detailed but also clear, actionable, and defined from the perspective of the end-user.
Step 7 – Supporting the technical implementation
The business analyst may not be involved with developing the solution but he/she can be of help in deploying the solution. This is done by aligning the solution’s design to its requirements, updating requirements, assisting with requirement changes, and facilitating requirements acceptance.
Step 8 – Implementing the solution
Implementation is among the final phases of the solution in the SDLC. The BA is technically the bridge between the business and the development team. The role of the BA at this point is to ensure that the solution design aligns with the requirements, support the implementation of the solution in the business, and gather feedback from the development team.
The goal of this step is to ensure that end-users are trained on the processes of the solution and that the solution delivers the intended value to the business.
Step 9 – How much value does the solution deliver?
This is one of the most important stages in business analysis as it checks whether the solution developed delivers the desired value. If the answer is yes, it means the project was successful. Otherwise, the BA may initiate sub-projects to modify the solution to align with the business objectives. The project can be evaluated based on the deliverables, timelines, and primary business objectives.
The business analyst plays an important role in the success of a project. The BA should be in constant communication with the product or business owners and the development team throughout the development lifecycle providing feedback and facilitating requirements changes where applicable.