So which is the best analysis method?

Some of us like to do things differently

As the digital space pervades more and more of business, decision makers are taking more of an interest in analysis. There are sufficient battle scars amongst the leaders of today who have suffered from software projects run by developers that they have got over the “do we really need the expense of analysis?” That is the good news.

The next step is of course to ensure that analysis is done correctly, and again there are battle scars from initiatives that have not gone to plan. I worked with a regional Council that was looking for a new IT service management system. They had an analyst develop a large number of requirements from innumerable workshops and put out a tender. Not a single vendor responded!

The key to successful analysis is to align the analysis technique to the specific project. The benchmark international standard for business analysis is managed by the International Institute for Business Analysis. They produce the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) Guide and have further developed a series of approaches in their specialisations – Business data analytics, Cybersecurity, Agile and Product ownership.

Having a global standard to follow and people who are certified certainly improves the chances of success for any initiative. The most critical step however is to document how you will do your analysis – the Requirements Management Plan, sometimes integrated with the overall Project Plan.

The key components of a Requirements Management Plan are:

  • High level approach – this aligns the approach with stakeholder expectations and with good practice. It details how current state will be recorded and analysed and how to go about developing a future state. It needs to align analysis with overall project methods such as agile, waterfall or procurement related.
  • Stakeholder engagement – how does the project engage with stakeholders and what are the expectations on both sides?
  • Process elicitation and documentation – what standards are being used? Do we include user stories and personas? What level of detail is being documented?
  • Requirements lifecycle management – how are the requirements being classified and managed through the lifecycle of the project?

Even with all this in place, getting analysis right is challenging. You need good people who can interact effectively, bring sufficient understanding into the workshops and work efficiently to manage the volume of detail that good analysis inevitably entails.

Have you had good or bad experiences with business analysis?

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