February 21, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Understanding Business Analysis

In today’s corporate environments, business analysis is key to the implementation of successful projects that deliver business value and create long lasting benefits. Therefore the role of the business analyst has evolved alongside that of the project manager, to initiate and complete increasingly complex projects in today’s business environments.

For a good understanding and appreciation of business analysis and the business analyst (BA) role, let’s look at some definitions:

“Business Analysis is the process of understanding business change needs, assessing the impact of those changes, capturing, analysing and documenting requirements and then supporting the communication and delivery of those requirements with relevant parties.”

Source: Business Analyst Solutions Ltd

There are at least four tiers of business analysis:

1.    Planning Strategically – The analysis of the organization’s strategic business needs

2.    Operating/Business Model Analysis – The definition and analysis of the organization’s policies and market business approaches

3.    Process Definition and Design – The business process modelling

4.    IT/Technical Business Analysis – The interpretation of business rules and requirements for technical systems (generally IT)

“A Business Analyst (BA) analyzes the organization and design of businesses; and also assess business models and their integration with technology.”

Source: Wikipedia

“The Business Analyst position is uniquely placed in the organization to provide a strong link between the Business Community and Information Technology (IT).”

Source: CSBA Body of Knowledge

Business Analysis History

Back in the 1970’s Systems Analysts took responsibility for documenting existing manual paper based processes, identifying problems and new business requirements, and then automating these processes through computerised systems. This provided significant savings in staff as well as improvements to customer service through access to electronic information.

Throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s, companies started to evolve their IT systems to take advantage of new technology as they attempted to make further savings or improvements in service. Throughout this period, the role of the Systems Analyst evolved into the Business Analyst.

Source: Business Analyst Solutions Ltd.

The role of Business Analyst has also evolved from someone who was a part of the business operation and worked with Information Technology to improve the quality of the products and services being delivered by IT to someone who:

  • gathers Business Requirements,
  • assists in Integration and Acceptance Testing,
  • supports the development of training and implementation material,
  • participates in the implementation,
  • provides post-implementation support,
  • can be involved in the development of project plans,
  • can provide project management skills when these skills are not available

While the Systems Analyst belonged to the IT department, Business Analysts can now be found within a number of places in organisation structures:

  • Within the IT department acting as a conduit to and from the business
  • Within individual business units with responsibility for identifying business needs
  • Within a change management department coordinating and managing change across the whole business

Business Analyst Skills

Business Analysts must be great communicators, tactful diplomats, problem solvers, thinkers and analysers – with the ability to understand and respond to user needs in rapidly changing business environments.

Business Analysts are responsible for identifying change needs, assessing the impact of the change, capturing and documenting requirements and then ensuring that those requirements are delivered by IT whilst supporting the business through the implementation process. The Business Analyst must be involved from initial concept of the development lifecycle through to final implementation.

Employing good Business Analysts makes a real difference to the success of your projects.

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About the author: Linky Van Der Merwe is a Microsoft Project Management Consultant and an IT Project Manager with 15 years IT industry experience and 12 years Project Management experience. She consults with small-medium business owners and service professionals about project management processes and tools, best practices and successful delivery through projects. She can be reached at linky@virtualprojectconsulting.com



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