Having a clear definition of the business needs, or problems that require a solution, of the organization gives you a blueprint for your BA activities. When you understand why change is needed, and what that change needs to be, you can focus your attention on meeting those expectations.
Determining specific business needs is the objective you need to clarify and understand completely in order to be most effective in Business Analysis. The solution is driven by those business needs, and your project will be evaluated by them.
Most business needs arise due to common issues such as revenue reduction, client complaints, or the opportunity to move in a different direction with the company. Without Business Analysis, companies do not have a compass or map to guide them in resolving the issues.
As the Business Analyst, you will be examining each issue in great detail to ensure you’re addressing the problems that are relevant to the main issue at hand. You need to know (and understand) the business goals and objectives as well as the challenges the business faces. What the business does well and could use some improvement on will be part of your focus.
Remember, the people and positions of the company may be part of the constraints you’re faced with. The personalities and roles of the people involved may be your greatest asset or your biggest hindrance. For example, middle management may feel its hands are tied, and they cannot make decisions without additional information from another business unit. Upper management may not understand what the sales and service personnel hear from end users, so they cannot be as responsive as they need to be.
As you define the business needs, keep the following factors in mind:
- What the perceived problem is and how different business units define it—end users, front-line workers, management, vendors, and other stakeholders.
- How the perceived problem is affecting objective numbers: client retention, gross revenue, net revenue, research and development budgets, and payroll.
- How subjective items are impacted: client satisfaction, vendor responsiveness, and employee effort and morale.
- Feasibility, drawbacks, and benefits of suggested solutions in terms of manpower and revenue.
To define the business need and understand the desired outcome, try brainstorming with end users and personnel, analyzing the current ways the company does business to identify weaknesses, interviewing subject matter experts, and holding focus groups for stakeholders and users. Analyze every aspect of the business, even those you aren’t confident are part of the issue.