To be successful as a business analyst, you need a toolbox and a framework.
🎯 A TOOLBOX of techniques that you can pick and choose from, based on the needs of your project and team.
🎯 A FRAMEWORK that guides you step-by-step what to when.
At Bridging the Gap, we provide an organized, streamlined, and practical toolbox and framework in the form of The Business Analyst Blueprint® – it’s both a framework for approaching business analysis skill development and the name of our flagship, online, practical training program.
And it looks like this (and keep reading below for a break-down of what each part is and what it means):
The Business Analyst Blueprint® Framework is Organized Into Analysis & Communication Techniques
The first thing you’ll notice about The Business Analyst Blueprint® is that the techniques are organized into Analysis Techniques and Communication Techniques. The Analysis Techniques are the models and templates we use as business analysts to analyze and think through the requirements.
Requirements do not get created in a vacuum. We must elicit or discover them from our stakeholders. This is why knowing the right Communication Techniques to use as a business analyst are equally important.
The key Communication Techniques for collaborating with stakeholders are:
- Discovery Session – to discover information related to the process or requirements from business stakeholders, so the requirements represent their needs.
- Requirements Review Session – to validate the requirements that have been captured are clear and correct.
We also consider the glossary and user stories to be communication techniques, because their primary purpose is to capture and communicate requirements-related information to various stakeholder groups.
The Business Analyst Blueprint® Framework: Multiple Levels of Technique Help You Avoid Missing Requirements.
The second thing you’ll notice about The Business Analyst Blueprint is that there is not just one set of analysis techniques. We miss requirements either when we don’t involve the right stakeholders (i.e., apply the right communication skills) or overlook key areas of requirements because we are only looking at one view.
When you use multiple techniques, particularly powerful analytical and visual models, you will find that you naturally see gaps that others gloss over and identify the downstream impact of a change or new solution.
The Business Analyst Blueprint® -framework includes 3 key levels of analysis that are important to fully understanding a problem and solution domain, when software is being implemented as part of the solution. These are the business-level, software-level, and information-level.
Let’s look at each of these separately.
The Business Analyst Blueprint® Framework: Business Process Level
The Business-Level articulates how the business work flows operationally. When you have a clear understanding of the business process, you will be able to clarify the business problem to be solved and ensure the technical solution delivers actual value to the business.
At this level, the analytical techniques include:
- A Business Process Flow diagrams which is a visual model showing the end-to-end flow of the steps a business user (or group of business users) take to accomplished a desired outcome within the organization.
- An accompanying Business Process Document which is a textual model providing additional details like business rules, exceptions, entry and end points.
Analyzing a business process is almost always a great way to start figuring out what problem needs to be solved and getting stakeholders on the same page about the key issues to be addressed by a project. Often you can solve a lot of problems just by clarifying the “as is” or current state process, so this is a really productive set of techniques to have in your toolbox.
Learn more about creating process flow diagrams, or process maps, in this video:
The Business Analyst Blueprint® Framework: Software Level
The Software-Level captures how the software system supports the business workflows. When you analyze your functional (software) requirements in use cases and visually model them in wireframes, you create the perfect combination to get your business stakeholders and technical implementers on the same page about the requirements more quickly.
At this level, the analytical techniques include:
- Use Cases which is a textual model that describes exactly what the software needs to do, and capture the requirements in a way that is clear to both the business and technology stakeholders, so that the software development team can build what the business actually wants.
- Corresponding wireframes show what the screens on the page might look like, and make it easier for stakeholders to visualize the requirements and provide meaningful feedback.
Use cases also help you generate a lot of high quality questions to be asking, because missing pieces and requirements pop out pretty quickly with a good set of use cases. What’s more, you can use them for both new software development as well as configurations or customizations of COTS or SaaS projects.
Learn more about use cases in this video:
The Business Analyst Blueprint® Framework: Information Level
The Information-Level addresses how data and information are stored and maintained by an organization. Data modeling is critical on all kinds of projects, but especially data migration and system integration projects.
And while data modeling can seem quite technical, the way we teach these techniques at Bridging the Gap is from a business-focused approach. And using these modeling techniques can help you earn credibility with your developers, since you’ll be able to talk in their language (even when you don’t know how to code or write SQL).
Key data modeling techniques include:
- Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD), which bridges gaps between business concepts and technical database design using a simple visual format that really engages stakeholders.
- Data Dictionary, which shows you how to organize and drill down into the detailed data requirements. You will also take away the essential concepts you’d glean from an introductory SQL class.
- Data Map, which shows you how to visualize the information ﬂows between systems and clarify boundaries that speeds up the scoping and elicitation process.
- System Context Diagram, which shows you how to visualize the information ﬂows between systems and clarify boundaries that speeds up the scoping and elicitation process.
This video is a great place to start diving into data modeling:
The End-to-End Business Analysis Process in The Business Analyst Blueprint® Framework
The next thing you’ll notice about The Business Analyst Blueprint® Framework is that there is a foundational framework underlying the techniques. This is the business analysis process, or the end-to-end approach you apply to be successful and effective on a typical business process improvement and software project.
Having a structure and trusted approach gives you credibility.
The business analysis process leads you step-by-step through how to approach a software project as a business analyst and covers:
- Get Oriented – Start actively contributing as quickly as possible.
- Discover the Primary Business Objectives– Ensure the right business problem is solved.
- Define Scope– Gain agreement from stakeholders on the scope of the project.
- Formulate Your Business Analysis Plan– Identify the deliverables, stakeholders, and timelines for a comprehensive solution.
- Define the Detailed Requirements– Establish an efficient and collaborative rhythm.
- Support the Technical Implementation– Ensure the technical solution meets the actual business objectives.
- Help the Business Implement the Solution– Support business stakeholders so that the solution ultimately delivers the intended result.
- Assess the Value Created by the Solution– Assess the ROI of the solution.
As you leverage this process framework, you’ll gain increased recognition for the value of business analysis, and you’ll start to get pulled into more interesting projects, and be engaged earlier in the process. Here’s a video about the business analysis process framework.
Leverage the Power of The Business Analyst Blueprint® Framework
When you leverage a framework like The Business Analyst Blueprint®, you’ll be able to shift from being reactive to proactive. You’ll have a toolbox of techniques to use in just about any situation you find yourself in as a business analyst, and you’ll know exactly what to do when!
Business analysis can feel so fuzzy and mystifying, but it certainly doesn’t have to be that way.
Join The Business Analyst Blueprint® Training Program
Click the image below – or visit this link – to find out all about The Business Analyst Blueprint® training program – our practical, results-oriented program designed to help you achieve more success in the real-world as a business analyst.
I hope to see you in class!