Business Analysis Skills
Core and Supporting Analytical Skills
Business analysis skills are areas of expertise necessary to enable change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. Business analysis may be performed within the boundaries of a project or throughout the enterprise evolution and continuous improvement. It can be used to understand the current state, to define the future state, and to determine the activities required to move from the current to the future state. At the core, the business analysis skill set includes:
- Establish Context
- Stakeholder Analysis
- Interface Analysis
- Process Analysis
- Data Analysis
- Business Rule Analysis
In addition, there are supporting skills that are necessary in order to efficiently perform any of the core skills listed above:
- Decision Making
- Critical Thinking
Regardless of title and whether your team is using an agile approach or following a more traditional, plan-driven approach, these are the most common skills used for analysis.
Our Essential Skills for Business Analysis course sets the foundation for all seven core and four supporting business analysis skill areas. While we always recommend attending this course first, we’ve also highlighted more in-depth courses and some specific workshops for each category.
Core Business Analysis Skills
Where does your project fit? Who all will be affected by what you do? What are the limits of your team’s responsibility and authority? What is it really that the organization wants you to accomplish? How will you know if you’ve done that? If you can’t answer these questions about your project, it’s time to take a step back and understand your context.
Stakeholder analysis is so much more than making a list of names, titles, and roles. Thorough stakeholder analysis can dramatically improve engagement and participation, and it can help your team work together more effectively. It also ensures you haven’t missed anyone.
Human interfaces, system interfaces, data interfaces, hardware interfaces….all of these have to be thoroughly analyzed and understood by the team.
Someone once said that the six most expensive words in business are “We’ve always done it that way.” Automating an inefficient or error-prone process without doing thorough analysis just means that you’ll make the same mistakes….only faster.
Business Rule Analysis
Business rules serve as criterion for guiding behavior, shaping judgments, or making decisions. They require detailed analysis and tend to change frequently, so it’s important to isolate them from other requirements components so you can manage that change effectively.
Version 3.0 of the BABOK identifies 18 different techniques for elicitation. That’s a lot! Are you considering all of them? Or are there a handful of “comfortable” techniques that you rely on? We always tell our students, “There is no one-size-fits-all in elicitation!”
All too often we treat data as an afterthought in analysis. But without data, processes can’t be performed. Interfaces can’t display and collect the right information. Reports can’t be produced. And don’t get us started on data transformation and migration – those can be so complex that sometimes they become projects in and of themselves.
Supporting Business Analysis Skills
Communication is the act of a sender conveying information to a receiver in a method which delivers the meaning the sender intended. Sounds simple, but is it? Words, gestures, and phrases may have different meanings to different individuals. Sometimes the barrier is as simple as making sure everyone has a consistent understanding and terminology. Effective communication requires knowledge, skill, and practice.
Critical thinking has become something of a buzzword these days. You can find a dozen different definitions on the Internet. To us it’s really the heart of what we do as analysts. We question. We dig. We use logic to reach conclusions. We try to avoid allowing preconceived ideas and thoughts to interfere with true understanding. We propose and test theories. And if we try something and it doesn’t work, we figure out what went wrong and try again.
No. Just…no. If you’re still jumping right into your projects without any planning, take a pause. Plans don’t have to be long, detailed, or formal to be useful. They’re great thinking tools to help us make the most of a limited resource – time.
As a training company who has focused on business analysis skills since its start, we have a solution for gaining the right level of expertise in each skill. If one or more individuals on your team is not proficient in these skills, we strongly recommend starting with our Essential Skills for Business Analysis course and then proceeding with courses as needed for more in-depth specific areas of focus.
Business Analysis Skills Success
This training was spectacular! It is good for anyone in a business position in the company – there is, of course, a great focus on business analysis, but there are other relevant topics that addressed project flow and management.
I used a lot of these techniques or was expected to use these techniques for my job before I even took a course. I see now what I did right and what I could have done much better. Also, I can just use some of these techniques in my everyday work, not just projects.