Business analysis is the specialist discipline that helps organisations to make good investment decisions concerning potential business changes. Organisations are constantly striving to become more efficient and effective, and business analysts support these efforts by clarifying the viable options open to the organisation, evaluating these options and ensuring that the selected solution is defined clearly.
The role of the business analyst has been defined as:
"An internal consultancy role which has the responsibility for investigating business situations, identifying and evaluating options for improving business systems, defining requirements and ensuring the effective use of information systems in meeting the needs of the business."
Business Analysis (eds. D Paul, D Yeates)
There are five key elements to business analysis:
- Investigating business situations - applying a range of techniques to uncover the root causes of problems and identify key issues.
- Analysing business needs - understanding the business stakeholders and their views, building a common vision of the desired business system and identifying the required actions for change.
- Evaluating options - identifying the options for business change and working with other professionals to define the financial and business impacts for each option.
- Defining requirements - modelling and documenting the business and system requirements.
- Managing benefits - supporting the project sponsor and project manager in ensuring that any changes to the requirements are reflected in the business case. Ultimately, the business analyst will carry out the post-implementation review and assess whether or not the benefits have been delivered.
Effective business analysis requires both professional skills of investigation, analysis and modelling, and interpersonal skills for working with a range of people.