Business Analysis Techniques

Eight (8) Of The Most Popular Business Analysis Techniques | Why are these popular?

As a Business Analyst who have worked across a variety of industries and in different stages of projects (or even pre and post-project phases) there are 8 Business Analysis Techniques, which have come to the forefront time and time again.

This article is outlining these popular techniques in terms of what their purpose is and why they seem to be popular. This article is not however stating that these are the only popular Business Analysis Techniques. Every organization is different but at the same time these are based on a trend of what has been most popularly applied within the realm of Business Analysis tasks and projects.

Before we start discussing each Business Analysis Technique in a bit more depth, lets also just highlight that Business Analysis Techniques are often (certainly in most cases) only really popular within a particular stage of a project (pre-project, during the project or even after a project has been completed). It is therefore important to keep that in perspective when learning about each Business Analysis Technique’s popularity below.

#1 SWOT Analysis

What is a SWOT Analysis?

The SWOT Analysis is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities Analysis. It is an enterprise level analysis technique of assessing an organization against these four dimensions. It ultimately drives decision making for changes and improvements to an organizations position in the market. It is important to note that the SWOT Analysis in itself sounds simple (and can be applied in a fairly straight forward way) but each dimension (Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities) has it’s own set of Techniques which can be applied to determine the outcome of each dimension.

When is the SWOT Analysis applied?

The SWOT Analysis is in most cases applied as an Enterprise Level Analysis activity outside of the Project Environment. This means it can occur at any stage when an organization, department or unit needs to re-assess their internal and external environment in order to re-establish direction and strategy.

This Business Analysis Technique can also be applied in other types of situations when it is important to assess a group, function or even individual people against these dimensions.

Why is the SWOT Analysis so popular?

The SWOT Analysis is so popular because it is a simple technique to apply in either a quick and straightforward way or in an in-depth analysis of an organization or situation. It is therefore versatile as an analysis technique. It is also a technique, which is applied across many different business areas and is not limited to being an exclusive Business Analysis Technique. This means a lot of people are very familiar with what this technique means and hence makes this technique even more popular.

I recommend this easy to use, professional online SWOT Analysis drawing tool (with lots of templates):

#2 Requirements Interviews

What are Requirements Interviews?

A lot of people will be very familiar with this Business Analysis Technique. It is the activity of performing a structured interview where the Business Analyst questions, captures, interprets and understands the intention of requirements requested by the interviewee for a particular solution. This business analysis technique again may seem very easy and informal but is in fact a specific skill for a Business Analyst to learn to master in order to be really effective during the interview itself.

When are Requirements Interviews applied?

The Requirements Interview is typically applied during the early stages of a project when stakeholder requirements are being gathered, analyzed and validated.

Why are Requirements Interviews so popular?

The Requirements Interview is so popular because it is a technique that can be applied by Business Analysts of all skill levels. It is also popular from a stakeholder engagement perspective because the business analyst builds rapport during the interview and hence forms a direct relationship with the individual stakeholder being interviewed. This in turn creates a high stakeholder engagement level for the project and potential future support from that stakeholder. Although this business analysis technique can be time intensive it has many soft benefits for the future business analysis activities on the project.

#3 Requirements Workshops

What are Requirements Workshops?

Similarly to the Requirements Interview, the purpose of the Requirements Workshop is to elicit requirements from business stakeholders about what they believe a new solution need to be able to do in order to meet their needs. The difference here is that the Requirements Workshop involves a group of individuals at once and creates a different type of requirements gathering exercise. There are many different approaches for conducting a requirements workshop and the most important factor to consider when planning this type of Business Analysis Technique is to consider the desired outcome and hence finding the audience who can provide this outcome to you.

When is the Requirements Workshop Technique applied?

The Requirements Workshop is typically applied during the early stages of a project when stakeholder requirements are being gathered, analyzed and validated.

Why are Requirements Workshops so popular?

This Business Analysis Technique is popular because it offers a quicker result than the Requirements Interview because you are dealing with many stakeholders and their collective requirements all at once. This method takes more preparation than that of a Requirements Interview but is also very popular because it allows for higher quality requirements as a result of workshop attendees having to justify why they need a particular feature or requirement to be added to the requirements set.

#4 Business Process Modeling

What is Business Process Modeling?

Business Process Modeling is a diagrammatic representation of the sequential workflow of information, processes and decisions for a particular business process. There are different notations for Business Process Modeling of which the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) and Unified Modeling Language (UML) Activity diagrams is of the most widely used notations for business process modeling.

When is Business Process Modeling applied?

There are many opportunities for a Business Analyst to apply this Business Analysis Technique. Some of the most common times would be during the Analysis Phase of a project when it is important to understand and analyze the current business processes and future business process for a business area that project is concerned with. It is also very often used to support the implementation of a project and to assist ongoing procedural documentation for systems and business process changes. This is another example of a Business Analysis Technique, which is also used by other professionals for purposes not directly relating to Business Analysis.

Why is Business Process Modeling so popular?

This technique is so popular because of a variety of reasons. Firstly, it is an easy and clear way to show how a business process should logically be executed by different roles within a business to perform a certain function. People often grasp a picture or visual representation of a large amount of information much faster than a sequential description of steps to be completed. This is why this business analysis technique is so often used to represent and explain complex steps and sequences of tasks that must be performed to achieve a certain business process outcome.

I recommend this easy to use, professional online drawing tool (with lots of business process diagram templates):

#5 Use Case Modeling

What is UML Use Case Modeling?

In its most simplistic form, the UML Use Case Modeling technique is about illustrating the functions that a new system should be able to perform from a user interaction perspective. It is often used to show the main functions, actors and interactions between the actors and use cases for a new system that is being designed. This is a powerful Business Analysis Technique that is often used by Business Analysts to translate business requirements into functional specifications within the traditional software development project.

When is UML Use Case Modeling applied?

From a Business Analysis Technique perspective, this technique is applied during the detailed requirements specification and solution design stage of a project. It should be noted that this Business Analysis Technique is primarily used with the Software Development type of Technology Project.

Why is UML Use Case Modeling so popular?

The UML Use Case Modeling technique is so popular because it is a visual way to depict the high level (and lower levels at later stages) of functionality that a new system will deliver. For a Business Analyst it is not too technical to draw, it can be fairly easily understood by business stakeholders if required and it is completely in line with software development team’s requirements for functional specifications.

I recommend this easy to use, professional online drawing tool (with lots of use case diagram templates):

#6 Data Modeling

What is Data Modeling?

This Business Analysis Technique is about describing a requirement in terms of its data elements. Data Modeling is used to describe entities (things, people, places etc) of which data is to be captured and attributes for each entity to record. It then also visually illustrates how each entity relates to other entities by way of common attributes or combinations of attributes. This is also referred to as entity relationship modeling.

When is Data Modeling applied?

Data Modeling is applied during the Analysis and Design stages of a project that requires updates to be made to how, what and where data is to be stored. This could be in the context of software development, reporting development or data analytics focused project.

Why is Data Modeling so popular?

Data modeling is probably from a Business Analysis Technique perspective so popular because it is a definitive way to ensure that the data that is captured by the front end of a system is also the data that will be represented on reports for stakeholders. With data modeling it is easy to show which data elements will be present in a solution and hence whether certain reports would be achievable as output. Data base designers who uses this technique to design a data base solution can apply this technique to a lower level of detail and does this beyond the scope of a Business Analysis Technique. However, from a Business Analysis Technique perspective it is a great technique to use to ensure reporting requirements are met by a proposed design.

I recommend this easy to use, professional online drawing tool (with lots of data modelling templates):

#7 User Stories

What is User Stories?

User stories is a fairly modern Business Analysis Technique which is a way to describe what a user wants in terms of how they will be using a system for their own purposes coming from a specific perspective. User stories are often supported by specific personas, which are created to encourage the development of the full spectrum of user stories from all identified user types.

When are User Stories applied?

User stories are mostly applied within the context of Agile Projects where an iterative requirements gathering, design and build methodology is followed.

Why are User Stories so popular?

This Business Analysis Technique is so popular because it is an effective way to put the Business Analyst and other stakeholders who is responsible for developing the requirements for a new system in the shoes of the end user. This assists with developing relevant and highly user focused solutions.

#8 Non-functional Requirements Analysis

What is Non-functional Requirements Analysis?

This Business Analysis Technique is concerned with defining and capturing the requirements to describe the characteristics required for a new or changed system. Examples of these types of characteristics would include: Performance Requirements and Data Storage Requirements.

When is Non-functional Requirements Analysis applied?

The Non-functional Requirements Analysis technique is applied on every project where a technology solution is changed, replaced or build from scratch. It is typically an activity that starts during the Analysis Phase of a project and gets refined and finalized during the Design Phase of a project.

Why is Non-functional Requirements Analysis so popular?

Out of all the Business Analysis Techniques covered in this list this is probably the only technique that is popular out of necessity. It is not a particularly easy or interesting Business Analysis Technique to apply but without this Business Analysis Technique being applied, the system involved will most likely not be able to support the intended audience in an appropriate and sustainable way. So this Business Analysis Technique is a necessary evil as they say and hence must be included in the list of the most popular techniques to know.