I’m thinking of doing free training videos … market research: what subjects would you like to be covered? Why?
These are the questions we get a lot of emails about…
- Can we offer on-site training?
- Yes. Please email us.
- Do we offer 1:1 mentoring?
- Do we have any other material to give away other than that already on this website?
- How do you become a BA?
- Read the article “So you want to be a BA” in the articles section for how and where to start
The definition that smart-BA uses is a Business Analyst is someone who analyses change requirements and produces a justifiable set of analysis deliverables that are used to design and implement the solution.
If a picture paints a thousand words: Scope of BA role
Did you know that there is no standard, definitive and agreed definition of what a Business Analyst is?
That means not only does the profession have no recognised industry standards or an agreed definition, there is also no binding definition of a set of qualifications or standards that all Business Analysts must adhere to.
And that means that Business Analysts:
- can be all things to all people
- can define their own role
- should define their own role so that they have an answer for anyone who tries to dump unassigned tasks in to the remit of a Business Analyst in (for example) your organisation – i.e. you!
This is what smart-BA thinks:
“Business Analyst” – let’s deconstruct (analyse!) the term.
1. “Business” – no, we are not going to define “business”, but we are going to challenge why Business Analysts are called Business Analysts. Apart from working in businesses, don’t Business Analysts also do their work in local and central government, charities, non-governmental organisations, and so on?
We suspect that the term “Business” in “Business Analyst” came about in the 1980s when Systems Analysts (who pre-date Business Analysts) declared that they were starting to get engaged in activities not related to Systems Analysis. If they were not analysing systems, what were they analysing? Their answer was “Business”. However, a more descriptive answer would be “they analyse requirements for change”.
Based on that the role would be more accurately described as “Change Requirements Analyst” but as the name “Business Analyst” has stuck we will continue with that title.
2. “Analyst” – someone who analyses. “Analysis” then is the important definition. Here’s how three sources define “analysis”
- Internet: an investigation of the component parts of a whole and their relations in making up the whole
- Oxford English Dictionary:
- a detailed examination of the elements or structure of something.
- the separation of something into its constituent elements — ORIGIN Greek analysis, from analuein ‘unloose.’
- Merriam-Webster dictionary:
- separation of a whole into its component parts
- a: the identification or separation of ingredients of a substance
b: a statement of the constituents of a mixture
- a: proof of a mathematical proposition by assuming the result and deducing a valid statement by a series of reversible steps
b(1): a branch of mathematics concerned mainly with limits, continuity, and infinite series (2): calculus 1b
- a: an examination of a complex, its elements, and their relations
b: a statement of such an analysis
- a: a method in philosophy of resolving complex expressions into simpler or more basic ones
b: clarification of an expression by an elucidation of its use in discourse
- the use of function words instead of inflectional forms as a characteristic device of a language
So analysis is all about breaking a problem down to its component parts to expose the logical inter-relationships between them. The ‘problem’ being analysed is the change requirements for a project. We ‘break the problem down’ so we can prove that all the components are actually required. We analyse change requirements (break them down to their component parts) and prove that each and every requirement is necessary in order to deliver the project.
And once armed with all these provable facts about the project, new requirements can be inferred (or better yet deduced) from the existing facts. This is where the business analyst really creates value for the project as they discover new requirements that no-one had ever thought of, or realised must exist, based on the current project definition.
Summary: Business Analyst = someone who analyses change requirements and produces a provable set of analysis deliverables that are used to design and implement the solution.
…and here are a few things Business Analysts are not (although none of these roles can function well without an effective Business Analyst producing high quality analysis deliverables!):
- Project Managers
- Systems Analysts
Of course, you may find yourself performing multiple roles on the same project – a common combination is Business Analyst & Project Manager.
Warning: There is a conflict of interest in doing this combined role:
A Project Manager is (typically) measured on delivery of the solution within the allowed time and budget.
A Business Analyst is (or should!) be measured on delivery of the benefits specified in the project objectives.
This poses the question why aren’t Project Managers measured on delivery of project objectives? However, in the real world – typically – they just aren’t!
Business Analysis in 3 Slides – play the presentation to get the basics of BA in 3 slides – ok: 4 slides but the first is a title slide!
Business Analyst Murder Mystery!! a short story applying Business Analysis to solve a murder mystery…
If you are planning to take exams such as the ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis then you might find the following manuals very useful as they cover a similar syllabus of 3 of the most useful certificates that count towards the diploma (and they have mock exam questions and model answers in).
1. BCS ISEB do not authorise or approve any manuals or or other material produced by smart-BA…
2. …and smart-BA do not authorise or approve BCS ISEB! (Only kidding, love ’em to bits really!)
Some revision materials…
FREE Bite Sized Training for learning the best bits of business analysis one tasty morsel at a time!
These modules almost all have explanatory notes in (except the data modelling one – but there is plenty of explanation of that in Business Data Modelling – Why and How). There is also a case study to download with it.
Feel free to download these files and edit using standard PC software such as OpenOffice or Powerpoint, Word, and Excel. The only request we have is tell them where you got it – go on, give us a plug!
01 Scope of the BA Role
02 Fundamentals of Business Analysis and 02 analysis questions and answers
03 Drivers module
04 Objectives module
05 Project and Solution Scope
06 Business And Functional Requirements
07 Process Modelling Pt 1
07 Process Modelling Pt 2
08 Data Modelling Pt1
08 Data Modelling Pt2
09 Non-Functional Requirements
10 Doing Analysis and 10 Doing Analysis – An Answer
This the case study used throughout the course: BA training case study
The following is self study training material you can use on any real world projects you are working on.
- Module 1: Objectives Analysis
- Module 2: Scope and Context Definition
- Module 3: Functional Requirements Analysis
These articles cover the more “technical” aspects of semi-formal modelling of process and data requirements in the form of process models (not just diagrams!) and data models (also not just diagrams!)
- Article on developing process models from functional requirements
- Article on developing data models.
- Article on Non-Functional Requirements
ISEB Diploma In Business Analysis Oral Exam Questions – some EXAMPLES of real life questions
This is a list of questions that were asked in a real oral exam undertaken by a BA taking the ISEB Oral exam to get the ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis…gives an idea of the style and what to expect. The questions asked in each exam will not all be the same of course!!!
Download “For those about to take the ISEB Diploma in Business Analysis Oral Exam” PDF
Only the most important module! If the objectives are wrong then every piece of work that follows based on those objectives will also be wrong – and that means all the requirements, process and data rules, design, coding (if applicable), tests, training and implementation!
This module gets you to analyse the drivers for the project and define SMART objectives – and prove they are correct.
Scope and Context – not just of the solution, but the project as well. If you don’t understand the scope you cannot control the project or the solution. If you don’t understand the context you will fail to engage everyone who needs engaging. This module will see you define the scope and context of the solution and project using many dimensions such as processes, organisation units, locations, data, applications, technology, time, channels, customer/supplier segments, and so on.
What, exactly, do you want the solution to be able to do? Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just state what functionality (computerised or not) you want the solution to deliver.
Each Functional Requirement will be delivered via one or more processes. This article was written for Modern Analyst and discusses the pivotal role of process modelling, outlines the fundamentals of process modelling using Business Process Modelling Notation (BMPN) and invites you to have a go and get your model published on this site!
Download “Business Process Modelling – Why & How” PDF
Processes update data. Processes that do not update data are not doing anything! This article introduces you to the most technical and rule-bound area of business analysis. It uses Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERDs) and takes you from the basics through to the most useful advanced techniques.
What are they – we only seem to know what they are not (that is, they are not functional requirements!) so how do we find them, document them and use them? This article covers all that and a worked example.
Business Process Modelling – Why do it & How to do it
This article was written for Modern Analyst and discusses the pivotal role of process modelling, outlines the fundamentals of process modelling using Business Process Modelling Notation (BMPN) and invites you to have a go and get your model published on this site!
Download “Business Process Modelling – Why & How” PDF
Business Data Modelling – Why do it & How to do it
This article covers the neglected role of data modelling and outlines the fundamentals of data modelling using Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERD).
Download “Business Data Modelling – Why & How” PDF
Questions analysts need to ask and what products should be used to document them.
A simple checklist of things business analysts need to know to do the job of analysis, and the name of the product that would be used to document the answer.
Analysis questions and answers Excel spreadsheet
A template for documenting the main products of business analysis.
A simple spreadsheet for documenting things business analysts need to document to do the job of analysis. A computer aided software engineering (CASE) tool would be better but this is better than nothing…maybe!
Terms of Reference Excel spreadsheet
The value of Business Analysis
So You Want To Be A Business Analyst…
This article was also written for Modern Analyst and is for those just thinking about whether a career in Business Analysis is right for them.
Download “Starting Out As A Business Analyst…” PDF
The Fundamentals of Business Analysis
This article was written for Project Manager Today and covers the fundamental issues facing business analysis: it considers where Business Analysis came from, where it currently is and projections for where it will go – and the issues it will face.
Download “The Fundamentals of Business Analysis” PDF
Business Analysis Methods, Fads and Fashions
This talk was given at the the Project Challenge Show in Olympia and aims to debunk the subject area and expose what is – in essence – the simple (if hard) process of business analysis. It uncovers the framework that is behind every method and make the case for a pragmatic and practical use of that framework in the analysis of business changes.
Download “Business Analysis Framework Presentation ” PDF
Scope of Business Analysis and an Outline Cost Justification
Putting someone in to a role called Business Analyst does not make them one. This short presentation introduces you to the ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘why’ of Business Analysis and outline the value of Business Analysis as an activity.
Download “The Case For Business Analysis” PDF
Business Analysis Chain of Reasoning
There is a chain of reasoning that leads from a statement of a problem to the definition of a solution. If any part of that chain is missing, a poor quality (at best) or wrong (at worst) solution will be delivered. This paper presents a high-level overview of the logical steps involved in moving from problem to solution.
Download “Business Analysis Chain of Reasoning” PDF
Two Perspectives: Sponsors Vs Business Analysts
This article for the International Institute of Business Analysts proposes that Sponsors have different expectations of what role and function Business Analysts play in a change project compared to the role and function that Business Analysts need to perform. This mismatch of expectations results in Sponsor and Business Analyst frustrations. The solution that is proposed is that Business Analysts need to demonstrate through performance of their activities that their role and function is a logical consequence of change project life-cycles – that there is no rational alternative for successful projects.
Download “Two Perspectives: Sponsors Vs Business Analysts” PDF
Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) Tools – Why Aren’t They Used More?
This is the presentation that Business Analyst Solutions gave to the ProVision user conference – it enquires in to the reasons for the poor take-up of CASE tools commercially covering the scope of Business Analysis, Business Models and alignment with strategy.
Download “The Business Analyst The Business Model and the Strategy” PDF
Business Analysis – it ain’t rocket science!
This is the presentation that Business Analyst Solutions gave to Project Challenge conference – Projects can fail: the presentation analyses some real-life examples of what goes wrong, why and what Business Analysts should be doing to mitigate the risk of failure. It challenges the idea that Business Analysis is hard or that it is an art: it is more closely aligned with a science which follows a chain of reasoning leading from the precise definition of a problem/opportunity to a set of solutions, proving every step of the way that each subsequent step is aimed at resolving the problem/exploiting the opportunity.
Download “Business Analysis – it ain’t rocket science!” PDF
The Importance of the Business Analyst Role
This article for the International Institute of Business Analysts proposes argues that as a programme cannot proceed in a rational fashion without the activities that the business analyst performs, BAs must be considered fundamentally important.
Download “Why BAs are important for Enterprise Programmes” PDF
These suggestions are based around what a business analyst actually does which is
- define the objectives
- ensure that everything that follows is geared to achieving the objectives
- communicate the message that the objectives are being achieved
With that in mind…
Have an “Objective” section and define what role you are looking for. One sentence or very short paragraph.
Add an appendix of examples of your analysis work – just examples of good analysis, not an exhaustive archive! At the start of your CV after the “Objective” add a “summary” section. Reference the appendix in your “summary” section which should also summarise your key analytical abilities that are relevant to achieving your Objective.
The message is “I have told you what I want (objective) and this tells you I can do it”.
Get testimonials from previous roles. You need to emphasize to the people you request this of that it is statement of past performance, not any kind of guarantee or reference for future performance which people are always more reluctant to do! Attach as separate document or appendix and reference in your “summary” section.
The message is “I have told you I can do it (examples of work) and this tells you other people think I can do it as well.”
Have a “relevant training” section straight after the “summary” section. Be sure to include any on the job training and highlight all the training that is directly relevant to achieving your “Objective” statement.
The message is “I have told you other people think I can do it (testimonials) and this tells you that I am officially recognised as being able to do it”.
In the “Work Experience” section describe a bit of how you used any of your relevant training to help solve business problems referencing formal analysis tools/techniques etc. Example: if in your current role there is “Documenting the business process by identifying the requirements and also involved in finding the system requirements”. State the process modelling method you used.
The message is “so I can do it (previous sections) and this tells you of occasions when I did it.”
a user-friendly specialist jobs portal that lists a wide range of business analyst jobs including permanent and contract roles. It is also a useful source for information on business analysis and offers advice for getting a job in the sector.
smart-BA is proud to be a community expert on Modern Analyst community and resource portal – The one-stop-shop for the Business Systems Analyst!
Want to shine as a Business Analyst or Systems Analyst? Join the community that will make you succeed (it’s free)!
Matthews Craig Consulting is a down to earth and approachable consultancy offering years of industry experience in the field of Change Management, Business Analysis, Project Assurance and Management Development.