Business analysis (BA) is defined as “the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders”.
This definition is provided in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK). The BABOK is published by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). IIBA is the certifying agency for business analysis professionals and provides a global standard for its practice.
According to BABOK, a business analyst is “any person who performs business analysis tasks…no matter their job title or organizational role”. I was a business analyst long before I recognized it as such. While I recently engaged formally in the study and certification
of business analysis, I had been applying the techniques and tools of BA for many years.
Business analysts drive change in organizations by:
Understanding organizational challenges and goals
Analyzing needs and solutions
Devising strategies to get to the desired future state
Facilitating stakeholder engagement
The Difference Between Business Analysis and Business Process Analysis
Business analysis (BA) and business process analysis (BPA) are related but not the same. BPA focuses on the analysis of specific processes, whereas BA is applied to the greater business operation landscape.
Business process analysis is an approach to analyzing the business processes that enable the desired change. Common desired outcomes of BPA are greater cost savings, increased revenue and better stakeholder engagement.
For example, at Periscope Business Process Analysis, the focus is specifically on business communication processes. Identifying and connecting with your stakeholders is key to driving organizational change. Each stakeholder group is a separate audience with its unique needs in relation to your desired outcomes. Communication is the connector to these audiences. You might use BPA to analyze stakeholder engagement to determine where there are downturns, blockages, or unexpectedly low buy-in.
A Non-Technical Business Analyst
Business analysis is frequently associated with technical business projects such as software development. But business analysis practice is not limited to the IT department. Business analysis can be performed on a variety of organizational initiatives that may be strategic, tactical, or operational in nature.
Non-technical business analysts like me find themselves working in departments involved in process improvement projects. As a patient experience leader in a hospital, I put on my business analyst hat whenever I had to understand, modify, and improve on business operations. Non-technical business analysts find themselves working on strategy type projects or on projects that are implementing business transformation or development.
The Secret Sauce: Industry Knowledge
Having subject matter expertise is an essential asset to the non-technical business analyst. Industry knowledge is invaluable to all business analysts, but the non-technical business process analyst must have a firm understanding of the context if they are able to build effective communication processes as part of organizational strategy.
For example, my own professional experience spans a couple of different industries. I spent 30 years in nonprofit leadership involved in the administration of volunteer programs; the last 16 of those years were in a hospital setting where I was a patient experience leader. As a business analyst interested in effective communication processes, having an understanding of the context is critical to identifying and engaging with stakeholders.
The Difference Between Business Analysis and Business Analytics
The term business analysis is sometimes used to describe business analytics. The two are related, but not the same.
Business analytics is a type of business analysis focused specifically on analytic data. This is the work most people think of when they hear the term business analysis, but it is only one aspect of a business analysis approach.
While a certificate in business analytic science can complement a business analyst credential, it does not define the scope of the business analysis profession or services.
Business analysis includes the analysis of information beyond numbers. It may involve process mapping, document analysis, job role analysis, stakeholder analysis, or any other number of techniques and tools that will serve to enable the desired change from current state to the future “to-be” state.
Related: Picture This: To Be Process Mapping
Skills required by a non-technical business analyst tend to be more business focused. There are many elements of a change process that can be addressed with a business analysis approach.
A Business Analysis Approach
Whether it is an IT project, a patient experience initiative, or the process for creating an effective stakeholder communication, a business analysis approach can be followed:
Understand the business need
Agree how to meet the business need to achieve the best results for the business
Ensure requirements are understood by stakeholders to ensure they are complete and correct
Ensure requirements are suitable to ensure delivery of a solution that meets the business need
Ensure the business need and requirements will be met by the proposed solution
Ensure any risks and issues that arise from the solution are understood and accepted by affected stakeholders
Business analysis is a structured yet flexible approach to enabling desired change in an organization. Often associated with analytics and technical projects, the practice of Business Analysis (BA) has a much wider net to cast in defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. A non technical business analyst applies the same structure, techniques, and tools to projects in other organizational business departments.
Roseanna Galindo, ECBA, CAVS
Roseanna Galindo is Principal at Periscope Business Process Analysis and a champion for data literacy, the human experience in healthcare, and leaders of volunteers everywhere. Learn more about Roseanna and her blog, The Periscope Insighter, by reading the opening post, Venn The Time Is Right