Thursday, January 23, 2014

Business Analysis Activities (BA Planning & Monitoring)

Previously we talked about stakeholder analysis, now we will talk about business analysis activities. As a Business Analyst we know or we must plan about our next activities. BABOK is a good foundation to understand more about that business analysis phase.

2.3 Plan Business Analysis Activities

Determine the activities that must be performed and the deliverables that must be produced, estimate the effort required to perform that work, and identify the management tools required to measure the progress of those activities and deliverables.

The BA Determines which activities are required for a given initiative, how those activities will be carried out, the work effort involved, and an estimate of how long the activities will take. This task includes activities to :
  • Identify business analysis deliverables
  • Determine the scope of work for the business analysis activities
  • Determine which activities the BA will perform and when
  • Develop estimates for business analysis work.
Business Analysis Approach : Defines the lifecycle, deliverables, templates, and tasks that should be included. Plan driven approaches seek to define requirements as early as possible to reduce uncertainty, while change-driven approaches encourage requirements to be defined as close to implementation as possible.

Business Analysis Performance Assessment : The BA must use prior experiences on this initiative or on others to determine the effort involved in performing business analysis work.

Organizational Process Assets : The organizational standards and process assets in place may mandate certain deliverables.

Stakeholder List, Roles, and Responsibilities: Stakeholders will exhibit individual behaviors and preferences that may need to be met. Understanding their roles and responsibilities on the project will help to  determine how much those preferences will shape the plan. The role of each stakeholder must be understood so that the appropriate activities can be scheduled and the necessary time alloted.


1. Geographic Distribution of Stakeholders
The BA must consider the physical location of key stakeholders on the same project.

 --Collocated : All key stakeholders are located in the same local geographic area.

 --Dispersed : These more complex projects have some key stakeholders located in different geographic regions or countries.

**If stakeholders are dispersed. It may be necessary to have more teleconferences or video conferences rather than face to face meetings.

2. Type of Project or Initiative
The type of project or initiative to which the BA is assigned may have a significant impact on the activities that need to be performed. Different kinds of business analysis initiatives include, but are not limited to :
  • Feasibility studies
  • Process improvement
  • Organizational change
  • New software development (in-house)
  • Outsourced new software development
  • Software maintenance or enhancement
  • Software package selection
3. Business Analysis Deliverables
A list of deliverables is useful as a basis for activity identification. Methods are identifying deliverables include, but are not limited to :
  • Interviews or facilitated sessions with key stakeholder
  • Review project documentation
  • Review organizational process assets, such as methodologies and templates, which may dictate which deliverables are required.
An organization may have a standard set of deliverables, or multiple sets that are used to support different approved methodologies. The breakdown of deliverables may also be dependent on the techniques selected by the BA, and may include deliverables such as interview questions, meeting minutes, use case diagrams, and descriptions, and as-is/ to be business process models.

4. Determine Business Analysis Activities
An important tool in defining the scope of work and in developing estimate is the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS decomposes the project scope into smaller pieces, creating a hierarchy of work. A WBS may break down the project into iterations, releases or phases; break deliverables into work packages; or break activities into smaller tasks.

Work packages include at least one and usually many activities, which can be further broken into smaller tasks. This decomposition activities and tasks creates the activity list.

The activity list can be created in different ways, such as by :
  • Taking each deliverable, assigning the activities required to complete the deliverable, and breaking each activity into tasks.
  • Dividing the project into phases, iterations, increments, or releases, identifying the deliverables for each, and adding activities and tasks accordingly.
Using a previous similar project as an outline and expanding it with detailed tasks unique for the business analysis phase of the current project.

The elements identified for each activity and task may include :
  • Unique Number to uniquely identify each task.
  • Activity description labeled with a verb and a noun, and describing the detailed tasks that comprise each activity. For example, an activity might be labeled "Update Requirements Document".
In addition, it may include other information, such as :
  • Assumptions : For each task, there may be factors or conditions which are considered to be true. The BA can document these factors, and where present estimates will be development using these assumptions.
  • Dependencies : Identify logical relationships, such as which activities have to be completed before subsequent tasks can begin.
  • Milestones : Represent significant events in the progress of a project. Milestones are used to measure the progress of the project and compare actual progress to earlier estimates. Milestones can be used as a time to celebrate the completion or delivery of a major deliverable or section of project work. An example of a major milestone is the stakeholders' and sponsor's formal approval of a requirement document.
Estimation (9.10) : A variety of estimation techniques can be used to produce an overall assessment of the amount of business analysis work required.

Functional Decomposition (9.12) :
Decomposition of the tasks in a project (using a work breakdown structure) or product (using a solution breakdown structure) can be used to facilitate an understanding of the work at a sufficient level of detail to enable estimation of tasks.

Risk Analysis (9.24) : Identify risks that might impact the business analysis plan(s).


Customer, Domain SME, End User and Supplier : Domain SME's will likely be a major source of requirements and their availability is critical when planning activities.

Implementation SME : The implementation SME's may participate in business analysis activities in order to facilitate understanding of stakeholder needs.

Operational Support : May use business analysis deliverables  a basis for planning operational support activities or developing appropriate documentation.

Project Manager : In a project, the business analysis plan is integrated with and a component of the overall project plan.

Tester : Will need to know in what form and when deliverables will be produces as inputs into their own activity planning.

Sponsor : Must participate in the approval of business analysis deliverables.

Business Analysis Plan(s) : This business analysis plan(s) may include information such as a description of the scope of work, the deliverable Work Breakdown Structure, an Activity List, and estimates for each activity and task.

Next : Business Analysis Communication

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