What types of business analysts are there?

Chapter 2
Business analysis

During the business analysis phase within the life cycle of a solution, you define the business goals by analyzing a business problem and identifying the business needs and constraints that will help achieve that goal.

This chapter contains the following sections:


Business analysis information

Business analysis begins with setting the business goals. You then analyze the business problems to be resolved and identify the business requirements that must be met in order to achieve these goals. Also take into account all business restrictions that make it difficult / hinder / impair the achievement of these goals. At the end of the analysis of the business needs and constraints, you will have a set of documents containing business requirements.

You use this set of documents with business requirements as a basis for deriving technical requirements during the technical requirements phase. During the life cycle of a solution, you evaluate the success of your deployment planning, and ultimately your solution, based on the analysis you performed during the business analysis phase.


Define the business needs

There is no one simple formula that can determine all of your business needs. You determine the requirements based on working with the stakeholders who need a software solution, your knowledge of the business domain, and applied creative thinking.

This section discusses a few factors to consider when defining business needs.

Set the business goals

The business analysis should make the goals of a deployment project clear. By setting clear goals, concept decisions can be more precisely aligned and the project stays on track. The comparison of the business goals and the current processes also helps to make concept decisions.

Area

The business needs should clearly define the scope of the deployment project. Make sure you identify areas that can be resolved and avoid setting unlimited requirements that either make the goal unclear or unreachable. A poorly defined area can lead to a deployment concept that does not adequately address the needs of the business or that requires excessive resources.

priorities

Prioritize your goals to ensure that the most important aspects of the deployment are met first. If you have limited resources, some goals may need to be moved or modified. For example, large and complex deployments require phased implementation of the solution. By setting priorities, you can provide guidelines for decisions that may need to be made in order for your deployment concept to be accepted by stakeholders.

Crucial qualities

Identify areas critical to success so that stakeholders and developers can focus on the most important criteria.

Growth factors

When setting business goals, don't just consider the company's current needs, try to predict how those needs may change and how they will evolve over time. After all, you don't want a solution that is prematurely out of date.

Margin of safety

The concept of your solution will be developed based on assumptions made during the business analysis phase. These assumptions can be inaccurate for a variety of reasons, such as insufficient data, errors in assessment, or unforeseen external events. It is therefore essential that you plan for a margin of safety; not just in relation to your business goals, but throughout the planning process so that the solution you are developing can handle unpredictable events.

Knowledge of user needs

Find out what types of users the solution is aimed at, what their needs are, and what benefits can be expected for them. For example, the following list is one way of categorizing users:

  • Current and former employees

When you clearly identify the expected benefits to users, concept decisions can be made more easily. Here are some examples of the benefits users can get from a solution:

  • Remote access to company resources
  • Company-wide collaboration
  • Simplify daily tasks
  • Sharing resources between remote teams
  • increase of productivity
  • Self-administration by end users

Elaboration of operational requirements

Express operational requirements as a set of functional requirements with clearly defined objectives. Typically, you will create operational specifications for the following areas:

  • End-user functionality
  • Availability and uptime
  • Archiving and retention of information

Express operational requirements in measurable terms that all stakeholders understand. Avoid ambiguous phrases such as "adequate end-user response time". Possible examples of the operational requirements:

  • Ability to restore services within 10 minutes of an outage.
  • Ability to play the incoming messages for the past 48 hours.
  • Online transactions must be completed in a maximum of 60 seconds, even at peak times.
  • End-user authentication must be completed within four seconds at peak times.

Support of existing application patterns

Express existing application patterns as clearly measurable goals. The following questions will help you identify such goals.

  • How are the current services used?
  • What are the usage patterns (e.g., sporadic, frequent, or significant user usage)?
  • What sites do your users usually go to?
  • What size messages are typically sent by your users?
  • How many transactions do users typically make in a day or an hour?

Watch the users accessing your services. When and for how long your users will access your existing services are factors that will help determine your goals. If these patterns cannot be formed from in-house experience, consult the experience of similar companies.

Knowledge of the corporate culture

When analyzing the requirements, various aspects of the corporate culture and policy should be taken into account. If the company culture is not properly followed, the solution may not be well received or be difficult to implement.

Interest Groups

Find out which people and organizations are very interested in the success of the planned solution. All stakeholders should be actively involved in defining the business goals and requirements. If an interest group is not involved or is not informed of planned changes, plans can be significantly affected. Such an interest group could even block the implementation of the deployment.

Standards and guidelines

Make sure you understand the standards and guidelines of the company for which the solution is intended. These standards and guidelines may affect the technical aspects of the concept, product selection, and method of deployment.

An example is the confidentiality of the personal data that is held by the HR department or the division manager, who also control it. Another example is corporate change management practices. Change management policies can have a significant impact on the uptake of a solution and can affect the method of implementation and the roadmap.

Regulatory requirements

Regulatory requirements depend to a large extent on the type of company. Investigate any regulatory requirements that may affect your deployment. Many companies and authorities require compliance with accessibility standards. When providing global solutions, the laws and regulations applicable abroad must be observed. In many European countries, for example, there are strict rules for storing personal data.

security

Some of the goals that you are identifying may have security issues that are particularly important to consider. Highlight certain security goals that are particularly important to the solution. For example:

  • Authorized access to confidential information
  • Function-based / role-based access to confidential information
  • Secure communication between remote locations
  • Calling remote applications on local systems
  • Secure transactions with other companies and organizations
  • Security Policy Enforcement

Location distribution

The geographical distribution of the locations and the bandwidth between the locations play a role in the concept decisions. In addition, some locations may require local administration.

Such geographic considerations can negatively impact project training costs, complexity, and so on. Clearly state requirements resulting from the geographic location distribution. Highlight which locations are critical to the success of the concept.

Gradual approach

A software solution is often viewed as a complete, comprehensive system. However, the entire system is often provided step by step.

With an incremental approach, you typically design a roadmap that includes milestones that lead to the final comprehensive solution. In addition, you may need to develop short-term plans for parts of the overall solution that are being postponed to implement.

The gradual approach has the following advantages:

  • You can make adjustments to requirements changes that arise as the company grows.
  • You can use the existing infrastructure as a transition to your final deployment implementation.
  • You can include requirements related to capital expenditures.
  • You can make optimal use of few staff.
  • You can create the conditions for partnerships.

Knowledge of the agreements at service level

A service level agreement (SLA) specifies the minimum performance-related requirements. If these requirements are not met, it will also show at what level and to what extent customer support is required. A service level agreement is based on the business requirements that are defined in the business analysis. Later, in the technical requirements phase, these requirements are identified as service level requirements. The SLA is signed when the project is approved (which takes place in the deployment concept phase).

You should develop an SLA that includes areas such as uptime, response time, message delivery time, and recovery. An SLA should contain an overview of the system and clarify the roles and responsibilities of support companies. It should also regulate how service levels, change requests, etc. are measured. When determining the scope of an SLA, it is critical to determine the company's expectations for system availability.


Define the business constraints

Business constraints play a significant role in determining the nature of a deployment project. A key to a successful deployment concept is determining the best way to meet business needs within known business constraints. Business constraints can be financial constraints, physical constraints (such as network capacity), time constraints (such as completing before a major event such as the next annual meeting), or any other constraint that is believed to be a factor that affect the achievement of the business goal.

This section describes some factors to consider when defining business constraints.

Migration problems

Typically, a deployment project replaces or supplements existing software infrastructure and data. A new solution must be able to migrate data and procedures from the existing infrastructure to the new solution, often while maintaining interoperability with existing applications. An analysis of the current infrastructure is necessary to determine to what extent migration problems play a role in the planned solution.

Planning mandates

The plan for implementing a solution can affect concept decisions. Aggressive plans can lead to a distancing from goals, a change in priorities, or a gradual approach to the solution. There may be important milestones within a plan that should also be considered. Internal events, such as planned service rollouts, or external events, such as the opening date of a school semester, can serve as milestones.

Budget constraints

Most deployment projects are budgeted. It takes into account the costs of developing the planned solution and the resources required to maintain the solution over a certain lifetime:

  • Existing hardware and network infrastructure.The dependency on the existing infrastructure can affect the concept of a system.
  • Development resources required to implement the solution.Limited development resources (hardware, software and personnel) make a step-by-step deployment obvious. You may need to reuse the same resources or development teams for each incremental phase of your implementation.
  • Maintenance, management and support.Analyze the resources available for management, maintenance, and support. Limited resources can affect concept decisions.

total cost

In addition to maintenance, management and support, there are other factors that need to be analyzed that affect the total cost. Any necessary hardware and software upgrades, increased power requirements due to the solution, telecommunications costs and other factors can all affect the expenses. Service-level agreements that prescribe availability levels for the solution also have an impact on the overall costs, as increased redundancy is required.

The implementation of a solution should generate a return on the solution. Analyzing ROI typically calculates the financial benefits gained from the investment outlay.

In assessing the financial benefits of a solution, it is important to carefully analyze the goals it will achieve against other ways in which those goals will be achieved and against the cost of not taking action.



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Part no .: 819-1916. Copyright 2005 Sun Microsystems, Inc. All rights reserved.