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So you think you are a business analyst?

Guus Dorenbos, 27 april 2022

In our projects we continuously deliver value by implementing new software features. This can be a complete new implementation or enhancing existing software to add value to business processes and operations. When you work in an agile way you often find yourself at some point defining features and user stories before realization of the solution even starts. In this business analysis phase it is helpful if you have a business analyst on board who is tasked to elicit the actual needs of stakeholders which frequently involves investigating and clarifying their expressed desires, in order to determine underlying issues and causes. Personally I found it very useful to follow the guidelines as set by the International Institute of Business Analysis. (IIBA). I will try to summarize how you can use this knowledge in your projects.

The BABOK guide®

The Business Analysis Core Concept Model (BACCM) is described in IIBA’s BABOK guide® (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge). It describes a framework for the business analyst. The BABOK guide® contains six knowledge areas of specific business analysis expertise that encompass several tasks. The underlying key concept is the Business Analysis Core Concept Model (BACCM) and consists of Change, Need, Solution, Stakeholder, Value and Context.

When asking the question: What is Business Analysis? The answer includes these exact core concepts. In one sentence: “The practice of enabling change in an organization by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.

In short the business analyst should raise the following questions:

I find it useful to use these concepts in a practical manner in the Agile context. When defining features I set about to address these six core concepts. It is important to understand that these core concepts interact and are of equal importance. A need for example can be described as a problem or opportunity that has to be addressed but can lead to a change in response of a need. The solution describes how a specific need will be satisfied by solving a problem or enabling stakeholders to take advantage of an opportunity. Speaking of stakeholders, The BABOK guide defines  specific groups of stakeholders. Common stakeholders are Business analyst, Customer, Project Manager, Sponsor and Tester. In our projects, we as a supplier, often interact with the Domain Subject Matter Expert on the customer side, usually key users, end users or process experts who have in depth knowledge of the solution or process.

Applying the six core concepts

To understand the bigger picture. Usually our consultants operate in the (stakeholder) role of Implementation Subject Matter Expert. When detailing the feature consider to use these concepts as follows

When you describe the feature capabilities you often include acceptance criteria. Although acceptance criteria are in detail described in the underlying user story’s, in line with the BABOK guide®, I tend to structure the acceptance criteria as follows:

The IIBA BABOK guide® is very extensive and this is only an attempt to use part of the methodology in everyday practice. You don’t have to be a business analyst because your job title says so. If you perform the tasks or some of the tasks in the BABOK guide® you’re doing business analysis. So…. are you a business analist? For more information, have a look at the website of the International Institute of Business Analysis.

Guus Dorenbos

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