Mastering Business Analysis
Updated to reflect the changing role of today’s business analyst in agile and traditional environments.

Business Analysis what is it for?

Business analysis lays the foundation for any automated system development, and any meaningful business change. Business analysis means uncovering the real business problem, and then crafting its optimal solution. 

Business analysis means determining that there is a real and tangible value to be had from any proposed solution. 

Business analysis means finding the real scope of the business problem, of determining the challenges faed by the customer segments, and designing innovative, appropriate and beneficial solutions.

In short, good business analysis ensures that the right systems are built, the right changes are made, and the owner or sponsor receives the optimal value for the development effort. 

'Very interesting and confirmed my beliefs of what a BA should be doing.' — Kelly Newnham, Business Analyst, Scottish & Southern Energy

Business analysis is work study and modelling, systemic thinking, innovating, writing stories, persuading and several other analytical skills. 

This course gives you the tools, the thinking and communicating skills, and the process for successful business analysis. 

Business Analysis who is it for?

While we believe that business analysis is almost everyone’s job—every employee has some responsibility for effective business improvement—the most likely job titles you would find at this course are:
  • Business Analyst
  • Product Owner
  • Systems Analyst
  • Project Leader
  • Requirements Engineer
  • Product or Program Manager

or similar titles. We also find Business Stakeholders, Users and Software Customers benefit from learning advanced  business analysis techniques, and how they can contribute to the organisation’s wellbeing. 

This Course — what do I get? 

'Very good explanations when questions aired.  Lots of real life examples too.' — Claire Pearson, Business Process Analyst, AQA

By attending this two-day course you will learn:

  • How to discover the real business needs, not just guess at a solution.
  • How to improve the business.
  • How to define and analyse customer segments.
  • How to write a value proposition that clarifies the intention of the business change.
  • How to define a project so that it can yield real benefits.
  • How to be better at communicating and convincing people of your ideas and solutions. 
  • How to be innovative and find the best solutions to improve your client’s business. 
  • How to be a better business analyst.

You also receive a free copy of the book Business Analysis and Leadership: Influencing Change, edited by Penny Pullan and James Archer. 

Topics — what will I learn?

Business Analysis — what we are doing
We start with the topic of business analysis itself, and how the business analyst is the driving force to change the business from its current way of working to the desired future state. The desired future state is an improvement to the business — it comes about when the business problem has been solved, or the opportunity exploited, and the needed systems and processes are in place.  
In this section we explore business analysis and how it fits into your development cycle. We also look at a framework for effective business analysis, and discuss the role of the business analyst in today’s organisations. 
Project Inception — establishing the value 
Inception lays the foundation of the project by determining the desired future state of the business, and what value that will bring to the organisation. Inception identifies and prioritises the customer segments and, where necessary, produces a separate value proposition for different segments. 
The right result can only come if the project is solving the right problem. By defining the value proposition, how that value is to be delivered, the customer/user segments to whom it is to be delivered to, and the impact it will have, the Inception activity ensures that the project will provide real and continuing value. 
We also look at some conventional project models such as SWOT, ALUo, PESTLE and the BMG canvas..
Reconnaissance — finding the essence, and what's possible
We start by looking at the current state of the work, its scope, its culture, its values, its people and the ethos of the work. By looking at these factors, the business analyst is able to ask, and answer, the crucial question, “Are we solving the right business problem?” 

By getting to the essence of the problem, the business analyst can see whether there are unstated assumptions or hidden problems that can impact the outcome of the project.
For any business problem there are usually several possible solutions. Rather than rush headlong into the first one proposed, the savvy business analyst uses safe-to-fail probes to quickly determine the best option. This option becomes the subject of investigation.
Investigation  — understanding the current and the new 
This is where we come to understand the business problem we are charged to solve. We begin by determining the correct scope of the business problem, and then use business activity models — UML, BPMN, data models and others — to communicate with the stakeholders and uncover the real problem.  
Additionally, any future solution will be used by humans, so we look at the culture of the potential users and identify characteristics that have an impact on the design of the solution.
Design the Future Work   — finding the optimal solution
Now that we understand the real problem we have to craft a solution. The designing business analyst uses elements of the problem, the desired impact of the solution, the values of the target customer segments, and the value proposition to form the solution. 
Any valuable solution will be innovative. This section teaches innovative thinking, especially in the areas of providing better information, and making the solution more convenient for its users. 
Getting Approval  — the right solution is not enough, you have to convince others
The business analyst must be a communicator. Here we show you how to tell persuasive stories, or narratives, to communicate with the stakeholders and ensure that they have a clear understanding, and thus approve your proposed solution.
We give you some solid guidance on putting together a persuasive narrative, and telling your story so that it has impact on your audience.
Ongoing Business Analysis  — the knowledge needed by the project 
Many projects suffer from documentation problems either there is too much documentation which means that valuable development time is lost, or there is too little which results in miscommunications, incorrect solutions, and wasted time when the solution comes to be maintained.
In this session we look at the minimum viable knowledge needed for the project. We discuss the information gathered by the business analyst, and the worth of each part of this information.
The result is that your project can be confident that it has gathered sufficient knowledge to succeed, and no more than is absolutely needed.

Mastering Business Analysis — what’s in it for me?

Our businesses thrive or flounder on the effectiveness of their business processes, both automated and manual. Businesses with good processes provide a better service and are more responsive to their customers. The converse is true.

Business analysis is the craft of enlightened improvement to business systems and processes. Moreover, business analysis gives you ways of identifying the areas where improvement projects will yield the highest value. 

This two-day course in business analysis gives you the skills and tools to discover your client’s real business, and to determine and demonstrate the best ways of improving it.

This course is a natural companion to Mastering the Requirements Process, where we teach the art of requirements writing. The models and understanding produced by Mastering Business Analysis are the optimal input, and foundation for, your requirements activity. 

Instructors — learning from experience

James Robertson is a consultant, teacher, author, project leader whose area of concern is the requirements for products, and the contribution that good requirements make to successful projects. His work in the area of business analysis and requirements gathering is valued by clients in many parts of the world.

He is co-author of Mastering the Requirements Process (Addison-Wesley 2012), Requirements-Led Project Management (Addison-Wesley 2005), Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies (Dorset House, 2008) and the Volere techniques for requirements.

He is co-author of Mastering the Requirements Process—Third Edition, Getting Requirements Right (Addison-Wesley 2012), Requirements-Led Project Management Addison-Wesley 2005), Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies (Dorset House, 2008) and the Volere techniques for requirements.

He is also a founder of The Atlantic Systems Guild, a think tank known for its innovative systems engineering techniques.

James Archer is a business analyst, consultant, teacher, writer and innovator. James is co-editor and contributing author of Business Analysis and Leadership (Kogan Page, 2014). He identifies the key to great business analysis as an inclusive leadership style, innovative thinking, working collaboratively, to help people discover their real requirements.

James is one of the founders and organisers of the Business Analysis European Conference. In 2009 he was awarded Business Analyst of the Year. He has a Masters with Distinction in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (Minnov) from City University.

James is an associate of the Atlantic Systems Guild and has contributed to the development of and taught the Volere approach to requirements and business analysis for the last decade.

For more information ...

For information about in-house or public courses, consulting or other services, contact us or your nearest agent.   Scheduled public courses are shown in the Volere events column of the Home page.

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