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Developing Effective Business Analysis Plans and Strategies

Developing Effective Business Analysis Plans and Strategies

Gantt chart, BABOK, SWOT analysis, Lucid chart, Jira software, Figma; these and more are the terms I was bombarded with when I joined one of the business analysis cohorts at HeelsandTech. They sounded like gibberish then, but today they are my tools of work, they help me in getting the job done, I love them dearly and work with them often. During our cohort, at some point I really thought I was actually employed because the kind of hands-on projects we had to do with business analysis tools were too realistic to be just practicals. Don’t believe me? Simply register for the next business analysis cohort and you will become another fella dragging all their family and friends to come and upskill with HeelsandTech.

What business analysts do is not talk fancy or come up with a list of 10 things to do that will make everything fine, no. We solve problems. In fact, in some cases we help define the problem for our clients, because yes, we are that clear minded. I am excited about my career so I love to tell my story wherever I find a platform. I have found a platform here and I will share my story yet again. Sit tight.

I will not just share with you what I learnt from HeelsandTech about developing Effective business analysis plans and strategies, nor will I stop at what I learnt about this during the hands-on stage. I will go beyond all that to tell you what I have learnt about the topic in question in the years I have really worked as a business analyst for businesses. Interested? join me!

Steps to developing Effective Business Analysis Plans and Strategies
1. Define the Problem:

This may sound counter-intuitive because people take it for granted that whosoever is hiring a business analyst already knows what problems he is trying to solve. However, as a result of my experiences in the field I have decided never to take things at face value. Ensure that you have a good understanding of what the problem is, then get everyone else on board to avoid scope creeping and losing sleep over deliverables you won’t be paid for.

2. Define your Scope:

Personally, I run a high risk of scope creeping (according to Kissflow, it is a subtle deviation of the project from the original scope through the addition of new features). Scope Creeping makes you start everything and finish nothing. However, above all else business analysis plans are created to drive results, therefore scope creeping is a horrible idea.

There are several tools that could help with the scoping process. Some of my favourites are creating scope statements, using cases to make the scope clearer, but since I love drawing so much, context diagrams are much closer to my heart than the rest.

3. Set Objectives:

These objectives must resonate with the project goals. They are the things you plan to achieve. In my early days, I didn’t make mistakes in this aspect. I instinctively understood the importance of clearly defining my objectives and desired outcomes.

Additionally, my experience with HeelsandTech helped prepare me for this aspect of my job. You could use the SMART framework as a guideline for setting these objectives. SMART which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely is a framework for goal setting. An objective could be that at the end of the quarter, the customer retention rate of the business would have increased by at least 50 percent.

Do take note that what you want to achieve is different from how you will go about achieving it. That’s our next step.

4. Set the Deliverables:

A deliverable is a tangible good or service, outcome or output that has to be delivered at a particular stage in the project’s lifecycle.

Depending on the approach being used; waterfall, Agile or whatever, there are rules to how and when deliverables are to be presented. With Agile methodology that provides for quick and continuous iterations and feedback on deliverables you already know that you have to be agile.

You decide what the deliverables are, when they are to be presented, who would create them, when they are out who and whose opinions are needed for verification and everything else. Tools like dependency diagrams and breakdown structures can be used to plan deliverables. Planning deliverables ensure the maximum use of the provided resources.

5. Choose Your Approach:

Like a scientist in a lab, choose the methods, standards, tools and techniques you will use in conducting your analysis. Remember that you are working on creating an environment with as little bias as possible. Factors like size, complexity, region, culture and risk which will be discussed in full in the next step should be considered in choosing and planning your approach to the analysis.

Don’t forget that every business is different. While your experiences from past jobs will certainly help, ensure that they don’t form biases and assumptions that eventually stand in the way of the excellent work that you are capable of doing.

6. Risk Management:

What is risk management? It simply means forecasting and anticipating financial and business risks and taking steps to avoid or minimize their impacts. We all have faith, in fact, we should keep the faith alive. However, we must be wise and prepare for risks. Risk is a nature of business.

For us, it means understanding the risks involved in a project and the impact they could have on your project objectives. Remember how important our project objectives are, anything that will mess with them is a deadly enemy. It could be a change in the market, or a change in customer behaviour.

A good example of risk would be what happened during the Covid, the kind of change we experienced at the time – so much that the change itself changed us, or at least changed me. This change greatly affected both customer demands and customer behaviour. Businesses had to undergo digital transformation very quickly in order to remain relevant. A risk management procedure for a business would be to digitally transform the most important business model of the business or at least the model is most adaptable to technology.

7. Accept feedback, review and Update:

It just so happens that we are in a market that changes rather quickly. Some plans may have to change right in the process of conducting your business analysis. However, regardless of whatever approach you choose, you have to be agile.

Intentionally create opportunities to receive feedback from both other team members and yourself (be honest). This will help you soar higher.

In conclusion, while it is not easy to develop a business analysis plan, it is even more difficult to apply it. Like many things in life, it is simply a challenge. However, when we are equipped with tools for problem discovery, scope mapping, risk management and prioritising feedback we are more than able to face the challenge and do the best work possible.

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