Business Analysis in the Organisational Context

Understanding the role of strategic, tactical, and operational Business Analysts.

Business analysis can be performed at the strategic, tactical and operational levels within an organisation. Strategic business analysis identifies opportunities for improvement. Tactical business analysis flushes out the details of defined projects or initiatives. Operational business analysis deals with the evolving daily changes in the life of any change process.

Therefore, these could be three different careers although they share a great deal of common techniques. As the business analyst, you need to be aware of the level at which you are working to utilise the business analysis techniques for maximum returns.

Strategic Business Analysis

Strategic business analysis is about engaging earlier in the lifecycle, pre-business case, participating and bringing critical analytical thinking earlier, enabling effective implementation downstream.

It encompasses all of the pre-project work to identify business problems, define business opportunities, develop a business case, and recommend whether to initiate a project.

This level of business analysis is methodology independent for the most part. This is because it has not a lot to do with software development. The only impact is the form in which the outcome is expressed.

If a traditional methodology is in place, strategic business analysis delivers business strategies, goals, and objectives and develops project scope and business requirements.

In an agile methodology, strategic business analysis defines the high-level requirements of the project in terms of themes and epics.

Those performing this level of business analysis need a broad set of tools and techniques to ensure that the resulting projects support the organisation’s business goals and objectives.

Activities include:

  • Performing enterprise analysis
  • Performing capability analysis
  • Identifying business opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses
  • Analysing business problems
  • Developing business specifications
  • Brainstorming potential solutions
  • Performing feasibility and risk analysis
  • Comparing alternatives to identify pros and cons
  • Applying cost benefit analysis
  • Scoping change initiatives based on organisational parameters
  • Developing a business case for change

Tactical Business Analysis

Tactical business analysis starts when the organisation initiates a project or initiative that will result in change for some subset of the organisation.

The purpose of tactical business analysis is effective communication between those affected by the change and those responsible for instigating the change.

Activities include:

  • Understanding business goals, objectives, strategies, and the business requirements that drive the project
  • Enforcing the project vision and scope
  • Identifying and maintain contact with a wide range of project stakeholders
  • Expressing business needs in terms appropriate for the chosen software development methodology
  • Interviewing various stakeholders to capture user stories, epics, and/or individual requirements
  • Translating business problems and opportunities into desired project outcomes
  • Analysing epics/user stories and/or stakeholder requirements to ensure compliance with business requirements
  • Managing and communicating the intent and consequences of epics/user stories and/or stakeholder requirements to the business and technical community
  • Using diagrams or models to ensure effective communication between all involved parties at the appropriate level of detail

Operational Business Analysis

Operational business analysis is the level most concerned with the business use of information technology.

During software development and maintenance, operational business analysis ensures that an evolving IT solution meets the changing needs of the business community.

If the software product is a purchased package, this level deals with analysing how to manipulate the configuration to achieve the stakeholder requirements.

Otherwise, operational business analysis decomposes user stories or stakeholder requirements to identify solution and transition requirements.

Activities include:

  • Elaborating user stories and/or stakeholder requirements to identify solution functional requirements
  • Decomposing stakeholder requirements to identify measurable non-functional requirements
  • Grouping user stories and/or solution requirements into a variety of buckets for validation
  • Facilitating requirements gathering workshops, iteration planning sessions, and story elaboration meetings
  • Identifying and prototyping user views, data entities, data elements, and interfaces
  • Using diagrams or models to ensure effective communication between all involved parties at the appropriate level of detail
  • Presenting well-structured user stories and solution requirements
  • Analysing elaborated solution requirements for clarity, completeness, and consistency
  • Defining transition requirements based on the impact that the proposed solution will have on the organisation and each stakeholder