Problem solving is a major discipline within business analysis. You’ll often hear business analysts state that the thing they love about their work is solving problems.
The expression problem solving refers to the intellectual process that people go through to uncover, analyse and solve problems.
Here are the most common business analysis techniques that will help you discover and analyse a given problem. These techniques can be used in brainstorming sessions or as personal thinking tools.
This visual technique is used to outline information around a central word or phrase. This central concept may form the known issue that may be causing the problem. Learn more about Mind Mapping in How to Explore a Problem Using a Mind Map and 6 Strategic Categories.
The Five Whys
The Five Whys technique is simply the process of asking “why” enough times that you eventually get to the root cause of a problem. It is an effective way to solving problems that can be used by any business analyst to improve a business process or write better requirements. Learn more about this questioning technique in “Why” is the How of Getting to the Root Cause of a Problem.
Like Mind Mapping, Fishbone Analysis is a visual technique for exploring a central problem or concept. This tool is also called the Ishikawa Diagram as it was first used by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa of the University of Tokyo in 1943. Learn more about this technique in How to Identify the Likely Causes of a Problem with a Fishbone Diagram.
Root Cause Analysis
Root Cause Analysis is another common technique and assumes that systems and events are interrelated. An action in one area triggers an action in another, and another, and so on. By tracing back these actions, you can discover where the problem started and how it grew into the symptom you are now facing. There are three basic causes of problems: physical, human and organisational.
CATWOE can be used as a stand-alone tool or can be combined with one of the above techniques to ensure that the identified problem has been given full consideration, i.e. you don’t have a problem statement that is really a solution instead. CATWOE allows you to look at the issue from a variety of perspectives: customers, actors, transformation process, world view, owner and environmental constraints.