How to adopt a ‘problem solving’ focus to business analysis

Do you want to know how to be truly successful in your business analyst career?

In my 3-part series, I am going to tell you about the skills and qualities that are the key to business analysis career success.

This is especially helpful if you are struggling to get your career on track, or you just need a refresher.

I believe 100% that great business analysis is more about mindset, and less about skills.

Because without having the right kind of mental framework for affecting change, it is difficult to deliver true value.

From having the right mindset, you can then develop the right skills and qualities to be most effective in your role.

Mindset is about ‘how’ you go about doing things that makes the real difference in this profession.

Developing the right mindset can only be developed through experience and awareness.

This awareness gives you an understanding of how to direct yourself towards a success-oriented mindset.

‘Hard’ skills such as tools and techniques are easily taught and learned.

Mindset is developed through ‘soft’ skills and tacit knowledge, which is difficult to teach in books and classroom settings.

But you can have a framework for developing a successful business analyst mindset.

This will focus your approach to problem solving and communicating in a way that delivers excellent results for your organisation.

It will also help you create better career opportunities as you are communicating from a viewpoint of the things that create true value, and not just your hard skills and certifications.

A very good starting point for developing your BA mindset is to gain an awareness of 3 things in your mental framework.

Today I am going to tell you about the first of the big 3 which is…

Adopt a ‘problem solving’ focus as opposed to an implementation focus

This means that you are striving towards delivering real results with measurable value.

You are not just ticking a box so you can say that you got something delivered.

You are truly aligned to the organisational mission and your stakeholders’ vision.

Problem solving primarily requires problem identification, elicitation skills and stakeholder management.

Collectively, I call this The Problem-Solving Framework which I walk you through in detail in my 8-Week Career Transformation Program.

Problem identification

Supported by good elicitation techniques, problem identification includes methods such as root cause analysis, mind mapping, five whys, and fishbone analysis.

The real value in business analysis is understanding the problem. You gain true experience in engaging with your stakeholders, understanding their issues, and aligning with their needs.

When you have defined the problem then you can make a difference. You can narrow down and choose the right tool and use it to analyse and communicate the problem and articulate a possible solution.

This way there is less overwhelm, and you can produce better results.


Elicitation is important because the discovery of business requirements is almost never readily available at a business analyst’s fingertips.

Types of elicitation are:

  • Brainstorming
  • Document Analysis
  • Focus Groups
  • Interface Analysis
  • Interviews
  • Observation
  • Prototyping
  • Requirements Workshops
  • Survey/Questionnaire

One of the first problems a business analyst needs to solve when starting a new project is how to elicit to the requirements. This goes together with how you go about engaging your stakeholders.

This is because there are several variables that need to be taken into consideration when planning the work needed to gather all necessary information.

Each project is different and will require a different way of approaching elicitation.

The importance of elicitation cannot be overstated, for it is the linchpin to any requirements project.

Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder engagement is essential to build relationships, foster ownership, influence outcomes, gather information and facilitate the resolution of problems.

Cultivating good relationships is very important.

Stakeholders are more willing to answer questions, show up for meetings, review documentation, and help the business analysis process to go more smoothly if the business analyst has established good stakeholder rapport.

It is important to understand your stakeholders. I provide a comprehensive guide to on how to build and sustain stakeholder engagement in my 8-Week Program.

Essentially, projects are about people, and success is about creating value for those people.

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Sign up for latest news. Grab the latest deals, guides, tips and tricks directly from Sam Cordes and be seen as a professional who delivers value and succeeds.