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Business Analysis is a structured methodology that is focused on completely understanding the customer's needs, identifying how best to meet those needs, and then "reinventing" the stream of processes to meet those needs. Its purpose is to develop business process improvement (BPI) as a key strategy and a management tool, capable of supporting the organization's vision, mission, goals, and objectives, and to promote the use of technology throughout the organization.

Business analysis also helps an organization to improve the way in which it conducts its functions and activities in order to reduce overall costs, provide more efficient use of scarce resources, and better support its customers. It introduces the notion of process orientation, of concentrating on and rethinking end-to-end activities that create value for customers, while removing unnecessary non-value added work

Benefits of business analysisEdit

According to Michael Hammer and James Champy, in their seminal work, "Reengineering the Corporation (1993)", business analysis "does not seek to make businesses better, through incremental improvements — 10 percent faster here or 20 percent less costly there". The aim of business analysis is "a quantum leap in performance — the 100 percent or even tenfold improvements that can follow from entirely new work processes and structures".

Some of the world's premier corporations have used the principles of business analysis to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year, to achieve unprecedented levels of customer satisfaction, and to speed up, and make more flexible, all aspects of their operations.

Roles of business analystsEdit

As the scope of Business Analysis is very wide, there has been a tendency for business analysts to specialize in one of the three distinct sets of activities which constitute the scope of Business Analysis.

1. Strategist
Organizations need to focus on strategic matters on a more or less continuous basis in the modern business world. Business analysts, serving this need, are well-versed in analyzing the strategic profile of the organization and its environment, advising Senior Management on suitable policies, and the effects of policy decisions.

2. Business Systems Developer
Organizations may need to introduce change to solve business problems which may have been identified by the strategic analysis, referred to above. Business analysts contribute by analyzing objectives, processes and resources, and suggesting ways by which, re-design (BPR), or improvements (BPI) could be made. Particular skills of this type of analyst are "soft skills", such as knowledge of the business, Requirements Engineering, Stakeholder Analysis, and some "hard skills", such as Business Process Modelling. Although the role requires an awareness of technology and its uses, it is not an IT-focused role.

Three elements are essential to this aspect of the business analysis effort: the redesign of core business processes; the application of enabling technologies to support the new core processes; and the management of organizational change. This aspect of business analysis is also called "business process improvement" (BPI), or "reengineering".

3. IT Systems Developer
There is the need to align IT development activity with Business Systems development activity. A long-standing problem in business is how to get the best return from IT investments, which are generally very expensive and of critical, often strategic, importance. IT departments, aware of the problem, often create a Business Analyst role to better understand, and define the requirements for their IT systems. Although there may be some overlap with the "Business Systems Developer" role, the focus is always on the IT part of any change process, and generally, this type of business analyst gets involved, only when a case for change has already been made and decided upon.

In any case, the term, "Analyst", is lately considered somewhat misleading, insofar as analysts (i.e. Problem Investigators) also do design work (Solution Definers). Hence, the term, "Business Systems Architect" is coming into use for the "Business Systems Developers".

Business process improvementEdit

A business process improvement (BPI) typically involves six steps:

1. Selection of Process Teams and Leader
Process teams, comprising 2-4 employees from various departments that are involved in the particular process, are set up. Each team selects a process team leader, typically the person who is responsible for running the respective process.

2. Process Analysis Training
The selected process team members are trained in process analysis and documentation techniques.

3. Process Analysis Interview
The members of the process teams conduct several interviews with people working along the processes. During the interview, they gather information about process structure, as well as process performance data.

4. Process Documentation
The interview results is used to draw a first process map. Previously existing process descriptions are reviewed and integrated, wherever possible. Possible process improvements, discussed during the interview, are integrated into the process maps.

5. Review Cycle
The draft documentation is then reviewed by the employees working in the process. Additional review cycles may be necessary in order to achieve a common view (mental image) of the process with all concerned employees. This stage is an iterative process.

6. Problem Analysis
A thorough analysis of process problems can then be conducted, based on the process map, and information gathered about the process. At this time of the project, process goal information from the strategy audit is available as well, and is used to derive measures for process improvement.

External linksEdit

Business Analyst Certification Programs

Other links

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