Six key principles every good business analyst lives by

While training business analysis professionals over the years, we’ve come across a common problem where business analysts often feel the pressure to just “get things done” without the proper time and analysis – and from speaking with delegates on our courses, it is usually to their project’s regret.

Many have succumbed to this pressure at many times during their career – especially business analysts that have started in their role without a formal business analysis qualification – and it can feel awkward being the one that keeps probing when it seems like everyone else in the team has things figured out.

When this self-doubt creeps in, you need a framework to fall back on. A set of business analysis principles to help guide you and re-affirm that you are on the right track.

Below are the six key principles, outlined by the BCS, that we teach our delegates to help them form a framework to refer back to throughout their work.

1. Root causes, not symptoms

Effective problem-solving requires that you distinguish between the symptoms of problems and the root causes. You must investigate and address the source of the business problems. A good business analyst will consider the holistic view to determine the entire range of opportunities for business improvement.

2. Business improvement, not IT system change

Successful and competitive organisations continuously improve their processes, recognising that IT systems should enable business opportunity or problem resolution. A good business analyst will analyse opportunities for business improvement, using IT systems to enable business innovation and enhance customer experience.

3. Options, not solutions

It is crucial to understand that there can be many solutions to address a business problem. You need the capability to challenge pre-determined solutions, which can divert from looking deeper into the business system. This is where a good business analyst comes to the fore, to identify and evaluate options for meeting the business’s needs.

4. Feasible, contributing requirements, not meeting all requests

Always be aware of the organisation’s financial and timescale constraints. Within this context, it is important that you identify requirements that are not feasible or requirements that do not contribute to the business objectives. A good business analyst will evaluate stated requirements against business needs and constraints.

5. The entire business change life cycle, not just requirements definition

Simply documenting requirements is not enough! Your responsibility is to analyse business situations. To support the effective development, testing, deployment and post-implementation review of solutions. And a good business analyst doesn’t stop there, s/he supports the management and realisation of business benefits.

6. Negotiation, not avoidance

With multiple stakeholders involved on a project, it’s likely that conflicting stakeholder perspectives will emerge during the process. You must be able to recognise conflicting stakeholder views and requirements. Then a good business analyst will negotiate conflicts between stakeholders.

These six core principles clarify why business analysis remains 100% relevant in today’s business world and set out the responsibilities that good business analysts should recognise and accept – regardless of whether you’re following a structured or agile approach.

In delivering our business analysis training, we constantly reaffirm the key principles of business analysis to help shape the mindset needed by a modern business analyst.

To gain a more detailed understanding of business analysis best practices and develop the knowledge, skills and abilities to enable successful business change within your organisation, view our BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis.

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