Business Analysis Methods, Tips and Techniques
The ability of a business to achieve its goals and objectives is largely dependent on the quality and adaptability of its information systems. The business analyst needs to understand the automated systems at an architectural level. By developing a good understanding or their strengths, weaknesses and interdependencies, the business analyst can help the organization sensibly migrate to a future state business model without unnecessary pain and expense.
The business analyst should always take a "top-down" approach when assessing computer systems. This helps to ensure that he/she does not fall into the black hole of detail and exception and that the systems assessment is done based on business goals and objectives.
The first step is to create an inventory of application systems and to understand the role of each system in the inventory. It is shocking how many organizations don't maintain good, up-to-date system inventories, given the huge costs of developing, enhancing and operating these systems. It is equally surprising how many corporate application systems actually exist in an organization. Often the "unofficial" MS Access that runs under the radar on Joe's desktop computer is as mission critical as many of the "official" corporate application systems.
The business analyst should initially focus on the "systems of record" which are the operational systems used to captured and manage data. These systems should be assessed from both a functional perspective (i.e. Does system meet business requirements?) and from a technical perspective (i.e. Is system technically stable and using appropriate technologies?)
The business analyst must also understand how the systems integrate or interface with each other (i.e. transaction types, data shared, frequencies, frequency of interaction).