Adopt an Iterative Approach

Business Analysis Methods, Tips and Techniques

Question: When does a business analyst stop analyzing?

Answer: When you shoot him!

Some business analysis projects never seem to end.  Given that business organizations are so very complex, this is hardly surprising.

To avoid "analysis paralysis", however, it is important that the business analyst not delve into too much detail too early in a project.  It is more important to understand the forest than worrying about each and every tree in that forest.  Of utmost importance is to not fall into the black hole of technical detail and exceptions.

By adopting a top-down, iterative approach, the analyst can focus on the big picture, the "normal" business process and on priority business areas.  Subsequent analysis iterations can be used later to delve into the exceptions and detail.

Iterative Approach to Business Analysis

The analyst will often discover that although "exceptions" might account for a small percentage of the workflow, the effort needed to understand and address them can be huge. Consequently, it is important to identify exception situations, but not to focus on them during the initial round of analysis work.

The ability to identify and isolate areas of complexity and exceptions is an important skill for a business analyst to learn.  When exceptions are identified, the analyst should always ask "How frequently does this situation occur?" (i.e. percentage of cases) and "How much time is expended dealing with the exception?" (i.e. hours per month).

To help ensure that business analysis is done in an iterative manner, it is a good idea to time-box each iterative cycle.

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