Business Analysis: A Basic Project Life Cycle

Part of the Business Analysis For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Business analysis projects all follow the same basic life cycle. A project is a set of steps that accomplish something, so describing business analysis activities as part of a project life cycle makes sense. Although each project you undertake is different, and you must always remain fluid and flexible to some degree, business analysis tasks follow a general order:

  1. Plan the project.

    Create a work plan and at least think through an approach for the analysis effort.

  2. Scope the project.

    Define and document the project boundaries and analyze the business problem without deciding on a solution. This job includes clearly identifying the opportunity or problem the company needs to address.

  3. Elicit, analyze, and communicate requirements.

    This task is the lion's share of what business analysis professionals do at the project level. Understand the real business needs and find the root cause of business problems, and communicate requirements to the intended audience.

  4. Design the solution.

    Business analysts (BAs) aren't typically responsible for this activity; instead, they support the solution team through this effort.

  5. Build or buy the solution.

    The business and project team make a decision based on the results of the activities Steps 1 through 4 to buy a solution prepackaged, build one internally, or have a group outside the company build it. During this time, your role is to ensure the solution still meets the business need stated in the project objectives and the business requirements.

  6. Test the solution.

    As the solution is being designed and built, collaborate with the test team to validate that the solution meets the business needs elicited during the project.

  7. Implement the solution.

    Make sure business uses the solution. You actively work with project stakeholders as the solution rolls out. You may work as a change agent, advocating the need for change, and you may also train new users on the system.

  8. Conduct post-implementation review.

    After the solution has been implemented, you need to make sure it's meeting the goals outlined in the project. If not, this discrepancy may lead to another project to address the gap. Basically, you want to make sure the business is actually using the solution you provided. If not, why not?

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