How to Compile Your Business Analysis Work Plan

As you gather all the information about the people, project characteristics, and process, your business analysis plan takes shape. It determines how you go on to elicit, analyze, and communicate requirements, as well as what working products and deliverables you develop.

By the time you’re creating your work plan, you’ve determined the tasks to complete your deliverables, including estimates of your time and your stakeholders’ time. All this information goes into your work plan.

Here are steps to take to compile your plan:

  1. Create the task list.

    You can organize the task list by techniques, deliverables, stakeholder groups, or time sequence based on how you compiled tasks as you thought through the people, project characteristics, and process.

    [Credit: Illustration by Wiley, Composition Services Graphics]
    Credit: Illustration by Wiley, Composition Services Graphics
  2. Estimate analysis time.

    After you have a complete task list, assign time to each task. Ask your project manager whether you should estimate work time (the actual amount of time required to do the task) or lapse time (the duration of the task).

    For instance, having a stakeholder physically sign off on a document takes only about 5 seconds; that’s the work time. However, getting that stakeholder to actually complete those 5 seconds of work may take 2 weeks; that’s the lapse time. Estimate realistically and conservatively; many people underestimate time required to complete tasks.

    If you have trouble putting a number next to a task, try breaking the task down into subtasks and estimating them. When tasks are specific, time estimates are more likely to be accurate.

    Here is an example of how to record time estimates for eliciting and communicating a use case accurately. Remember, your plan is a negotiation tool — that is, your time estimates are at the heart of your negotiations — so be accurate!

    [Credit: Illustration by Wiley, Composition Services Graphics]
    Credit: Illustration by Wiley, Composition Services Graphics

    The larger the project and longer the time frame, the more difficult estimating is because there are a lot more moving parts. This fact is one of the reasons that iterative approaches have become more popular. They let you plan in smaller chunks, which means fewer moving parts.

    To use the iterative approach, you first estimate the current iteration. Perform the iteration and track actual time used, and then estimate the next iteration based on lessons learned from the first one.

  3. Lay the plan out.

    You can build the business analysis work plan after you’ve completed the task list and listed a time estimate. You now have to lay out the tasks in order and understand the dependency each task may have on others — in other words, what tasks have to wait on others to be completed and what tasks can be done concurrently. Then you can include an overall time estimate for the project.

  4. Communicate your plan.

    Get buy-in from your team, the business stakeholders, and your manager. Upon approval, your work plan needs to be incorporated into the overall project plan.

You can set your plan on a firm foundation by doing a couple of things:

  • Develop a good working relationship with your PM: Know your own strengths and weaknesses, and then, before the project begins, get to know the PM. Also take time to discuss the characteristics of the project (objectives and stakeholders) to make sure you both have the same understanding.

    Also talk about the approach (waterfall, agile, and so on) to be used and discuss how you’re going to elicit, analyze, and communicate requirements. Finally, have a chat about how the two of you can best work together.

  • Plan for contingencies: As you discover new information about the people, project characteristics, and process, those changes impact your plan. So that these changes don’t derail your project, preface all your plans with “This is the information I know now” and tell your team right away when you have to make any changes. Also develop a response for the high-impact, high-likelihood scenarios that may arise.

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