How to Set Clear Objectives for Business Analysis

All your work defining and framing the right solution in your business analysis has probably created expectations around what it is and what it will most likely look like.

You’ve clarified and articulated the problem; you’ve identified different solution options; you’ve figured out some key features necessary for the solution to be valuable and right; and you’ve positioned them accordingly with a powerful solution position statement. This solution is going to be just what the audience needs, and you expect the audience is going to love it. You’re on the path to success.

But to what extent will your expectation be the reality? How will you measure success? The expectations your stakeholders have going in are the success criteria for your solution. Those criteria are how your solution will be measured, evaluated, and judged.

Objectives are quantitative or measurable indicators that reflect the outcome and value desired from achieving a goal. All objectives together define the measurements of success. They describe what’s expected, the specific level of expectation (how much), and by when the achievement is expected.

Your solution must hit the stakeholders’ success criteria, which means you need to know what those criteria are and aim your solution at them. Goals and objectives need to be clearly stated so that everyone knows what the targets are and can work together effectively to achieve success.

When a project is initiated or a problem needs solving, the sponsors or stakeholders very often have goals and objectives in mind. To uncover these preexisting objectives, ask the appropriate parties directly:

  • What’s your vision of success?

  • If this project is successful, what will happen and by when?

  • If the solution is successful, what will be different? What will be gained or realized and by when?

  • What are you trying to achieve with the solution and by when?

  • What do you expect to be able to do with the solution?

  • What do you expect to see from or when looking at the solution?

  • What do you expect to get or have after deploying the solution?

Sometimes, however, stakeholders may need more guidance — they’ll know what they want when they see it. If that’s the case, you can help stakeholders identify their objectives by defining them yourself first. To identify appropriate solution objectives, you can start by extracting objectives from the following goals by using the provided sample questions:

  • The business has its needs met and is successful in achieving its objectives while using the solution defined. This business analysis goal will be met if you define an effective problem statement.

    • How many users must be served, and which needs must be met? By when?

    • What impacts need to be eliminated and to what degree? What outcomes or objectives must be achieved? By when?

    • What capabilities must be in place when the solution is complete, and by when?

  • The solution you create actually works. This business analysis goal will be met if you define an effective solution position statement and double-check it with the solution option value validation model.

    • What does it mean to you if the solution is working?

    • How quickly do you expect to achieve your outcome? How usable or user-friendly is the solution?

    • What’s your expectation of value? What will you get from the solution after using it?

    A solution option must meet all the requirements in the model. Explore each of those requirements, working with stakeholders to quantify exactly what, how, and when specific results are to be achieved.

  • The solution team actually builds and delivers the right thing in the first place. You’ll be on the path to meet this business analysis goal after you articulate clear solution objectives!

    • When do you need the solution completed? At what point are you expecting a draft or pilot solution versus a final permanent solution?

    • What level of quality do you expect? How good or perfect does it need to be by a certain time?

Assess and interpret what you come to know from your analysis. After you have a draft, sit down with stakeholders to review for validation. From the collective set of business analysis goals and all the different business, stakeholder, and solution requirements collected to date, deriving solution objectives in case stakeholders have trouble articulating them should be pretty easy.

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