Things to pay close attention to during business analysis

Thorough business analysis is vital for custom software success, focusing on problem identification, stakeholder input, and clear requirement documentation.

When having bespoke software designed and developed to suit your exact needs, a thorough business analysis often plays the most important part in the entire process. Without it, a software development company is not able to establish what kind of problem you are dealing with and what solution they should offer you. You may know your business but, at the same time, you are not expected to know the peculiarities of modern technology, especially those of bespoke software solutions, which is why the process of gathering and then analysing your requirements by experienced professionals is so important.

What business analysis looks like

Many people associate business analysis with requirements gathering, however, it does far more than simply collect information, that is only the first part of the process. The software development company usually starts with an interview during which they ask you a lot of questions and get familiar with the documentation, if you provide them with any. Then, after they have established what you want, business analysts narrow it down to what you actually need and may find useful. Combining the two visions lays the foundations for your product.

What is often ignored, is the fact that business analysts guide you through the entire process of software development, especially when the company works according to values and principles of the Agile methodology. They serve as a kind of translator between you and the developers – since the latter often use technical jargon even when talking to customers – in order to improve the communication between the two parties. Without business analysts on board, there may be some misunderstandings which either scare you off or, worse still, lead to project failure.

You can find more on why business analysis is essential in bespoke software development here.

Things to pay close attention to during business analysis

Nowadays, poor business analysis is still one of the main reasons why software development projects fail, however, there are things you can and should pay attention to in order to improve the process and these are:

1. Explain the problem first, not the solution

Instead of focusing on what the solution should be like, discuss the problem you are dealing with. Shifting your mindset from implementing a solution to actually solving a problem allows you to better analyse the current position of your company and, more importantly, provide the business analyst with all the necessary information.

Why it’s important

It allows the business analyst to understand what you are currently dealing with so that they can come up with their own vision of a solution. Implementing their ideas, you may end up with a completely different, yet much more efficient product.

2. Write everything down

Business analysis consists not only of interacting with clients but more importantly writing the requirements down. After all, analysts are not the ones who design and develop the software, yet they need to provide the developers, who are responsible for how your product works, with all the information they managed to collect.

Why it’s important

Writing the requirements down is highly useful for business analysts who thus make sure they take into consideration every little detail, but it also is a great chance for you to double-check if your needs were properly understood.

3. Be present

Missing stakeholders means missing requirements. No matter how hard a software development company tries, they will be unable to develop a product which meets the needs of someone they have never met, which is why all stakeholders should be not only present but also active during the requirements gathering phase.

Why it’s important

All stakeholders have different requirements. For the project to succeed, business analysts need to communicate easily with all of them. Looking at the problem from different perspectives allows them to create a project which suits everyone.

4. Think like a user

No matter whether the system will be used by your customers, your employees or yourself, you should try to think like a user. The user input is essential here as it enables you to discover what you actually need. The main purpose of the software should be not only to solve a given problem but more importantly to speed up the workflow of your company.

Why it’s important

The success of the system relies not only on its functionalities but more importantly on how easy it is to use. The project itself may be successful, but worthless if no one uses it.

5. Ask questions

During the requirements gathering, a business analyst is not the only person who can or should ask questions. Even though some people find it difficult to ask for an explanation, you need to overcome this issue if you want your software to work according to your needs. Don’t assume you should know the answer, a business analyst is there to explain everything to you.

Why it’s important

Any misunderstanding, whether big or small, may lead to project failure, which is why it is vital to solve any issue before the developers start coding. Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question.

6. Make use of your data

In order to identify the problem that your company is dealing with, it is fundamental to find data confirming your thoughts. You should never assume you know the answer, as collecting and analysing business data allows you to spot any inefficiencies. Implementing bespoke software is not the only solution, changing business process flows may be just as helpful.

Why it’s important

Identifying business problems is almost impossible without gathering and analysing valuable data. Otherwise, you may improperly determine what you need and the system will fail to meet your business environment.

There are many factors which determine whether a project will turn out as a success or a complete failure, and a thorough business analysis is definitely one of them. Business analysts need to carefully listen to you and serve as a bridge between you and the developers, however, you are also responsible for whether the requirements gathering process runs smoothly. Following these six steps, you can be sure to provide the business analyst with all of the valuable information required.

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