This week I’m writing about two specialized and powerful techniques that are useful not only for business analysis, but project management and other disciplines. These two come up in context of Enterprise Analysis, which deals with understanding business needs, devising proposed solutions for those needs, and building a business case for getting it done. I’m writing about BABOK® techniques not only to help people pass the CBAP® or CCBA™ exam, but because they are useful on the job, too.
Problem or Vision Statement
This technique is more of a standard or guideline. It helps us to clarify a business need, identifies stakeholders, and projects the potential benefits of a proposed solution to address the business need. A typical problem statement consists of:
|Problem Statement Components|
|The problem of||Define the problem/situation.|
|Affects||Who is affected by the problem?|
|The impact of which is||How the problem impacts each category of stakeholder.|
|A successful solution would||Provide the key benefits produced by solving the problem.|
|Example:Reports are an average of 30 minutes late on Mondays, delaying 10 senior customer service staff members, resulting in missed deadlines and the associated costs ($10,000 per year), frustrated staff (turnover of 15% this year), and angry customers (a 5% increase of customer complaints over last year). Solving the problem would save $10,000 per year, contribute to lower turnover, and reduce customer complaints.|
Figure from CBAP Certification Study Guide by the author
I use the problem statement technique to help understand the real business need, and not just the stated solution. How many times do you hear stakeholders say “We need to install package XYZ…tomorrow!” or “Please add field ABC to the Order table so I can see it on my daily report.”? The problem statement helps to define critical aspects of a request to help define the underlying need.
Problem statement may be too limiting, so the synonym “Vision Statement” makes it suitable for “opportunity–type” requests.
Following the BABOK®, if you define a business need, then figure out the gap in internal capabilities to meet that need, an enduring solution can be then determined. Rather than “jump to a solution” as so often happens in business, the BABOK® points out that appropriate solutions come best from addressing the need first, analyzing the gap next, and determining solutions to fill the gap.
For small and simple situations, individual or small-group analysis often is appropriate to determine a feasible approach. For larger efforts, a feasibility study is often performed. A feasibility study is an initial study to determine whether a project/solution provides the expected benefit to accomplish a business need.
The intent of this technique is to understand the business drivers behind an initiative. Informally, we often call this “what problem are we trying to solve?” Ideally, the team working on the initiative will document concise, measurable objectives for the proposed solution to meet. These objectives can form the basis for evaluating recommendations to meet the business need.
For example, a business need might be to process loan applications in hours instead of days. An obvious objective in this case would be the time a proposed solution would take to process applications. If possible, defining business benefits from a solution (e.g., money saved or increased customer satisfaction) would be useful for evaluating possible solutions.
In many cases, a feasibility study is a project in itself. In other cases, it is wrapped into the front end of a project. The BABOK® mentions that feasibility analysis is used for major business initiatives, such as adding new lines of business, performing acquisitions, new product development, etc. It also mentions shorter studies are appropriate for lower-investment situations.
To learn more…
1) Get a copy of the BABOK by downloading it from the IIBA.
2) View the examples cited above.
3) Read about all the task-specific techniques in our CBAP Certification Study Guide.
4) Take our CBAP Certification Preparation training course.