What is business analysis? (Techniques and benefits)

Updated 14 March 2023

Applying business analysis techniques is a professional method of identifying needs in a business and finding solutions to meet them. Solutions can vary depending on the problem. Knowing what processes to implement, changes to make and strategies to develop can help you make the right decisions at work. In this article, we define what business analysis is, describe the process involved and present techniques and tips so you can introduce this at your place of work.

Related: Business analyst interview questions (With example answers)

What is business analysis?

Knowing the answer to 'What is business analysis?' can help you acquire the skills to implement it and establish a successful career in this field. Business analysis helps a company by highlighting changes it can make to become more successful. Many areas rely on it to maintain their competitiveness. These include sales, marketing, finance, project management, product design and research development. It can be part of a wider role in a company and as a result, a career in this area provides variety and room to grow.

Knowing about the different techniques in business analysis can enable the introduction of the correct strategy for a specific challenge. These can be long-term and short-term solutions. It may involve gathering teams together and communicating more effectively to meet goals and overcome challenges. When a company encounters a challenge, it can enlist the help of a business strategist. It's also useful to have a business strategist explain the measures taken to overcome problems to stakeholders and company management. These are some of the job areas that use business analysis:

  • Business analysis: This analysis helps a company evaluate and improve its processes. Analysts look at ways a company can gain new business, streamline its methods or enter a new market.

  • IT security analysts: Knowing where a company is in danger of an IT security breach is a skill that this analyst brings to a business. Complying with IT security measures and preventing any cyber threats is important for a company to maintain the confidence of its customers.

  • Data analysis: Businesses use many types of data, from personal to consumers to third-party providers and freelancers. It's important that data complies with data protection laws.

  • Project analysis: Gathering the data and analysing it can provide insights into the success of a project. This data can support future projects a team undertakes and can help a project manager improve its systems.

  • Software analysis: Companies face hefty fines if they can't produce licences for their software. Software analysis can ensure licence compliancy alongside ensuring that the software a company uses meets their needs and helps them to achieve and surpass their goals.

  • Operations analysis: A business undertakes an analysis of its operations to discover any improvements that can get made. This analysis can improve sales, data management, communication and team co-operation.

Related: What is business development (And jobs available)

How to do a business analysis

Effectively implementing business analysis techniques involves several steps. Here's a step-by-step guide to creating a plan based on a strong business analysis method that includes techniques and tools:

1. Initiate brainstorming

Members of staff, including management, come together to collaborate on ideas that get scrutinised and evaluated. Having team members involved from many disciplines helps to ensure that several ideas get presented for consideration. A useful tip is to divide the members into teams and allow them time to develop ideas. Each team can get assigned a part of the business to evaluate. Each team presents their ideas and they get fairly assessed by everyone involved. Brainstorming is a useful method to determine what management and employees see as the problems facing the business.

Related: What does a business analyst do? (Role and responsibility)

2. Do a SWOT analysis

Identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) is an important consideration at this stage. Shortlist the ideas presented in the brainstorming stage and put them through a SWOT analysis. Each idea gets evaluated under what its strengths and weaknesses are. Look for opportunities in the market and any threats that can occur. Being able to put answers to each of these elements provides a strong foundation for a business analysis plan.

Related: How to write SWOT analysis (With steps and importance)

3. Do a MOST analysis

At this stage, a company gathers knowledge about what its mission and objectives are from doing this activity. The team discusses the reason for performing business analysis, whether it's to approach an opportunity or a problem. A MOST analysis involves a company identifying its mission, objectives, strategies and tactics (MOST). A company's management can revise its key objectives and unique service proposition. Often at this stage, a company can see whether its mission is in line with what its future goals are to meet the needs of the business.

Related: What is situational analysis and how to conduct it?

4. Identify the primary objectives

The SWOT and MOST elements of the analysis provide vital information regarding the next steps. It's time to understand what a business can achieve if it implements various elements of the analysis. Identifying the expectations of stakeholders is important. Also, any potential conflicts that can result from implementing the analysis can get predicted at this point. This stage can also provide vital insights into the future success of the findings.

5. Create a plan based on the analysis

It's important at this stage to present a coherent plan so everyone involved can see the way forward and start implementing the elements relevant to them. This stage involves selecting the highest value objectives for the business and presenting the strategy around how they're achieved. Create a timeline and assign tasks to various team members. Using business process modelling can help at this point. This involves looking at the current needs of the business and predicting its future ones. This helps a company act proactively instead of being reactive when a problem occurs.

6. Provide support

Supporting the process is crucial. Communicating with team members and allaying any fears is important. At this stage, it's important to provide support, not just technical and IT support, but emotional support and encouragement. If team members know that their work can benefit them and the entire business, their motivation levels increase. Having team meetings that concentrate on progress can be important.

7. Assess the deliverables

Have a defined period where the process gets evaluated. Showing how the new process is progressing can help keep the team motivated and prevent any doubts. If a company hires a business analyst to initiate analysis and provide solutions, it's important that they evaluate the new processes once they're in place for a defined period.

8. Host a meeting to discuss future plans

This step is crucial to ensure that the team members and management accept the analysis. It's also essential that questions can be asked, especially around the future impact of the analysis. Showcasing the results of the initial phases of the new methods can motivate a team to carry on the work. Being open to feedback can also help staff engage with the new phase of business development.

Related: What is business planning? (Types and different examples)

Benefits of business analysis

A business that identifies when business analysis can be a useful tool and implements it to its advantage can reap enormous benefits. Business analysis can help a company identify the following:

  • strengths and weaknesses

  • its market status

  • future developments to consider and where they fit in with wider goals

  • insights from team members and management into areas that require analysis

  • fresh perspectives on issues facing the company

  • ways to reduce costs and use extra capital in a different area

  • long- and short-term goals for the business

  • areas to provide encouragement and motivation

  • the development of a collaborative plan

  • growth areas for existing business and new markets

  • new solutions and the analysis of their benefits

  • key pointers to deliver to stakeholders and management on business actions

  • ways to remain competitive

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