How Business Process Analysis Flows Work

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Business process analysis (BPA) is the analysis of your business operation processes. A BPA is a multi-step investigation of each business process to identify what is working, what could be improved and how any necessary improvements can best be made to your business processes.

The BPA is divided into multiple steps with each step involving specific tasks pertinent to the project. While these steps and principles are agnostic, the frequency or order may change depending on the project goals. There is a general flow of nine processes in which the analysis can flow according to the goals of the project.

Step 1: Gather Background Information

This first step is about understanding the foundations of the project. This information sets the basis for the project. The research should reveal the core areas of the business that need to be addressed by the BPA. The conditions of the project that need to be determined at this stage include:

  • What core area does the project need to assess, such as financials, logistics, hosting, site design etc?
  • What variables could affect the business strategy for the project? These variables can be established using the PESTLE Analysis or Porter’s Five Forces framework.
    • PESTLE Analysis: PESTEL is the acronym of the six segments of the analysis framework: political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal. These elements contribute to the outcome of the project.
    • Porter’s Five Forces of Competitive Position Analysis, developed in 1979 by Michael E Porter, is used to assess and evaluate a business’s competitive strength and position: supplier power, buyer power, competitive analysis, substitution threat, and new entry threat. The five forces analysis helps determine a business’s profitability and can help inform decisions relating to industry, capacity and competitive strategy.

Gathering and assessing data is an important first step to understanding your business’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Using a framework that structures the research into quantifiable patterns helps you determine the areas of your business that need improvement.

The Business Process Analysis sets the foundation for the entire development project. It is used as a reference for strategic decision-making and the final analysis of the project.

Step 2: Identify Stakeholders

You need to be clear about who the stakeholders on a project are. These people make the decisions and sign off on requirements and determine priorities. Knowing who the stakeholders are and how their influence will determine the direction of the project is important to establish the details of the project.
A stakeholder wheel can be created to show who each stakeholder is and how they influence the project:

  • Owners: shareholders, trustees, or investors control the budget.
  • Managers: senior or middle managers are responsible for communication and monitoring project progress.
  • Employees: developers, analysts, or testers are responsible for delivering the project.
  • Regulators: regulators monitor adherence to rules for projects requiring regulations or standards compliance.
  • Suppliers: axillary supplier services are needed to complete the project.
  • Partners: consultants responsible for working alongside project managers providing complementary or supplementary products or services.
  • Customers: the end-users of the product.
  • Competitors: those who will be affected by the introduction and launch of your completed project.

Step 3: Discover Business Objectives

Writing the business objective and strategy helps business analysts and project managers focus on the company vision. Written objectives are helpful during scope definition.

  • Questioning why the project is necessary helps narrow the objectives and define the parameters of the project.

To assist in establishing business objectives for a project:

  • Benchmark: understanding competitors and peers who work on the same level.
  • SWOT Analysis: determine your business’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Host focus groups and brainstorming.
  • Document and convey clear business objectives to all stakeholders.
  • Making business objectives SMART:
    • Specific: visible outcome.
    • Measurable: quantifiable outcomes.
    • Achievable: feasible objectives.
    • Relevant: aligned with the company’s vision statement.
    • Time-bound: defined time frame.

These elements combine as the Business Objectives List.

Step 4: Evaluate Options

You need to select the best strategy among the various options available to achieve your stated objective. To determine the best path it is advisable to:

  • Discuss options in brainstorming and focus group meetings.

Possible options for eCommerce development include:

  • Customize or enhance an existing solution to achieve the business objective.
  • Purchase an existing service/system.
  • Integrate into other systems.
  • Develop a new solution.

Narrow your options by asking the following questions:

    • Project feasibility?
    • Budget restrictions?
    • Acceptable return on investment?

Business Case

A business case states your project reasoning. Your business case should be a well-structured written document based on your research and reasoning. A business analyst prepares a business case based on:

  • Cost-benefit analysis: looks at the cost of pursuing an action and the benefits of that action.
  • Impact analysis: identifying and presenting actions that affect the project or company that would factor into pursuing an action.
  • Risk analysis: various risks that can be involved in pursuing an action.

The business case options are presented to stakeholders so they can decide whether to pursue the project.

The document produced during this stage is a Business Case Document.

Step 5: Scope Definition

Based on the project objective and team discussions, the scope of the project can be defined. A list of project development goals is written, as well as a list of items that are not included in the project. The scope definition document includes:

  • Development items in the scope.
  • Development items out of the scope.
  • Integrations in the scope.
  • Integrations out of the scope.

The document produced is a Scope Definition Document.

Step 6: Business Analyst Delivery Plan

The business analyst and project leader will create a detailed project completion timeline. A timeline that includes the requirements for each department or team will be provided based on factors such as:

  • Stakeholders and their availability.
  • Project scope.
  • Project methodology.

Resources and timeliness can be determined by dividing requirements into deliverables and providing realistic deadlines for each.

This is your Business Analyst Delivery Plan.

Step 7: Define Project Requirements

Using your business analysis you must clarify the delivery requirements and have the team agree to the requirements. Requirements can be divided into functional and non-functional categories.

Non-functional requirements can be defined as performance, scalability, and security. Functional requirements can be defined as cases, storyboards, prototypes, and wireframes.

To gather information in the requirement-gathering phase, your business analyst needs to:

  • Interview the stakeholders, asking when, where, what and how the project objectives are to be achieved.
  • Define requirements techniques using case templates, storyboards, prototypes, or wireframes.

Based on the development method, such as the waterfall technique, requirements can be delivered upfront. For agile projects, requirements can be delivered per sprint cycle. Your business analyst will sequence deliverables to facilitate development plans.

Step 8: Support Implementation Through SDLC

A qualified business analyst is involved in the technical implementation of requirements to ensure project alignment.

During this phase, they will:

  • Review the technical deliverables to align with the requirements.
  • Use feedback from the development team to update or repackage requirements to facilitate implementation.
  • Engage with quality analysts to ensure requirements are tested and understood.
  • Manage any changes requested by the client after the initial requirements are delivered and implemented.
  • Facilitate user acceptance after the requirement implementation is complete.

Step 9: Evaluate the Value of the Project

An ongoing evaluation of the business outcomes needs to be maintained to ensure the business objective has been delivered through the implementation. Questions include:

  • Is the project on track?
  • Is the solution delivering the value anticipated by the business case?

Key actions include:

  • Evaluating measurable progress across the timeline and objectives.
  • Providing stakeholders with updates.
  • Based on the progress and feedback, suggest any modifications or initiatives required to realign the implementation phase with business objectives.

If an opportunity for more changes, enhancements, or new projects arises, ideas should be communicated to the stakeholders backed by research.

The business analysis phase is of primary importance. This phase sets the tone for the entire development project, so the research and investigation that goes into this phase are vital. The information gathered and applied at this stage can dictate the course of the entire development project. Without this foundation, unnecessary costs and setbacks can influence your project’s outcome and ultimately, your eCommerce’s success.

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