Business analysis

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Business analysis is a vital step in creating custom software

Business analysis is the process of identifying business needs and determining solutions to problems, as well as looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce waste. Solutions could come in the form of new processes, organisational changes or custom software development. 

Once it’s been determined that software development is required, business analysis becomes a key part of the custom software development life cycle, forming the very first step in the process. A thorough business analysis helps stakeholders understand the organisation’s structure, policies and operations. This information is vital in determining what the business requires from the software, ensuring that time and money are not wasted on unnecessary development, and that the final product meets expectations.

Why is business analysis so important for custom software?

A business analysis determines who the relevant stakeholders are and then ensures that everyone involved is familiar with the business and its processes.
Primary objectives for the software solution are defined early on, which helps manage expectations and ensures that the business goals are understood and attainable.
The project scope is set and roles and responsibilities are defined and assigned so that stakeholders understand their places in the project, as well as the boundaries of the project.
In-depth analysis aids in creating accurate timelines for each step in the software development process. It also helps ensure that the project is completed within budget.
There is less risk of scope creep, which is where new, unplanned features are requested during software development. Scope creep can derail projects, causing them to go over budget and miss deadlines.

Business analysis techniques

A business analyst uses various techniques to help plan out the project, determine business goals, arrange priorities, identify possible issues and communicate the project plan to stakeholders.

The stakeholder interview – This technique involves Q&A sessions with key personnel and domain experts. This gives an idea of the business’s goals and motivation, and of the scope of the project. The process can also show possible technical, financial and organisational constraints.
The MoSCoW method – Through this technique, the BA can prioritise the requirements of the software into Must have, Should have, Could have and Won’t have. This helps us to define the scope of the project and how best to approach the development.
SWOT analysis – One of the most popular techniques in the industry, SWOT identifies the strengths and weaknesses in a corporate structure, presenting them as opportunities and threats. The knowledge helps analysts make better decisions regarding resource allocation and suggestions for organisational improvement.
Business Process Modelling (BPM) – This is often used during a project’s analysis phase to understand and analyse the gaps between the current business processes and any future processes that the business is aiming for. We also do an As Is the analysis and a To Be analysis, which looks at what the business currently has and what the proposed new way of doing things will be.
Data analytics – User data can provide invaluable insights into how software is used in the real world. By analysing this data using various tools, we can uncover faults in the user experience and design, as well as find unused or overlooked features.
Functional and non-functional requirements analysis – On the functional side, we define and capture the specific features or functions that the system must include enabling users to accomplish their tasks. On the non-functional side, we define and capture the characteristics needed for a new or a modified system, and most often deal with requirements such as data storage or performance.

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