The Strategy Analysis knowledge area focuses on understanding why a change is needed and defining activities that an organization has to undertake to implement it successfully. Because of this focus, the outputs of Strategy Analysis provide context for all other activities in the framework. Tasks in Strategy Analysis are initiated every time a business need is identified and has to be investigated.
Let’s think about the following situation: your manager requests you to investigate the impact of the upcoming legislative change. You will probably start with the analysis of the current situation to understand why the change is needed, what processes are impacted by the new legislation, what systems are impacted; you talk with stakeholders to identify business needs and business requirements. As the documentation of the current state progresses, you also start defining the future state. BABOK® defines a future state as a set of conditions that must be met by a recommended solution (you can call these conditions “success criteria”). Thanks to these conditions, you and your team can easily assess whether the implemented solution meets the business need. You produce a solution scope, a set of capabilities that a solution must deliver to meet the business need. You also define the solution approach in which you identify the transition stated and release planning.
In defining the current and the future state, you discover events that might happen and negatively influence the change – you discover risks. These risks need to be managed by the initiative. A strategy must be defined on how to handle this risk. It is also a task of a Business Analyst to keep an eye on it.
Hopefully, you recognize some of these aspects from your daily practice, don’t you? We can now put these elements that we discussed above as inputs, tasks, and outputs to be performed in the Strategy Analysis knowledge area.
Elicitation results (confirmed)
Stakeholder engagement approach
Analyze current state
Define future state
Define change strategy
Current state description
Future state description
Risk analysis assessment
Let’s take a quick look at each task and its role in the strategy analysis efforts.
This task’s main focus is to understand why a change is needed and produce the current state description and a set of business requirements. When executing this step, you will take a critical look at business need to understand why the organization has to respond to it. You will assess the organizational structures and culture to identify any obstacles that may affect change implementation. The organizational capabilities and processes, as well as infrastructure, will be analyzed to identify areas of improvement. The findings from this analysis contribute to establishing the current state.
BABOK® defines the future state as a set of conditions necessary to meet the business need and to define the initiative’s success. During this task, you will identify goals and objectives for the future state to achieve. They will help in measuring success. You document constraints that limit the solution space and the scope of the solution. The solution’s scope will contain a description of aspects related to organizational structures, capabilities and processes, technology, infrastructure, policies, external influences, and internal assets that require change.
As a Business Analyst, when you investigate the current situation and define the future state, you will also discover risks: events that might happen, and when they happen, they might negatively influence the change. Their negative impact can decrease the value delivered by the solution. You check the organization’s willingness to accept the risks, as it influences the acceptance of the change strategy. Finally, you recommend a risk strategy (accept the risk, transfer the risk, treat the risk by identifying mitigation actions, or eliminate the risk by, for instance, descoping the solution) by working with stakeholders and assessing their risk acceptance level.
Knowing the current state, the future state, and the risks involved allows you to determine the solution approach. You define the breadth and depth of a solution to sufficiently explain it to the stakeholders. Next, you perform a gap analysis that includes identifying alternative solutions, defining advantages, disadvantages, and risks for each option, developing the financial analysis to determine potential value, checking the organizational readiness to accept a particular solution. Finally, you think about strategies on how to deliver potential solutions mapping requirements to phases and releases.
These are the tasks of Strategy Analysis in a nutshell. Remember that these tasks give context to all the other tasks in the framework.
The next post will be about the Requirements Analysis and Design Definition knowledge area.
If you wish to get more in-depth information about these knowledge areas, competencies, or techniques, please consider buying the BABOK® Guide or become a member of the International Institute of Business Analysis®. As an IIBA member, you receive your own (electronic) copy of the BABOK® Guide for further study.
BA Coach also provides online workshops about BABOK®.