Business Analysis at Outsource2india
Business Analysis is defined as an investigation into the operations of an enterprise aimed at understanding every aspect of the enterprise's functioning including its processes, people and performance. The need for comprehensive business analysis was felt with the growing dependence of companies on custom applications built to meet their specific requirements as against purchased software. Millions were being spent on designing and developing complex enterprise systems without giving enough attention to the processes and people who will ultimately use these systems. Enterprise IT solutions can be made more effective if the process of building them is preceded by a thorough and detailed business analysis.
Business analysis is a crucial first step in the software consulting process because it identifies enterprise needs and helps build IT solutions aligned to these needs. Business analysis also gives management business intelligence, and allows them to study business performance, explain shortfalls in performance and devise strategies for improvement.
Outsource2india's Approach to Business Analysis
At O2I, business analysis goes through a series of well-defined steps. It starts from gaining a basic understanding of the business and goes on to the final design, deployment and validation of the IT solution to meet the organization's needs most effectively. The following is the list of steps in the business analysis process at Outsource2india -
- Understanding the business
- Competitor Analysis
- Market Analysis
- Defining Project Scope and Objectives
- Requirements Gathering
- Requirements Analysis and Documentation
- Communicating Requirements
- Designing the Solution
- Implementation and Testing the Solution
Understanding the Business
This is the first step towards achieving success in software consulting and application development. Business analysts gain a clear and in-depth understanding of the business, its products, processes and the people behind it during this stage of the business analysis process. The validity of the business model and its underlying assumptions are examined and the marketing plan and performance of the business evaluated.
A better understanding of one's competition goes a long way in improving the business performance of an enterprise. Since business analysis is focused on optimization of business processes, studying competitor behavior is a valuable input to any business analysis exercise. Based on business intelligence provided by business analysts top management can devise strategies to counter specific competitor products and offers, better their value proposition and try to achieve greater market share.
'Who is your target market? What is your market share? Have you maintained a steady growth rate in the market or have there been wide variations in your market share? Who is your closest competitor?'
Analyzing the market can give you answers to many of these critical questions. Keeping your pulse on the market is a surefire way of ensuring that your business stays current and competitive. Market analysis identifies the target audience for your products and services, evaluates the actual and potential size of your target market and your positioning strategy in the market.
Often your performance in the market may indicate whether you need to take a decision towards BPI (Business Process Improvement) or re-engineering. A study of the market also helps you to identify new products or services that you can bring out or potential niche areas that you can service.
Defining Scope and Objectives of the Project
Clearly defining the scope and objectives of a project is one of the most important stages in business analysis solutions. Project scoping is identified as a key start-up activity for any successful software development project.
Scope of a project is often wrongly associated with stating of project cost and time schedule. But time and costs of a project are merely outcomes of project scope.
Defining project scope entails developing and documenting a clear understanding on 'why' the project is being done and 'what' it plans to achieve. Thus a detailed project scoping should clarify and document the following elements -
- Purpose of the project
- Goals of the project
- Enterprise elements included in the project and those that are not
- Assumptions on which the project is based
- Implementation options
The project scope should be documented in as much detail as is possible. Business analysts should use diagrammatic representations where necessary to make all aspects of the scoping clear to all stakeholders and project teams.
Business analytics techniques for defining project scope approach the process from different perspectives. The main scoping techniques deployed at O2I are -
- Definition of project deliverables/outcomes
- Definition of project functionality
- Definition of Technical Structure of the project
Trends in business analysis solutions advocate the identification of the 'users' or 'stakeholders' of the proposed application, before going into the detailed requirements gathering process. Business analytics processes are streamlined when business analysts identify exactly who the 'end-users' or 'stakeholders' are and by approaching only the relevant people for requirements gathering.
Stake-holder interviews, focus group studies, use cases, data flow diagrams, prototypes etc are business analytics tools in use for requirements gathering. Existing corporate documentation such as process flow charts, training modules, user manuals and research findings are also referred to, in order to make the requirements gathering as detailed and exhaustive as possible.
Requirements Analysis and Documentation
Once the software requirements are elicited, they are thoroughly analyzed by business analysts. Requirements analysis helps review, validate and assess the feasibility of requirements. Some of the techniques used for requirements analysis are requirements animation, automated reasoning, analogical and case-based reasoning.
Business analysts document the Software Requirements Specification based on the results of the requirements analysis. Software requirement specifications serves as the base for the software design and development and can run into many pages depending on the complexity of the software application, size of the user groups and number of users.
A well-written software requirements specification not only lists out stakeholders' requirements but also communicates these requirements to the technical community for design and development of the system.
The Requirements Specification document drafted during the course of the software business analysis process serves as the basis for Systems Design by the development teams. It is also used as a contract between the client and the Project Team and for planning project schedules, formulating test plans and validation of project goals. Thus, a clear communication of the requirements specification to all associated groups is necessary.
Communication of requirements is a crucial stage in software business analysis. The requirements specification has to be communicated clearly to the customer, project manager, development team, testers and end-users to make sure that all involved in the software development process are clear on what their expected deliverables are. Formal and informal meetings, written documentation, process flow charts and diagrammatic representations are used extensively to communicate the specifications of the project to all team members. Business analysts need to have excellent communication and presentation abilities, strong inter-personal skills and sound conceptual knowledge on software development platforms.
The customers and end-users tend to view an application from the functionality aspect, while Project Managers, development teams and testers will have completely technical approach to the project. A skilled business analyst ensures that the project specifications are communicated to both the technical and non technical users with maximum clarity.
Designing the Solution
At this stage, the development team sets to work on identifying and designing a solution that best meets the stated requirements. The basic solution architecture is also determined during this stage of the software business analysis process. During each step of software consulting there is repeated interaction between the developer group and business analyst to ensure that the proposed solution is comprehensive and complete.
This stage of the business analytics process calls for expert understanding of systems design on the part of the business analyst.
The application development team focuses on all aspects of solution design starting from a prototype of the User Interface to creation of implementation models and test models from use cases.
Implementation and Testing the Solution
Once the design has been finalized and accepted by the customer, the systems team moves on to developing code based on the design and implementation models. A continuous process of testing goes on as each module is developed. The code is tested against requirements, test cases and test plans.
Integration and Quality Testing is carried out before the application is presented for demonstration and client acceptance. Through these stages the business analyst has to ensure that the application meets the requirements specifications and project goals. The application is debugged and fine-tuned based on client feedback. This is followed by actual deployment of the application on live servers at the customer site.
The Role of Business Analysts
Business analysts are trained specialists who play a vital role in the software consulting process. Business analysts elicit the requirements of users from proposed enterprise systems. Once elicited, they document and communicate these findings to the technology team for development of appropriate systems. They serve as a channel between the business users and technical teams, ensuring that there is a clear flow of communication between the two. Business analysts are accountable for designing and building software systems that are totally aligned to the enterprise needs.
They interact extensively with employees and stake-holders to understand their requirements. They gather, detail, and document requirements in a standard format accessible by application developers. Thus successful business analyst needs to have many skills -
- Strong conceptual knowledge about the business
- Familiarity with software development process
- Knowledge on computing platforms and environments in use
- Analytical abilities
- People skills
- Excellent communication abilities
Business Analysis Services and Software Consulting services from Outsource2india
At O2I, business analysis is a critical first step in all our software consulting projects. We employ skilled business analysts who conduct detailed review, analysis and documentation of your business processes and requirements. A clear and unambiguous documentation of all these requirements serves as the basis for the application design, development, implementation and testing of customized software solutions that are guaranteed to meet your needs. Our business analysis processes ensures that we develop robust, scalable and superior software solutions that exceed your expectations and at affordable rates.
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