What Is Strategic Business Analysis and When Do You Need It?
At the enterprise or unit level, strategic business analysis identifies, defines, scopes, and prioritizes projects and initiatives in line with organizational goals, objectives, and strategies. To be effective, this business process relies on sound business analysis tools and techniques. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) defines many of these techniques in a knowledge area entitled “Enterprise Analysis” in its Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®).
At BA-EXPERTS, we acknowledge the importance of this knowledge area but consider the term “Enterprise Analysis” too misleading for common use. The term “Enterprise” in the name implies that this analysis deals with the organization as a whole. In the real world, strategic business analysis is an essential component of every project or change initiative to ensure that the outcomes are in accord with the goals and objectives of the entire organization and every unit within it.
To Perform Strategic Business Analysis, You Need To:
- Understand enterprise architectures and corporate cultures
- Conduct capability analysis
- Identify business opportunities and threats
- Recognize organizational strengths and weaknesses
- Analyze business problems
- Brainstorm potential solutions
- Perform feasibility and risk analysis
- Compare alternatives to identify pros and cons
- Apply cost benefit analysis
- Scope change initiatives based on organizational parameters
- Develop a business case for change
Strategic Business Analysis Is Not Just for Business Analysts
Although many organizations show a job title “Business Analyst” in their org charts, strategic business analysis is usually not the exclusive domain of any given position. CEOs, COOs, Marketing Directors, Production Control Managers, Product Managers, Product Owners, Subject Matter Experts, and other positions at every level of the organization often perform this critical activity. Because each contributor has a different skill set, value system, and vision, the outcome is inconsistent at best and counterproductive at worst. Either of these outcomes has negative consequences for the decision-making process.
Effectively executed strategic business analysis reduces waste significantly by reducing the number of doomed projects or initiatives. You can increase the effectiveness of strategic business analysis in your organization by ensuring that everyone involved has a shared understanding of this complex process augmented by a common set of tools and techniques that can deliver reliable, consistent outcomes.
The major purpose of strategic business analysis is to deliver the factual component to support business decisions. Supplying the equally essential emotional component, or “gut feel” necessary to make the decision remains the prerogative of the decision maker.