What Is Operational Business Analysis and When Do You Need It?
During software development and maintenance, operational business analysis ensures that an evolving IT solution meets the changing needs of the business community. This is the level most concerned with the business use of information technology. If the software product is a purchased package, this level deals with analyzing how to manipulate the configuration to achieve the stakeholder requirements. Otherwise, operational business analysis decomposes User Stories (during a Sprint in the Agile world) or Stakeholder Requirements (in a traditional SDM) to identify Solution and Transition Requirements.
In the absence of a designated “Business Analyst”, developers and/or testers use business analysis techniques to flush out the details of a user story, work item, or stakeholder requirement to the level of comfort they need to code or test the software. Developers and testers have by virtue of their jobs opposite albeit complimentary roles relative to the delivery of working software. Developers try to ensure their code works while testers try to figure out how to break it. As a result, the solution-level requirements these two parties identify are often inconsistent and can easily lead to unnecessary rework or refactoring.
The use of a consistent set of sound business analysis techniques significantly reduces misunderstanding and misinterpreting the intent of the user stories and/or stakeholder requirements.
Efficient Operational Business Analysis Deals With:
- Elaborating user stories and/or stakeholder requirements to identify solution functional requirements
- Decomposing stakeholder requirements to identify measurable non-functional requirements (aka solution quality requirements)
- Grouping user stories and/or solution requirements into a variety of buckets for validation
- Facilitating requirements gathering workshops, iteration planning sessions, and story elaboration meetings
- Identifying and prototyping user views, data entities, data elements, and interfaces
- Using diagrams or models to ensure effective communication between all involved parties at the appropriate level of detail
- Presenting well-structured user stories and solution requirements
- Leveraging the differences between themes, epics, user stories, iterations for Agile – and business, stakeholder, solution, and transition requirements in a traditional SDM – for effective communication
- Analyzing elaborated solution requirements for clarity, completeness, and consistency
- Defining transition requirements based on the impact that the proposed solution will have on the organization and each stakeholder
Many Roles Do Operational Business Analysis
Whoever executes operational business analysis benefits greatly by the use of proven techniques designed specifically to identify and eliminate inconsistencies, communicate clear intent, and reduce inefficiencies in a complex set of user stories, work items, and solution requirements. Ultimately, the best-coded and best-tested software solution is only valuable if its target audiences use it to achieve their desired business outcomes.