Business Analysis and the BABOK®

The set of generally accepted best practices defined by the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®) Version 2.0 provides a business analysis framework defining areas of knowledge, associated activities and tasks, and the skills required to perform them.   The scope of this standard covers pre-project activities, the full project life cycle and the final product’s operational life.  This useful business analysis reference has been developed by the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA), www.iiba.com, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. 

The BABOK® focuses on building underlying competencies that make for a successful business analyst on today’s projects.   The standards defines business analysis as “the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.”   A business analyst is defined as anyone performing these business analysis activities.

Integrating the proven principles, best practices and deliverables of the BABOK® across an organization’s project and product life cycles creates a flexible framework for essential work activities of the business analyst.  The standard allows us to build a business analysis methodology providing an integrated framework of elements for successful business analysis work that can be tailored to the project environment. 

The BABOK® is based upon a set of knowledge areas guiding the business analyst when they perform business analysis activities at any point in the project or product life cycle.  Knowledge areas define what business analysts need to understand and the tasks they should perform.  They do not represent project phases and their activities are not intended to be performed in a linear fashion.   Tasks from one or more knowledge areas may be performed in any order (such as in succession, simultaneously or iteratively) provided that the necessary inputs to each task are available.  

The BABOK® is not a methodology or a ‘road map’ for business analysis.  Instead, it is a reference manual of best practices that can be used to build a framework for business analysis activities supporting the activities and deliverables defined by an organizations existing SDLC.   It contains six knowledge areas, all supported by underlying business analysis competencies and practical techniques.  The knowledge areas are Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring , Enterprise Analysis, Elicitation, Requirements Analysis, Requirements Management and Communication, and Solution Assessment and Validation.

Enterprise Analysis-

focuses on how the business analyst identifies the business needs driving a project by performing problem definition and analysis.  In addition to defining and refining these drivers, the business analyst is responsible for defining a feasible solution scope that can be implemented by the business.  This work may also include developing a business case for a proposed project and performing feasibility studies.   

Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring-

is where the business analyst plans for how they will approach a specific business analysis effort.  The business analysis approach is a set of processes, templates and activities that will be used to perform business analysis in a specific context. The tasks in this knowledge area govern and monitor the performance of all other business analysis tasks.  

Elicitation-

defines how business analysts work with stakeholders to identify and gather their requirements and understand their needs/concerns.    Elicitation techniques are selected and applied when eliciting requirements at many levels of detail: business, stakeholder, solution and transition.  

Requirements Analysis-

describes how the business analyst progressively elaborates and prioritizes stakeholder and solution requirements.   In essence, the business analyst is taking the elicited information and making sense of it to derive the real requirements for the project. This knowledge area also focuses on graphically modeling the requirements as well as documenting them.

Requirements Management and Communication-

defines how the business analyst approaches communicating requirements to stakeholders.  Tasks and techniques for managing changes, conflicts and issues related to requirements are also described.  

Solution Assessment and Validation-

looks at assessing and validating proposed, in progress, and implemented solutions before, during, and after the project life cycle.    Requirements are allocated to solution components and organizational change readiness is assessed. 

This is a useful reference for any practicing business analyst at any level of experience.  The tasks and techniques provide an interesting checklist for evaluating your own level of business analysis competence.  There is also a business analysis competency model available from the IIBA based upon this guide.   Business analysts can apply for the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) exam to show proficiency with the standard and to complement their work experience.     

Susan Weese

Successful Business Analysts: How They Avoid the Five Most Common BA Mistakes

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