Recommended Business Analysis Techniques: Baselining and Signoff

The BABOK® Guide recommends that business analysts use the baselining and signoff techniques to manage the solution scope and the associated requirements being developed for their projects. The project manager is also part of this effort as they are responsible and accountable for delivering the project scope and managing project risks. Ideally, the change management approach for the project should also govern any requirements changes being made across the project lifecycle.  One way to control these changes is by using the baselining technique.

The baselining technique is used when you are managing solution scope and requirements, and is defined as part of this specific task in the BABOK® Guide. Baselining requires the business analyst and the business analysis team to “lock down” their requirements at a particular point in time.  From this point forward, you are expected to follow the project or the organization’s change control process when making any changes to these baselined requirements.

A baseline is a view of the reviewed and agreed-upon requirements at a specific point in time.  A baseline is like a snapshot of the status and state of a project deliverable, such as a requirements document, at a specific point in time. Baselined requirements are considered to be the basis for future project work.  Once the business analyst has a baseline state for the project requirements, future changes to those requirements can be recorded and tracked.  Any changes to the baselined requirements must go through a formal change control process versus just being added in.  Remember, the specifics about the change control process relative to project requirements can be found in the requirements management plan for the project.

At a minimum, you need to maintain the baselined requirements by tracking the description of any requirements changes, the name of the person requesting the change, the name of the person making the change and the reason why the change was made.

In addition to baselining requirements, the signoff technique is also used when managing solution scope and requirements, and is defined as part of this specific task in the BABOK® Guide. Requirements signoff represents a formal agreement from the stakeholders that the content and presentation of the requirements was accurate and complete.  Most organizations require formal signoff on their requirements documents before subsequent work activities get underway.

On my projects, the signoff technique typically involves a face-to-face final review of either all of the requirements or a subset of the requirements with the approving stakeholders. At the end of the review, the approving stakeholders are asked to formally approve the requirements that were presented, either verbally or in writing.

These two techniques may be showing up on your CBAP or CCBA certification exams, so take note. Give me a shout if you have another BABOK® technique you would like to explore in more detail!

Susan Weese

Business analysts are increasingly becoming the critical liaisons between business and solution development (oftentimes IT), so they must communicate and relate with equal effectiveness throughout all levels of an organization. Download this free White Paper to see which five common obstacles business analysts face and how to address them.

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