Leveraging Business Analysis Techniques for ITSM Work

I came across IIBA’s Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) a few years ago, and I like its overall requirement analysis and handling approach. Business analysis is nothing new, and people have been doing BA work for a long time. Still, it was good to see the BA discipline get captured and documented in a well-organized framework, just like having ITIL for managing IT. Over time, I have developed a simple workflow for doing the ITSM work using some of the BA techniques and tools. If you need a starting point for developing your own ITSM/BA practice, I will go into details on some of the steps within the workflow.

Business Analysis Workflow Sample

Come Across a Business Idea or a Need: This is the starting point of the process. A business idea may have come from an organization within the company, or a need may have risen. In any case, we want to know whether it makes sense to turn the idea or the need into a project and understand how well the project will match with the business’ overall goals and mission. In the next two activities, we will try to gather more information about the project and analyze them further.

Capture Previous Lessons: One way to understand the degree of business alignment for a project is to learn from previous, similar projects. If you have such information available, it will be very useful to leverage it for the alignment decision. I like this particular activity from PRINCE2, so I have included it in my own methodology.

Conduct Enterprise Analysis: You may need to conduct a study, formal or informal, to determine the alignment between the project and the business needs. Your organization’s methodology will have a large influence on this particular activity and the outcome of the decision. If you need more information, Chapter Five of BABOK discusses the Enterprise Analysis topic extensively.

Initiate Business Case and Project Charter: Once the project is determined to have an overall positive business alignment, the information gathered during the enterprise analysis phase can essentially be turned into a business case. Also, many organizations require a formal charter document for any project. You should have sufficient information to initiate both documents at this point.

Gather Requirements: After the enterprise analysis activity, gathering requirements is the next key task. As we are all intuitively aware of, requirements are critical to get them right because they serve as the foundation for the solution to the project. Chapter Three of BABOK covers the knowledge area of Elicitation. The key thing to do, according to BABOK, is to “ensure that a stakeholder’s actual underlying needs are understood.”

Analyze Requirements: Once you have gathered the requirements, you need to make sure they are as complete, accurate, and consistent as they can be. You will also need to prioritize the requirements based on their level of criticality to meet the final project objectives. Chapter Six of BABOK covers the knowledge area of Requirement Analysis.

Formulate a Solution: Assessing and validating the solution will leverage the output from the enterprise analysis and requirement analysis activities. I also put a few decision points within the workflow to demonstrate that the BA process is not always linear. You may find yourself back to gathering more requirements, refining what you have, or coming up with another solution based on the new information that may have come along. Chapter Seven of BABOK covers the knowledge area of Solution Assessment and Validation.

Update Business Case and Project Charter: Once we arrive at the solution that meets the requirements and the business needs, we update the business case and project charter to include the updated information. The analysis, for the most part, is completed for this phase of the project. We will now focus on the implementation and subsequent assessment of the performance and effectiveness of the solution.

By applying the BA techniques, I believe a number of ITSM organizations and projects can benefit immensely from blending the BA discipline into their own methodologies or approach. The suggested workflow is just one of many ways to get the job done, and I believe it can work with various project management approaches such as the traditional waterfall, agile, etc. The BABOK offers a wealth of information on the BA practices and processes that you can use and integrate into your ITSM practices and processes.