Business Analysis in Software Development: Process, Strategy, and Value
Software projects fail for different reasons. The absence of quality business analysis might not seem like an obvious one, but if you do it wrong — the project is doomed. The value brought by BA serves as a basis for all the technical endeavors that come later. So, in this blog post, we will explore the key elements of business analysis for software development projects. We’ll explain the role and functions of the BA team and dive deep into the potential benefits that the BA phase can bring. You’ll also discover the general flow of business analysis in MobiDev which helps you decide whether this part of your software product development process needs closer attention and upgrade.
The Value of Business Analysis in Software Development
As a starting point to a successful software development project, business analysis has to come with an understanding of its objectives, and the methods to achieve them. From the business owner’s perspective, these aspects crystalize into the value items brought by the BA team, which can further be measured in ROI and actual product success.
Business analysis for software products involves a comprehensive examination and exploration of a project or product’s existing requirements and difficulties. The goal is to identify potential opportunities and solutions that leverage information technology to assist the client and the organization in accomplishing their goals. The end result of this process is the creation of software requirements specifications, which serve as a roadmap for all parties engaged in the development of IT products.
Let’s take a look at some statistics.
One of the main responsibilities and values of a Business Analyst is to ensure that all project requirements are documented in project specifications with technical details. However, the value of business analysis for a product is multi-faceted and can have a profound impact on its success. Here are some key aspects of the BA value:
- Decision-making process: Business analysis allows organizations to make informed and data-driven decisions through market research, competitor deconstruction analysis provisioning market fit, and via monetization mechanisms. By thoroughly understanding business needs and market dynamics, businesses can make choices that align with their goals and objectives.
- Enhanced efficiency: Business analysis identifies inefficiencies and bottlenecks in processes. This can lead to streamlined operations, reduced costs, and improved resource utilization.
- Risk mitigation: Business analysts assess potential project risks and uncertainties. By identifying these early, businesses can develop risk mitigation strategies and minimize the impact of unforeseen issues.
- Customer satisfaction: Through a deep understanding of customer needs, business analysis can lead to products and services that better meet customer expectations. This can result in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Competitive advantage: Business analysis can uncover opportunities for innovation and differentiation in the market. By staying ahead of competitors, businesses can gain a competitive edge.
- Alignment with objectives: Business analysis ensures that all projects and initiatives are aligned with the overarching business goals. This prevents the waste of resources on efforts that do not contribute to the organization’s strategic objectives.
- Change management: When implementing changes, business analysis helps manage the transition smoothly. It includes assessing the impact of changes on processes, systems, and people and developing plans to address any challenges.
- Cost control: By identifying unnecessary expenses and optimizing processes, business analysis contributes to cost control and helps in achieving better financial outcomes.
- Continuous improvement: Business analysis fosters a culture of continuous improvement within an organization. It encourages regular assessment and adaptation to changing market conditions.
Let’s move from a more general perspective to tangible benefits that can be received by the client who uses BA services. How does this look in practice?
Time savings with clarifying and documenting project requirements
- With good business analysis expertise, a client gets a complete process of requirements elicitation and documentation.
- BA creates all requirements documents that are really needed for development, so the client doesn’t have to do it.
- BA clarifies requirements for the team, so the client doesn’t have to spend a lot of time clarifying requirements for the development team.
- BA organizes requirements prioritization for better task and time management.
Budget savings by managing change requests and prioritizing features
- BA helps to optimize the efforts of the development team and focus the team on functionality implementation rather than business requirements clarification.
- BA allows for minimizing the number of change requests for ongoing features while developing.
Extra value with better estimating and project planning
- Reasonable suggestions and insight from BA can be used as a source for improvement and development.
- With BA, planning and estimating the development of new features is more precise.
- BA simplifies the requirements tracking process by adding integration between Jira tasks, requirements, design, and change requests.
BA is not a standalone unit, so to make it generate value for the project, you want to make sure it’s strategically integrated into each stage of the software development process from the very beginning. This comes with the development of a business analysis strategy.
Software Business Analysis Strategy and Areas
A business analysis strategy is like a roadmap for building successful software. It starts with understanding what the business wants to achieve with the software. Then, it identifies who’s involved, like stakeholder groups, team users, and end users. Next, it gathers and organizes all the requirements and priorities, making sure everyone agrees on what the software should do. It also looks at the current technology and market trends and assesses potential risks.
Throughout the process, it keeps communication open, adapts to changes, and ensures the software is secure, efficient, and user-friendly. Ultimately, it’s a guide that helps turn ideas into valuable and effective software solutions.
Business analysis encompasses various areas, each focusing on specific aspects of a business or project. Here is what to expect from a BA contributing to different aspects of business.
As you see, BA isn’t only useful for the initial stages of the software development workflow. The Business Analysis continues to help during other phases of SDLC, the design stage, and even after the product is released. By accomplishing walkthroughs, play-acting, and other testing activities, a business analyst can aid in ensuring that the project meets all the specified requirements. The participation of BA at each stage of software development helps the project stay on track toward the original business goals and avoid deadlock situations.
The other advantages of implementing BA into the development process are multiple, as BA:
- optimizes efforts of the development team, focuses the team on functionality implementation rather than business requirements clarification
- analyzes the requirements in advance, aligning the new features with your expectations
- minimizes the number of change requests for ongoing features during development
- decreases the time for architecture changes for new features
- plans and estimates the development of new features more precisely
- simplifies the requirements tracking process by adding integration between Jira tasks, requirements, design, and change requests
The advantages listed above draw a clear picture of how a business analyst role can support a team’s focus through a greater understanding of the business objectives.
MobiDev Approach to Business Analysis
At MobiDev, we’ve transformed the traditional approach to business analysis, elevating the role of the BA to a whole new level. We don’t just view BAs as mere requirements writers; we expect them to serve as strategic thinkers who contribute significantly to the project’s success.
Our journey with a client starts with reasoning the point that BAs should be more than just documenters of requirements. So, where does it all begin? A BA should possess the ability to pose these essential questions:
- What is the product’s primary target audience?
- What are the key pain points experienced by this audience?
- How can we devise solutions to address these issues effectively?
- Does the product encompass several features that cater to the diverse needs of end customers?
- Are there any additional features we can recommend for inclusion in the product?
- Is there potential for monetization and profit generation with the IT product?
- Do you have any innovative ideas for monetizing the product?
Our work continues when we get insights from our clients about their products, eventually shaping these insights into the bedrock of our operation — technical requirements. These requirements are not just documents; they are guiding the product development and testing.
Business Analysts can be involved in the project at different project stages:
- Presales & Discovery
- Analysis & Planning
- UI/UX Designs & Prototyping
Let’s dive deeper to see what happens at each stage of the project.
- Presales & Discovery:
Market Research: Business Analysts can gather data and insights to assess market opportunities and competition, helping stakeholders make informed decisions.
Requirements Gathering: We initiate discussions to understand client needs and scope, setting the foundation for project planning.
- Analysis & Planning:
Requirements Documentation: BAs create detailed requirement documents that outline project goals, functionalities, and constraints.
Risk Assessment: They identify potential risks and devise mitigation strategies.
Tasks Planning & Priorities: BAs help estimate project costs and prioritize tasks.
- UI/UX Design:
Sketch Creation: BA can create rough sketches to note the ideas from the client, figure out their initial vision of the product, or create a mind map before the UI/UX designer’s involvement.
User Flow Diagram Creation: With some information from the client and when it’s required, we can create a user flow diagram to understand how users might go through the interaction flow with the app or website to solve their problem or achieve their goal.
Feedback Gathering: BAs facilitate feedback sessions to gather and transfer the feedback to UI/UX designers, enhancing user experiences.
Сollaboration between the designer and the BA opens up great opportunities for improving the product and designing the user experience. Analyzing the requirements and business idea (product vision), the designer thinks in terms of screens, sections, and information architecture. At the same time, the BA thinks in terms of business and technical requirements. Thus, by combining the work of these two specialists, we can benefit from a synergistic effect. As a result, we have a product that solves business problems, helps end users achieve their goals, and meets all necessary requirements from a technical point of view.
Change Management: BAs help manage changes in project scope or requirements, ensuring alignment with initial plans.
Clarification: BAs act as intermediaries between developers and stakeholders, clarifying requirements and addressing queries.
Continuous Improvement: BAs monitor implementation progress, seeking opportunities for process improvement.
QA Support: BAs assist in tracking and prioritizing bugs, and facilitating their resolution.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT): BAs collaborate with end-users to conduct UAT and ensure the product meets their expectations.
Release Planning: BAs contribute to release planning, ensuring that the product aligns with business goals.
User Training: BAs may be involved in organizing user training sessions to facilitate a smooth transition to the new system.
Feedback Loops: BAs gather feedback from stakeholders post-deployment, aiding in post-launch improvements.
Throughout these project stages, Business Analysts act as versatile facilitators, bridging the gap between business needs and technical implementation, ultimately contributing to project success.
Business Analysis in Software Development: Case Studies
While the role of a Business Analyst and their contribution to the project is clear, here are some interesting examples to demonstrate how BA can drive the project towards its goals. The cases described are taken from our practice to show how BA value can change the project direction.
Case Study #1. Business Analysis Should Come First
Picture this scenario: A client approaches a company with a request for two or three developers and a QA specialist to bring their visionary idea to life. The client, armed with a technical background, has even dabbled in programming a portion of the application. In such a context, the inclusion of a seemingly extraneous role like the Business Analyst might appear perplexing. However, our company extends this service as a valuable proposition. The client, initially, declines this offer.
Client: (Initial Meeting)
- Client: “I need two or three developers and a QA specialist to bring my idea to life.”
Company: (Offering Business Analyst Services)
- Company: “We also have Business Analysts who can assist in refining and optimizing your project. It’s a valuable service that can greatly benefit your project’s success.”
Client: (Initial Decline)
- Client: “Thanks for the offer, but I think we’re good for now.”
Over the course of six months, the project team diligently tackles various features trickling in from the client’s side. These features span a spectrum, addressing distinct modules within the system, with different developers handling them in isolation.
Upon completion of the assigned tasks, the client approaches the Project Manager with a new question — can we assist in monetizing the project? Traditionally, this is a question best suited for a Business Analyst and or a product marketer, but, as you’ve guessed, the project has operated thus far without one.
The Project Manager decides to engage the Business Analyst department and assigns a team member to delve into competitor analysis, market research, and brainstorming monetization strategies. However, upon diving into the project, the Business Analyst quickly discerns a critical issue. The product, in its current state, fails to meet the business needs of the target audience and lacks features aligned with essential business requirements.
Client: (After Six Months)
- Client: “The project is progressing well, but I’m wondering if we can explore monetization options.”
Project Manager: (Seeking Business Analyst Assistance)
- Project Manager: “That’s a great idea! Typically, our Business Analysts handle such questions. Let’s involve them to explore monetization possibilities.”
Business Analyst: (Upon Investigation)
- Business Analyst: “I’ve assessed the project, but there’s a fundamental issue. The product doesn’t currently align with the business needs of your target audience, and it lacks features essential for your business requirements.”
This revelation underscores a vital point: considering monetization is premature when the product remains incomplete. Regrettably, it also highlights that had the client enlisted the services of a Business Analyst at the project’s start, they could have potentially saved a substantial amount of money over the past six months and, perhaps, propelled the product towards monetization sooner.
Case Study #2. Business Analyst Saves The Budget
Let’s imagine another scenario. The project has been running seamlessly with the involvement of a Business Analyst (BA), and this is what commonly happens:
- Client: “Hi, I’d like to add a new feature to our system. I already have the designs and here’s the explanation for how the feature should work. Please pass it to the team after you’ve worked on the requirements.”
- Business Analyst: “All right, let me thoroughly review it, and I’ll return with some clarifying questions shortly.”
After a careful examination, the BA delves into the client’s request, meticulously scrutinizes the current project features, and assesses whether the proposed addition aligns with the project’s requirements and the suggested implementation method. The BA subsequently approaches the client with a series of clarifying questions.
- Business Analyst: “Based on our discussion and the information gathered, it appears that our product already boasts a similar feature. Duplicating it doesn’t seem necessary. Furthermore, the new proposed feature lacks a complete user flow and requires further refinement.”
- Client: “Thank you very much! I appreciate your help. You’ve once again saved my budget!”
Here, we witness an illustrative example where, without the BA’s involvement, the client might have proceeded to convey the feature to the development team. This would have entailed valuable time spent on implementation and testing, only to realize, post-user feedback, that resources were allocated to a feature that wasn’t necessary. This initial case highlights the significance of having a BA onboard from the project’s inception, demonstrating how structured and comprehensive requirements benefit the entire project team.
Business Analyst Deliverables for Clients
“OK, I get the value from a business perspective. But what can I see as tangible deliverables?” (с) Client
As we mentioned above, the BA takes part in all project stages during SDLC. So of course, besides rescuing operations with client business and monetization ideas, the business analyst generates a diverse array of written artifacts that serve as valuable resources for the entire project team. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Client’s request #1: “Please, conduct a comprehensive market analysis for me. I require in-depth insights into my competitors and an evaluation of my current business stage and focus.”
- Market Research
- Competitor Analysis
- SWOT analysis
- GAP analysis
- Lean Canvas
- and many others
Market Research: This encompasses an exhaustive study of market trends, consumer behavior, and industry benchmarks. It delves into the macro and microeconomic factors influencing the business’s marketing strategies.
Competitor Analysis: A thorough examination of competitors, their strengths, weaknesses, market positioning, and key strategies. Download or make a copy and fill in the Competitor Analysis template as it provides essential insights for strategic decision-making and differentiation.
SWOT Analysis: A structured assessment of the business’s internal Strengths and Weaknesses, along with external Opportunities and Threats. This aids in crafting a well-informed business strategy.
GAP Analysis: Identifies the gap between the current state of the business and its desired future state. It helps in setting clear objectives and determining the steps required to bridge the gap effectively.
Lean Canvas: A concise, one-page business plan that outlines key elements such as customer segments, value proposition, channels, revenue streams, and cost structure. It serves as a visual representation of the business model, fostering clarity and alignment within the team. You can download or make a copy and fill in the Lean Canvas template to create a great overview of your business idea.
Target Audience Analysis: Identifying and understanding the qualities, requirements, and behaviors of people most likely to be interested in a product or service. To get insights into your potential customer base, download and fill in the Target Audience Analysis template. Here you will also find the B2B Target Audience Portrait and the B2C Target Audience Portrait templates to fill in for more detailed outlook on the type of clients who will be purchasing your product or service.
These artifacts empower the business analyst to provide actionable recommendations and strategic guidance, enabling clients to make informed decisions and enhance their business’s competitive edge.
Involving BA allows businesses to determine their target audience, identify competitors, and evaluate the market and the potential profitability of the business. This will help to develop a product or service that will be in demand in the market, form a competitive strategy, and attract investors.
For entrepreneurs seeking investors, such research is especially important. Investors want to see that the team understands the market and has a plan for success. Without this research, investors may consider the business non-viable. Such research can help you increase your chances of success, attract investors, and reduce the time and costs of finding a “profitable business idea.
Sometimes this analysis may show that the idea has already been implemented, and the market is saturated. In that case, it’s necessary to decide whether you are willing to invest resources to enter this market or explore other opportunities. Sometimes this helps with the discovery of new possibilities for the future product or it can help identify weaknesses in competitors that can be transformed into an advantage.
Client’s request #2: “Please provide me with an estimate of the time required to complete a business analysis for all the planned features in the application I have conceived.”
- Project Vision & Scope
- Feature List
- BA Estimates
Project Vision & Scope: This document outlines the high-level goals, objectives, and boundaries of the project. It defines what the project aims to achieve and what is excluded from its scope. It serves as a guiding document to ensure alignment throughout the project’s lifecycle.
Feature List: An inventory of all the features, functionalities, and requirements that the project should encompass. It acts as a roadmap, helping stakeholders understand what to expect from the final product, and serves as a basis for planning and development.
BA Estimates: This artifact provides estimates related to various aspects of the project, including time, resources, and costs. It offers a preliminary understanding of the effort required to execute the project successfully. These estimates are crucial for project planning and budgeting.
These artifacts collectively establish a clear project vision, define its scope, and provide valuable insights into the features and resources needed, facilitating effective project management and decision-making throughout the project’s lifecycle.
Client’s request #3: “Please prepare project specifications for the development team. I want them to fully grasp my business ideas and have precise instructions for implementation. Let’s create a document upon which we can rely throughout the entire development process.”
- SRS (Software Requirement Specification)
- User Story
- Acceptance Criteria
- Use Case Scenario
- BPMN Diagrams
- UML Diagrams
SRS (Software Requirement Specification): An SRS is a document that outlines the detailed requirements for a software project. It includes functional and non-functional requirements, system behavior, user interactions, and constraints. The SRS serves as a contract between stakeholders and development teams, ensuring a shared understanding of what the software should accomplish.
User Story: A User Story is a concise description of a specific functionality or feature from the perspective of an end user. It typically follows a format like “As a [user role], I want [an action] so that [benefit/value].” User stories are used in Agile methodologies to capture user needs and guide development iterations.
Acceptance Criteria: Acceptance criteria are specific conditions or criteria that must be met for a user story or feature to be considered complete and ready for acceptance by stakeholders. They provide clear guidelines for development and testing teams to ensure that the software meets user expectations.
Use Case Scenario: A Use Case Scenario is a narrative description of how a system or application interacts with its users or external systems to accomplish a specific task or goal. It outlines the step-by-step interactions, including user actions and system responses, helping to understand system behavior.
BPMN Diagrams (Business Process Model and Notation): BPMN diagrams are graphical representations of business processes. They use standardized symbols to depict the flow of activities, decisions, and interactions within a business process. BPMN diagrams help visualize and document complex workflows and process improvements.
UML Diagrams (Unified Modeling Language): UML diagrams are a set of standardized diagrams used to visualize, design, and document software systems. Common UML diagrams include class diagrams (for modeling classes and their relationships), sequence diagrams (for illustrating interactions between objects), and use case diagrams (for describing system functionality from a user’s perspective).
These artifacts are essential tools in business analysis, helping to define, communicate, and document software requirements, functionality, and processes, ultimately ensuring successful software development and alignment with business objectives.
Client’s request #4: “Let’s consolidate our project changes in a single location. I want to ensure nothing is overlooked and that we stay on track.”
- Change Request Form
- Change Impact Analysis
- Change Log
Change Request Form: The Change Request Form is a standardized document used to capture information about proposed changes to a project. It typically includes details such as the change description, reasons for the change, its impact on the project scope, as well as the name of the requester, and the proposed implementation date.
Change Impact Analysis: This document assesses the potential consequences and implications of a proposed change on various project aspects. It includes a detailed analysis of how the change affects project scope, schedule, budget, and resources. It may also outline any associated risks and mitigation strategies.
Change Log: This is a chronological record that documents all changes requested, approved, and implemented during the project’s lifecycle. It includes information about the change request, its status (pending, approved, rejected, implemented), who requested it, approval dates, and any related documentation or decisions.
These artifacts collectively facilitate efficient change management by providing a structured process for requesting, assessing, and tracking changes, ensuring that project modifications align with project objectives and constraints.
These are the most common requests from our clients. Any additional artifacts can be proposed as needed during the application development process, tailored to the unique requirements of each project.
Start with Software Business Analysis and Consulting to Succeed
In conclusion, it is important to emphasize the pivotal role played by business analysis in any project. As illustrated in our scenarios, a proficient BA serves as a guardian of valuable time, resources, and, most notably, budgets. The BA’s unique capability to meticulously examine, challenge, and refine project concepts ensures that only the most relevant and well-structured features advance to the development stage. By acting as the vital link between client aspirations and technical execution, the BA significantly enriches the overall project experience. See how MobiDev provides BA services to improve the software development process and achieve business goals.
In a world where every resource is of paramount importance, the business analyst emerges as a true ally, safeguarding projects from unnecessary diversions and expenditures. Their proficiency in distilling client visions into actionable requirements ultimately facilitates a more efficient, cost-effective, and triumphant journey throughout the project’s lifecycle. At MobiDev, we utilize BA expertise to ensure that all our clients receive in-depth business insights, and transparent communication at all stages of the process.
To make this article even more usable for your business, we’ve included a bunch of BA templates you can download, fill in and send us if you want to talk about your businees idea. These templates will help you refine your business vision and get actionable insights for further development.
Contact us below or book a call with a MobiDev expert to discuss your project needs.
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