New tools to improve performance
on September 28, 2022 (last modified on October 23, 2022) • 26 minute read
It’s no secret that modern businesses have to deal with an enormous amount of data.
But did you know that 40% of reports that companies generate on a daily basis bring little to no value and result in a huge waste of costly resources?
In today’s data-driven world, knowing how to use the data to create the best outcomes and business solutions is what determines a company’s success.
For this purpose, companies use business analysis techniques.
By using different business analysis techniques, organizations can quickly recognize problematic patterns, identify needs, and skim through large sets of data to come up with the best business solution.
Since there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ technique, analysts need to understand the difference between them and know which should be applied in a specific situation.
We asked 50+ experts to share which business analysis techniques have proven to be the most important in their companies and rounded up 10+ techniques based on the advice shared.
Out of 52 respondents:
At least half of the respondents have tried two techniques: SWOT analysis and brainstorming. And about a third tried Business Process Modeling (BPM), MOST (Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics) Analysis, and The 5 Whys.
Let’s move on to the details and review each business analysis technique separately:
Business Process Modeling (BPM) is a business analysis technique most commonly used during a project’s analysis phase to determine the gaps between existing and future business processes.
This is the go-to technique for process improvement and it’s typically used by the IT industry.
BPM is displayed via a diagram that showcases sequential workflow (process, decisions, and information).
There are four tasks included:
The main advantage of the BPM technique is that companies can logically understand how different roles will impact business processes.
Steve Rose of Money Transfers says that the main goal of business process modeling is “enhancing and developing processes. Despite this, it is a heritage method that is regularly used as a business planning strategy during the project’s analysis phase. It is beneficial to recognize or assess the differences between a company’s current business operations and its chosen future business operations.”
Rose also goes into detail about the exact elements he considers as a business analyst: “Each business process does have a set of goals to achieve, and these goals must be able to satisfy business needs. Case studies, product backlogs, and evaluated and verified requirements are all examples of possible inputs.
Information is used to finish a task. Instead of being consumed, the information is transformed.
Information may originate from a variety of sources, such as consumers, internal organizational divisions, external resources, and even other systems and processes.
The resource can include people, equipment, and other buildings. Resources can be depleted by consumption, unlike information.
Every business process produces a result that satisfies the needs of the company. This outcome may be something that is delivered in writing, like a report or a bill, or it may be the conclusion of the procedure.”
In terms of how helpful BPM can be in addressing workspace difficulties, Steve says that “the BPM technique is a straightforward way to show how various roles logically interact with such a business process. Additionally, it is well-known as one of the most effective business analysis techniques just in the marketplace, particularly in the information technology sector.
Users can, therefore, simply visualize the execution process’s sequential steps. In turn, this makes it simpler for just a management consultant to accomplish challenging business analyses.”
Eden Cheng of PeopleFinderFree uses the BPM technique because it “helps us ensure that we are able to maintain an easy visual into how our team is currently handling their workload. This, in turn, allows us to consistently identify any problems in our business workflow and more accurately see where efficiency is being lost.
And as we develop strategies to address these shortcomings, it also enables us to better see what the benefits or implications there are should we decide to make any new changes, as well as highlight any potential problems that these new changes might inadvertently create in other areas, as well.”
Related: Business Intelligence Reporting: Definition, Benefits and Best Practices
SWOT sounds like a name for a special marine unit squad, but it actually stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
This is one of the most popular business analysis techniques in the world, and it’s used for analyzing a corporate structure’s internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats).
SWOT analysis is also one of the easiest to conduct and it can be used during any project stage.
What’s more, it doesn’t have to be strictly used for business analysis – it can also serve as an enterprise-level analysis to drive informed decision-making in every area of the organization.
Roland Foss of Bellhop Movers says that one of SWOT’s biggest advantages is helping businesses “plot their long-term course and decide when it’s time to pursue new growth opportunities. I especially like how this is an analysis that can scale from the level of a whole company down to specific markets, products, or even teams.”
Andrew Tsionas of Kaizenzo Inc recommends using SWOT for competitive analysis: “We prefer using SWOT analysis as it helps us understand our business’s competitive position and how we’re fairing against our competition. It also gives us a better overview of our strengths and weaknesses since it’s based on quantifiable data that’s generally non-biased. We can strategize and plan accordingly; giving us a clear picture of the changes we can make that can be applied to a real-life setting.”
Ty Wilson of CustomMade shares a great example of exactly how SWOT analysis helped him in their jewelry business: “Using SWOT analysis, I was able to identify that one of my business’s biggest weaknesses was a lack of online presence. This led me to create a digital marketing strategy that has helped me increase my online sales significantly. In this area, I am also able to study my competition and find ways to differentiate my business.”
MOST is a comprehensive business analysis framework used for understanding an organization’s ability and objective.
Analysts use MOST analysis to conduct a thorough internal analysis of a company’s goals and come up with the right strategies to achieve them.
Here’s what the acronyms stand for:
The main advantage of MOST analysis is that it captures the organization’s entire structure, from the top to the bottom.
Omer Usanmaz of Qooper Mentoring Software reminds us of another benefit: “I use MOST Analysis most of the time because I like that it provides a framework for understanding the relationships between the elements of my business. It is a simple and effective way to identify the key components of a business and the interdependencies between them.”
MOST analysis can also be extremely helpful for sales companies, according to Tim Connon of Paramount Quote.
“We set our mission for how many clients we want to obtain along with our objectives of revenue from sales. Once we know the closing ratio of our leads we also constructed our script and strategies based on the analytics and tactics from our sales experience. This is how we maintain a 20% closing average.”
Related: Goals Based Reporting: Everything You Need to Know
Waterfall Model is a progressive project implementation process that’s divided into separate phases and is sequential in nature.
Before analysts begin with one step of a project, the previous ones need to be completed. And, due to the sequential approach, they can’t go back to previous steps.
This leaves no room for mistakes that can have an impact on the later phases of the project.
The primary Waterfall Model stages include planning, commencement, analysis, design development and testing, implementation, and maintenance.
Luke Mandola Jr. of Shipley Do-Nuts is one of our respondents that mentioned the Waterfall Model being the best business analysis technique in his company.
Luke explains that it “primarily allows us to ensure that all of the different stages of a project we have were completed in a timely manner and that they would be properly integrated with one another, which help us achieve our goal of producing high-quality handcrafted do-nuts at Shipley.”
The Six Thinking Hats method is one of the most interesting business analysis techniques and it’s used as a team-based problem-solving technique where a broad variety of perspectives are represented.
This method is based on the premise that most people think and come up with ideas that are in line with their personality types.
For instance, if someone has an optimistic approach to decision-making, they could overlook some important downsides of a specific decision.
In essence, the model allows a company to look at a problem from six different perspectives.
Both you and your team will think beyond your instinctive position and explore a wide range of possibilities.
This allows you to carefully examine each perspective, without making any rash right/wrong decisions.
Once you’ve “tried out” the six hats, you should have some valuable insights at your disposal that will help determine the next step.
Here’s a breakdown of the six hats:
Some of the main benefits of the Six Thinking Hats analysis are improved creativity, organized thinking, better team inclusivity, etc.
Rhett Stubbendeck of LeverageRx uses this technique when making key decisions in the company: “This tool has enabled my teams to examine situations and problems from various angles, directing them on how to think rather than what to think. The application of six hats has made my business more productive and helped improve the quality of my decision-making.
For example, when a conflict needs to be resolved, I ask my team to consider the problem from the perspective of one hat at a time, where each hat lays down different ways of thinking, i.e., emotionally, critically, etc. This creates a productive atmosphere by minimizing negative behavior and also encourages innovation.”
The CATWOE technique is used for identifying problems and determining how a specific solution will impact the overall organization and the other parties associated with it (stakeholders).
In short, analysts use it to acquire a comprehensive understanding of each perspective involved and thoroughly evaluate any proposed action.
The acronyms stand for:
The main advantage of CATWOE is that different stakeholder perspectives are collected in one unified platform, which leads to a better understanding of each standpoint.
CATWOE is one of the more complicated business analysis techniques to apply, but Peter Drow of NC CuttingTools walks us through the entire process:
“This method ought to be applied at the beginning of the projects or strategic planning phase. Start by defining the following parties and posing the following queries:
Once we know the answers, follow them as a guide for final methods and solutions.”
Although old-fashioned, brainstorming is still one of analysts’ favorite business analysis techniques.
Brainstorming is a group activity (typically) where all the participants use creative thinking to generate new ideas, identify the root causes of issues, and come up with innovative solutions to complex problems.
Richard Mews of Sell With Richard says that brainstorming has always been very beneficial for his real estate business: I use brainstorming as a helpful business analysis technique to develop a variety of ideas, proffer quick solutions for challenging issues, and appropriately analyze business needs. Because the real estate market is volatile, independent brainstorming has proved to be the best for my real estate business as it often takes less time to achieve a conclusion. The group activity’s goal of coming up with solutions to challenges is quite different and needs a longer time to arrive at conclusions.”
Antoine Boquen of Horizons agrees and adds that brainstorming is “one of the most well-liked approaches to business analysis among its practitioners. This is a very creative method in which a group activity is carried out to develop ideas, identify the root causes of problems, and propose potential solutions to those problems.”
The 5 Whys technique represents a guided group exercise used for identifying a specific problem’s root cause.
There’s usually one facilitator that introduces the team to the problem and then asks the question ‘Why?’ referring to why the problem occurred in the first place.
Based on direct observation, the team generates ideas and answers. Once they agree upon an answer, the facilitator moves on to the next ‘Why?’.
The main goal of 5 Whys is root cause analysis, but it’s also very frequently used for repeat problem prevention.
In most cases, it requires five iterations of ‘Whys’ for a group to conclude the root cause, which is how the exercise got its name.
While the 5 Whys technique might seem even a bit too basic, Colin Toh of Headphonesty says that it “forces you to think deeply about the reasoning behind your decisions. The 5 Whys process helps you examine things from multiple angles, which creates a more accurate picture of an issue and gives you more perspective on how to resolve it.
The 5 Whys help you conduct a much more thorough analysis because by the third or fourth ‘why’ you’ve already had the chance to make adjustments, and answering those ‘why’s’ has even more impact. By the fifth ‘why,’ you can be confident that you’ve done the most extensive analysis you possibly could.”
Natasha Rei of Explainerd gave us a great example of how this technique helped her understand why her company was struggling with a low conversion rate: “During our last website redesign, we used the 5 Whys to figure out why our conversion rate was so low. We quickly realized that it was because our new design was too complex and confusing for our visitors. By making a few simple changes, we were able to increase our conversion rate significantly.”
Analysts use the non-functional requirement analysis when a technology solution gets altered in any way (replaced, changed, built from scratch, etc.).
When conducting this technique, business analysts usually focus on data storage and system performance requirements since they’re the most helpful in measuring performance factors.
This analysis is conducted during the ‘Analysis’ phase and later incorporated during the ‘Design’ phase.
Non-functional requirement analysis typically tests Logging, Performance, Reliability, and Security.
The PESTLE technique is used for analyzing environmental factors that affect a company’s performance and figuring out the best way to address them.
These factors include:
One of the main advantages of PESTLE is that it allows analysts to stay on top of potential threats that the company might face and minimize them.
Dean Lee of Sealions shares his experience with this business analysis technique: “When planning the time and methods for introducing a new product, project, or service, my organization finds this technique to be quite beneficial. In particular, the PESTLE analysis can be used to generate or assess the threats and opportunities parts of a SWOT analysis.
We used a tool called PESTLE analysis to evaluate both the internal and external environments in which a corporation functions. It offers a glimpse of the competitive, environmental, legal, political, economic, and social aspects that influence an organization’s working environment. Because of how frequently these elements might change, a company may need to frequently adjust its PESTLE study in order to stay current.”
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These 10 business analysis techniques received the most praise from our respondents, but there are a few more techniques worth mentioning:
Data analysis is a business analysis technique that usually revolves around several activities – gathering, organizing, filtering, and analyzing relevant data.
Depending on your industry, there are a few different data analysis techniques to incorporate, but the main goal stays the same – extracting valuable insights to support informed decision-making.
Henffrey Muthama of LedAsk said that the data analysis method can help you “find the most efficient path to solving your problems”.
Muthama explains that by using data analysis, you can identify the “root of the problem, find other factors that contribute to that problem, and then how to best solve it. This is the main reason that this method is considered the best for anyone working in the business industry.”
Related: 7 Data Analysis Questions to Improve Your Business Reporting Process
Benchmarking represents the process of measuring crucial business metrics and then comparing them with industry competitors, internal departments, and business peers.
Organizations use benchmarking to better understand the areas that need to be changed for the company to grow and improve its performance.
There are four types of benchmarking:
Considering that some of the most famous companies today were built by improving their competitor’s ideas and building on them (e.g. Facebook and MySpace), benchmarking can be an extremely useful tool in streamlining your own business.
Rafal Mlodzki of Passport Photo Online confirms this and adds that benchmarking is highly valuable due to its “universal application”.
Mlodzki shares his experience of how benchmarking proved to be important in his business: “When I decided to enter the market with my digital product, I realized that I shouldn’t reinvent the wheel but observe and draw conclusions from those who have already done it.
I discovered that it was possible to find out not only how my potential competitors work but also what practices in the industry are outdated and which ones are considered to be the most effective.
Thus, I saved a lot of time by conducting market research with the help of benchmarking and designing my business model according to the best international standards. As a result, my startup quickly began to bring the desired results.”
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System analysis is the method of analyzing and evaluating the various systems and processes within an organization.
The main goal of system analysis is to find a way to automate system mechanisms, which is why this technique is closely connected to IT systems in particular.
By analyzing the infrastructure, business tools, and different systems, analysts can find ways to optimize and improve business areas.
For instance, in an IT company, system analysis can revolve around examining the end-user implementation of a software product and finding areas for optimization.
Aima Irfan of InsideTechWorld went into detail about how system analysis can help businesses: “This technique is a method of problem-solving that is implemented by collecting facts and interpreting them. The facts help us to identify system weaknesses and business problems. It also helps in minimizing errors and solving multiple business issues. We are able to comprehend the organization’s perspective, identify goals, and develop a process to make the overall system efficiency. This technique also prevents the rise of irrelevant problems that might arise during analyzing systems.”
Market research is the process of analyzing the feasibility of a new product or service to confirm and improve your business idea.
This is done through researching consumer behavior, economic trends, and directly communicating with potential customers.
Market research allows a business to identify its target market and get actionable feedback from consumers.
This business analysis technique can be conducted by the business itself or by hiring a third-party organization that specializes in market research.
Typically, market research analysis involves surveys, product testing, focus groups, test subjects, etc.
“It gives you an understanding of what your customers want and how they behave,” says Boris Jabes of Census.
“This is because it provides companies with direct feedback from customers, rather than relying on third-party data or opinions. This allows you to make decisions that are in line with their needs and desires. Some other specific benefits of doing market research are:
Related: 12 Best Tools Marketers Use for Market Research
Workflow analysis represents the examination of organization workflows with the purpose of identifying room for operational efficiency improvements.
In other words, workflow analysis can be used to find whether there are any redundant tasks, inefficient layouts, or bottlenecks disrupting and slowing down the workflow.
By improving overall workflow, companies can boost efficiency and reduce the costs of completing different tasks.
Even the smallest of improvements can save huge amounts of money if the company is performing that specific task many times over.
Use case modeling allows business analysts to create a high-level overview of what your company’s system should be able to do and which target audience will interact with it.
In short, it’s a business analysis technique for defining crucial functional requirements.
For an efficient use case modeling analysis, business analysts work with actors – people who use your system and perform use cases to accomplish tasks.
Lulu Albanna of WCR Media explains why she incorporates use case modeling in her company: “Our organization employed this approach to ascertain a system’s requirements from the viewpoint of the end user. Additionally, it will assist us in locating holes that software development teams must fill. The modeling of Use Cases is an essential component of agile software development. This is due to the fact that it assists software developers in comprehending how a product will be utilized and the tasks that it must complete at various points throughout its lifecycle.”
Lean methodology is a business analysis technique focusing on increasing efficiency through continuous improvements. The goal is to capture consumer feedback early and often.
One of the most unique things about lean methodology is that it prioritizes experimentation and continuous incremental improvements instead of the elaborate planning and bureaucracy found in traditional business analysis methods.
Paula Mercer of Ventura X describes it as an “agile approach to project management that emphasizes continuous improvement, rapid adaptation to change, and increased customer collaboration, all while minimizing waste and maximizing value.”
The main reason why she utilizes lean methodology is that it “emphasizes collaboration with customers and stakeholders throughout the process. This helped us to better understand their needs and work together to provide services that meet those needs.”
Value stream mapping is the process of documenting, analyzing, and improving a company’s information flow.
In most cases, it’s used for speeding up the process of delivering the materials necessary to produce a service/product for a customer.
For companies that have delivery chains with complex processes, value stream mapping can be a great way to streamline it since it provides a comprehensive view of the entire process.
A single company can even incorporate several value streams, one for every individual product and service.
Joseph Mohay of Integrated Digital Strategies mentioned that value stream mapping is an indispensable part of his business because it “allows us to visualize in an easy-to-understand way what areas of our processes add value and which ones do not. It also allows us to identify opportunities for improvement, as well as those areas that are already performing very well.“
At the core of every successful business analysis lays great data interpretation.
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