Exploring the Business Analysis Knowledge Areas

The BABOK® Guide is based on 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.

Six knowledge areas are defined by the BABOK® Guide. If you are planning to take the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®), Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA™), or the ECBA™ exam, you will need to memorize the high-level definition of each knowledge area, as well as the more detailed tasks, elements, inputs, and outputs. If you are interested in applying these knowledge areas to your work world, you will need to master the tasks and the skills in order to become an effective business analyst. The the six knowledge areas listed here:

  • Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
  • Elicitation and Collaboration
  • Requirements Life Cycle Management
  • Strategy Analysis
  • Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
  • Solution Evaluation

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Knowledge Area: Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring

In the Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring knowledge area, a business analyst plans how to approach the business analysis effort. The approach is a set of processes, templates, and activities used to perform business analysis in a specific context. The tasks organize and coordinate the performance of all other business analysis tasks. These planning and monitoring activities take place throughout the project life cycle. The results of this knowledge area guide the tasks found in the remaining five knowledge areas and set the performance metrics to be used to evaluate all business analysis work.

So, what is a business analyst to do? Well, the business analyst’s task list for this particular knowledge area consists of the following:

  • Planning the business analysis approach for the project
  • Determining how to engage stakeholders, including stakeholder identification, analysis, and categorization
  • Defining the business analysis governance activities for decision making
  • Addressing business analysis information management needs
  • Planning the requirements development and management process
  • Managing and reporting on the business analysis effort

Knowledge Area: Strategy Analysis

Strategy 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 strategic or tactical needs, 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 or feasibility study for a proposed project. Typically, the tasks in this knowledge area occur prior to or early in the project life cycle. The business analyst’s task list for this knowledge area includes translating business strategy into proposed new business or enterprise solutions by doing the following:

  • Defining and understanding the business problem or opportunity
  • Assessing capability gaps in the organization by analyzing the current and future states
  • Assessing risks relative to the proposed solution
  • Defining the change strategy for the initiative
  • Determining the most feasible business solution approach

Knowledge Area: Requirements Life Cycle Management

Requirements Life Cycle Management defines how the business analyst approaches managing and maintaining requirements. Tasks and techniques for managing changes, conflicts, and issues related to requirements are also described. Business analysts perform requirement management tasks as part of requirements development work by doing the following:

  • Managing requirements traceability
  • Maintaining requirements for accuracy and reuse
  • Addressing requirements prioritization
  • Determining how requirements should change
  • Facilitating requirements approval

Knowledge Area: Elicitation and Collaboration

Elicitation and Collaboration defines how business analysts work with stakeholders to elicit requirements and understand stakeholder needs and concerns. This knowledge area also addresses ongoing collaboration and communication during all business analysis activities. The business analyst’s task list for this knowledge area consists of the following:

  • Preparing for elicitation activities
  • Meeting with stakeholders to conduct the elicitation activity
  • Confirming, documenting, and recording the elicitation results
  • Communicating and confirming elicitation results with key stakeholders

Knowledge Area: Requirements Analysis and Design Definition

Requirements Analysis and Design Definition describes how the business analyst progressively elaborates to define, refine, prioritize, and organize requirements. In essence, the business analyst takes the elicited information and makes sense of it to derive the real requirements for the project. This knowledge area also focuses on graphically modeling the requirements and resulting designs as well as documenting them. When performing these tasks, the business analyst should ensure the feasibility of the requirements while defining, describing, and refining the characteristics of an acceptable solution. The business analyst’s task list for this knowledge area consists of the following:

  • Specifying and modeling requirements and designs
  • Verifying requirements and designs
  • Validating requirements and designs
  • Defining the architecture and structure of requirements
  • Defining solution options
  • Analyzing value and recommending a solution

Knowledge Area: Solution Evaluation

Solution Evaluation focuses on assessing and validating proposed, in progress, and implemented solutions before, during, and after the project life cycle. A business analyst’s attention is on the value that the solution will deliver to the enterprise, including the constraints that may impact value. While many tasks in this knowledge area take place later in the project life cycle, some solution-focused activities may occur quite early. The business analyst’s task list for this knowledge area consists of the following:

  • Defining solution performance measures
  • Collecting and analyzing solution performance data
  • Assessing solution limitations
  • Assessing enterprise limitations
  • Recommending actions to increase solution value

You will examine each knowledge area and every task within it in great detail in the coming chapters. You will need this level of knowledge to successfully prepare for and pass the certification exam. You will also need this level of knowledge to be an effective business analysis practitioner in your organization.

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