Strategic Analysis

in Business Analysis, Business Analysis, Business Analysis

Strategic analysis in the field of business analysis is an essential skill, especially for experienced business analysts aiming for advanced professional certifications such as CCBA or CBAP. What sets this analysis apart is its ability to assess the alignment between corporate strategies and projected initiatives, thus ensuring that resources are allocated in such a way as to maximize business value. Right from the start, even before a project is formally initiated, the business analyst plays a crucial role in helping to define the business case, which establishes the financial and strategic justification for the project. This preparatory process is fundamental to ensuring that the project is worth investing the company’s limited resources.

Strategic analysis in a project context

Strategic analysis precedes the initialization phase of Project Management, which concludes with the creation of a Project Charter or Project Mandate. This official document gives the project manager the authority to allocate company resources to the project, and marks the formal start of the project planning phase. This is where requirements analysis really begins, marking the transition to project design and implementation.

In agile approaches, the design and realization phases are often integrated, as illustrated by methodologies such as HERMES, which emphasize fluidity and flexibility in project development.

At the end of the realization phase, now called deployment in the HERMES context, the business analyst begins evaluating the solution. This evaluation continues well beyond the formal closure of the project, as the solution is exploited and the analyst continues to measure the achievement of benefits to confirm that the business case has been met. This continuous monitoring ensures that the solution remains aligned with evolving business needs, and maintains its relevance and value over time.

The ability to align strategic initiatives with overall corporate objectives is a marker of maturity and expertise in the field of business analysis. By focusing on strategic analysis, business analysts play a vital role in navigating the company through complex and evolving landscapes, ensuring that project investments generate maximum ROI and support long-term corporate strategies. This skill is crucial for analysts seeking advanced professional certifications, as it demonstrates a deep understanding of how projects fit into a broader business strategy and how they can be managed to maximize value for the organization.

Strategic analysis in the context of business analysis is fundamental to successfully navigating the ever-changing dynamic environments. This process begins with the crucial question: “Why change? The answer to this question can emerge from two main sources: the need to solve existing problems, or the ambition to seize new strategic opportunities.

When it comes to problem-solving, analysis can reveal dysfunctions in existing organizational solutions or in their systemic implementation. To ensure that the right problem is targeted, analysis techniques such as the Ishikawa diagram (or fishbone diagram) are used. These tools enable us to trace the roots of problems and clearly identify areas requiring improvement.

Strategic Analysis tools

On the other hand, the change initiative may stem from the organization’s desire to maneuver strategically to achieve its market, product, quality or other objectives. In this context, it is essential to identify the organization’s potential using recognized analysis techniques, such as :

  • PESTEL analysis, which assesses the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors that can affect a company. This strategic tool enables business analysts to consider the impact of the external environment on corporate strategy, providing a global understanding of the contexts in which the organization operates.
  • Porter’s 5 forces, which offer a perspective on an industry’s competitiveness and profitability potential by examining the external forces impacting the organization.
  • The BCG (Boston Consulting Group) matrix, a strategic tool that ranks organizational units (Business Units) or products according to their growth rate and market share, thus facilitating strategic decision-making on resource allocation.
  • MOST (Mission, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics) analysis, used to align tactical actions with the company’s strategic vision, ensuring that day-to-day activities contribute directly to long-term objectives.
  • McKinsey’s 7S model , which explores the internal elements necessary for an organization’s success. This model helps companies understand how different aspects of their organization can be aligned and harmonized to achieve efficiency.

These analyses enable the organization to project itself into future strategic solutions, using Porter’s generic strategies and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to evaluate strategic options. The Business Model Canvas provides a framework for designing new business models, while Capability Analysis and Balanced Scorecard provide insights into the organization’s current capabilities and performance.

Based on these assessments, the corporate strategy initiates a program, grouping together on the one hand enabling projects that create or extend the capabilities needed to realize strategic ambitions. On the other hand, these projects are followed by specific solution projects that provide the elements required to implement the strategy effectively.

The final step in the strategic analysis before the initiative is launched is to consolidate all this information to clearly define the goal or problem, the desired results, and the relevant constraints and assumptions. This summary enables you to make an informed decision as to whether launching a strategic initiative is timely and viable.

Launching the initiative

During the initialization phase of a business analysis project, determining a well-defined starting point is essential. This stage ensures that strategic objectives are clearly aligned with execution plans before resources are significantly committed in the realization phase. The importance of this preliminary stage lies in its ability to minimize the risks associated with the project, optimize resource allocation, and confirm the project’s direction so that it effectively meets the organization’s strategic needs.

One of the first activities in this phase concerns the development of approach variants for the project. The aim is to evaluate different ways of meeting the project’s objectives, explicitly including the zero option, which involves examining the consequences of taking no action at all. This assessment puts the importance of the project into perspective in relation to the current situation, and anticipates the results of inaction.

After considering the option of doing nothing, the analysis continues with a reflection on the scope of the solution envisaged. This involves determining the project’s boundaries, its specific objectives, and how it fits into the organization’s overall strategy. This reflection helps clarify the scope of the project and identify the main expectations of stakeholders.

The initialization phase also includes in-depth consideration of how to implement the solution, weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of in-sourcing versus out-sourcing the project. Choosing between developing the solution with in-house resources or using external service providers requires a rigorous assessment of the availability of resources, the associated costs, the estimated duration of the project, and the potential risks. It is often at this stage that RFP (Request for Proposal) processes are initiated to evaluate the external options available that meet the criteria defined in terms of costs, resources, timescales and risks.

The role of the business analyst is crucial in establishing the award criteria for the tender, and in evaluating the proposals received against these pre-established criteria. This rigorous assessment ensures that the final choice of external service providers, or the decision to bring the project in-house, is based on an objective comparison of the available options.

The main outcome of the initialization phase is the formalization of a project contract or mandate, which specifies in detail the objectives, constraints and resources allocated for the subsequent stages of the project. This document serves as the foundation for the solution design phase, where requirements analysis and the definition of specific designs begin to take shape. This structured, well-thought-out approach from the outset ensures that all subsequent actions are aligned with the organization’s strategic ambitions, maximizing the project’s chances of success.

Illustration Smart Gecko - Perfectionnez Votre Analyse Stratégique - large compass in the center

The concepts and methodologies we have explored throughout this article are rooted in the foundations of strategic analysis as defined in chapter 5 of the BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge) Guide. This comprehensive resource offers a structured framework for deepening the understanding and practice of strategic analysis, a crucial field for business analysts who aspire to exert a significant impact on the strategic orientations of their organization.

For those engaged or interested in professional development in the field of Business Analysis, particularly with a view to obtaining CCBA (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis) or CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) certifications, strategic analysis represents a key competency. Mastering this discipline is not only essential for passing the CBAP exam, but also for making an effective contribution to corporate strategy throughout your career.

We strongly encourage those wishing to deepen their knowledge and skills in strategic analysis to consult our site for more information on the business analysis certifications offered by theIIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis ) as well as on courses specifically dedicated to strategic analysis. These resources are designed to guide you through the nuances of strategic analysis and prepare you to play a pivotal role in defining and achieving your organization’s strategic objectives.

Continuing education in the field of business analysis, and strategic analysis in particular, is an investment in your career that will equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to navigate the complex landscape of today’s organizations. Whether you’re at the beginning of your career in business analysis or looking to consolidate and extend your expertise, the CCBA and CBAP certifications, supported by the BABOK teachings, are valuable milestones on your professional path.

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