Business Analysis: Get It Right The First Time

By Jed Grant

A foundational part of what I do revolves around understanding both the customer and the intended users. In today’s market “web designers” are a dime a dozen. Many of them touting their ability to quickly turn around a complete web site. To utilize a cliche, I think it’s a bit more valuable to work smart, both for myself and the customer and get it right the first time instead of creating a solution that doesn’t meet business objectives or consider the user experience. It is my opinion that spending some time understanding a project is essential. How much depends on the client, their budget, and the magnitude of the endeavor.

Currently I am working on a project that involves four large departments. Each has their own objectives, but they have all come together with the common goal of getting work done. It has been my opportunity to work with all four groups and gather requirements and then present potential solutions that are agreeable to all parties. Being placed in situations like this has provided many opportunities to look at my work from a strategic perspective and offer advice to customers from a farther reaching perspective. It’s also helped me to better understand how business analysis can strengthen the foundation and relationships in any project.

Client Education

Often times people know they need a web site, what they don’t know is exactly what a web site can and should do for them. It’s not my job to make those decisions for them, however, it is my responsibility to ask questions that will help them consider what they really want their site to provide. Of primary concern is what the customer wants the users of their site to do and then designing the simplest interaction for the user to accomplish that objective. Once this interaction is wireframed I present it to the client and provide my reasoning to insure that they understand the value of what they are getting. I’ll be presenting more on wireframes and how they bring value to a project in my next article.

Requirements Gathering and Documentation

Part of understanding a business is getting to the core concerns and objectives, not just surface level details. For example, a business objective may be to attract more visitors, however, the core requirement may be something like increasing sales my 10% with a new marketing campaign. Understanding the core objectives allows me to obtain focus and potentially bring ideas to the table that the customer hasn’t consider, this is after all my area of expertise. One of the most essential steps at this point is to document the requirements. Depending on the customer this document may contain only core requirements and the rest is left to the designer. Other times customers feel the need to make decisions all the way down to the color of buttons. That’s up to the customer, although you are paying to gain from my experience so I will still speak up and offer what I believe would be the best solution even if it isn’t something that has been mentioned.

Project Management & Scope

Once requirements have been understood and document it’s essential to step back and determine what can be done with the available budget and time line. At this point in the process I find that associating priorities with requirements helps the customer and designer come to an understanding of what needs to be accomplished and what will bring value faster if it is an extended project. This then becomes the project plan, allowing milestones to be established and expectations set. While these things still must remain flexible to adapt to the changing needs of any business that do provide a reasonable approximation for what needs to be done and when it will be completed before design and development begin. It has direct impact on how efficiently work can be accomplished because time is not being wasted trying to determine what to do next.

Get a Trackback link

No Comments Yet

Be the first to comment.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.