Choosing the Right Framework for Your Business Analysis Projects: Predictive vs. Adaptive

When it comes to business analysis change initiatives, success often hinges on using the right framework for the organization you work for, the industry your business is in, and the existing structure of the organization. Whether you’re embarking on a new initiative or revamping an existing one, selecting the appropriate framework can significantly impact the outcome. The two prevalent methodologies Business Analysts (BAs) use are predictive and adaptive frameworks.

In this article, we’ll explore the nuances of each and provide insights to help you determine if your organization is using the optimal framework to meet your needs.

A screen capture from The BA Guide's Business Analysis Fundamentals course showcasing the Waterfall Approach in the Predictive Framework.
This screen capture from my course Business Analysis Fundamentals shows the Waterfall Approach used in the Predictive framework.

Understanding Predictive Frameworks

Predictive frameworks in business analysis attempt to work systematically to solve problems and are characterized by their structured and sequential approach to project management. Using this approach, BAs make a plan and then execute that plan one unique phase at a time. In this methodology, each phase informs the next, so the Analysis phase will inform the Design phase, the Design phase informs the Build phase, and so on. Predictive frameworks approach change with a clear plan laid out from inception to completion. It is for this reason that the frameworks in the predictive approach are called the Waterfall Approach and the V Model.

A screen capture from The BA Guide's Business Analysis Fundamentals course showcasing the V Model used in the Predictive Framework.
This screen capture from my Business Analysis Fundamentals course showcases the V Model used in the Predictive framework.

While this method offers predictability and stability, it can be difficult to accommodate changes and uncertainties that arise during the project lifecycle. Predictive frameworks are most suitable for projects with well-defined scopes, stable requirements, and the lowest risk tolerance.

Understanding Adaptive Frameworks

Adaptive frameworks, on the other hand, embrace change. They acknowledge the dynamic nature of business environments and prioritize iterative cycles of development and feedback. These approaches allow for continuous inclusion of evolving requirements, fostering collaboration and innovation to keep the change initiative moving continuously forward.

They are most effective in projects where requirements are subject to change or where stakeholder involvement is crucial throughout the process.

For more insight into popular Agile frameworks, check out my Business Analysis Fundamentals course. In that course, we dive into these frameworks, predictive frameworks (we’ll get to those in this article shortly), and more.

Here’s a clear table looking at the qualities and criteria of predictive and adaptive frameworks to help you understand how they compare at a high level:

CriteriaPredictive FrameworkAdaptive Framework
Project TypeWell-defined and stableDynamic and evolving
Predictability of RequirementsHighLow
Stakeholder InvolvementLimited upfrontContinuous
Risk ToleranceLowHigh


Real-World Uses of Predictive and Adaptive Frameworks

Both of these methodologies have their places in real-world organizations. Here’s a high-level look at how some of the biggest companies in the world make use of their preferred approach:

Predictive Approaches

Most organizations using predictive approaches do so because there is rigorous documentation and thorough testing required to move from one project stage to the next, with a high degree of risk if phases are completed simultaneously. Here are a few organizations leveraging predictive frameworks:

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) both use the waterfall approach for their complex and mission-critical projects, which require thorough planning, precise execution, and careful documentation.

Boeing also uses the waterfall approach because its aircraft and aviation system projects demand a strict sequential process to ensure each phase is completed before moving on to the next. This helps their team achieve the highest quality, adhere to safety standards and regulations, and manage risk carefully.

Ford Motor Company follows the waterfall approach when developing new products. Their teams emphasize each stage (Analysis, Design, Creation, Testing, and Implementation) to ensure rigorous review and testing before proceeding to the next phase. This helps them maintain high quality, manage risks, and control costs during the product development lifecycle.

Adaptive Approaches

Organizations that use adaptive approaches to deliver value quickly and efficiently through changes by employing teams in smaller groups to tackle requirements in small iterations (called sprints) so they can foster continuous improvement and results.

Spotify organizes its development and operations teams into small cross-functional “squads” using the scrum framework. This allows their teams to respond quickly to customer feedback, adapt easily to market changes, and innovate with new offerings.

Microsoft is known for adopting Scrum and Kanban into its software development and product management processes. These methodologies help Microsoft respond quickly to customer feedback and continuously innovate.

Toyota incorporates Agile principles and Kanban into its production and manufacturing processes. These practices help Toyota’s teams run efficiently and optimize resource utilization in its production line.

Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Framework

If you have the option of deciding between predictive and adaptive frameworks, consider important factors such as project type, complexity, predictability of requirements, stakeholder involvement, and risk tolerance. It’s also important to look at your budget and figure out whether it’s fixed or not. Often, with Adaptive frameworks, it can be difficult to work within a set budget because the solution can evolve as new requirements and challenges come to light.

Ask yourself and your team questions to determine the most appropriate approach and use real-life scenarios to illustrate the decision-making process.

Choose The Right Framework for Your Organization

The choice between predictive and adaptive frameworks is not one to be taken lightly. By understanding the characteristics, advantages, and limitations of each approach, you can make informed decisions that align with your initiative’s and organization’s unique requirements.

Remember, the success of your business analysis endeavors depends on selecting the right framework to guide you through the journey. Whichever framework you choose, remember to assess your projects, weigh the considerations, and embark on your change initiative with confidence!

– Jeremy Aschenbrenner
The BA Guide


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