sticky note with light bulb

How To Initiate a Business Analysis Project

Before getting started, a business analysis project can sometimes feel like a ‘choose your own adventure.’ As you begin, it can be exciting to embark on a new journey to help improve the company you’re working for in some way.

But it can also feel a little daunting. There are a lot of considerations and a lot that goes into a BA project. If you’re relatively new to the game, you may be unsure of where to start. You may be questioning yourself on how to get started, wondering who you should be involving and when, and how to achieve ‘buy in’ and interest in your project.

I want to help you get rid of that fear or anxiety when initiating a new project. In this article, I’ll provide insights into easy-to-follow steps that guide you on how to start your next BA project on the right foot.

Identify an Idea-Based Need or Opportunity That Will Benefit the Business

The first step in initiating a business analysis project is to identify an idea that will benefit the business. This idea should be based on a need or opportunity that can be fulfilled through a project. By identifying a problem or opportunity, you’re asserting that there’s some type of value that will come from your idea being fulfilled. It could be increased profits, more efficient processes, cost- or time-savings, improved morale for employees, or increased customer satisfaction – this list of possibilities and potential value could stretch on!

For example, a business might identify a need to increase customer satisfaction by improving the quality of its products, services, customer experiences, or other means. Alternatively, a business might identify an opportunity to reduce costs by implementing new technology, unlocking new options and considerations for process efficiency.

Create a Well-Defined Business Case

At this point, you’ve already done a lot of research and work for this project, but keep in mind that at this stage, a project still hasn’t technically become a project yet. But by creating a business case, you’re starting to move out of the idea phase and into the validation phase.

Once an idea has been identified, the next step is to create a well-defined business case. A business case is a detailed document that outlines the problem, identifies the solution, and plans out the steps required to achieve the desired outcome. The business case should also provide an estimate of the resources, timelines, and budget required to complete the project. You don’t need to go into too much detail within each of the steps – keep it general. You just want to provide an idea of a schedule and how long it’ll take to get there so that the company investing in this project has an idea of what to expect.

For example, a BA might create a business case that outlines a plan to reduce customer complaints (identify the problem) by implementing new software (propose the solution). The business case might estimate that the software will make the business 200% more efficient (showcase the benefit), and that the project will take six months to complete at a cost of $100,000 (estimate the cost in time and financial expense).

Get Approval From an Executive Team or Sponsor

Once the business case has been created, it should be presented to an executive team or sponsor for approval. The executive team or sponsor will review the business case to ensure that it is aligned with the business’s goals and objectives. If the business case is approved, the executive team or sponsor will provide the necessary funding and budget to begin the project. Typically, this is the VP of the department that’s going to benefit the most from this project, although it can sometimes be a conglomerate or a committee of a few different department heads. Regardless of who it is, there will always be someone who backs the project and approves the budget for it.

Once your business case is approved, you’ve officially started a project!

Create a Project Charter

Once the project has been approved, the last big phase in project initiation is to create a project charter. A project charter is a document that outlines the project objectives, identifies key stakeholders, and establishes a plan for project completion. The project charter should provide enough detail to allow newcomers and those being recruited as part of the project team to understand the project’s mission, goals, and anticipated timeline.

A project charter might outline a plan to implement new sales process to reduce customer complaints. It would then identify key stakeholders, such as the project manager, software developer, and customer service team, and establish a timeline and budget for completing the project.

Assemble a Project Team

A group of people working on their laptopsFinally, once the project charter has been created, the project team can be assembled, and the project can be kicked off. The project team should include individuals with the necessary skills, experience, and expertise to complete the project successfully.

It will always vary, depending on the work needed, but a team might include a project manager to oversee the project, a software developer to build or implement new software, and a customer service representative to provide feedback on the software’s effectiveness.

Eager to get started but unsure of where to begin? If some of the tools and techniques that I’ve mentioned (like how to create a business case or project charter) seem foreign to you, take a look at our course Project Management Techniques and Tools for the Business Analyst. In this course, I cover all of that and take it a step further by teaching you the steps to take and processes to follow after a project is initiated and approved.

With a little guidance and by following these steps, project initiation will become easier and more intuitive with time and practice. If you follow this formula, you’re increasing the likelihood that your project will be successful.

– Written by Jeremy Aschenbrenner, The BA Guide

Facebook
LinkedIn

Join the Conversation

Featured Posts

Check out our self-paced courses on business analysis

Related Articles

When you’re leading your organization through change initiatives, making well-informed decisions is necessary. Whether you're considering launching a new product, expanding into a new market,...
In business analysis, having a set of commonly accepted practices to follow is indispensable. The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) is a guide that...
You don’t have to be immersed in Information Technology (IT) to know that the industry moves quickly and is always changing. For this reason, efficiency...
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...

Check out our recommended courses