Mastering Business Analysis

Mastering Business Analysis

James Robertson teaches you the craft of business analysis, via a pragmatic, integrated approach to business needs and solutions

7-8 October 2015 (10-18h)
Location: Golden Tulip Brussels Airport (Diegem)
Presented in English by James Robertson
Price: 1450 EUR (excl. 21% VAT)
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 Learning Objectives

What will you learn here ?

During this workshop, you will learn how to:

  • Discover real business needs, not just the obvious and most talked-about ones
  • Improve your business processes and systems by a combination of process modelling, systems thinking and innovation
  • Define the most beneficial scope for the analysis project
  • Use various models to understand and communicate the business processes and stored data, and ensure stakeholders also understand
  • Use business events to partition the work into natural segments for easier understanding
  • Be better at presenting and communication your ideas, and convincing people of your insights
  • Think systemically and innovatively, to find the best solutions for your client's business
  • Be a better business analyst

Why we organize this workshop: Increasing importance of business analysis and business analysts

  FREE BOOK for all participants:

Business Analysis & Leadership (Kogan Page)

Business analysis provides the foundation for almost every kind of business change. Business analysts investigate the work of the business to find both the problems to be corrected and solutions to improve the business processes. Business analysis is a combination of modelling, systemic thinking, innovating, communicating, process analysis, persuasion and several other analytical skills.

In short, the task of the business analysis is to uncover the real business, and communicate it in such a way that all stakeholders come to a consensus on the best way(s) to improve the business. The business analyst is both a modeller and a communicator: Models are used to understand the processes, information and behaviours that make up the business.The analyst must also communicate this understanding clearly so that all stakeholders arrive at the same view of their business.

The analyst is charged with guiding the business-oriented aspects of the project ensuring that the right problem is being solved, and finding innovative and optimally-beneficial solutions. This course teaches you on how to do that.

Who should attend this workshop ?

Business analysis is almost everyone's job - every employee has some responsibility for effective business improvement. The most likely job titles you would find at this course are:

  • Business Analyst
  • Systems Analyst
  • Project Leader
  • Requirements Engineer
  • Product or Program Manager
  • Product Owner
  • or similar titles.

We also believe Users and Software Customers will benefit from learning advanced business analysis techniques, and will understand better how these can contribute to the organisation's wellbeing.

Why should you attend this workshop ?

Our businesses thrive or flounder on the effectiveness of their business processes, both automated and manual. Businesses with good processes provide a better service and are more responsive to their customers, and vice versa.

Business analysis is the craft of enlightened improvement to business systems and processes. Moreover, business analysis gives you ways of identifying the areas where improvement projects will yield the highest value.

This two-day course in business analysis gives you the skills and tools to discover your client’s real business, and to determine and demonstrate the best ways of improving it. This course is a natural companion to Mastering the Requirements Process, where we teach the art of requirements writing. The models and understanding produced by Mastering Business Analysis are the optimal input and foundation for your requirements process.

 Full Programme

9.30h - 10.00h
Registration, coffee/tea and croissants
  FREE BOOK for all participants:

Business Analysis & Leadership (Kogan Page)

Registration (only first day)
Start of each workshop day

This programme is spread over 2 days, from 10h00 till 18h00, with a buffet lunch around 13h00. Workshop leader James Archer will already be present from 9h30 to answer your questions and talk about your specific business analysis, requirements and/or innovation problems if you want this.

For medical reasons, James Robertson will be replaced by James Archer. James Archer is an experienced business analyst who works together with James and Suzanne Robertson on various business analysis projects in the UK. He teaches this course in the UK and is the co-editor of the book "Business Analysis and Leadership" that you get with your participation. He was also awarded "Business Analyst of the Year" by the British Computer Society in 2009.

Business Analysis - what are we trying to do ?

Business analysis is about improving your business. To do this, the business analyst studies the problem space, models it and establishes the difference between the business as it is, and as it should be (from as-is to to-be).

The business analyst employs systems thinking and abstraction to see past the technological bias of the current way of doing things, to see the essence of the business - what should be happening - and to deliver, in alignment with management's goals, a model of the desired future state of the business.

Project Inception

Inception sets the foundation for the project. It makes use of the Business Model Canvas (with acknowledgement to Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur) to ensure that the project provides an improvement to the business, and contributes directly to the organisation's goals.

The right result can only come if the project is solving the right problem. By defining the value proposition, how that value is to be delivered, the customer/user segments to whom it is to be delivered to, and several other factors, the Inception activity ensures that the project is worthwhile and will provide continuing value.

We also look at some of the more conventional project inception models such as SWOT, ALUo, and PESTLE.

Business Reconnaissance

Many projects suffer from scope problems. Either the scope is set too small in the beginning and the project suffers scope creep later, or it is an inappropriate scope and the project delivers the wrong product. Sometimes the scope is too large and resources are wasted. In this section we set down how to determine the scope of the work to be studied and improved.

The resulting context model defines the scope of the problem to be solved by defining the interfaces between the problem and the outside world. Once this problem space/business area has been defined, the business analysis study can proceed confident that it will solve the right problem.

Additionally, we demonstrate how this context model can be used to measure the size of the business area and estimate the necessary effort.

Modelling the Business

Modelling is the core of the business analysis activity. The business analyst uses a variety of modellingtools to arrive at a precise and agreed understanding of the business. Firstly, business events are used as the optimal way of partitioning the problem space. Business events are significant happenings outside the business to which the business responds. These are prioritised and the response to each event is modelled as an end-to-end process, giving the analyst the advantage of seeing the big picture, as well as finding more and better opportunities for process improvement.

We teach a variety of models (business analysts should be able to select whichever is most appropriate) to graphically represent the business processes. UML and BPMN models are prominent, but we also teach alternative ways of modelling, each having its own advantages. Data flow models and scenarios are "business friendly" ways to show a process. Data models show the information used by the business -- by discovering the stored information, the business analyst uncovers more of the business policy.

Finding the Solution

The solution -- the real solution -- is not just a piece of software. Instead the real solution is the future state of the business. The software is only a part of the solution; the real (and beneficial) challenge is to transform the business into something better. We use several techniques:

  • Innovation means looking at the problem in a fresh way. The innovative business analyst finds better processes, systems, products and services that make the business function more effectively. Innovation is necessary -- if there is no innovation, there is no advancement from the previous state of the business.
  • Systems thinking means looking at the business as a whole, not just one small part of it, or at one business user and his software system. The systemic-thinking analyst is concerned with finding a solution that suits the whole of the enterprise, and does not cause unexpected detrimental effects of any changes.
Getting Approval

Having the best solution is not enough -- you have to convince others. In this section we show you how the persuasive business analyst communicates with the various stakeholders to ensure that everybody has a clear understanding and to win them over to the proposed solution.

Additionally, the business analyst frequently has to facilitate workshops, and to use communication skills to convince stakeholders of the real problem, and to bring sometimes disparate viewpoints to a consensus.

Ongoing Business Analysis

The role of the business analyst is evolving; it is moving away from the narrow role of a requirements writer to a wider range of responsibilities. Today’s business analyst must consider the enterprise as a whole, and whether his or her project is aligning with the rest of the projects in the enterprise, and whether the project is contributing to enterprise-wide goals.

The business analyst is the person best placed to maintain the cognitive thread of requirements as they affect various parts of the organisation. Knowledge gained by one project team must be distributed so that others can benefit, and knowledge from previous projects gathered to avoid duplication of functionality and systems.

We also briefly look at how the products of business analysis can be used as input to project management tasks. After all, if business knowledge and requirements are the foundation for the project, it stands to reason that a project manager should use the business analysis deliverables as the basis for management.

End of each workshop day


The Atlantic Systems Guild

James Robertson is a consultant, teacher, author, project leader whose area of concern is the requirements for products, and the contribution that good requirements make to successful projects. His work in the area of business analysis and requirements gathering is valued by clients around the world.

He is the co-author of the best-selling book "Mastering the Requirements Process, Third Edition" (Pearson, 2012, ISBN: 9780321815743). This book provides guidance on finding requirements and writing them so that all the stakeholders can understand them. He also co-founded the Volere approach to requirements engineering. His most recent book is "Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior", written with fellow principals of The Atlantic Systems Guild, a London and New York-based think tank known for its research into new systems engineering techniques.

James Robertson has worked on almost every type of information system. His experience has led him to write numerous seminars and papers that are well respected as sources of new software development ideas.

As well as teaching his seminars and workshops, he now advises companies on how to adapt modern software development techniques to fit specific projects, and how to effectively transfer the new technologies to the software developers within the organisation. He has formed a solid partnership with his wife Suzanne to consult on numerous large-scale projects in Europe and the United States.

James and Suzanne Robertson are principals and co-founders of The Atlantic Systems Guild.

The Atlantic Systems Guild Limited is endorsed as an education provider by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

Questions about this ? Interested but you can't attend ? Send us an email !