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What is Business Analysis? Types & Steps in the Process

10 Jul, 2024 - By Hoang Duyen

In the current dynamic business environment, companies are continuously searching for ways to increase efficiency, improve decision-making, and remain competitive. At the heart of these efforts is business analysis, a crucial discipline that helps companies understand their needs, identify problems, and develop effective solutions. Business analysis serves as a bridge between stakeholders and solutions, ensuring that business goals align with technology and processes.

This article delves into the core of business analysis, exploring its definition, the various types that address different organizational challenges, and the structured process that guides analysts from problem identification to solution implementation. 

What is Business Analysis?

what is business analysis

Business analysis is a research discipline that focuses on identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. It comprises understanding the structure, policies, operations of an organization and recommending solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals. Business analysis can be performed on various organizational levels and can cover multiple aspects of business, such as process improvements, technological solutions, strategic planning, and policy development.

Business analysis is a weighty discipline that assists organizations in understanding their needs, solving problems, and achieving their goals. By systematically analyzing business processes, gathering requirements, and recommending solutions, business analysts play a key role in driving organizational success and continuous improvement.

Types of Business Analysis

Business analysis can be categorized into several types, each focusing on different aspects of an organization's needs and challenges. Here are some of the main types of business analysis:

Strategic Analysis

strategic analysis

Imagine Business Analysis as a toolbox containing various tools for analyzing an organization. Strategic Analysis is a specific tool within that toolbox, which is used for examining the bigger picture and making strategic decisions.

Strategic analysis is the process of researching and analyzing an organization’s business environment and internal capabilities to formulate and implement strategies that will help achieve long-term goals. The primary aim of strategic analysis is to identify opportunities and threats in the external environment and align them with the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. This alignment is essential for making decisions that will propel the organization toward its strategic objectives.

The components of strategic analysis include both external and internal evaluations. 

Strategic analysis not only aids in identifying strengths and opportunities but also highlights potential threats and weaknesses, enabling organizations to develop strategies to manage and minimize risks effectively.

In essence, strategic analysis assures that the organization remains focused on its long-term goals, adapting to changes in the environment and continuously improving its strategies.

Operational Analysis

Operational analysis is a thorough examination of business processes, systems, and workflows to identify areas for improvement and warrant that operations align with the organization’s strategic goals. It guides organizations to achieve greater productivity, reduce costs, and improve overall service quality. This type of analysis specifies various aspects of the business, including production processes, service delivery, supply chain management, and resource utilization. 

The components of operational analysis include process mapping, performance measurement, and gap analysis. 

  • Process mapping documents and visualizes the steps in business processes to understand how work flows through the organization. 

  • Performance measurement uses key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess how well processes are meeting established goals and objectives. 

  • Gap analysis identifies the differences between current performance and desired performance, highlighting areas where improvements are needed.

One of the key benefits of operational analysis is its ability to uncover inefficiencies and areas for improvement. Organizations can identify bottlenecks, redundancies, and other issues that hinder performance. Addressing these issues can lead to smoother operations, faster turnaround times, and a more agile organization.

The process of operational analysis includes several steps:

  • Data Collection: Gathering quantitative and qualitative data on current operations, including process flows, performance metrics, and employee feedback.

  • Process Mapping: Creating detailed process maps to visualize and understand how work is performed within the organization.

  • Performance Measurement: Using KPIs and other metrics to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of processes.

  • Gap Analysis: Identifying gaps between current performance and desired performance to pinpoint areas for improvement.

  • Improvement Planning: Developing and implementing action plans to address identified gaps and enhance operational performance.

  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Continuously monitor the impact of implemented changes and make adjustments as needed to sustain improvements.

Financial Analysis

financial analysis

Financial analysis specifies evaluating an organization’s financial health and performance. It examines financial statements, ratios, trends, and other financial metrics to provide insights into an organization's profitability, liquidity, solvency, and overall financial stability. Through financial analysis, businesses can make informed decisions, plan strategically, and ensure sustainable growth.

The primary aim of financial analysis is to identify trends, evaluate financial performance, and make recommendations based on these insights.

Key components of financial analysis include:

  • Ratio Analysis can calculate and interpret financial ratios from financial statements. Ratios such as profitability ratios, liquidity ratios, and solvency ratios aid in assessing different aspects of the organization's financial health.

  • Trend Analysis analyzes historical financial data to identify patterns and trends over time. It assists in understanding the direction in which the organization is heading and predicting future performance.

  • Comparative Analysis compares the organization's financial performance with industry benchmarks or competitors. It evaluates the organization's relative performance and identifies areas for improvement.

  • Cash Flow Analysis examines the inflows and outflows of cash to understand the organization’s liquidity and cash management practices. It makes sure that the organization has sufficient cash to meet its obligations.

IT/Systems Analysis

IT/Systems Analysis is a specialized form of business analysis that focuses on evaluating and improving an organization's information technology (IT) infrastructure and systems. It analyzes hardware, software, networks, and data management systems to identify inefficiencies, security vulnerabilities, and areas for enhancement. If an organization optimizes IT systems, it can enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve overall performance.

Key components of IT/Systems Analysis include:

  • Requirements Gathering: Collecting stakeholders' business and technical requirements for IT systems. It assures systems meet users' needs and align with business objectives.

  • System Design and Architecture: Creating detailed design and architecture plans for IT systems, consisting of hardware, software, and network configurations. So, the systems are scalable, secure, and capable of supporting business processes.

  • Process Modeling: Mapping out current IT processes to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement. 

  • Data Analysis: Evaluating data management practices containing storage, retrieval, and security. 

  • Testing and Validation: Conducting thorough testing of IT systems to make sure they function correctly and meet specified requirements. It includes unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT).

  • Implementation and Integration: Overseeing the deployment of IT systems and making them integrate seamlessly with existing systems and processes. Business analysts should coordinate with various stakeholders and manage change effectively.

Market Analysis

Market analysis researching and interpreting market trends, customer behavior, competitive landscape, and economic conditions to identify opportunities and threats. It analyzes various factors like market size, market growth rate, market trends, customer segments, and competition. Business analysts who understand the market can make informed strategic decisions, target the right audience, and position themselves effectively against competitors.

Components of market analysis:

  • Market Research: Collecting data about the market, including customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. It can be done through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and secondary research sources.

  • Market Segmentation: Dividing the market into distinct customer segments based on characteristics demographics, psychographics, geographic location, and buying behavior. 

  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats posed by competitors. Businesses research competitors’ products, pricing, marketing strategies, and market positioning.

  • SWOT Analysis: Identifying the organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. 

  • Market Trends: Analyzing current and emerging trends in the market consists of technological advancements, regulatory changes, and shifts in consumer behavior. Users can anticipate changes and adapt strategies accordingly.

  • Market Size and Growth: Estimating the current size of the market to identify growth potential. Businesses analyze historical data and forecast future market conditions.

Product Analysis

product analysis

Product analysis evaluating and improving a product or a portfolio of products. It assesses the product’s performance, features, market position, and lifecycle to identify areas for enhancement and ensure that it meets customer needs and business objectives. Through product analysis, businesses can make discerning decisions about product development, marketing strategies, and resource allocation.

Components of product analysis:

  • Performance Evaluation: Assessing the product’s performance in the market, including sales figures, market share, and customer feedback. It answers the question of how well the product is meeting customer expectations and business goals.

  • Feature Analysis: Examining the product’s features and functionalities to determine their effectiveness and relevance to the target audience. It shows which features are most valued by customers and which may need improvement or elimination.

  • Customer Feedback: Collecting and analyzing feedback from customers through surveys, reviews, focus groups, and social media. Valuable insights disclosure of customer satisfaction, pain points, and suggestions for improvement.

  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluating similar products offered by competitors to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You will know what areas for differentiation.

  • Cost Analysis: Analyzing the costs associated with producing, marketing, and distributing the product. It evaluates the profitability of the product and points out opportunities for cost reduction.

  • Lifecycle Analysis: Examining the product’s lifecycle stages, from development and launch to growth, maturity, and decline. 

Risk Analysis

Risk analysis identifies, assessing, and mitigating risks that could impact an organization’s ability to achieve its objectives. By proactively addressing potential risks, business analysts can assure greater stability and resilience in the face of uncertainties.

Components of risk analysis:

  • Risk Identification: Identifying all potential risks that could affect the organization. It consists of both internal risks (operational failures, financial mismanagement, employee turnover, etc) and external risks (market fluctuations, regulatory changes, natural disasters, etc).

  • Risk Assessment: Evaluating the likelihood and potential impact of each identified risk. Business analysts must analyze historical data, industry trends, and expert opinions to estimate the probability or consequences of each risk.

  • Risk Prioritization: Ranking risks based on their likelihood and impact to prioritize which risks need immediate attention or which can be monitored over time.

  • Risk Mitigation: Business analysts implement controls, develop contingency plans, transfer risks through insurance, or avoid certain high-risk activities altogether.

Gap Analysis

Gap analysis is the systematic method of comparing actual performance with potential or desired performance. The aim is to determine the "gap" between the current state and the desired state and to outline the steps needed to close this gap. This analysis is often used to enhance operational efficiency, improve performance, and achieve strategic goals.

  • Current State Assessment: Evaluating the present state of the organization, including processes, performance metrics, and capabilities. Business analysts gather data on the existing conditions and understand how they align with business objectives.

  • Future State Definition: Defining the desired future state of the organization. It means setting specific goals and performance targets that align with the organization's strategic vision.

  • Gap Identification: Identifying the differences between the current state and the desired future state. 

  • Root Cause Analysis: Investigating the underlying causes of the gaps. Understanding why the gaps exist helps in developing effective strategies to address them.

  • Action Planning: Develop a detailed action plan to bridge the gaps. 

  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Continuously monitoring progress towards closing the gaps and evaluating the effectiveness of the implemented changes. It makes the organization stay on track to achieve its desired state.

Business Analysis Process: A Step-by-Step Approach 

The business analysis process contains a series of steps that help identify business needs, determine solutions, and ensure successful implementation. Here’s an overview of the typical business analysis process:

Step 1 - Initiation and Planning

initiation and planning

The initiation and planning phase is the foundational step in the business analysis process. This phase sets the stage for the entire project by defining its scope, objectives, stakeholders, and overall approach.

Define the Scope

The first task in the initiation and planning phase is to define the scope of the project. Businesses identify the primary objectives of the project, like addressing a specific business problem or seizing a new opportunity. Clear objectives provide direction and aid in setting the project's goals. 

Another essential aspect of scope definition is stakeholder identification. The business analyst must determine who the key stakeholders are, including both internal and external parties who have an interest in the project. Understanding their needs and expectations is the basic element to remain project-focused and relevant.

Develop a Plan

Once the scope is defined, the next step is to develop a detailed plan. Business analysts must identify the necessary resources, containing personnel, technology, and budget, and allocate them effectively. Additionally, specifying the expected deliverables and establishing quality standards guarantees that the project outputs meet the required specifications and stakeholder expectations.

Step 2 - Requirements Gathering

Comprehensive requirements gathering will create a clear roadmap for the project and prevent scope creep or misunderstandings later on.

Elicitation Techniques

The first step in requirements gathering is to use various elicitation techniques to collect information from stakeholders. These techniques include:

  • Interviews: Conducting one-on-one or group interviews with stakeholders to gather detailed information about their needs, expectations, and concerns. Interviews allow for in-depth discussions and clarification of complex requirements.

  • Surveys/Questionnaires: Distributing surveys or questionnaires to a larger audience to gather quantitative data and opinions. This method is useful for collecting information from a diverse group of stakeholders quickly.

  • Workshops: Facilitating workshops where stakeholders collaborate to identify and prioritize requirements. Workshops encourage open communication and consensus-building among stakeholders.

  • Observation: Observing end-users in their work environment to understand their interactions with systems and processes. It shows implicit requirements and potential areas for improvement.


Once the information is gathered, the next step is to document the requirements clearly and concisely. Effective documentation gives all stakeholders a shared understanding of the requirements. 

Analysis and Validation

After documenting the requirements, the business analyst analyzes them to make sure they are complete, feasible, and aligned with business objectives. 

  • Prioritizing Requirements: Ranking requirements based on their importance and urgency. 

  • Validating Requirements: Requirements are accurate, consistent, and meet stakeholder expectations. Validation can be done through reviews, walk-throughs, and feedback sessions with stakeholders.

  • Resolving Conflicts: Addressing any conflicting requirements and achieving consensus among stakeholders. Business analysts negotiate trade-offs to balance different needs or constraints.

Step 3 - Analysis and Documentation

analysis and documentation

Proper analysis and documentation minimize misunderstandings, resulting in all stakeholders having a clear understanding of the project requirements and goals.

Analyze Requirements

Business analysts analyze the gathered requirements, which are well-understood and properly structured. 

  • Prioritize Requirements: Ranking requirements based on their importance and urgency. Techniques such as MoSCoW (Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won't have) can be used for prioritization.

  • Perform Gap Analysis: Identifying gaps between the current state and the desired future state. What changes are needed to bridge the gap and achieve the business objectives? Gap analysis highlights areas that require improvement or additional development.

  • Feasibility Study: Assessing the feasibility of various solutions by considering factors like technical viability, cost, and time constraints. So, the proposed solutions are realistic and achievable within the project’s constraints.

Create Models

Creating models is an underlying part of the analysis phase as they provide a visual representation of the requirements and aid in understanding complex systems and processes. Common models used in this phase include:

  • Process Models: Flowcharts or process diagrams that represent workflows and illustrate how different processes interact. These models recognize inefficiencies and areas for improvement.

  • Data Models: Data flow diagrams or entity-relationship diagrams that represent data requirements and how data moves through the system. 

  • System Models: UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagrams or similar tools to represent system architecture, interactions, and relationships between different system components.

Step 4 - Solution Design

Business analyst translates the analyzed and documented requirements into a comprehensive design for the proposed solution. They create detailed specifications and models that guide the development and implementation of the solution. The goal is to develop a solution that meets all business requirements, is feasible, and aligns with the overall business strategy.

Define Solution Requirements

Refining and expanding on the requirements identified in the previous phase is a significant step in the solution design phase. 

  • Detailed Functional Requirements: Breaking down high-level requirements into detailed functional requirements that specify the behavior of the system. These requirements describe what the system should do in precise terms.

  • Non-Functional Requirements: Outlining non-functional requirements, such as performance, security, usability, and scalability. They define the quality attributes of the system.

Create Solution Models

Common models used in this phase include:

  • Process Models: Detailed flowcharts or process diagrams that depict the workflow of the solution. These models show potential bottlenecks and construct efficient process design.

  • Data Models: Entity-relationship diagrams (ERDs) or data flow diagrams (DFDs) that illustrate how data will be structured, stored, and accessed in the solution. 

  • System Architecture Diagrams: UML diagrams or other architectural models that represent the overall system architecture, including components, interactions, and data flows. They designing a scalable and maintainable system.

Design Specifications

Detailed design specifications are created to provide a blueprint for the development team. Key documents include:

  • System Design Specification (SDS): A comprehensive document that outlines the technical design of the system, containing architecture, data models, interface designs, and integration points. The SDS serves as a guide for the development team.

  • User Interface (UI) Designs: Wireframes, mockups, or prototypes that illustrate the design of the user interface. UI designs meet user-friendly and user-experience standards.

  • Integration Plans: Detailed plans for integrating the new solution with existing systems and processes. Integration plans address data migration, interface development, and interoperability issues.

Prototyping and Validation

Prototyping validates the design and gathers feedback from stakeholders. 

  • Developing Prototypes: Creating prototypes or mockups of the solution to demonstrate its functionality and design. Prototypes can be low-fidelity (e.g., paper sketches) or high-fidelity (e.g., interactive digital models).

  • Stakeholder Review: Presenting prototypes to stakeholders for review and feedback. It makes the design meet stakeholder expectations and requirements.

  • Iterative Refinement: Using feedback to refine and improve the design. This iterative process addresses any issues or gaps before the development phase begins.


Understanding the importance and intricacies of business analysis equips professionals with the tools to drive meaningful change and innovation within their organizations. By embracing a systematic and comprehensive approach to business analysis, companies can achieve their strategic objectives, optimize operations, and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving business landscape. Whether you are embarking on a new project or looking to refine existing processes, mastering the principles and practices of business analysis is underlying for achieving sustained success and growth.

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Hoang Duyen

Meet Hoang Duyen, an experienced SEO Specialist with a proven track record in driving organic growth and boosting online visibility. She has honed her skills in keyword research, on-page optimization, and technical SEO. Her expertise lies in crafting data-driven strategies that not only improve search engine rankings but also deliver tangible results for businesses.