Needs Assessment Τhe start of BA Journey
Identifying the actual needs concerning a project is one of Business Analysis activities. Needs are requests for change.
A change that has as an aim to move organization from a current state to a future state. The future state must be aligned with the organization’s strategic goals and aspirations. Business goals and objectives align to the organizational goals and objectives, but are at a lower level because they specify stated targets that the business is seeking to achieve. Achieving the future desirable state implies needs and solutions to these needs. It implies actions that must be taken.
Clearly defined strategic long term goals are vital for alignment of the future state description which is expressed with lower level goals to the desirable one. The future state has to be a “dreamland” with the sense that fulfills in the best way the expectations of all parties connected directly or indirectly with the organization.
Let’s explore the steps a business analyst has to take in order to perform a need assessment:
1. Ιdentify Problem or opportunity:
Τhis is actually the trigger for initiating a need assessment activity. There must be a potential threat or an opportunity that can be converted to a really valuable situation. Observing environmental factors and continues informal or formal cross department discussions are necessary in this stage.
2. Assess Current state:
Current state assessments are performed to learn enough about the problem or opportunity to adequately understand the situation without the need for conducting a full analysis of requirements. Information about the current state may be obtained through various elicitation methods such as document analysis, interviews, observation, and surveys.
The difficulty here is to achieve a realistic depiction of current state. Different departments and teams may have a different image of the current state. Is the job of a BA professional to conclude to the most accurate and realistic description of current state. There is a first level current state which can easily be extracted by KPIs and other sources of information and a second level current state which can be detected only after deep understanding and specific elicitation activities.
3. Determine Future State:
Determining the future state involves conducting further elicitation and analysis to define the changes necessary to address the business need to determine which existing capabilities should remain or which new capabilities should be added.
Future state statement must be clearly defined and measurable. Goals must be aligned with the organizations long term goals and to be mirror the strategic high level objectives.
It is really import to achieve common understanding about the future state. Common understanding is different from common view. It means that all the parties understand which the future desirable situation is as it was formulated by all stakeholders with compromises and agreements.
Once an understanding about the future state is obtained, business goals and objectives are created to succinctly communicate what the business wants a portfolio, program, or project to deliver.
4. Define the Gap And Proceed to Recommendations:
The required capabilities and features identify the list of net changes the organization needs to obtain in order to achieve the desired future state. The capabilities and features listed do not prescribe a solution. Additional analysis is still needed to determine how these capabilities and features will be delivered.