Business Analyst Contribution on Product Identification
Normally Business Analyst is called in when there are some reasons of concern or business transformation initiative undertaken by the business team or enterprise team. However, with the evolution of Business Analyst role, business analyst are making worthwhile contribution in product identification by using the basic principles of business analysis.
As business analyst, we have the required acumen to identify the niche, specialized product, customized to our organization or customer needs. To do this, we do not need any new skill sets or training. We just need to be witty in applying our methodology and principles at the right places and at the right time.
So when in our organization, our Business Analyst team was entrusted with the goal of identifying really niche, organization need -specific products, I was not tensed.
The principles that I followed for product identification were:
Enterprise Analysis – I started by understanding the strategy of our organization, the current year goals and objectives. It’s not always possible to have focus groups or one-to-one interview with the leadership team. But that does not mean you need to give up. I studied in details this year’s press releases, internal communications and other sources of information to get an overview of our organization current year’s goals.
As the goal statement is a very holistic one, it requires breaking the goal statement in order to align the organization goal with my assigned goal. I segregated the goal statement in the following segments:
- Enterprise level Goal – This explained the overall goal of our organization
- Domain specific goal – this enabled a detailed understanding of the core areas in a domain that is under focus
- Focus areas in the goal statement – This clearly mentioned the milestones we plan to achieve in the selected areas
By segregating the statement, I could easily identify which area should be looked into more deeply to create an impact.
Domain Analysis – To identify a product for a specific domain, one needs to have in-depth knowledge of that domain. It takes years to be specialized in a domain. However, that doesn’t mean one cannot gain domain knowledge by other means. It is not absolutely necessary that you need to spend years in a domain before you can think of identifying any product. Trainings, discussions with veterans and reading research papers can help you understand the domain, its current challenges and opportunities. However, some experiences do come handy. Owing to my experience in that specific domain, it actually helped me in identifying the challenges in a better way. However, I had studied a lot of research papers like HfS Research, Gartner, Forrester and many more to make myself aware of the current developments in my specific domain. I structured my research on the following points:
- Current Developments in terms of any recent protocols, new legislations and inventions
- Current Challenges
- Current Opportunities
- In-Demand Solutions and Products
Competition Analysis – It is necessary to understand what our competitors are doing in order to gain an edge in the market. It also guides us to identify what is under fire and what currently is in demand.
I took the help of research papers, websites, blogs and case studies to assess:
- Focus areas of our competitors
- strong and weak points of our competitors
- what strategy they are deploying to stay ahead
- what type of products they are building, buying or partnering, which is making their clients and customers happy
- The areas where our own organization is ahead as focusing on those strong points can further strengthen our market stand (since its always better to be ‘master of one trade’ rather than ‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’)
Process Analysis – After doing my initial research (I call it pre-condition analysis!), I started doing my ground-work. I analyzed almost all the processes within our organization, be it back-office, contact center or blended.
The procedure followed to zero-on the product requirements are:
- Process Objectives – Understand the process objectives and group all the processes of the same objectives. This would help us to identify the core features any product should fulfill.
- Process Characteristics – Each process type (back-office, contact center or blended) has their own characteristics. It includes their environment; the software’s used for daily transactions, their SLAs and SIPOC, quality scores and compliance.
- Process Challenges – To identify the challenges or improvement opportunities I performed:
- Passive Observation of the process tasks
- Focus groups
- One-to-one interview
From these requirement elicitation techniques, I identified the challenges and prioritized them.
Requirement Analysis – Finally when I was able to understand the challenges, I performed the following steps to identify the primary challenge:
- Grouping similar challenges in one category
- Then mapped them with the process type to understand which process type was most impacted
- Then I tried to quantify ,as much as possible, of the impact the challenge was causing or would cause if resolved
- Mapped them with the domain challenges to gain their relevance with the market condition
- Finally mapped them with enterprise objectives to analyze if resolving those challenges would actually be aligned with the organization objectives
Solution Identification and Assessment – Finally the most important task: Product Identification.
- To start with, we internally had brain storming sessions to shortlist the challenges which would impact us the most. Some of the criteria that we evaluated for our selection:
- How many processes faced the same challenge/ opportunity
- What impact the challenge/opportunity has on the process
- What is the estimated financial benefit the resolution of the challenge would cause
- How many of our competitors are facing the same challenge
- The impact it has or will have on our existing and prospective clients
- Then I had detailed discussion with the process SMEs, other business analysts and technical experts to identify the most feasible solutions for the selected challenges, performed in the earlier phase
- From the feasible solutions, with support from technical experts, I assessed and identified the solutions that already existed in the market. We analyzed the feature sets those products were offering, compatibility issues, the license fees and partnership opportunities
- Finally discussed with our technical experts the feasibility to build such a solution and shortlisted the features, customized to our needs
After product identification, it is necessary to promote and socialize your thoughts in your organization or to customers for visibility and adoption. It also helps in refining the product features and analyzing the shortcomings.
Some of the ways I think is good in socializing is:
- Publishing White papers
- Distributing e-copies of the product
- Presentation on the findings to the leadership team
I am really looking forward to suggestions and feedbacks for improving our procedure, so please share your thoughts!
Don’t forget to leave your comments below.