Business Analysis Approach

Business Analyst / Project Manager in Orange County, California

The purpose of the Business Analysis Approach is to define an appropriate method to conduct business analysis activities as defined in Section 3.1 of the BABOK Guide.  Based upon two scenarios, I have defined that one would do well to follow a “Waterfall” approach and the other would do well with an “Agile” approach.   No two businesses are exactly alike.  Are you treating all your customers the same?


SCENARIO A “PetMart Enterprises”:

PetMart Enterprises wants to open a pet store targeting exclusive, high-end customers worldwide. The company has little experience in this specific niche industry (high end pet products and services) and needs to act fast before another competing company gets to market first. Requirements are extremely unique to this market niche and not well understood by the organization.

In addition to being unfamiliar to the business niche, the company has little experience with project management or business analysis. This project will be lengthy, and is very complex. Therefore they need to hire the project team resources; managed by an experienced project manager.

The stakeholders have a low risk tolerance, and prefer formal meetings to discuss and approve business plan and operating requirements before work starts. As a group, the stakeholder groups are large and diverse, and distributed – – located in various buildings throughout the USA.

1      PetMart Enterprises

Risk Tolerance Low
Experience None
Team Cohesion Low
Culture Authoritative
Formality High
Recommended Approach Predictive


1.1   Risk Tolerance

The risk tolerance is known to be low for the stakeholders.

1.2   Experience

This is a new area of business for the company.  They also have limited experience in managing projects according to commonly accepted standards.

1.3   Team Cohesion

The fact that this company’s teams are so widely dispersed will make team cohesion difficult for this company.  Time zones aside, the in-person human factor is not there.  It will be a challenge to keep all the different silos and stakeholders in sync and not overlapping efforts.

1.4   Formality

This company is accustomed to formal meetings a documented approval structure.

1.5    Recommended Approach

A predictive (Waterfall ) method will be the optimal structure for this project, and probably many others within this company.  Thorough documentation, sign offs and regular meetings among all the teams will be critical to the success of any project in this company.

SCENARIO B “Orange Computing”:

Orange Computing has been in business for more than 40 years. First started as a mainframe payroll processing services business, the organization is located in California, but commands a global recognition of their brands, commanding a multi-trillion dollar annual operating budget. It has evolved from manufacturing and servicing mainframe computers to being a leading edge “hip and happening” producer of practical yet extremely profitable mobile computing devices.

Because of the company’s long-term, successful experience in the computing market space, brand loyalty is strong, and consumers quickly snatch up new products and services of Orange Computing as soon as they come to market. Profits and stock prices are consistently strong, and the company is seen as an industry leader in producing innovative mobile computing devices. Trying to stay one step ahead of the competition, Orange Computing wants to design a new cutting edge mobile computing device never before seen in stores, but is based on an existing mobile computing device that has a mature design and robust computing capabilities.

Even though the organization and products/services are mature, they still operate as if they are a small “mom and pop” operations, with the CEO always visible and congenially chats with employees each day. Employees are young with lots of ideas, and highly motivated to work 24/7 to produce quality products and services, staying one step ahead of the competition and holding on to market share.

Stakeholders and project team prefer brief stand-up, informal meetings to communicate, and often allow one person to represent the project sponsor as the “Product Owner”, such as the lead or senior Business Analyst.

2      Orange Computing


Risk Tolerance Medium
Experience Medium
Team Cohesion High
Culture Democratic
Formality Low
Recommended Approach Adaptive


2.1   Risk Tolerance

This company thrives on innovation, and is not afraid to take risks.  But at the same time they are not going jeopardize their brand with poor quality products.  Therefore, their risk tolerance level is moderate.  Their “shoot from the hip” sort of style will get them to market quicker as they release new products, but not without significant risks to their brand.

2.2   Experience

This company was originally founded doing something completely different than they are now.  While that previous experience resulted in a boom of cash, their old methods may not necessarily translate to their current product lines.  And that may be why they have a less formal style of management now.

2.3    Team Cohesion

The “mom and pop” culture is conducive to team cohesion.  Daily stand-ups and one-on-one meetings are common within this company.  It would appear that cohesion is not an issue with them.  But without further analysis, that’s really just a guess.

2.4   Culture

Given the fact that they allow anyone to represent project sponsors, and how they typically conduct their meetings, I would guess that the culture is democratic in nature.

2.5   Recommended Approach

Given the uncertain nature of their upcoming products, speed to market is probably more important than having all the details worked out beforehand.  I believe this company would be best suited to adopt an adaptive (Agile) methodology.