Business Analysis Techniques

Business Analyst Bill Headshot

There are a number of generic business techniques that a business analyst will use when facilitating business change.  I have experienced that most clients projects use SWOT, supplemented with 5Ys and 6 Thinking Hats.  But there are many more ways to facilitate change and you need to make sure you pick the right one for your firm’s needs and culture.

How about you?  What techniques do you use?



This is used to perform an external environmental analysis by examining the many different external factors affecting an organization.  The six attributes of PESTLE:

  • Political – Current and potential influences from political pressures
  • Economic – The local, national and world economy impact
  • Sociological – The ways in which a society can affect an organization
  • Technological – The effect of new and emerging technology
  • Legal – The effect of national and world legislation
  • Environmental – The local, national and world environmental issues



This is used to perform an in-depth analysis of early stage businesses/ventures on seven important categories:

  • Market Opportunity
  • Product/Solution
  • Execution Plan
  • Financial Engine
  • Human Capital
  • Potential Return
  • Margin of Safety



This is used to perform an internal environmental analysis by defining the attributes of MOST to ensure that the project you are working on is aligned to each of the 4 attributes.  The four attributes of MOST:

  • Mission – where the business intends to go
  • Objectives – the key goals which will help achieve the mission
  • Strategies – options for moving forward
  • Tactics – how strategies are put into action



This is used to help focus activities into areas of strength and where the greatest opportunities lie. This is used to identify the dangers that take the form of weaknesses and both internal and external threats.  The four attributes of SWOT:

  • Strengths – What are the advantages? What is currently done well? (e.g. key area of best-performing activities of your company)
  • Weaknesses – What could be improved? What is done badly? (e.g. key area where you are performing poorly)
  • Opportunities – What good opportunities face the organization? (e.g. key area where your competitors are performing poorly)
  • Threats – What obstacles does the organization face? (e.g. key area where your competitor will perform well)



This is used to prompt thinking about what the business is trying to achieve. Business perspectives help the business analyst to consider the impact of any proposed solution on the people involved.  There are six elements of CATWOE:

  • Customers – Who are the beneficiaries of the highest level business process and how does the issue affect them?
  • Actors – Who is involved in the situation, who will be involved in implementing solutions and what will impact their success?
  • Transformation Process – What processes or systems are affected by the issue?
  • World View – What is the big picture and what are the wider impacts of the issue?
  • Owner – Who owns the process or situation being investigated and what role will they play in the solution?
  • Environmental Constraints – What are the constraints and limitations that will impact the solution and its success?


de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

This is often used in a brainstorming session to generate and analyze ideas and options. It is useful to encourage specific types of thinking and can be a convenient and symbolic way to request someone to “switch gears”. It involves restricting the group to only thinking in specific ways – giving ideas & analysis in the “mood” of the time. Also known as the Six Thinking Hats:

  • White: Pure facts, logical
  • Green: Creative, emotional
  • Yellow: Bright, optimistic, positive
  • Black: Negative, devil’s advocate
  • Red: Emotional
  • Blue: Cold, control

Not all colors / moods have to be used


Five Why’s

Five Whys is used to get to the root of what is really happening in a single instance. For each answer given a further ‘why’ is asked.  The may possible paths of why answers should be explored.



This is used to prioritize requirements by allocating an appropriate priority, gauging it against the validity of the requirement itself and its priority against other requirements.  MoSCoW comprises:

  • Must have – or else delivery will be a failure
  • Should have – otherwise will have to adopt a workaround
  • Could have – to increase delivery satisfaction
  • Would like to have in the future – but won’t have now



This technique is used when analyzing the expectations of multiple parties having different views of a system in which they all have an interest in common, but have different priorities and different responsibilities.

  • Values – constitute the objectives, beliefs and concerns of all parties participating. They may be financial, social, tangible and intangible
  • Policies – constraints that govern what may be done and the manner in which it may be done
  • Events – real-world proceedings that stimulate activity
  • Content – the meaningful portion of the documents, conversations, messages, etc. that are produced and used by all aspects of business activity