6 business analysis techniques to use in your strategic plans
By: Emily Finlay
For businesses, efficiency and effectiveness are key. Whether you’re executing a major project or determining the best ways to train new employees, it’s important to use best practices to achieve exceptional results.
Business analysis uncovers the strategies and processes that can help your business improve. You can find the flaws in your operations while determining what you need to change to fix them. Auditing and refining your business also offers the insights you and your leadership need to make informed decisions that will benefit your work moving forward.
Like any method, however, the power of business analysis depends on the methods used to execute it. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the top business analysis techniques. You’ll learn what each option offers and how you can use them to analyze your own processes.
What are business analysis techniques?
Business analysis techniques are the specific processes used to audit and improve business operations. These step-by-step procedures help analysts stay organized and make strategic decisions during the analysis.
What are the different types of business analysis techniques?
The most common types of business analysis include BPM, SWOT, MOST, CATWOE, PESTLE, and Six Hats Thinking. These planning methods can be used in a variety of industries and projects. From streamlining your operations to aligning your company’s purpose, these tactics can maintain your organization’s long-term success.
Business Process Modeling (BPM)
This technique, also known as business process mapping, creates a visual representation of the procedures a company uses. By visualizing the processes, teams and analysts can identify any problems. They can also see where efficiency is lost.
As you develop strategies to address these shortcomings, you can apply them to the model to see how they will affect the targeted process. This will also highlight any potential problems that these changes might create in other areas.
Business analysis steps: BPM
According to the International Institute of Business Analysis, here are the steps you should follow:
- Strategic planning – Start by researching and understanding the processes and problems you’re going to solve. Discover everything involved before creating your model.
- Business Model Analysis – Develop a model (such as mind mapping, flow charting, or diagramming) of the business processes with the information gained in step one. Analyze this visual and use it to guide your strategies.
- Define and design the process – Create the solutions you need and apply them to the model.
- Technical Analysis for complex business solutions – Use your visualization to analyze and improve the solutions.
Business analysis example: BPM
If a company is changing the way they produce a specific product, this technique can help them understand how adjusting that element will impact others. Rather than theorizing, they can use a visual flow to pinpoint obstacles and areas of improvement.
Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT)
These four elements define this technique, identifying internal (Strengths and Weaknesses) and external (Threats and Opportunities) factors. The most popular type of business analysis, SWOT drives informed decision making in nearly every area of business.
Business analysis steps: SWOT
Create a map with four quadrants, as outlined below, and use it guide your solutions and decisions:
- Strengths – What processes, resources, and other factors give us an advantage over competitors?
- Weaknesses – What holds us back from doing better and growing?
- Opportunities – What is happening outside the business that we can use to our advantage?
- Threats – What external factors can limit or hurt our success?
Business analysis example: SWOT
You can apply this technique to performance reviews, using the information you gain to help employees make improvements and celebrate strengths.
Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics (MOST)
If you want to make sure your company is maintaining its main goals through every decision and transition, MOST is the best tactic to use. By analyzing your business based on the following elements, you can turn big-picture objectives into achievable actions.
- Mission – Your overarching purpose that defines everything you do.
- Objectives – The goals necessary to accomplish your mission.
- Strategies – What you need to do to reach your objectives.
- Tactics – How everyone in the organization can execute your strategies.
Business analysis steps: MOST
Starting from the top down, define these four elements for your business. Then, use them to create processes that prioritize your main goals throughout the organization.
Business analysis examples: MOST
When rebranding a company, the MOST technique helps you discover and refine the heart of your organization. You can realign your processes, products, and marketing efforts to reflect your goals more accurately. If your company has strayed from these primary values or shifted to new ones, MOST will help you clearly define your views and objectives.
Customers, Actors, Transformation, Worldview, Owner, Environmental constraints (CATWOE)
Your individual stakeholders’ viewpoints affect your goals and processes. Every change also affects all of your stakeholders. With CATWOE, you can understand how any action impacts your organization, customers, leadership, and more.
Business analysis steps: CATWOE
This technique should be used at the start of the project or strategizing process. Begin by defining these parties and asking these questions:
- Customers – Who benefits from your work and products? How does this issue or the proposed solution affect them?
- Actors – Who is directly involved in this process? How will they affect it?
- Transformation – What are the ultimate changes that will occur by implementing this solution or new procedures?
- Worldview – How will this change affect the organization’s mission and big picture?
- Owner – Who is responsible for the affected system and how are they related to it?
- Environmental constraints – On every level, what are the limitations that affect the solution?
Once you have these answers, use them to guide your strategies and final solutions.
Business analysis examples: CATWOE
If a development company wanted to build a new shopping center, they could use this technique to understand the impact it would have on the company, their future customers, and the people living in the surrounding community.
Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental (PESTLE)
Decisions and changes aren’t made in a vacuum. PESTLE identifies outside factors that will affect the decisions made within an organization, as well as how the company’s changes will impact other factors. This technique allows businesses to plan for any potential threats that might develop and strategize for seizing new opportunities.
Business analysis steps: PESTLE
Walk through the following list to determine the forces that can impact your organization.
- Political – How do government policies, initiatives, and financial support affect your business and your proposed solution?
- Economical – What is the economic climate and how does it affect you?
- Social – How do trends and attitudes concerning population, media, culture, lifestyle, and education affect the business?
- Technology – What is the rate of technological development, particularly for information and communication, and how does it impact your changes?
- Legal – Do local and national regulations and employment standards affect your work? How?
- Environmental – Are weather, pollution, waste, and recycling factors a concern for your organization? What is their impact?
Use this information to prepare for threats and opportunities that might affect your business’ ongoing performance.
Business analysis examples: PESTLE
When using the SWOT technique to evaluate your company’s direction and future, you can use PESTLE to develop and analyze each element of the process. This will help you create a more detailed understanding of your business, particularly concerning threats and opportunities.
Six Thinking Hats
Often, teams lack enough diverse viewpoints to find and understand the issues that are keeping them from full success. With the Six Thinking Hats technique, you can use different ways of thinking to uncover new perspectives. Using these new insights during brainstorming sessions can hone your team’s ideas for better results.
Business analysis steps: Six Thinking Hats
In your meetings, consider the problem and possible solutions with the type of thinking dictated by each “hat” and step.
- Start with the White Hat, which focuses on hard data and logic. What information do you know or need?
- Move to the Yellow Hat, which stands for brightness and positivity. Look for the possible values and benefits through optimistic thinking
- Now play devil’s advocate with the Black Hat of judgment. Find potential problems, obstacles, and threats.
- The Red Hat focuses on intuition. Share your feelings, fears, hunches, and emotions associated with the solution or process.
- Use the Green Hat of creativity to consider possibilities, thoughts, and ideas. Try to think outside the box.
- With the Blue Hat, you will bring your brainstorming back to earth. Consider the big picture of the project or changes. Ensure your ideas fit your operations and procedures.
- Use this process to hone your solutions and approach to problems.
Business analysis example: Six Thinking Hats
The next time you think your project needs fresh eyes, gather your team for a Six Thinking Hats brainstorming session. You will be able to view your work in a new light and uncover ways to improve.
There isn’t a “right” technique for business analysis. Instead, use these tactics as they best fit your objectives. And don’t be afraid to combine these techniques for a single problem. As you analyze your business through different lenses, you can find the solutions that will offer the greatest benefits.