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5 must-have business analysis tools

By: Emily Finlay


Business analysis tools are the not-so-secret weapons for every major improvement strategy. Given everything involved in analyzing and honing a business, these resources help analysts stay focused and organized.

When evaluating a business, analysts have to handle numerous tasks. Some of these needs include:

  • Collecting data
  • Visualizing processes
  • Mapping solutions
  • Keeping track of goals
  • Listing tasks
  • Monitoring workflows
  • Empowering team collaboration

This range of work, as you might have noticed, may require more than one tool. In this guide, we’ll explore multiple resources that can help you build a business analysis framework and keep your project moving smoothly. After reading, you’ll be able to choose the business analysis tools and techniques that work best for you.

Let’s dive in.

What are business analysis tools and techniques?

Business analysis tools and techniques are the resources and processes used to understand and improve business processes. The tools used depend on the project at-hand and the business analyst’s needs.

Below, you can find a variety of top business analysis tools and the ways you can use them to improve your operations.

1. Google Workspace

Collaboration is one of the critical elements of a successful project. Trying to keep track of information, files, and contributions (particularly in messy change-tracked documents) is often a headache. If you don’t have a good way of staying on top of these things, urgent needs can slip through the cracks.

With Google Workspace, you can keep all of your information in a single space that everyone can access easily. Schedule and hold meetings, create spreadsheets, develop presentations, and more, all within your Workspace. This suite includes:

  • Gmail
  • Calendar
  • Meet
  • Chat
  • Drive
  • Docs
  • Sheets
  • Slides
  • Forms
  • Sites
  • Numerous integrations

Which analysis techniques does it support?

2. Board

Data lies at the heart of every successful business improvement. For truly effective solutions, you need to understand the numbers behind your processes and results.

With Board, you can view, search, and compile your data into insightful reports. More importantly, its data modeling option allows you to visualize your processes based on the numbers. You can create simulations that show the effects of potential changes. This information and functionality clearly shows the best options, simplifying your solutions.

Additional features include reporting, dashboarding, planning tools, scorecarding, predictive analytics, and more.

Which analysis techniques does it support?

  • BPM – Use data to strengthen your strategies, modeling, and solution analysis.
  • Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) – Understand your strengths and weaknesses by the numbers for more accurate results.
  • MOST – Scorecards help you understand how well your objectives are met throughout your entire organization.
  • CATWOE – Simulate your solutions to see how this transformation will impact your business.
  • Six Thinking Hats – Prepare real data for more effective brainstorming under the White Hat.

3. PENCIL

PENCIL offers two great features that can transform your strategies and into actions. 

First, you can use the Decision Modeler to create a flowchart for your business decisions. This model allows you to see the requirements and needs of your processes. Built-in collaboration capabilities keep your team involved, allowing everyone to contribute for increased accuracy and speed. Best of all, the tool automatically saves multiple versions of your models. No matter the changes, you can always restore an older version and protect work from accidental deletion.

Once you have your model prepared, you can then convert it into a SMARTS Decision Manager project. This tool uses real data to test your model, uncovering any flaws or areas that could be improved. 

Simulating your solutions can save time and effort for your whole team. By implementing historical or test data, you can ensure accurate simulation results that help you create the ideal solutions.

Which analysis techniques does it support?

  • BPM – Use PENCIL to develop your models and test them with data to see how well they resolve your problems.
  • MOST – As you realign your business processes with your mission, model your solutions to determine their effects.
  • CATWOE – Develop a model that focuses on each element. When you have these visuals, compare the results to see where solutions may conflict.

4. Blueprint

Automation is often the solution for many problematic business processes. The more you automate your operations, however, the more complicated your improvements become.

Blueprint helps companies simplify and keep track of their automated processes. You can use this tool to design and evaluate your models. Built with collaboration capabilities, your team can work together to add their input and make adjustments as needed.

One of its most helpful features is its regulatory compliance checks. With Blueprint, you can always trust that your transformations won’t leave your business open to violations or fines.

Which analysis techniques does it support?

  • BPM – If your solutions include automations, you can create them and understand their impact within this tool.

5. MindManager

When it comes to visualizing processes, there’s no better tool than MindManager. Easily map and display relevant information, from the processes you use now to the solutions you’re proposing.

Your needs change with the operations you’re focusing on, so MindManager allows you to design the custom map that best illustrates each step. Choose from mind maps, flowcharts, matrices, concept maps, and a variety of other diagrams. You can start with a blank document or use a template to simplify your work.

As you move from brainstorming ideas to seeing how you can implement them, this tool shows you how to apply your time and efforts most successfully. You can develop strategies that empower your team and emphasize their strengths. Plus, as your plans change, you can ensure that everything stays organized and the best processes are always followed.

More importantly, you can manage your entire analysis project through this tool. Build a diagram to model your processes and a Kanban board to manage the tasks involved. You can also store images, documents, data, links, and anything else relevant to the project, all accessible by the rest of your team. Your team will always stay on the same page, no matter how you have to pivot and adjust.

Which analysis techniques does it support?

  • BPM – Lay out your processes and use your map to find areas for improvement. As you implement these changes, analyze your solutions and success to further streamline your operations.
  • SWOT – Develop your four-quadrant map to clearly understand these essential elements.
  • MOST – How can you realign your business to reflect your purpose? Use an illustrated model to visualize the steps you need to take.
  • CATWOE – Create a diagram with the potential impacts your solutions will have on every stakeholder to understand how effective these changes will be.
  • PESTLE – Ensure you understand every potential factor in your transformation by modeling the effects of outside forces. As things continue to change within your company, you can use this map to prepare for the threats you may face.
  • Six Thinking Hats – Use the results of your brainstorming session to understand how all of these insights work together. By applying this knowledge to your solutions, you can develop the most effective solutions.

Using these tools to build your business analysis framework

As mentioned above, most business analysis projects require a combination of tools for the most success. While you may choose your tools based on the work involved, you can also find the options that best suit your needs.

For example, say you were using the BPM method to evaluate your business. You might use Google Meet to get in touch with your team members and start discussing the project needs. Next, you can use your MindManager Kanban project planning board to assign tasks and strategize your processes. 

As you develop solutions, you can log into Board to see how your historical data affects the models you designed in MindManager. If everything goes as planned, you can implement your changes, using Blueprint to stay on top of your automated processes. Your day can then end with a Gmail message to the client, letting them know how everything is progressing.

Or, conversely, you can use a single tool to assemble your framework. As long as you’re able to share information quickly, develop actionable solutions, collaborate, and keep your project running smoothly, any tool is the right tool.

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