In this episode, author and consultant Steve Blais shares with us his 11 principles of the business analyst, which provides guidance as to what a business analyst should do to achieve success.

This is part 1 of a 2 part episode.  The interview was longer than my usual episodes and full of such great information that I decided to split it into two episodes.  You can listen to part two in episode 127.


After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • What a Business Analyst truly is
  • Why you should focus on the product instead of the project
  • Users don’t have requirements (and what that means for you)
  • How focusing on individual SMEs can lead to problems

Show Notes

The concept of a Business Analyst as a position is somewhat constraining.  A person doing business analysis is not necessarily someone creating software requirements, but one who solves problems for the business.

Regardless of your role title, there are certain guiding principles that lead to success.


Principle 1: Focus on the Product

So often we focus on the solution; how the software will be written, the project timeline, and the budget.  Instead, we should focus on the product, not the project.

The product exists whether you make changes to it or not.  By focusing on the product, we can focus on the problem domain instead of getting caught up in the particulars of the project.

This mindset shift also helps you to see the impact that a change to a product will have on the people and processes.  You also will consider the value of the change before you start to determine if it’s worth doing.


Principle 2: First Define the Problem, then the Solution

We are frequently given a solution to implement instead of a problem to be solved.  But how do we know if it’s the right solution if we don’t understand the problem?

To combat this problem, ask ‘why’ when we’re given a solution.  Before you implement a solution, make sure you’re solving the right problem.


Principle 3: Users Don’t Have Requirements

Users and stakeholders don’t have requirements.  All they have is information.

We need to elicit that information and analyze it within the context of the problem to determine the requirements.  Remember that requirements don’t exist until we analyze them into existence.

This mindset shift alleviates some of the main complaints from Business Analysts; namely the business doesn’t know what they want and the requirements keep changing.


Principle 4: Focus on Information, Not Individuals

Instead of following the trail of subject matter experts (SMEs) to get answers, first determine the information you need to solve the problem.  Then find out how to get that information.

This solves the problem of biases toward a particular area and delays due to lack of availability of SMEs.


Listen to the full episode to hear about what a Business Analyst actually is and how to apply the guiding principles.


Be sure to check out episode 127 for the second half of this interview and to hear the remaining 7 principles.


Links mentioned in this episode:

Steve Blais

Steve Blais

Author and Consultant

Steve Blais is an author and consultant with almost 50 years’ experience in business analysis, project management, and software development.  He provides consulting services to companies developing business analysis processes. Steve was on the committee for the IIBA’s BABOK Guide version 3.0 and is the author of Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success.


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