Many a times, we struggle to make enough time for business analysis or convince management to allocate resources and time due to other priorities. Though business analyst roles have been prevalent for decades, it is not well understood to people from many organizations/walk of life. Still I encounter situations when people ask me what you do and I say, ‘I am a business analyst’. It doesn’t ring a bell and then I must give elaborated answers with many examples/ scenarios. Wouldn’t it be ideal if people understood this role similar to when you say, ‘I am a doctor’, ‘I am lecturer’ and so on. Once I just said, ‘I am analyst’ then I got a response ‘okay, you are scientist’. I would love to hear from you if you have similar experience so please do share in comment box.  In this blog I will explore why it is important and what could happen when it is not done properly.

When analyzing a situation, it helps you to go into details, collating evidences, establishing sequence of events and to make logical conclusions bringing together different pieces of fact & findings. It enables detecting different symptoms and connecting them with different stages & outcomes to divulge the possible root causes. Once you have possible root causes, then you can test them to ensure correct root cause/problem is addressed. You shouldn’t be stopping for obvious assumptions but dig deeper beneath frontal appearance till most of your 5W (Why, How, Where, When, Who) are answered. It is obvious that unless you establish/identify actual problem and associated risks/dependencies/constrains, you can’t define right solution and options.

Similarly, analysis of requirements is necessary to ensure its alignment with business needs, to remove any duplication/ Ambiguity/ irrelevance, identifying any associated assumptions/risks/dependencies and to prioritize as per anticipated business values/ benefits. Having quality requirements save a lot of time which would otherwise be spent unnecessarily in revising requirements, fixing requirements bugs/defects and additional back & forth communication at different stages of the change initiative.

Sometimes it is hard to provide convincing benefits of analysis, but we could easily outline what could happen if it is not done properly. Some of common issues/situations, we come across frequently are:

  • Solution didn’t fix the problem because problem was not understood at first place.
  • Certain features/ functions developed were not required at all.
  • High percentage of bugs/defects during testing/ live proving are related to business requirements.
  • Requirements were not understood correctly and were lost in translation resulting in unwanted solution.
  • Technological solution was not required, problem could have been solved by operational process change or people change.
  • Solution is not fit for purpose as it lacks in utility, performance or scalability.
  • Opportunity is missed as it was not identified at the right time.
  • Certain impacted business area/ systems were not included to be part of scope.
  • We can’t deliver on time as we find more complexity and new urgent scope items.
  • We bought a fantastic system but it has had very limited usage for last 6 months as it has not been embedded successfully.
  • Failed to deliver business benefits and it was a waste of investment funds.
  • Business case is outdated and it doesn’t reflect correct justification of the business change.
  • Expenses are already multifold of the estimated cost.
  • Why spending much time in analysis when problem is obvious and solution is needed urgently.

Now question is what a business analyst could do so that above situations does not occur frequently. It is true that we cannot run analysis work just for the sake of analysis which lead project in analysis paralysis mode and becomes a never-ending process. It shouldn’t be that all analysis work be done upfront and also in name of analysis, you can’t just create a long document copying information from different sources.

Also, we always have time constraints, so we need to play smart using the right tool and techniques to complete analysis to satisfaction within stipulated timeframe and we have to move forward with certain assumptions/ constraints/ risks/ dependencies which you need to validate/resolve as you go along. We shouldn’t be perfectionist and spend lots of time in creating awesome documentation. Using visual artefacts certainly helps in reducing lengthy documentation and making artefacts easy to understand. Sometimes we need to take a hit & trial approach to conclude the right option. The proof of concept and prototyping activities will help in identifying failing solutions faster. Sometimes in crunch of time, you have to go with your gut feeling and intuition. I would suggest to collaborate with business SME and ask technology SME for their advice as well.

The scope of the analysis must be defined and must be understood clearly with all relevant stakeholders on what goal/results we expect to achieve. One thing I always do with any analysis work for deliverable/artefact is to outline associated risks, issues, assumption, caveats, constraints, dependencies and discuss them with project team and wider stakeholders throughout drafting, reviewing and sign-off process. This will help in planning further analysis at a later stage when needed. This way change management is aware of the time/money needed for further analysis work at later stages and an appropriate resource planning could be done in advance to negate any surprises. Another activity I always do is to maintain a lesson learn log and then keep sharing with team and others as soon as possible. It helps improving understanding, productivity and efficiency. Creating analysis artefacts collaboratively with concerned parties/ stakeholders will get visibility of work/ efforts and challenges so that they are supportive during any management decision.

Managing the sources of information and keeping them one click away will help you find them quickly and make it easy to revisit them in future. Also better to have some information engagements with other BA’s working on other initiatives to understand what analysis work they have done as sometimes you can have access already completed analysis outcomes which are relevant to your work hence saving your time so that you do not have to reinvent the wheel.

Analytical thinking and behavior help you to organize yourself in optimal ways, prioritize your task effectively, anticipate any RAID item, find interlock situations with other projects and in turn, it helps you to move forward without any major unforeseen hiccups and blockers.

One famous saying comes to my mind is ‘proof of the pudding is in eating.’. So if your analysis work is helping the business / programme to deliver business outcomes/ benefits they are bound not to ignore or dismiss the importance of analysis.

Finishing this with a business analyst humour from, I hope you find my blog useful and please do share any comment/feedback.


Ravi Kumar

Any business analyst would appreciate the importance of business knowledge and awareness which is a key input while carrying out business analysis task/activities. As an experienced BA, you are expected to hit the ground running and become productive within a few days and it is always challenging to come up-to speed in a new business environment /domain within a short period of time. In this article, I explore the importance of business knowledge and we can go about developing it in the best possible way.

To understand the importance of business knowledge and awareness, let us take the example below:

You are going on a holiday trip to a foreign country and suppose you didn’t care to find out details such as weather, language, culture, food, places, transportation system, healthcare system, law & order, people and so on. There is a very high possibility that your journey may turn to be a nightmare and most of time you end up struggling to find basic information and you come back from the trip with no good experiences and memories. Similarly, when you move into different project / programme or different organization, you may face struggles and may find it difficult to do your business analysis job in absence of certain level of business knowledge / background about the organization and the business initiative. You may constantly need to improve upon your business knowledge and awareness along with delivering your task / activities. Business knowledge / awareness not only works as a navigator to guide you through the project milestone and destination but also helps you to acclimatize with the business otherwise you would be treated as an outsider. There is a saying ‘Be like a Roman in Rome.’ and this can be applied in any work environment as well.

The initial challenge is always to overcome the business language (including jargon, abbreviation, glossary), culture barrier and start doing fruitful conversation & communication, then other aspects of business knowledge (people, organisation, business system, domain expertise, processes, business model, functions, industry and so on) come into play. Some of the basic actions I take are:

  • Time is always the essence during project and during initial phase it is tough as you have to deliver your BA outputs and at the same time have to learn so many new things. Optimizing utilization of your time is critical so cutting down on non-productive time and prioritizing/planning your tasks/activities at least 2 weeks in advance help you to work in an organized manner as well as helps in reducing stress. During initial days, I used to spend extra time after work on learning and I cut down my leisure time significantly. Also, I tried not to spend too much time in emailing. Instead of responding back & forth to emails, , I would prefer to have a quick chat to close down the matter and respond to non-urgent emails during breaks or after work hours.
  • Analyzing and researching project information and stakeholders and identifying knowledge hub/ intranet /libraries so that you are quick to find where or to whom to look for help.
  • Maintaining my personal learning, query log and library, indexing my learning log with key information location/documents and having different sections/tabs on learning log for different kind of knowledge/information.
  • Researching company website, department/business intranet, company’s knowledge hub, community SharePoints, forums which helps retrieving valuable business information and indexing them into my learning log and updating the query log so that it is one click away if I need to refer it again.
  • Attending different forum meeting, townhall, business executive huddles, training webinar /sessions, brown bag sessions, knowledge sharing sessions, online training session where possible and where it would be helpful for my business initiative.
  • Having 1-1 session with individual/team who can resolve my queries and validate my understanding. Better to accumulate a number of queries /questions so that it is covered in one session rather than bothering them many times a day.
  • Writing my own notes during conversation/workshop/meeting, analysing these afterwards and building the right questionnaire before raising these to concerned stakeholder/team via email or meeting.
  • Ensuring not to ask same question again so updating the learning log with all responses.
  • Planning and defining learning activities over a period of time and focusing on learning on items which required in immediate use.
  • Build my own brief, one page/slide summary, mind maps, process/context diagram, sketches and so on, logging them in my personal learning library. Playing them back with relevant colleagues/stakeholders for validation.
  • Taking part in volunteer work, team lunch, informal drinks/parties which help in building relationship. Providing helping hand to team and wider stakeholders. Once I was not able to connect with a particular stakeholder and I was a bit hesitant to talk to him with open mind as he always looked serious, had a daunting personality and gave a probing look. When I got chance to talk to him informally during informal get-together/ parties, my misconceptions & pre-judgements went away and after few such engagements I was able to develop a collaborative relationship with him.
  • Informal/formal conversations with colleagues and wider stakeholders as much as possible to build relationship and gaining better understanding about stakeholders. Someone has well said that

The road of knowledge is via people, connection, conversation and relationship.

  • Sharing my artefacts during learning phase with wider team and stakeholders. It is not only going to enrich your knowledge but will also help to build team spirit and relationship. If you have knowledge then let others light their candle with it. I would like to mention a quote:

                       “Knowledge is like money, to be of value it must circulate and in circulation it can increase in quantity and hopefully in value. – Louis L’amour

  • Don’t take too much of learning dose at a time.
  • Have fun and be creative.

In a fast changing work environment and business operating model, you have to be good at ‘Learn, Unlearn and Relearn’. The best way to unlearn something is to start doing it a new way and don’t hang on to old learning (such as specific technology solutions).

I would like to remind you a famous quote by Alvin Toffler

                      “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

To gain mastery (unconscious competency), practice is the only way. You need to apply your knowledge in day to day work and keep improvising it.

Now I like to highlight some of techniques which are very useful in developing business knowledge when you practice them in your day to day work.

POPIT Model : Business analyst normally use four lenses view(also known as POPIT Model)  technique for business impact assessment and same could be used to gain holistic business knowledge on people, processes, organisations and Information & technology. Using this during your impact analysis will help bring a holistic view/information and reduce the chance to miss any scope item.

Cultural Web Analysis: This is another way to deep dive into the working style, organization culture and to know how things happens back to front. Analysing symbols, stories/myths, rituals/routines, control system, organisation structure and power structure help to have a deeper understanding of belief, value and assumption.

Business Model Canvas: Understanding of business model will provide you insight on core product services, how effectively organization is making profit or fulfilling their business objectives, their target market and so on. In essence business model should tell how any organisation makes profit and what they do to sustain the growth. Try to get hold of business models, value chain and other business artefacts from any existing knowledge hub/library or individuals.

If you don’t have access to business model, then try to create a draft business model and keep it updating it as you learn more.

Mind Maps, rich pictures, process diagram and context diagram:  It helps you to draw visuals of business concept/business flow/ business system interactions/dependencies.  As you say a picture tells a thousand words so practicing these techniques while you make notes, brief, summaries will help you build your own knowledge library which you can go back to when you need to refresh information. Mind maps/Rich Pictures helps you go deeper into different aspects of the subject under consideration. The process diagram is very useful to visualise end-to-end business process or customer journey while context diagram helps in understanding how business/technical system interact with wider world and dependencies/ interfaces associated.

Mind map example


Rich Picture example


Process Diagram example


Context diagram example


There is a long list of useful techniques which help in learning and build your knowledge base. You can refer to BABOK (Business analysis book of knowledge) from IIBA or Business Analysis book from BCS, UK. At the end, I would like to say that a consistent, planned approach for learning with full passion and intent and inculcating some of these techniques as second in nature will certainly help you to leverage them in your day to day business analysis work and ultimately to take your business knowledge and awareness at higher level.

I hope you find my blog useful and please do share any comment/feedback.

Ravi Kumar

Purpose of this blog is to share with you my experiences and challenges on developing collaborative relationships. Being a business analyst, I realize this is essential not only for successful completion of task & activities associated with business analysis but also for wider success of the project you are assigned to. We might have said or heard the following from others:

‘It is so hard to work with certain stakeholders.’

‘Why so many queries/questions at last moment when getting approval/sign-off.’

‘Even after having meeting and sending a number of emails, I am not getting response.’

‘Stakeholder complaining that they were not heard and kept aloof.’

‘Certain stakeholders think they are not supposed to work on the initiative and their department is not responsible even though project document includes them as key individual for the project’.

‘Stakeholders saying this is not what they asked for or they don’t own the requirements.’

‘Stakeholders are adamant to introduce new requirements even though not being in scope at first place.’

The list would be quite extensive if you keep thinking/recalling about it. Analysing situations similar to ones mentioned above, we can certainly come up with some conclusions:

  • Individual or group of stakeholders have divergent view/understanding.
  • Lacking common understanding of goal & objectives.
  • Confusion and chaos prevailing.
  • No sense of purpose among team members and stakeholders.
  • Poor leadership.
  • Lack of accountability and ownership.
  • Motivation missing.

Ultimately all these lead to delays and failures at different stages of the business change life cycle. I reckon developing and practicing collaborative relationships with stakeholders (e.g customers, partners, business/IT stakeholder) will certainly help overcome most of the above challenges. It is also true that this cannot be achieved overnight as it needs concerted efforts, meticulously planned task/activities, amicable work environment, appropriate techniques and skills.

Firstly, let us explore skills and techniques we need to be well versed with. The personal and behavioural skills are quite important and focus should be to keep improving upon these by incorporating learnings from past failures. Some of the key personal qualities /behavioral skills and techniques which will certainly help in establishing a collaborative relationship are:

  • Communication: It can create great barrier or gap if not performed efficiently. If people on other side find it hard to understand you and are unable to come to the  same page as you, then certainly there is something wrong in communication which needs immediate attention to fix. Whether it is verbal or written, it should help people to understand easily and should generate positive vibes/emotions and sense of purpose. Non-verbal cues are important to watch out or to play out to gain better understanding of messaging and to observe hidden feeling/intents behind the words. Two other elements of communication I would like to dwell upon a bit further:
    • Listening: It is not just hearing but active listening with full attention and interest, the stakeholder should feel that they are being heard and not being ignored or being diverted deliberately. Acknowledging stakeholders with verbal/non-verbal encouragements, playing back their ideas to ensure you are on the same page with stakeholder understanding of what they are saying, asking to elaborate further on the points they are making and suspending judgement as to not cut off communication.
    • Questioning: Stakeholder shouldn’t feel like being interrogated or being judged or being made guilty. So setting an appropriate scene /background and cordial environment and then asking purposeful and relevant questions will prompt them to respond with an open mind.
  • Influencing and persuasion: Person having this quality is able to get others to agree with his request/proposal willingly without using power or coercion. It needs capability of making rationale and compelling argument with facts & findings. We need to provide a positive answer to ‘what’s in it for me?’ for stakeholder and gaining stakeholder perspective putting yourself in their shoes.
  • Human Touch: Behind every stakeholder, there is an individual. Understanding individual’s value, belief and their need will go a long way towards building a relationship. An empathetic approach and displaying humility while dealing with stakeholders will certainly add up to bonding in your relationship.
  • Attention to detail: This will help you to find out minute details and prompt you to do some research about your stakeholders about their working style, likes/dislikes, career etc and will help in running your conversation smoothly.
  • Leadership: Business analyst gets many opportunities to show leadership such as leading analysis/investigation work and outcome, managing issue/problem through resolution taking others on board, motivating team with inspiring vision, smart objectives and clear articulation of requirement, facilitating workshop/meeting meticulously and so on. When you show leadership traits with your action, people are bound to come forward to help you and this in turn helps in building better relationships.
  • Problem solving: It is the mindset and attitude where you don’t stop for obvious assumptions but strive to dig dipper to unearth the root cause. You don’t rush into solution but with an open mind, you try to define different aspects of problem and once problem is understood, then evaluate different options to fix it. Being a problem solver or trouble shooter works as a catalyst for building relationship.
  • Political awareness: In context of a collaborative relationship, this is more to do with making yourself aware of the power structure, organisation culture, decision making process, hidden agenda so that it helps you devise the right way to resolve any opposition in your way of developing relationship.
  • Team player: You need to be a good team player. If you retrospect and analyse your team behaviour, you can easily make out whether you are a good team player or not and where you need to improve. Similarly, you can observe others and draw conclusion about who the spoilers are and what could be possibly done to remedy the situation and build team spirit.
  • Feedback loop: We must be able to provide feedback and receive feedback in timely fashion, sometimes it gets too late for feedback. The conversation around feedback should end on a positive note and here communication skill comes to help you. We always find easy to give positive feedback but we may hesitate in giving negative feedback. I normally thank the individual for their help/support, recognise their contributions while also addressing the areas of concern for improvement.
  • Facilitation: This is so crucial to run any collaborative activity. The focus is on moderating discussion/activity to achieve pre-defined goals/outcomes within stipulated timeframe. You need to provide open environment for participants to get involved effectively and air their opinions without any hesitation and at the same time sticking to timeframe and agenda. It becomes tough when you are facilitating negotiation or conflict resolution.

Now, just possessing above qualities and techniques is not going to develop collaborative relationships in vacuum, we need to practice these while doing different collaborative activities /tasks. Some of the following key task/activities should be regularly carried out:

  • Daily open team/ project standup including relevant stakeholders to consider immediate issues and workaround.
  • Weekly open huddle with stakeholders to recognise success, contribution. creativity and internal/external relevant news.
  • Discovery team building workshop with stakeholders.
  • Workshop on role/responsibility expectations and accountability from stakeholders.
  • Embed collaboration in way of working.
  • Promoting open culture and continuous feedback.
  • Monthly team gathering /events /games.
  • Brainstorming sessions for idea generation and problem solving in non-threatening environment.
  • Creating project artefacts collaboratively to bring sense of ownership and awareness from the beginning.
  • Leadership meeting/workshop to create motivation, common understanding of vision/goal.
  • Transparent flow of information/decision.
  • Using collaborative tools for transparent communication and co-creation of artefacts.

I understand it is not easy but more you practice the project activities collaboratively, the better collaborative relationship you will develop and it will help save lots of time normally spent in running around for review/sign-off when artefacts /deliverables are not created collaboratively. Offering help and expertise, standing by during tough times/situations, providing a genuine appreciation and respect help in building a solid long term relationship. Business analyst is normally custodian of many business artefacts but when you develop them collaboratively with stakeholder’s contribution, everybody feels sense of ownership and purpose.

I hope you find my blog useful and please do share any comment/feedback.

About Author

Ravi Kumar, an independent business analysis practitioner based in UK with over 20 years of experience consulting for many organisations in Europe and across the globe. Ravi accomplished bachelor of Technology (Mech Engg.) from IIT, Varanasi, India. He is a Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP) and has acquired International Diploma in Business Analysis as well as in Solution Development from BCS,UK.

Many times, I have been pondering over what makes business analyst different from other professionals in the same ecosystem, how much BA is valuable for given business system environment and what could be their value proposition. Does a degree / qualifications/ certifications make business analyst valuable? Perhaps these could be BA’s silent features but they may not be worth enough that people (client/employers) can buy them or desire to hire their service. If that is the case, they would have been hired just based on their CV and LinkedIn profile and there wouldn’t have been need of interview / conversations. In my experience, interviewer is not just looking for your work experience or qualification/certification but something bigger. When you answer their questions, in back of their mind they go through different emotions/ thoughts such as ‘hmm this guy is really smart’ , ‘looks he/she has good hands on experience’, ‘wow he is best suitable for this job’ … ‘yes this is the guy I need for this job’ and so on . Such emotions/thoughts create value out of you and then chances are very high that you are offered a position. On the contrary there could be opposite emotions or no emotions at all in back of their mind which you may not be able to read and the end result is you receive a polite decline email ( such as ‘ we find you over qualified for this job ‘ or we wanted to have you but there is only one position and we found another person a bit more suitable for this job’ and so on.
Like we say beauty lies in the eye of beholder , we can say same thing for value. So value is not something you can define for yourself but others need to feel, recognise and find in you. It would be good to explore further what exactly value is and how better we could understand it. The Oxford dictionary says “1.  The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance worth or usefulness of something. 2. The material or monetary worth of something. “. The value of something can’t be confined just to a monetary worth, it could be just one expect and other expect is what ‘meaning’ or ‘regard’ or ‘usefulness’ someone attach to it. People try to see ‘what is in it for me?’, so their real needs and perceptions matter and they will attach more value irrespective of monetary cost if it serves their needs and alleviate their pain points. Hence two persons could envisage different value for the same thing.
For example, how much value someone living in London could attach to a free water bottle? Perhaps many may not queue up for a free water bottle. But imagine same thing in places/countries where people have to walk miles to fetch a bucket of water, there could be very long queue over there trying to get a free bottle of water. In their eyes, value of the water is priceless.

It is hard to attach or confine ‘value’ to just one or two attributes or elements so we need elaborate it in term of proposition. Kaplan and Norton ( guru of BBS Balance Score Card) had outlined following attributes for a purposeful and successful value proposition of any product or service.

Now try to evaluate anything you bought recently against above attributes and think which of the above attributes you have considered and then give the weightage on scale of 0-10 while considering these attributes in making your decision and then you will be able to see how valuable a particular item is for you and to understand what element/attribute is more valuable. I recently bought a 3 days training package (Benefit Planning and Realisation) from training provider AssistKD in London. key for decision making was that it served towards my goal of accomplishing Advance diploma in Business Analysis. My consideration around value attributes were something like as follows.

A business analyst training course ‘Benefit Planning and Realisation’
Value Attributes Did you consider this before decision? Weightage (0-10) in decision making
Functionality Yes. One of key certification for the Advance Diploma in Business analysis


Price Yes. Expensive, given that I had to sponsor myself and had to take 3 days off from consulting job.


Quality Yes. In past experience, I found quality was good and have successfully passed certification examinations.


Choice Yes. But there was no other option (like online course or correspondence course)


Availability Yes. I looked their training calendar in advance and chose the timeslot as per my convenience.


Image Yes. They do have good image as specialist in BA training and the fact that they sponsor UK BA Award and a number of BA events including the Europe conference for many years , also helped in creating their positive image.


Relationship Yes. I did few other courses in the past successfully.




Now let’s think a business analyst a product/service which someone going to buy then what these attributes would mean from customer/client perspective.

Value Attributes Elaboration
Functionality What Business Analyst does? Does he help resolving organisation pain points? Does he help building strategy, business objective, business case and business requirements?  Can he define/design Business Model/ Business Process and so on.

Whether their core competencies (such as business knowledge, specialism, behavioural skills, personal qualities, tools, techniques and technology) aligns with organisation’s change strategy or the BAU strategy.

Price Cost of BA employment, daily rate
Quality How good /well a BA produce deliverables or task/activities. How efficient in meeting deadline/timelines. Work experience and past performances.
Choice Is the BA flexible with customer/client need/demand and helping producing deliverables or carrying out task/activities as per specific needs of the customer/client/employer?
Availability Notice period, time flexibility.
Image  Established and recognised practitioner, image at current employer, any adverse opinion or information on social media? Have you burned the bridges where possibly negative feedback could create negative image?
Relationship Past relationship with client/ vendor / supplier.



With hard work, learning and experiences, it is certainly possible to create an excellent BA value proposition however to sustain it is really challenging due to new way of working, cultural change, new technologies, business domain change and so on. Re-skilling, keep learning, networking and broadening business domains will help sustaining the value proposition.

hope you find my blog useful and please do share any comment/feedback.

About Author

Ravi Kumar, an independent business analysis practitioner based in UK with over 20 years of experience consulting for many organisations in Europe and globe. Ravi is Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP) and has International Diploma in Business Analysis, BCS,UK.


Reflecting upon my recent family trip to Goa which was wonderful, one thing strikes noticed that Dennis Joaquim, a taximan, became a trusted advisor and go to person for me throughout my trip, though I never met him before. Meeting him was just a coincidence at Calva Beach while I was trying to talk someone to confirm my information regarding certain places in Goa which we had captured through Google. While trying to analyse the reasons why Dennis became a trusted advisor for me, some key points strike me are:

Sincerity and genuineness in helping – The way he talked (body language and tone of voice) and

answered my queries, he made me very comfortable talking to him. He sounded like more

concerned in answering my questions rather than getting business from me.

Listening and communication – He used to listen us very patiently and attentively, he didn’t show

any sign of rush or impatience while waiting during my internal family discussion for any decision. He was an excellent communicator and very few times I had to ask to repeat or explain again.

Rapport – within few short conversations on day one of my trips while he taking me to different

places, he really developed very good rapport with me and family, seemed like we knew each other

for a long time and we got very comfortable buying his service.

Information & knowledge – He displayed solid knowledge of place, history and culture about Goa.

After day one we almost stopped googling and reviewing information on Internet and he was just

one phone call away for any advice and information.

Advices – Before providing any advice, he often used to ask exploring questions about my need

and requirement, listened me carefully and He often suggested 2-3 options (whether about a spot,

place, restaurant or beach) with pros and cons and left the decision making to us. Doing so he

developed trust and intimacy with us.

Reliable and credible – He showed a sense of reliability by picking and dropping us on time and

responding my message and phone call without any delay. We became quite dependant on him.

Initially I was a bit sceptical and concerned but after day one interactions he became quite credible

who we could trust. Moreover, we never got any opportunity to doubt his intention and didn’t notice any wrong motive such as ripping me off.

Enthusiastic & energetic – he was very good at lively casual conversation, full of enthusiasm and

energy and making us laugh many times with his way of talking. He knew the boundary where to

stop conversation and never disturb in our internal family conversation during ride.

Coming to my business analysis work life, I always fascinated by skill ‘trusted advisor’ and have

been listening this from seniors & peers about how could business analyst become a trusted

advisor for the business or the client. I am realising that becoming a trusted advisor is a journey

rather than a class room skill training where you could easily learn it. The experience, practice and

concerted efforts play major role in making it a habit. It is hard to become a trusted advisor at junior

BA level or early years of your career, a certain level of experience, expertise and competency

must be there to put yourself in shoe of trusted advisor. The thing is we don’t have clear cut

designation of ‘Trusted Advisor’ in business analysis world or in wider business change

transformation programme, an individual could be treated as trusted advisor by business or client

due his or her personal quality, professional skills, business knowledge, courage, experience and

so on.

Recalling my experiences, I could count few instances where I got chance to perform as a trusted

advisor of internal business or client and that was only possible due to closely working with

business, gaining business knowledge, becoming go to person, forward thinking

and developing rapport with business folks while deliberating upon business problems and


With further thinking and analysis, I understand that this skill could take business analyst to a very senior analyst and leadership roles such as business strategy analyst, leadership of business analysis practice, senior customer/client relationship roles, executive management executive role and so on within an organisation. So as a Business analyst, we should be conscious about this skill and never lose any opportunity to enhance or to perform this skill.

In my understanding key factors which count towards a natural Trusted Advisor are depicted here.

If one works with above factors consciously and best effort, I am sure with time and experience you won’t realise when you became capable of being a trusted advisor.




Working on above factors would help develop trust based relationship with customer/client where one should be able to provide a rational and logical advice without any fear and bias. At the same time one would be able to challenge assumptions & status quo with sense of helping rather than proving that someone is right or wrong.



I hope you find the blog useful and please do share any comment/feedback.

About Author

Ravi Kumar, an independent business analysis practitioner & director at Nityasoft LTD based in UK with over 18 years of experience consulting business analysis for many organisations in Europe and globe. Ravi is Certified Business Analyst Professional and has International Diploma in Business Analysis, BCS,UK.

This blog is to provide a brief and the essence of my talk I delivered on this topic at Europe Business Analysis Conference, London, September 25-27 2017 and Balkan Business Analysis Conference, Sofia, October 6-7 2017. This is to emphasise why ‘Audience Analysis’ is crucial for embedding business change successfully and to further elaborate how this technique could be better performed in the context of business change implementation.


Let’s start with a basic definition and aspects of Audience Analysis in perspective of public speaking. The Audience Analysis is a process to know your audience holistically ie to learn all about audience such as demographic, psychographic and contextual/situational information so that you are able to convey your message successfully and at the same time a relevant message is conveyed.

Demographic analysis helps to know who the audience is and what are their demographic characteristics. Depending on your topic and message, some of the questions will be relevant and some will not.For example – A talk about investment options would be very different if you are speaking with university students versus a group of retired people So you would want to know age group.“Race, culture, or ethnicity” might impact your message, choice of language, gestures, and other aspects of your speech.

Psychographic analysis helps to discover what your audience may be thinking before and during your presentation, it covers both the knowledge (or lack of knowledge) and the beliefs of your audience. Are they neutral, or are they predisposed to agree with or oppose your message? What are the most important values to the audience? (Or, what are the values of their organization?).It’s important to know what they value as these are often the best starting points upon which you can build your arguments.

Situational/Contextual analysis helps to discover how the speaking event itself may influence your audience’s state of mind. Some of the questions need an answer are:

When, where and why the event is happening? Is any dress code? Timing /date and size of audience? What are physical settings at the location? Is their attendance voluntary or mandatory? Why is the audience listening? What has the audience been going through in the days or weeks prior to your speech? Have there been layoffs at the company?

Doing it well, audience analysis will provide insights that will help you focus your message, select the most effective content and visuals, and tailor your delivery to suit this particular target audience.

So finally I would say that doing a holistic analysis before event helps better prepared, gaining confidence and to ensure content is relevant.

Audience analysis shouldn’t stop before the event /speech, it must continue during and after the event. During the event, It is pertinent to observe the verbal and nonverbal responses, facial expression and any restless movement the audience and to make eye contact as much as possible to keep the right level of engagement with the audience. This helps to adapt to the audience as you speak. A good public speaker or keynote speakers are very good at knowing the pulse & mood of the audience and adapt their message based on real-time responses coming from the audience.

Now coming to the audience analysis after the event, it basically aims at to make improvement and to learn any lesson for the future event. Again, to find out how the audience felt about your speech, you try to fetch verbal /non-verbal responses talking to some of them after the event, a proper survey also helps to achieve to capture detailed feedback. The social media and the online professional network could be used to get post-event feedback.

Importance of nonverbal messages/cues is very high in public speaking or in general communication because if your words differ from your body language, the audience is more likely to believe your nonverbal cues (body language and tone of voice).

  Prof. Albert Mehrabian, professor of psychology at the University of California in Los Angeles did study and research on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages and in 1970 he came up with below communication model to depict the relative impact of words, tole of voice and body language on the listener.

Pros Albert finding suggests that The non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are incongruent, means not consistent: if words and body language disagree, one tends to believe the body language.


There is a quite popular story going around about the event when the American Presidential Debate was televised 1st time in the history on 26th September 1960 and it was between Senator John F Kennedy and vice president Richard M Nixon happened. (John Kennedy was winner of that election). As per reports, people, who watched the debate on television that night, thought that the young Senator John F. Kennedy had won that night’s presidential debate. But for people who heard the debate on radio, Vice President Richard M. Nixon was the clear winner.

This highlights the importance of nonverbal cues, a speaker shows in front of an audience, in conveying message successfully.

During my research for this topic, I tried to find and interact with people who have been using this technique in their day to day work. Fortunately, I got the opportunity to meet and talk to Vince Stevenson (director at College of public speaking ) who has 35 years of experience in teaching and practising public speaking. Following few tips I got from him:

Avoid stereotyping – Stereotypes are fixed beliefs or opinions about people in a particular group. Stereotyping neglects individual differences and often causes people to make decisions based on flawed reasoning. The best way to avoid stereotyping is to learn as much as possible about an audience instead of relying on preconceived notions of a group. That’s where psychographic audience analysis elements talked earlier, can be a big help.

It’s not what you say – it’s the way that you say it   – I think his assertion resonates with what we talked earlier about Albert Mehrabian communication model on the relative importance of nonverbal messages. Basically, your confidence and keeping your words in sync with your body language /expressions would make a positive impact on the audience.

Plan, prepare and practice – it helps in improving your speech delivery and getting rid of fear, anxiety or nerves of speaking, there is no substitute for this. Don’t let emotion overtake you.


Now let’s discuss why Audience Analysis is so important for Business Change?


The business change involves with transitioning the business from current state into target state by embedding and adopting the change and Embedding a change is not always easy and managing the target audience taking them through the change path is very challenging and full of resistance.

In my view, Audience Analysis is essential to know who is impacted by the change and understand their reaction towards it so you can ensure, through proper planning and activities, the intended audience is ready, willing and able for the business change.What this means is we need to identify the best change interventions for each audience group so it helps them adopt the change faster and smoother as per plan.After all, adopting the change faster will realise your benefits sooner. The  Audience Analysis will help define the right change journey for intended audience group so that they are committed towards new change.


I am sure you would agree that Any business implementation approach based on just feedback from a few key stakeholders, on old implementation document, and without any detailed audience analysis is bound to create issues/problems whilst embedding the business change.


I am sure you might have come across such real project example, I have witnessed many such examples and one was couple of years ago while working with one of my clients, they rolled out a tool for requirement management with great fan and fair, on the premise that it will resolve existing problems, improve efficiency, real-time integration with test manager and will provide collaboration platform for stakeholder review and feedbacks.

The management and leadership were very optimistic about new tool and benefits it would bring to the business. However after 6-9 months, adoption rate by different teams at a different location was very poor and finally, it was decided to go for some other requirement management tool.

Another example ,I was part oF programme to launch credit card processing platform for a bank, even after launching the platform, it took more than a year to get fully utilised operationally as per expectation and initial benefit realization plan.

Retrospectively looking back, I understand that lack of proper audience analysis was one of the key reason for delay or failure of adoption of new change.

One of biggest UK Government programme failure NHS National programme for IT – the vision was to implement modern and world-class information technologies to transform NHS service delivery and ultimately to enhance the quality of patient care and programme comprised of a number of components including electronic appointment booking, e-prescription service and local care and patient record system.The programme was started in 2002 by Tony Blair Labour government and in 2011 conservative government abandoned the programme, by the time 11 billion plus of taxpayer money was spent. So much has already written and talked about why it failed and dismantled. One of many reasons was very poor adoption by end users at local NHS level.


How to Perform Audience Analysis for a business change?

Now let us look at how best we could perform audience analysis contributing to different activities /task required prior to actual business change implementation.


As you understand,  in the run-up of business change implementation we need requisites in place such as Impact assessment; understanding of drivers and resistance for the change; communication & training need analysis; change strategy/approach;  implementation approach & planning; business readiness planning and benefits realisation planning and much more.

For each of these requisites, the impacted audience is crucial as they need details of impacted audience group. In my experience, we carried out audience analysis as a parallel activity under business change implementation and keep feeding outcome into these requisites.

Audience analysis is done in short iteration (few days or a week ) and continuous manner and it can be broken down in 5 main steps  Identification;  Classification; Assessing Impact/Reaction/Preference, Assigning Actions, Determination of change intervention and finally feeding them into implementation approach and planning.


Some of the key prerequisites which help to perform audience analysis are the Change Vision, Scope Definition, Value Tree, Business Requirement and Change Roadmap.

Many times I have found value tree or roadmap is missing. As you know value tree depicts the connection between vision, key benefits, key outcome and enablers, this helps to steer different audience groups in the right direction and it helps to answer any queries and questions. Also if you don’t have roadmap even with aspiration date it is difficult to establish right level of engagement with a different user or operational groups as they involved with many initiatives and work on priority basis.Prerequisites are important to manage any queries /information needed from audience group and steer them in the right direction, t help them aware and build knowledge and understanding of change.

All these steps could be done in one go in one workshop or can be done with different audience groups as you won’t be able to get all impacted audience in one place or in one call.

Now I go through each step in a bit detail.


Step 01 – Identify Audience

In the first step, you need to identify your audiences. You can do this by various of sources, some of which are described below.



  • Your audience can consist of many individuals and groups from inside and outside the organisation, who have an interest in or will be impacted by the change
  • Internally, they can be identified as a department, a team or other readily recognizable group.
  • Externally, they could be your customers, suppliers, regulators and partners.

Here are few helpful tips about identifying your audience:

Speak to the audience – engage in dialogue rather than relying on opinion / second-hand views

Do not rely solely on senior stakeholders for this information – your employees ‘on the ground’ know how things work and they will far better understanding of how the change will impact them.

New audience group/team which is not in place. – due analysis and investigation required to confirm which department the new group would come under, what would be location and skill set, recruitment & team onboarding and scope of work. It takes a considerable amount of time to get agreement around this, particularly if you are building a specialised team.

I had such experience where we needed a specialised manual sanction screening team and implementation got delayed for many months because of delay in building the new team.

Audience groups which are not directly impacted but provide guidance and control – such as compliance, customer experience, legal, risk, data and privacy, complaints, fraud, financial crimes,  and so on so forth, they must be identified and engaged appropriately.

External audience group –  such as regulators, third parties, suppliers, vendors must be identified and appropriately engaged.


Step 02 – Classify Audience

We need to group and classify audiences based on their needs and their change journey. This activity will simplify your and implementation plans and approach.


In my experience, we classify audiences by assigning standard classifications about why they are part of your audience list. There is 6 standard classifications to select from such as “want the change, validate the change, Support the change, operational affected by the change, third party, external groups. You can select more than one option per audience.

In the diagram, The blue circles reflect audience groups involved in the delivery and implementation of the change, say your Service Delivery team in their development role are “supporting the change”

The red circles reflect audiences affected by the change, like your Customer receiving a new product or system. And sometimes, your audience could be part of both groups. For example, you are rolling out internet banking solution which impacts your customers and help desk staff.  Your Helpdesk staff will be involved in focus groups  as part of “Validate the change “ classification but they will also receive the change as part of the “Operational affected by change”

As you understand all audience group won’t have the same level of impact and change journey and needed interventions would be different so classifying them and further subgrouping them help to execute and plan respective change intervention activities in tranches or priority order.

Step 03 – Assess impact, reaction and preferences

So now that we have identified, classified and grouped our audiences, we need to understand how it will impact them(what are the actual impact we could visualise) , their reaction to it, such as resistance or positive /negative emotion and what would be their preference for change intervention, for example, front-line staff would prefer e-learning . This can be achieved by using analysing techniques such as a focus group, workshops, shadowing /observation and interviews. The element of demographic, psychographic and contextual analysis which talked earlier come into play here which will help particularly knowing reactions (such as resistance, positive or negative emotion,) and their preference how they want to move on change path.


We need to gain a holistic view of impacts whether it Customer impact or Product, services, channels impact or People and organisation impact or Process and operation impact or System and data impact or Management and governance impact.

POPIT Model should be considered while doing impact assessment to gain a holistic view.


When there is a strong focus on changing the culture, it is essential to carry out cultural web analysis to assess potential cultural challenges you may experience when driving the transformational change.

Analysing, symbols, stories/myths, rituals/routines, control system, organisation structure, power structure help to have a deeper understanding of belief, value and assumption prevailing in the organisation.Understanding the cultural barriers is the 1st step to identify potential mitigation and management activities.


Operational Impact & Risks: It is imperative to assess and analyze the impact on each aspect/component of the Operational model as it would directly impact audience group.

We need to ensure that we didn’t overlook any component such as operation risk or metrics etc.


This will help in  :

  • Transitioning into target state with minimal impact on BAU  business operations.
  • To Reinforcing the new changes
  • Ensuring responsibilities are clear and align with the change
  • Define ownership of the change
  • Define success factors and how it would be measured

Appropriate safeguard and control need to be in place to deal with operational risks and minimise the impact when incidence. If mismanaged, ops risk could lead to detrimental impacts on customer, reputation, regulatory standing and finance.

Operational risk “the risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people, systems or from external events, including legal risk.”

In 2015, operational  system failure at Sainsbury’s bank left UK  customer unable to access credit card or savings account for many hours. Similar incident happened at RBS in

2012 where thousands of customers were unable to make payment from their bank account.

Process risk takes place when internal procedures or process fails. In 2014, FCA fined Standard bank around 8 million £ for failing relating to anti-ML policies and procedures over corporate customer connected to politically exposed person PEP.

People Risk arises from human errors caused by inadequate training and resources, poor supervision or from outright wrongdoing, such as fraud.

System Risk arises from flawed a or inadequate systems.

The operational risk could also occur from the External event, natural disaster or Miss selling of the product.


Human Impacts and reactions:  Reactions and emotional changes must be handled carefully. The impacted audience during the business change would go through different emotional change and reactions. These reactions are perfectly normal and expected so we need to recognise them and devise a strategy to support people while they are going through the emotional changes.


we need to empathise, listen, giving patient hearing, support, counselling, coaching, confidence building workshop to get impacted audiences out of negative emotional stages and move toward positive & looking forward attitude.

04 – Identifying actions for and by the audience  

Next, we need to identify actions required for and by the audiences.

We need to understand what does each audience group need in order to be ready, willing and able to embrace the change? For example, the relationship manager needs to participant in the customer focus group so they can  “validate the change”.

Also, what does the programme team expect or require from the audience group to make it successful, avoid resistance or delays? For example Head of business support sign-off procedures by end of Definition stage.

Programme team may also have actions assigned to them. For example, they want  Customer Value Management wants someone from their management team to be appointed to the programme team because they have the best understanding of what the change means and how to best implement it.

Programme team would have an action to Assigning change champion for each audience group and train the trainer. Throughout the programme, there would be many actions from various sources and people, this audience analysis process is a great way to capture them centrally.

We need actions which they will perform as part of activities while implementing and embedding the change.

Step 05 – Establish an Assign change interventions to audience groups  

Once we understand the audience impacts, reaction, preferences and actions, we need to identify their change interventions required to mitigate any potential resistance and to build their commitment to the change. This is time-consuming and recommendation is to have  face to face workshop to conclude this.  As a starting point :

1.We need to establish  the starting point and desired end point for each audience on the change curve

2.We need to Think about the change ‘path’ each audience will go along. What will they experience? How will it feel for them travelling along that path?

  1. finally establishing appropriate change interventions required to mitigate any potential resistance or areas of concern so you can build commitment to the change,



Let’s go through an example using the business support staff. Today, they are not aware of the programme so you need to start at awareness level.Their desired end state should be  “committed” to the change.

They must accept why operations process is changing, able to follow the new process and adopt their new responsibilities on Go-live date.

They may experience relief at stopping manual tasks but feel the loss of no onsite support or fear of learning a new system and concern about running parallel process whilst you embed the new change. In this example, the best change interventions are communications, training and operational alignment.

A consequence of not engaging with them at this time is  “confusion”.  They may hear things but not formally and start to draw their own conclusions. The key is to build up knowledge and awareness through the meeting, briefs and regular engagement & communication. A consequence of not building up their knowledge and awareness will result in “negative perception” and there would be a loss of support from them for the programme.


Audience Analysis – Feed into Implementation

Contribute to Business Implementation activities & artefacts


Firstly throughout the process, we need to document audience analysis finding, recommendation, ongoing actions, risk and issues, success factors, metrics and performance indicators.

You could devise an appropriate template and store at central location so that all relevant parties could get access to it and individual working on other activities could take this into their consideration while creating their artefacts such as impact assessment document, communication & training plan, implementation /deployment approach, business readiness plan, benefit realisation plan, process modelling so on so forth.

For example, training need per audience group would eventually go into your training approach and plan and identified change interventions need to be incorporated into change implementation plan. In my experience, we created an appropriate template using tool confluence which accessed by all involved in the programme. As it is an iterative and continuous process, you need to go back & forth with audience groups to accommodate any amendment/ new finding, it is ideal to have it in a central location to avoid multiple versions are flying around.A summary pack is essential to apprise senior stakeholder, in PWG, SterCo or ad-hoc meetings.


Few things I would recommend:

keep it simple – avoid creating unnecessary cost or overcomplicating the plan. in general, you need to balance audience specific interventions with not overcomplicating the plan and not creating unnecessary cost.

Think scalability and repeatability – look for an opportunity to ‘develop once, then customise by audiences’. Whenever possible, any change intervention should be readily adaptable for different audiences, and easily adapted by smaller or larger group.

Keep Reviewing with programme stakeholders and key business stakeholders and keep updating them through project working group meeting  –so that any feedback or steer get considered. Some time cost becomes factor in adopting any particular change intervention.


I hope I am able to justify in answering why Audience Analysis is important, how it could be done and what & how it contributes towards a successful business change implementation. Please do provide any comment/feedback.


Reflecting upon my experience at BA2017 Conference in London last month, I found it amazing and worth attending as it provided me opportunity to listen, learn and network with delegates from many countries and organisations. It helped broaden my knowledge and perspective about business in general and the business analysis in particular. I thought it would be worth sharing some of my key findings at this conference.


  1. Assertiveness – a trait BA must possess!

Saying ‘NO’ is always tough and many of us ended up saying ‘NO’ at wrong time or wrong place or in reactive manner in feat of anger, frustration or rejection. Many times we need to display assertiveness, for examples , being asked to accept a scope/requirement creep,  expected for working overtime, meeting getting delayed/postponed by stakeholders etc. How we say ‘NO’ in manner that it is taken positively? Answer is to say it in with assertiveness. Then what exactly is ‘assertiveness’? one thing for sure, assertiveness is neither being aggressive and nor being submissive. certainly it is also not ‘being apologetic’ or ‘being emotional’. The assertiveness needs to be learned and practiced so keep being assertive and learn from mistakes. One of safe way to practice it is when you need to show your assertion for bad customer experience moments at restaurant, delivery company or shops.


Aspect of assertiveness you need to focus are:


2. Top Trumps card play with BA techniques!


I really enjoyed playing this game and creating Trump card for different business analysis technique. A very creative and collaborative way to learn and evaluate different BA techniques with different rating factors. Regular play with team will help in using right technique at right time, many times we know lots of technique but we don’t use all of them in our day to day BA jobs.

Key rating factors for evaluating usefulness:

  • Learnability: How easy a technique was to learn to perform it? Did you take a long time to learn it? Would anything have made it easy?
  • Efficiency: How quickly can you do this? Do you take longer than others?
  • Memorability: How easily could you remember it if you have not used it for a long time?
  • Error: Are you prone to make mistake while doing a technique? How difficult to correct the mistake?
  • Satisfaction: How helpful is it to be able to do this? How often do you need to do this?

3. System Thinking – A crucial skill for complex & uncertain project or world at large!

Systems thinking helps gaining a wholistic understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the components that comprise the entirety of that defined system. Taking a linear approach to understand cause & effect of any complex problem or complex solution would lead to further problems & issue and you may ended up wasting resources and time without achieving a lasting solution.

It is essential to acknowledge and challenge boundaries and perspective to bottom out the root cause.

4. The Socratic Method – how relevant for Business Analysis!

Some of key lessons for business analyst from Socratic method are:

  • It is not what you know but the questions you ask.
  • Never take the first answer.
  • Don’t push it.

5. Business Change Management – an opportunity for BA!

Traditionally BA mostly involved with project delivery side and BA does a supportive role to Change manager for embedding the change. But the skill sets, experience and technique BA possesses, they are quite fit for leading the Change Management and getting change adopted by people.

Any failure of adoption and usage of the solution will lead to failure in delivering the benefits hence people side of change needs great attention, focus and planning.

6. The Seven Habits of Highly effective business analyst

I always try to find answers for how I can become more effective and a better performing business analyst.  The 7 habits explained during this talk I attended really answers this question and as well as an individual person.



I hope you find this article useful. Please do share any comment/feedback.