In some organizations, it is the norm for executives to require some form of business analysis to be performed on a project in order that they may obtain a summary of the benefits and implications of the intended project. The business analysis is the mechanism by which projects are approved. In the majority of cases, a project manager is tasked or appointed by executives to analyze the feasibility of the intended solution and to measure the business impact.

Depending upon the scale and complexity of the project, the project manager has to consider who will be doing the actual business analysis. There are several possible resources who could perform and execute the business analysis.

- The project manager could perform a business analysis task

- The project manager could delegate the task to a business or systems analyst

- The project manager could appoint external resources to perform the task

Analysis Tasks

The business or systems analyst identifies, researches, collects and analyzes all required client data and information pertinent to the project. The following tasks are examples of those that are performed by the business or systems analyst:

- Documenting executive high-level summary

- Estimating value return for each dollar spent

- Determining the payback period of the project, also known as the return on investment (ROI)

- Determining the feasibility of the project

- Listing all competitive threats and risks

- Listing regulatory requirements that could influence the project

- Determining the estimated number of clients the project will cover or influence

- Determining the anticipated growth of the client base after project implementation

- Determining a cost estimate for project implementation

- Predicting operating costs after project implementation

- Determining the capacity planning needed for any IT hardware or network

There is significant responsibility when assuming the role of business analyst on a project, as the entire project will base many of its finding and conclusions on the analysis that is performed. The analysts may have a significant level of responsibility as they work on defining the purpose of the project, clarify goals, meet the user community for the first time, and many more tasks.

After the brief rush of a project kicking off, many project managers and analysts lose the ability to think “out-of-the-box,” often to the detriment of both the client and the project. Clear-cut, yet creative, processes and analyses need to be established in order to complete the work. Today, it is even more critical that both project managers and analysts are creative and are able to package the analysis in such a way that it provides a forecast of future results.