Before getting into requirements gathering, a BA needs to collect certain information and produce documents to ensure a smooth start to the project. This article details what needs to be done, and provides a summary checklist.

When a new project begins, there’s a lot of steps a business analyst needs to perform before detailed requirement gathering and analysis can be carried out.

In order to ensure effective communication and a good level of stakeholder engagement, it’s important to find out about key stakeholders, key business function/process owner, and business end users, and define how you’re going to communicate with them:

  • name, contact details
  • communication style
  • role and attitude
  • frequency of communication
  • log of communications
  • communication granularity level
  • interests - common ground to share

In order to learn about the project, you have to read the project initiation document and learn a number of things from it:

  • problem description
  • business unit(s)
  • affected business processes/enabling services
  • solution urgency
  • project timeframe (start/end, phases)
  • project scope
  • known risks

After that you need to analyse the current state of affairs and produce a document detailing:

  • business function
  • business processes
  • findings (pain points/severity)
  • existing enabling business services (along with security requirements, sensitive data, technology lifecycle, architectural constraints)

You also need to establish a plan for BA activities:

  • analysis scope
  • requirement gathering approach
  • naming conventions
  • requirements management & traceability
  • change management
  • agreed list of deliverables
  • document management (version control, status, location)

Of course, you’ll need to learn the details of the project team:

  • roles, names, contact details
  • responsibilities within the project
  • communication of BA artifacts

You’ll need to understand or establish workflows for review and approval of your work, and finally collaborate on the project vision document with the project manager. The project vision document should include:

  • problem statement
  • key objectives
  • approach
  • project scope
  • expected outcome
  • acceptance criteria
  • stakeholder analysis
  • high-level requirements
  • business context

Making sure that you haven’t missed any steps can be difficult, which is why it’s good to have a checklist on hand. You can go through the checklist when you start a project and make sure you’ve got everything you need to proceed to the next stage. We’ve compiled all these step into a single PDF which you can download here:

Project checklist

Another situation where a checklist is handy is when you get a project handed over from another BA. You need to make sure that you get all the relevant information from them. We’ll write up what should be in the handover checklist in the next post.

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