Level up as a business analyst

Learn all about Six Sigma, business analysis and business strategy in this learning path. This will help you become a more well rounded business analyst.

SIX SIGMA

Six Sigma is a problem solving methodology for improving business / operational performance; it’s about minimizing mistakes and maximizing value. Traditionally Six Sigma was seen as a quality improvement methodology but today, it’s evolved to be much more than that. Click here to read more

Let’s start working with Six Sigma & what we refer to as the breakthrough equation.

Y = f(X) + E

In the above equation: Y = the desired results or outcome; X = input factor(s); F = function (the way the inputs are transformed); E = the presence of error or uncertainty. Click here to read more

Defining a Six Sigma project is 50% of the overall improvement process. By properly defining the project we can increase the chances of project success and make business improvements that a poorly defined project may not achieve. Click here to read more

Identifying problems in Six Sigma starts with a very AS-IS detailed process map (as discussed here). For each step in our process maps, we should be adding. Click here to read more

To identify all the X’s (inputs) in our process that impact the Y’s (the critical output(s)) through brainstorming alone can be an impossible task. So, we try to add some structured documentation to the mix so that we can start to identify those X’s in a structured manner. Click here to read more

Six Sigma deploys a number of statistical methods to understand current processes. As we have discussed previously, variation in output costs the business, both directly and indirectly so we need to analyse and mitigate as much variation as we can. Click here to read more

To truly deliver value, we first need to understand what value is from our customers’ perspective. We call this definition of value the Voice Of the Customer (VOC) and we should use it as our guiding principle for everything that we do. Click here to read more

Capability is the term used to define how well a process matches the voice of the customer. To find this out, we need to be able to calculate the defect rate of the process. That is done with two main methods, we can firstly find the yield (the proportion of correct items) and derive the proportion of defects or we can directly analyse the number of defects in the process. Click here to read more

In Six Sigma, we use capability indices to directly compare the voice of the process to the voice of the customer. This helps us to quantify the capability of the process to meet specification. Click here to read more

Our next task is to reduce all the inputs that we’ve identified to just those few that impact variability the most. We can start to strip down the list of requirements by utilizing observation & recording the quantitative findings. For example, the actual variability in time to complete, the differences between Ben and Sue at processing orders and the variance in product dimensions at each stage of the process. Click here to read more

Decision making from analysis in Six Sigma is the most important part of any project. It’s great that you’ve collected lots of tasty data but if you don’t take the correct decisions as a result, it will greatly impact your Six Sigma initiative. Click here to read more

Finding the relationship between input variables and the output from the process can be vital to implementing a successful Six Sigma strategy.  In the below chart, we can say that the data is correlated strongly. But, how strongly? Click here to read more

Below is a model that I’ve put together to summarize the various pieces of each stage. I’ve intentionally not linked to any of the improvement and control elements. The improvement methodologies you seek will be largely determined by the steps before & the experiments you choose to use will also vary heavily. However, suffice to say, the key thing here is to validate the relationship between your inputs (X) and outputs (Y), Once validated, you can implement appropriate improvement actions. You then need to create a control and monitoring plan to ensure that the improvements you made continue to achieve the required performance levels and continue to deliver value to your business and customers. Click here to read more

BUSINESS ANALYSIS

There are so many pieces of the business analyst role & they’re often documented in several different places & it’s hard to see where they fit in the overall structure of the business analysis process. The model below highlights the different elements of each BA project phase. We have linked to descriptions of the components below the diagram. Click here to read more

There are a number of techniques that business analysts can adopt to drive more effective investigation into a problem in order to analyse the issue & propose a solution. Click here to read more

Business strategy is an absolute necessity for all businesses. The need is bought about by the ever more unpredictable business environment and the removal of barriers to entry to many industries, bought about by technology. Click here to read more

OSCAR stands for objectives (business & project), scope (deliverables of the project), constraints (budget, timescales & standards), authority (business owner of project) and resources (people & equipment available). This model can be used as a terms of reference, to keep requirements relevant to the objective of the project and business. Before we start any requirements elicitation, we need to first extract the OSCAR statements. Click here to read more

Processes enable organizations to deliver value, either internally or to their customers. In some companies, these processes can span multiple individuals, departments and external organizations, making them extremely complex and prone to inefficiencies. Those inefficiencies can drive cost to the business, customer dissatisfaction and general inefficiencies. Click here to read more

Stakeholder analysis and management is a critical part of any project. Why? Well, you need as many people championing your project and as few causing obstructions and difficulties as possible. In order to achieve this, you first need to figure out exactly who your stakeholders are; what their influence over the project is and how interested they are in the initiative.  From there, you can create a stakeholder management strategy. Click here to read more

Defining a solution as a business analyst is all about understanding what the problem is, as we discussed here and what the stakeholder needs are, as discussed here. Once we know what the problem is and what the stakeholders want we can start analyzing the gap between where we are and where we need to be. We call this a gap analysis. Click here to read more.

Solid documentation is an absolute necessity. It’s used throughout the lifecycle of the project. It’s what stakeholders sign-off on; it’s what the developers follow during the implementation phase; it’s what the testers use to validate that everything works as it should; it’s what the support teams use for post-deployment troubleshooting and it’s used to assess benefits realization at the end of a project. Click here to read more

Business cases are key to projects in most organizations. A well written business case provides senior management with the information they need to make an informed decision on a project. Click here to read more

BUSINESS STRATEGY

We’re going to look at the difference between corporate and business strategy. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they do have some significant differences – understanding those differences is important as it determines where and how you’re going to compete. Click here to read more

As we look across the business landscape of 2016, we see many companies with multiple business units in operation, often running in different profit markets. Click here to read more

Vertical integration is where a company launches into one product market, but competes along multiple pieces of the supply chain. They can do this through backward integration and forward integration.

Backward integration is where a company chooses to make its own components. For example, Dell may choose to create their own hard drives or disk drives, taking control of the component manufacture. Click here to read more

In the previous post, we talked about Disney and their related diversification strategy. That is, moving into markets that have some relevance to your core business, enabling you to build synergy and economies of scope between your business units. Click here to read more

Before we get down to the detail of this article, let’s think about Daimler’s merger with Chrysler for 36 billion dollars. Only a few years after the merger completed, Daimler had failed to realise the expected synergies with the Chrysler business unit so negotiated a deal to sell 80% of Chrysler for 7 billion dollars. However, this didn’t represent the true capital loss. You see, due to the pay down of debt amongst other expenses, Daimler actually paid around 600 million dollars to drop Chrysler from their portfolio, a catastrophic failure by anyone’s standards.

So, why did this 36.6 billion dollar loss happen in this instance and why do acquisitions fail so frequently? Let’s discuss. Click here to read more

The industry lifecycle provides a view of the typical birth to death cycle of an industry. It has the phases: introduction, growth, maturity and decline – we will use the mobile phone market as a case study.

It is worth noting that the duration of various lifecycle phases can vary across industries and geographies, for example, the auto market in many geographies is still in the growth phase, while in the UK & US, they’re very much mature markets. Furthermore, it’s important to note that not all industries will follow the lifecycle – for example, groceries demand will never drop, so that industry will never decline. Click here to read more

This is a hugely important skill as looking at the bottom line of two companies across two different industries doesn’t actually tell you a whole lot about how well / badly those companies are managed. Why? Because different industries have inherently different profitability. That is to say, some industries are just more profitable than others. Click here to read more

In business as in war, understanding your enemy is critically important. When looking to launch into a new industry, you’ll want to understand your competitors capabilities, weaknesses, goals, economic strategy and non-economic strategy. Click here to read more

When launching a new business, you’ll do your due diligence. This will include the research of existing players in the market and an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses. Click here to read more

When a new entrant to a market develops an entirely new business model, we call it disruptive innovation. This business model radically changes the way that the industry had operated previously, focusing on different customer KPI’s and delivering services that customers didn’t even know they wanted. Click here to read more

There is a quite a split in opinion between marketeers and economists as to whether first movers have an advantage over fast followers. Let’s look at that in a little detail to see if we can make a decision for ourselves. Click here to read more

A business can gain competitive advantage by adopting one of the below strategies. It’s imperative that your business falls into one of these brackets. Generally speaking, companies that straddle between strategies struggle to succeed. Click here to read more

As a rule of thumb, the biggest threat to market leading, differentiated companies is imitation. That is, other companies trying to do the same as you’re doing, fighting over the same customer-base. Click here to read more

Let me start with an analogy of the marshmallow challenge. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the challenge, it’s a team building exercise used in large organisations and schools alike.

The concept is simple. The participants are given 20 strands of uncooked spaghetti, some tape and some string. With this, they must build the tallest possible structure, on top of which, they must place a marshmallow. Click here to read more