Planning the business analysis approach
April 12, 2020

Planning the business analysis approach

By Lau

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

– Antoine de Saint Exupéry —

The purpose of planning business analysis approaches is to define an appropriate method to conduct business analysis activities.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.– Antoine de Saint Exupéry Click To Tweet

Business analysis approaches describe the overall method that will be followed when performing business analysis work on a given initiative, how and when tasks will be performed and the deliverables that will be produced. 

Most of the information in this article has been taken from the BABOK® Guide. The information has been reorganised, summarized and clarifying descriptions have been added to make it easier for beginners to understand.

Chapter 3. Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring

3.1 Plan Business Analysis Approach

The business analysis approach should:  align with the overall goals of the change, coordinate the business analysis tasks with the activities and deliverables of the overall change,  include tasks to manage any risks that could reduce the quality of business analysis deliverables or impede task efficiency, and leverage approaches and select techniques and tools that have historically worked well.

The BABOK Guide divides business analysis into two types of approaches. The predictive and adaptive approach.

Predictive approaches focus on minimizing upfront uncertainty and ensuring that the solution is defined before implementation begins in order to maximize control and minimize risk. These approaches are often preferred in situations where requirements can effectively be defined ahead of implementation.

A predictive approach is used in the Waterfall methodology.

Adaptive approaches focus on the rapid delivery of business value in short iterations in return for acceptance of a higher degree of uncertainty regarding the overall delivery of the solution. These approaches tend to be preferred when taking an exploratory approach to finding the best solution or for incremental improvement of an existing solution.

An adaptive approach is utilised in the agile methodologies.

In addition, the BABOK Guide lists 6 elements that compone the business analysis approach.


1. Planning approach.  planning is an essential task to ensure value is delivered to an enterprise. Planning typically occurs more than once on a given initiative as plans are updated to address changing business conditions and newly raised issues. The business analysis approach should describe how plans will be altered if changes are required.

2. Formality and Level of Detail of Business Analysis Deliverables. When defining the business analysis approach, consider the level of formality that is appropriate for approaching and planning the initiative.

3. Business Analysis Activities. Integrating business analysis activities in the business analysis approach includes:  identifying the activities required to complete each deliverable and then breaking each activity into tasks, dividing the work into iterations, identifying the deliverables for each iteration, and then identifying the associated activities and tasks, or using a previous similar initiative as an outline and applying the detailed tasks and activities unique to the current initiative.

4. Timing of Business Analysis Work. Business analysts determine when the business analysis tasks need to be performed and if the level of business analysis effort will need to vary over time. 

5. Complexity and Risk. The complexity and size of the change and the overall risk of the effort to the organization are considered when determining the business analysis approach. As complexity and risk increase or decrease, the nature and scope of business analysis work can be altered and reflected in the approach.

6. Acceptance. The business analysis approach is reviewed and agreed upon by key stakeholders. 

In the next comparative chart, you will see a summary of the elements described above for each of the different approaches.

You might also like to read about the 5 elicitation and collaboration’s tasks.

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