A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK Guide) is published by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) as the de facto standard for business analysis. In many ways, it mimics the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), yet it has a lot of its own unique features. It focuses on the six knowledge areas of business analysis, their associated tasks, and the techniques that can be used to achieve goals of the tasks.
The first chapter of the BABOK Guide prepares the reader by covering an introduction to business analysis. Much of this chapter is dedicated to ensuring that the reader has a clear understanding of the vocabulary that will be used throughout the book. For example, there is emphasis on what the BABOK Guide actually is; business analysis as a profession; the relationship among knowledge areas, tasks, and techniques; and other underlying competencies that are required to be a successful business analyst.
Chapter two begins digging into the knowledge areas with Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring. While I don’t believe that this is the best knowledge area to start with, there is very little evidence that these chapters need to be read in order. In fact, I believe that this knowledge area will only make sense after several of the other knowledge areas are read. Nevertheless, the chapter provides a good introduction to the six tasks of Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring. The six tasks are Plan Business Analysis Approach, Conduct Stakeholder Analysis, Plan Business Analysis Activities, Plan Business Analysis Communication, Plan Requirements Management Process, and Manage Business Analysis Performance.
Chapter three is the chapter that I would recommend starting with because it covers the Elicitation knowledge area. Elicitation is an iterative process that occurs throughout the business analysis lifecycle. As such, its tasks are extremely vital. There are four Elicitation tasks, and they are Prepare for Elicitation, Conduct Elicitation Activity, Document Elicitation Results, and Confirm Elicitation Results.
Chapter four is another iterative knowledge area, Requirements Management and Communication. Requirements Management and Communication is another knowledge area that spans the entire business analysis lifecycle, and its five tasks enable the business analyst to ensure that all of the requirements are managed effectively and that they are appropriately communicated throughout an organization. The five tasks are Manage Solution Scope and Requirements, Manage Requirements Traceability, Maintain Requirements for Re-Use, Prepare Requirements Package, and Communicate Requirements.
Chapter five is a great chapter that relates to the Enterprise Analysis knowledge area. During this knowledge area, the business analyst completes five tasks to ensure understanding of a business need so that a business case can be created. Personally, I have found this to be one of the best chapters in the BABOK Guide, and the five tasks can apply to any kind of business need. The five tasks are Define Business Need, Assess Capability Gaps, Determine Solution Approach, Define Solution Scope, and Define Business Case.
Chapter six is my favorite chapter; however, it is one of the most complex chapters. It covers the Requirements Analysis knowledge area. It is during Requirements Analysis that a tremendous amount of business analysis work is completed. There are six tasks in this chapter, and they are Prioritize Requirements, Organize Requirements, Specify and Model Requirements, Define Assumptions and Constraints, Verify Requirements, and Validate Requirements.
Chapter seven covers the final knowledge area, Solution Assessment and Validation. Once a solution has been built (and during its construction), a business analyst still has a lot of work to complete. There are six tasks in this knowledge area: Assess Proposed Solution, Allocate Requirements, Assess Organizational Readiness, Define Transition Requirements, Validate Solution, and Evaluate Solution Performance.
Chapter eight presents a collection of underlying competencies. I greatly enjoy this chapter; however, I wish there were even more information presented. Of course, each of the six underlying competencies could be its own book! The underlying competencies in the BABOK Guide are Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving, Behavioral Characteristics, Business Knowledge, Communication Skills, Interaction Skills, and Software Applications.
Finally, chapter nine includes details about all of the general techniques that are referenced throughout the six knowledge area chapters. A general technique is one that could be used by any number of tasks in various knowledge areas. Because of their wide applicability, they are all listed in their own chapter (alphabetically). There are 34 general techniques defined by IIBA. While I wish that they were integrated more tightly with the individual tasks that use them (with more specific examples of how they could be used for the tasks), I understand why they are placed in their own chapter. Incidentally, there are also 15 specific techniques. Each one of these relates to only one task in the entire BABOK Guide, so they are described when they are encountered in each chapter.
For anyone interested in effective business analysis, this book would be an excellent addition to your library.