The Business Analytics mindset

Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving

Analytical thinking and problem solving skills are required for business analysts to analyze problems and opportunities effectively, identify which changes may deliver the most value, and work with stakeholders to understand the impact of those changes.

Business analysts use analytical thinking by rapidly assimilating various types of information (for example, diagrams, stakeholder concerns, customer feedback, schematics, user guides, and spreadsheets), and identifying which are relevant.

Business analysts should be able to quickly choose effective and adaptable methods to learn and analyze the media, audiences, problem types, and environments as each is encountered.

Business analysts utilize analytical thinking and problem solving as they facilitate understanding of situations, the value of proposed changes, and other complex ideas.

  • Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving core competencies include:
    • Creative Thinking
    • Decision Making: Making a decision, and assisting others to make better decisions
    • Learning
    • Problem Solving
    • Systems Thinking
    • Conceptual Thinking: Detecting the signal in the noise - find ways to understand how that information fits into a larger picture and what details are important, and to connect seemingly abstract information.
    • Visual Thinking

Owning the Solution

To deliver solutions that are meaningful to your client, you will need to know about:

  • Acceptance Criteria are the conditions that a system or product must meet to be considered complete and acceptable to the stakeholders. These criteria are typically defined during the requirements gathering phase and help guide development and testing efforts.
    • Definition of Done (DoD): The Definition of Done outlines the criteria that a user story or task must meet to be considered completed and ready for review or deployment. It encompasses the conditions that must be met for the work to be considered done.
    • Definition of Ready (DoR): The Definition of Ready defines the criteria that a user story or task should meet before it is accepted into the sprint backlog and scheduled for development
  • Evaluation Criteria, on the other hand, are the specific measures or characteristics used to assess and compare different solution alternatives.

Go one step further, analyze the requirements, constraints, and goals of a project to identify any potential features or capabilities that may not have been initially considered.

This can help ensure that the solution is comprehensive, flexible, and future-proof, as well as providing a basis for prioritizing and selecting solution options.

Once various solution options have been identified and their evaluation criteria defined, you can rank the solutions according to their ability to meet project goals and stakeholder requirements.

This process typically involves assigning scores or weights to each criterion, comparing the options, and determining their relative advantages and disadvantages.


User Acceptance Test is the process of verifying that a system or product meets the defined acceptance criteria and is ready for deployment.

This involves preparing test plans, test cases, and test data based on the acceptance criteria, as well as coordinating with stakeholders and the project team to ensure the testing process runs smoothly.

  • Creating and reviewing UAT materials involves developing test plans, test cases, and test data that accurately reflect the acceptance criteria and are aligned with the project goals and requirements.

    • This may include documenting test scenarios, expected outcomes, and any necessary preconditions or setup steps.
  • Managing the approval process for UAT involves coordinating with stakeholders, testers, and the project team to schedule testing activities, address any issues or defects discovered during testing, and ensure that the acceptance criteria are met.

    • This may also include tracking test progress, analyzing test results, and facilitating communication between all parties involved.
  • Coordinating the UAT preparation process involves working with stakeholders, testers, and the project team to plan and execute UAT activities, ensuring that all necessary resources and information are available, and that testing proceeds according to schedule.

    • This may also include monitoring the testing process, addressing any obstacles or issues that arise, and facilitating communication and collaboration between all parties involved.

Behavioral Characteristics

Behavioural characteristics are not unique to business analysis but they have been found to increase personal effectiveness in the practice of business analysis. The core of them are:

  • Ethics and Trustworthiness
  • Personal Accountability
  • Organization and Time Management
  • Adaptability: in many senses, for example in communication - have a clear understanding of the unique needs of various audiences
    • Use questions to enhance understanding of others and engage them in discussions

Facilitating Meetings

  • The work start before the meeting itself

    • Provide clear meeting agenda and make sure the points are addressed
    • Prepare understandable and simple materials following a structure and that are visually appealing to the target audience
    • Have your strategy in mind to build the agreements that you need
  • During the meeting:

    • Open discussion properly and establish clearly the purpose and importance of a meeting
      • Emphasize the important points and build a logical sequence of what is needed
    • Rephrase when needed: focus on what is being said and ask for clarifications, gives and summarizes relevant points
      • What you mean by … is…?
    • Make people feel valuable and appreciated
      • Treat the opinions of others with consideration and fairness
    • Be ready to be creative for unexpected meeting flows and adjust on the way
  • After the meeting:

    • Summarize the meeting results and commit to structured follow-up with stakeholders and task owners


Be ready to drive iniciatives, dont wait for others to provide the green light, own the solution yourself.

  • You see that something does not work/could be better? Setup processes or Drive improvements in existing ones
  • Make sure that the rest of the team is providing the best results (in quality and completion time)

The Problem Solver

Move the stone in the way, for you and others.

Determine, examine, and tackle issues or obstacles that emerge within a particular scope of responsibility. This may involve pinpointing the fundamental sources of difficulties, devising and executing resolutions, and tracking advancements to confirm that the issue has been entirely addressed.

Problem-solving is a crucial ability for both owners and teams, as it enables them to actively confront concerns before they develop into more significant complications. Proficient problem-solving necessitates a blend of analytical and inventive thinking, alongside solid communication and teamwork skills.

For this, you will need to:

  • Differentiates between underlying causes and observable effects, concentrates on pinpointing the core origin of the issue, and performs root-cause analyses by collecting data.
  • Seeks information and poses inquiries that aid in identifying and distinguishing the symptoms and fundamental reasons for predetermined situations.
  • Examine specified matters with ambiguous origins, separating factual information from opinions and suppositions.
    • Look for connections between seemingly unconnected problems

Tools for BA’s

Use Cases

Use cases are graphical representations that describe interactions between actors (users or systems) and a system. They capture the functional requirements and help visualize how users interact with the system, including specific actions and expected outcomes.

User Stories

User stories are concise, user-focused descriptions of a system’s functionality. They follow a specific format (“As a [user role], I want [action] so that [benefit]”) and help prioritize and organize requirements from a user’s perspective.

Data Flow Diagrams

Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs) are graphical representations that illustrate the flow of data through a system. They depict inputs, outputs, processes, and data stores, helping to analyze and document data movement and transformation.

Prototyping: Mockups and Wireframes

Prototyping involves creating a simplified version or mock-up of a system or interface to gather feedback and validate requirements.

Wireframing tools are used to create visual representations of system screens or user interfaces, aiding in requirements validation and communication.

A mockup is a visual representation or prototype of a design, typically used in the early stages of a project or product development process. It provides a visual overview of how a system, interface, or layout will look and function, without the full functionality or interactivity of the final product.

A mockup is a static representation that focuses on the visual aspects, including the placement of elements, typography, color schemes, and general layout. It aims to give stakeholders a tangible visualization of the design concept and allows them to provide feedback and make informed decisions before moving forward with the development process.

Mockups can be created using various tools, including graphic design software, prototyping tools, or even by hand sketches.

They can range from low-fidelity wireframes, which are simple and minimalistic representations, to high-fidelity mockups that closely resemble the final design.

  • Mockups serve several purposes in the design and development process:
    • Visualization: Mockups provide a clear visual representation of the proposed design, allowing stakeholders to see how the final product or interface will look and feel.
    • Feedback and Iteration: By sharing mockups with stakeholders, feedback can be gathered and incorporated into subsequent design iterations. This iterative process helps refine and improve the design before investing in full-scale development.
    • Communication and Alignment: Mockups facilitate effective communication and collaboration among project stakeholders, ensuring that everyone involved has a shared understanding of the design direction and goals.
    • User Testing: Mockups can be used in user testing sessions to gather feedback and insights from potential users. This helps identify usability issues, validate design decisions, and refine the user experience.
    • Overall, mockups are valuable tools for visualizing and validating design concepts. They play a crucial role in the early stages of a project, enabling stakeholders to visualize the proposed design, provide feedback, and make informed decisions that guide the development process.
  • Popular tools for creating mockups and wireframes: Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma, Balsamiq, Axure RP, Marvel, InVision
    • You can also use or the Pencil Project as your open source solutions.

RACI Matrix

A RACI matrix, also called a RACI chart or responsibility assignment matrix, is a tool used in project management to identify and assign roles and responsibilities to different stakeholders.

A RACI matrix helps to clearly define who is responsible for each task or decision in a project, who is accountable for its completion, who needs to be consulted during the process, and who should be kept informed of the progress.

The matrix is typically displayed as a table, with each task or decision listed along the top and the stakeholders listed along the left side. Each cell in the matrix then indicates which of the four different roles applies to that particular task or decision.

  • Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed.
  • Keep it in mind when creating meetings.

Models and Diagrams

Modeling in the context of business analysis involves creating visual representations of business processes, systems, and information to better understand and communicate complex concepts.

The primary goal of modeling is to simplify complex ideas, facilitate communication among stakeholders, and support decision-making.

Basic principles of modeling:

  • Clarity: Ensure that the model is easy to understand, avoiding ambiguity and complexity.
  • Relevance: Focus on elements that are relevant to the specific business context and stakeholder needs.
  • Consistency: Maintain a consistent level of detail, notation, and structure across all models.
  • Adaptability: Be prepared to update and refine the model as new information emerges or requirements change.

There are several diagramming tools used to visually represent different aspects of a system or process. Some of the most popular tools include:

Unified Modeling Language (UML)

A standardized visual language used to represent and communicate the structure, behavior, and architecture of software systems. UML diagrams help developers and stakeholders understand complex systems more easily.

  • Here’s an overview of five basic UML diagrams:
    • Use Case Diagram: A use case diagram represents the interactions between users (actors) and the system, showcasing the functionality provided by the system. Use case diagrams help identify the system’s requirements and provide a high-level overview of its interactions.
      • Key elements include actors, use cases (ovals), and relationships (lines connecting actors to use cases).
    • Activity Diagram: An activity diagram models the flow of activities and decisions within a process or system. It highlights the sequence of actions, parallel branches, and synchronization points, providing a dynamic view of the system’s behavior.
      • Key elements include activities (rounded rectangles), decisions (diamonds), initial/final nodes (circles), and arrows (showing the flow of control).
    • Sequence Diagram: A sequence diagram represents the dynamic behavior of a system, showing the sequence of messages exchanged between objects over time. Sequence diagrams help visualize interactions, focus on message flow, and highlight the system’s temporal aspects.
      • Key elements include objects (labeled rectangles), lifelines (dashed lines), messages (arrows), and activation bars (rectangles representing the duration of an object’s activity).
    • Statechart Diagram (also known as State Machine Diagram): A statechart diagram models the various states an object can be in and the transitions between those states. It captures the object’s behavior in response to events, highlighting the system’s dynamic nature.
      • Key elements include states (rounded rectangles), transitions (arrows), and events (labels on the transitions).
    • Class Diagram: A class diagram depicts the static structure of a system, including its classes, attributes, methods, and relationships. Class diagrams help model the system’s building blocks, providing a detailed view of its design.
      • Key elements include classes (rectangles with three compartments for the class name, attributes, and methods), associations (lines connecting classes), and multiplicities (numbers indicating the cardinality of relationships).

Remember - Understanding these basic UML diagrams is essential for anyone working with software systems, as they help convey complex concepts, facilitate communication, and provide a foundation for designing and implementing the system.

  • Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN): A graphical notation specifically designed for modeling business processes, including elements such as events, activities, gateways, and sequence flows.

  • Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD): A diagram used to represent the relationships between entities in a database or information system, including entities, attributes, and relationships.

  • Data Flow Diagram (DFD): A diagram that depicts the flow of data within a system, including processes, data stores, and external entities.

  • Flowcharts: A diagramming technique used to represent the flow of control or decision-making within a process, using standardized symbols such as rectangles, diamonds, and arrows.

Types of diagrams and their basic opportunities:

  • Use Case Diagrams: Illustrate the interactions between users (actors) and the system, focusing on the functionality provided by the system.
  • Class Diagrams: Depict the static structure of a system, including classes, attributes, methods, and relationships.
  • Sequence Diagrams: Represent the dynamic behavior of a system, showing the sequence of messages exchanged between objects over time.
  • Activity Diagrams: Model the flow of activities and decisions within a process, highlighting the sequence of actions and parallel branches.
  • Business Process Diagrams (BPMN): Visualize the flow of activities, events, and decisions within a business process, capturing the end-to-end flow and orchestration of tasks.

Selecting the appropriate diagramming tool and type of diagram depends on the specific needs of the project, the stakeholders involved, and the aspects of the system or process being modeled.

  • An open source tool that might help you is

Kanban Board

Timeline / Gantt Chart

A timeline contains events visualized on a single line while a Gantt chart is a 2-dimensional chart of a sequence of tasks and their dependencies. Timelines give stakeholders a high-level overview of a project’s start, end, and important milestones.

Note Apps

Time Management