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My own background: I'm a BA novice and my company knows even less about it.
Person A is in middle management and had a project idea. I was given the task to analyze the subject and recommend how to proceed further.

Person A described a solution, but in the end I managed to elicit requirements and the underlying business problems from person A.

To verify my findings, I conducted interviews with other managers in similar positions. All of them denied the existence of the business problems set forth by person A. Further, all of them told me that the solution proposed by person A would not solve the business problems if they existed.

Question

How (and where) do I express these findings in written?

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You have captured and documented the business problems outlined by the client and their requirements for a proposed solution.

The next step, assuming it looks viable, would be a business case restating the problem, the potential solution(s) with their costs and the potential benefits of delivering the chosen solution.

However, there is no basis for proceeding any further if no-one believes there is a problem to solve. In my opinion you, as Business Analyst, do not have to go any further at all- The proposal has been "thrown out" at the pre-business case stage. Any further time you spend would be a waste of time.

If you really feel, for completeness, that you must document something then file the document in the "Closed Projects" area together with the emails from the other business leaders illustrating the decision that there is no problem to fix. If there are no emails then I would hope there would be meeting minutes or something documenting the discussion and decision. If not, and it was all verbal, then personally I would go no further with it. It should not be down to you to remember, interpret and document their verbal discussions.

If you have to submit an overall findings document to senior management then I would add an appendix to the problem statement and requirements document and within that appendix summarise each interview you did: 1. Date & time of interview, 2. who was present, 3. summarised viewpoint capturing the thought that there is no business problem. This can (and probably should) be as simple as stating "[The interviewed person] could not agree that that stated business problem exists". Stick to bare facts and leave out any emotion. Then submit the overall document for review at a senior level with a recommendation that further more detailed analysis would be required to understand whether there is, or is not, an actual problem given that the relevant personnel do not believe there is a problem. I would only proceed with the more detailed analysis if authorised to do so by senior management.

  • I completely share your view that any further action is a waste of ressources, however my question is a bit different. My findings go to the top level management (in written) who decide on how to proceed. My question is: How do I word this and where do I put it in my analysis, that - bare the initiator - no one believes that the business problem actually exists? Of course I don't want to put off the initial initiator... OK, that's probably impossible, isn't it? – Jan May 7 '15 at 9:05
  • I have edited my answer (last paragraph added) to clarify accordingly. – Marv Mills May 7 '15 at 9:24
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Your data gathering is insufficient to arrive at any conclusions. If you only interviewed the original middle manager, and then other managers, you have missed many other data sources. You need to interview other employees; higher level managers; conduct focus groups and surveys; observe the work in progress; review company documents suchs as various metrics results, end of year financial statements; survey competitors and industry predictions; and likely other things I cannot think of right now.

There are highly political and controlling cultures out there. Not uncommon for one person to be willing to talk about the elephant while others ignore/deny its existence. If you think you're a BA, then you need to the A...really do the A in a credible, formal, rigorous, defensible, and repeatable way.

  • Where I outlined a simpler approach I feel you are outlining a "belt and braces" approach here. Not necessarily wrong, but it might be overkill depending on the subject matter. No point doing extensive analysis if the relevant people don't believe there is a problem, particularly at pre-business case stage. I don't believe it is the job of the BA, at this stage, to analyse the problem and draw conclusions. As part of the initiation analysis, assuming project is a "go" then yes, of course. But at this stage? Probably not (unless the subject matter indicates otherwise)... Just my 2 cents... – Marv Mills May 7 '15 at 10:57
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    You do need to tailor the analysis to the situation, I agree. But I would opine that interviewing a few managers, no other levels, no document review, etc., is not enough in any case. You have to at least punch through the biases and the politics a little bit before you call it quits. IMHO. – David Espina May 7 '15 at 11:04
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    Yes I do somewhat agree. If I were doing this my recommendation to senior would be that a more detailed investigation is required because none of the relevant people can agree there is even a problem. I would get approval for a more detailed analysis/budget/time from senior management before proceeding with that analysis, to protect myself from spending time and then people asking why I went further "when we said there was no problem in the first place". I have added this to my answer. – Marv Mills May 7 '15 at 11:17
  • My question only mentioned what I thought to be relevant to know to give an answer, sorry about that. I gathered more information using other means than interviews, although none of which were as conclusive as the interviews themselves. That said, I'm not permitted to put more effort into this analysis and only wanted to know how to do the writeup. – Jan May 7 '15 at 11:19
  • Oh, I see. Then you're right to pick Marv's answer. – David Espina May 7 '15 at 11:34

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