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Praveen Udupa
Praveen Udupa

Business Analysis – A MANDATORY Discipline for ALL

I arrived at the coffee shop for a discussion with my financial planner. Well, I intended to still evaluate him, so he was technically not yet “my” financial planner.  He was “a” financial planner.

After the initial pleasantries, he began with a monologue on financial prudence and various product categories that I should have in my financial portfolio. He explained a few specific products of some large financial services companies and asked me to make a decision on investing in these products. I was really impressed with the depth of his knowledge and the mellifluous quality of his articulation. But, deep down, I was not ready to make a decision yet. I gave him the usual “let me think about it” line and scooted from there.

A week later, I met with another financial planner, this time at my house. He arrived at the scheduled time and after “appreciating” my house and its “cleanliness”, he pulled out a document entitled Financial Goals and Planning and said, “Sir, the purpose of financial planning is not, as popularly believed, just to secure maximum returns on investment. While that is true, the real purpose is to ensure that you and your family have adequate funds available for meeting certain mandatory as well as planned objectives. If you permit me, I will need you to really think deep and respond to my questions as objectively as possible”.

With raised eyebrows, I nodded. He began with eliciting my financial objectives under carefully considered categories like retirement, child’s education, home, cars, vacation, etc. He moved on to my current financial state – life insurance, health insurance, emergency funds, current investments, household expenditure, life style, etc. He subsequently asked me questions that would help him assess my nature and disposition towards investment risks.

At the end of the discussion, he did not offer me any advice. Instead he said that he would analyze the information I had given him till then and come back with mandatory and optional investment choices that would help me meet my financial objectives.

A couple of days later, he brought with him a 20 page document that contained my financial horoscope. He had analyzed everything and had brought with him a financial solution containing everything from where to invest, how much to invest, why, what is the yield, what are the risks and their mitigation – in short everything. I was really pleased! I immediately graduated him from a financial planner to my financial planner. Why wouldn’t I?

Later, this set me thinking – hey, there is not much difference between what he did and what I do. He too did Business Analysis!

What is Business Analysis?

Business Analysis is primarily about having a mindset to understand customer’s real problems - not just stated, but the underlying causes i.e. the real problems – and collaborate with the customer to define a lasting and economical solution that addresses these real problems.

That’s it! That is Business Analysis at its core – a mindset. Really, think about it – why was I uncomfortable with the first financial planner even though I was impressed with the quality and depth of his financial knowledge? It was because, as a customer, I was aware that this chap is not going to solve my problem. Why? Because he never bothered to know what my problems were; he went straight to the solutions which might or might not address my problems.

Once the mindset is corrected, then Business Analysis is about using certain best practices, tools and techniques to engage with the customers, uncover their real problems, help them see their problem clearly, present options for solutions, verify if there is a good business case for investing in the solution and then, define the solution clearly. Essentially, Business Analysis is about facilitating positive change in organizations.

Business Analysis is for everyone....No?

Thus, Business Analysis as a discipline is for everyone – from carpenter to CEO. The ability to really understand the customer’s real problems and provide solutions that address these real problems is at the heart of every profession.

I always wanted to do this – solving customers’ problems. I started my career with defining requirements for IT Systems and gradually grew to addressing wider, more enterprise wide problems. Unfortunately, the common perception is that Business Analysis is applicable only in the Information Technology industry. Yes, to be fair, Business Analyst as a Role or a Designation is primarily found in the IT industry – no disputes there. More recently, I myself discovered that Business Analysis is not just about IT. Business Analysis encompasses IT, but is much, much broader in scope and application than just IT.

Business Analysis as a discipline, as a label to a set of skills, is applicable, relevant and significant to all industries, all roles...

This entry was published on Dec 22, 2013 / Praveen Udupa. Posted in Business Analysis. Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.
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