It does not matter what project you are going to undertake. It is not critical what industry you are going to be assessing. What is important is you know what you are going to do. You must as questions. It would be best if you found what it is the client wants. Presented is a list of obvious questions every good business analyst should know the answer to when starting a project.
- What problem is this business having that you hope to solve by developing this project? It should be evident as to why you would ask that question. If you do not understand what the problem is, then you can not help to solve it. Also, when reading the project program, it may not be clear what the client wants. The scope may only tell you what they would like to happen. It could and often is not focused on what the factual issues are.
- What is the business doing to alleviate or solve the issue? What has been tried in the past? You must understand what the client is doing to understand what must be done. You do not want to develop a project plan overview only to have someone tell you it has been tried. Listen to the customer. Find out what they have done. Ask questions while you are listening on your toes, brainstorming. Listen to what has not worked.
- What inside resources will this project be utilizing? What will outside resources be necessary? You will have to determine where your help and team players are coming from. You may be familiar with most IT, but it is a different game if the client wants to outsource. You may have to make a list of external interactions. Define the company’s strengths and weaknesses. It can be most advantageous.
- Have you determined a vision for the project? The business analyst will compare this scope with the one they will develop to ensure consistency and a parallel outlook. In other words, make sure you are on the same path. Vision is sometimes easier said than done. Communication is the key to success with this question.
- What risks do you foresee, and are you willing to take them? A conservative client may not be inclined to take enormous risks. Getting them to be specific can help when generating the project program. You may also be able to overcome some of their fears or doubts by explaining the risk factor more thoroughly.
- Are you under any time constraints? There has to be a set time frame for the outcome. A goal is reached for any project if time is not a factor. Most clients have time constraints that affect every avenue of business. You will want to know what these are and plan accordingly.
- What is the projected cost of the program? An aggressive business analyst may be blunt and honest by wording the question. What is the projected budget, and can it deviate? There are times specific steps must be taken that can cause a project to run over budget. Other plans of action may not need to be implemented because management was not fully aware of certain assets available. It is best to know what is going into this project for the project program to succeed.
- Who is the end-user? What support will they have? You will need to know this for the program to fulfill its purpose. Marketing data is collected to incorporate what the end-user is asking. The goal is to reach the objective with everyone satisfied. A business analyst can not do this without talking and listening to everyone involved.