How to Align the BABOK® Guide with an SDLC

By Emily Iem, CBAP, PMP, Vice President Momentum, Inc.

With the standardization of Business Analysis (BA) best practices through A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide), we now have defined, consistent tools and techniques to use for BA work. We can also use these best practices to build a repeatable process or methodology to perform our BA work. But it would be a mistake to build our processes separate from other best practice processes in our organization—like Project Management or Systems Development. So how can we integrate the BA processes and BABOK® Guide principles into our existing methodologies within the organization? The focus of this article will be on the integration of BA processes within a Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC), but the ideas can be applied to other processes or methodologies.
  1. Determine the current SDLC

    It’s important to understand what the organization is currently doing for Systems Development—not only to understand the steps in the process but also to determine the type of SDLC the organization has implemented. To use BABOK® Guide terminology, is the organization more ‘Plan-Driven’ or ‘Change-Driven’?

    If an organization is more Plan-Driven, the SDLC will tend to be waterfall in nature. Requirements are completed and signed-off prior to the beginning of Design; Design is completed prior to the beginning of Development; and so on.

    If an organization is more Change-Driven, the SDLC will tend to be iterative or agile. Requirements are more fluid and the components of the product are developed for review/feedback as part of the Requirements processes.
  2. Identify current BA activities within the existing methodology

    Most SDLCs will already have some integrated BA activities. Review the current process and identify which activities may apply. Know which members of the organization are already doing “Business Analysis” even if they don’t associate it formally to a BA.
  3. Determine activities to be added to existing methodology

    Based on the type of SDLC and recommendations from the BABOK® Guide, identify which activities should be added to the existing methodology. Consider the benefits and challenges for each of the tools and techniques. For example, for a distributed project team with a constrained schedule, surveys may be more appropriate than interviews.

    Consider the best way to get the information you need as efficiently as possible given the organization. A Change-Driven SDLC will have more frequent user interaction and may use different types of requirements documentation than a Plan-Driven SDLC (user stories vs. textual requirements).
  4. Create a work stream within the existing process

    If possible, don’t reinvent the wheel! Create a new work stream assigned to the BA within the existing SDLC methodology. Show the integration points between other activities within the SDLC. When do requirements feed into design? How does the BA interact with the development team to support business need fulfillment?
  5. Develop a plan to fill additional gaps

    Remember that while the requirements processes/activities are a large part of the BA role, they are not the only activities of a BA. Many organizations have project prioritization and selection processes within which the BA can participate. Identify how other components of the BABOK® Guide can be aligned with project management processes or continuous operational improvement processes within the organization. If those are missing, document how the BA may improve the organization by creating those processes.
Remember we don’t work in a vacuum and will be most successful when we integrate our best practices within the organization. To borrow from the African proverb, “It takes a village,” as an integrated solution community (project managers, business analysts, and technical resources), we can do more together than any one group individually to ensure success.