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Eliciting, analyzing, validating, and managing requirements have consistently been recognized as key activities of business analysis. However, it is important to recognize that business analysts are also responsible for the definition of design, at some level, in an initiative. The level of responsibility for design varies based on the perspective within which a business analyst is working.

Requirements are focused on the need; designs are focused on the solution. The distinction between requirements and designs is not always clear. The same techniques are used to elicit, model, and analyze both. A requirement leads to a design which in turn may drive the discovery and analysis of more requirements. The shift in focus is often subtle.

The classification as a requirement or a design may become less significant as the business analyst's work progresses to a greater understanding of and eventual fulfillment of the need. The tasks in the BABOK® Guide such as Trace Requirements (p. 79) or Specify and Model Requirements (p. 136) may refer to requirements, but the intent is to include designs as well.

Business analysis can be complex and recursive. A requirement (or set of requirements) may be used to define a design. That design may then be used to elicit additional requirements that are used to define more detailed designs. The business analyst may hand off requirements and designs to other stakeholders who may further elaborate on the designs. Whether it is the business analyst or some other role that completes the designs, the business analyst often reviews the final designs to ensure that they align with the requirements.

The following table provides some basic examples of how information may be viewed as either a requirement or a design.

Table 2.5.1: Requirements and Design



View six months sales data across multiple organizational units in a single view.

A sketch of a dashboard.

Reduce amount of time required to pick and pack a customer order.

Process model.

Record and access a medical patient’s history.

Screen mock-up showing specific data fields.

Develop business strategy, goals, and objectives for a new business.

Business Capability Model.

Provide information in English and French.

Prototype with text displayed in

English and French.


Stakeholders may present a need or a solution to an assumed need. A business analyst uses activities found in Elicitation and Collaboration (p. 53), Strategy Analysis (p. 99), Requirements Analysis and Design Definition (p. 133), and Solution Evaluation (p. 163) to transform that request into a requirement or design. Regardless of the focus of the stakeholder, the importance of the role of the business analyst lies in continuously asking the question ‘why?’. For example, “Why is either the requirement or design necessary to provide value to an enterprise and to facilitate the realization of an enterprise’s goals and objectives?”

Figure 2.5.1: Requirements and Design Cycle

Requirements and Design Cycle