Business analysis and reporting are two critical activities every business works on daily. Even though they’re separate activities, they’re deeply intertwined.
Business analysis activities are executed before reporting activities. The former speaks to understanding and mapping out business needs into business solutions by gathering necessary customer, user or general stakeholder requirements (current needs). That information is then translated into processes, tools and solutions that speak to those needs and provide a solution to the requestor.
Reporting activities revolve around collecting and summarizing business and process performance metrics in formats that are ready to be read, consumed, understood and acted upon by business owners and key decision makers that use reporting information to discuss and make business decisions.
Together, these two activities indicate a wide variety of tasks and job responsibilities that, in large organizations, are managed by different roles. Business analysts focus on (you guessed it) business analysis while other data professionals may specialize in reporting. Data analysts and business intelligence managers may take on their fair share of the reporting responsibilities. In smaller organizations, a business analyst may cover business analysis and reporting activities.
Why Is Business Analysis and Reporting Important?
The purpose of business analysis is to bridge the gap between a sub-optimal business state (the present) and an improved state (the future) by translating high-level business needs into specific and actionable requirements that can be executed and built by the development or engineering team depending on the project.
The purpose of reporting is to keep key stakeholders in the loop and enable them to make informed decisions that improve business and process performance. The objective of reporting activities is not to provide a solution to business problems, but to bring information to light that allows stakeholders to discuss the problem and find solutions.
Both of these steps are of vital importance for a business. Proper analysis and informed decision making based on data and reporting puts an organization in a position to make decisions to positively impact the company’s bottom line and future growth. Without proper analysis and reporting practices, decision making is based on senior leaders’ gut feelings and not operational data.
Examples of Business Analysis Activities
Below are some examples of business analysis activities, which are usually performed by business analysts or other similar roles:
- Hold requirements gathering sessions or workshops with business stakeholders to understand the current status of the business and break down current needs into smaller pieces of work that the project team can prioritize and implement.
- Draft and maintain documentation that provides an overview of current business processes.
- Develop system process maps (or flows) that describe the end-to-end sequence of a given business process. These are usually technical diagrams that help uncover bottlenecks and help identify business solutions to improve business or process performance.
- Present findings to business owners and decision makers to facilitate discussions and finding solutions that bring the business from the as-is situation (sub-optimal) to the future state (improved).
Examples of Reporting Activities
Below are some examples of reporting activities which are usually performed by data analysts, business intelligence managers, insight managers or other similar roles:
- Develop business dashboards and reports that inform business owners and stakeholders on past, current and projected business performance.
- Hold discussions with business stakeholders around the development of key performance indicators (KPIs) to feature in reporting solutions.
- Perform a technical analysis of the best technology stack that supports reporting activities. Take data availability, frequency and latency into consideration.
- Report vendor evaluations to determine the best platform solutions that can support the business reporting needs at any given time.
- Collaborate with data engineering, analysis and technical teams to improve the performance of reporting solutions.