Smart Ideas for Effective Business Analysis Documentation

Apr 23, 2023

Effective documentation is essential for successful business analysis, as it ensures that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the goals, requirements, and processes. In addition, it helps identify potential risks and issues early on, so they can be addressed before they become major issues. It also allows  tracking changes and decisions over time. There are many kinds of documents business analysts create and maintain, including functional and non-functional requirement documents, release notes, design documents, feature overviews, process flow documents, etc.

While documentation is a necessary part of a business analyst's role, it should not be the sole focus. Furthermore, a business analyst's mind and brain are required to gather and analyse requirements, facilitate communication, collaboration, analyse data and processes, test, ensure quality, and continuously improve the product. The world of business analysis has evolved a lot from the days of creating pages of documents and spending hours gathering requirements. As opposed to simply capturing all the details, business analysts should strive to create business analysis documentation that adds value. It means focusing on the most critical information and presenting it in a clear and concise way that can be easily understood by stakeholders.

Below are some smart ideas to approach the documentation process:

5 Smart Ideas for Effective Business Analysis Documentation

1. Prioritise as always: As business analysts, we know how to prioritise product or project requirements to deliver value effectively and efficiently on time. Why can’t we apply the same skill to prioritise the work? Not all documents are equally relevant, so prioritize the ones that are critical to success. Prior to documenting, conduct an analysis of what documents are important and focus on documenting the essential details.

2. Templates are your best friends: Instead of creating documents from scratch every time, use templates to save time and ensure consistency in formatting and content. Templates can be customized to fit specific needs and can be easily updated as requirements change. A wide range of templates is available at your fingertips, so be wise to select one that meets your requirements. This can save time and prevent missing critical details.

3. Seek assistance whenever needed: Involve stakeholders and team members in the documentation process if necessary to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the documents accurately reflect the needs and goals. If your company has a dedicated technical writer or documenter role, make use of their services. Make sure reviewers are added to the documentation and all parties are kept informed.

4. Be more visual than words: Use visualization tools such as process maps, flowcharts, and diagrams to communicate complex information in a concise manner. Visual aids save time and improve understanding. A flowchart conveys details better than writing two pages of process description. Add necessary comments and instructions for the reader to understand/ navigate through the contents.

5. Keep it simple: Documentation is not an artifact to prove language proficiency. Use plain language and avoid unnecessary technical jargon to make documents easy to understand. If technical terms can’t be avoided, add a glossary for the reader to understand. Depending on the situation, keeping internal and external versions of documents is also advisable. In internal documentation, technical terms can be used since the teams are familiar with them. When it comes to external documentation, it is always better to keep it as simple as possible.

The following are some best practices to consider:

The following are some best practices to consider

1. Keep the document current and accurate by reviewing and updating it periodically. Even if you are unable to do it all the time, at least try adding the last update date, which indicates when the document was created or updated to make it easier for stakeholders to identify it.

2. Include a summary or highlights section or table of contents that can help readers skim or quickly find the information they're looking for.

3. Make sure the document title is relevant and easily searchable in the future.

4. If version control tools are available, use them, or update the version in the title/beginning of the document if the version is not already there.

5. Include the names, positions, and any comments that the reviewers of the document provided.

Smart documentation processes not only save time, but also ensure that the details are accurate and useful. It is necessary for business analysts in the new era of business analysis to think creatively and systemically. A major impact can be made when enabling a change or facilitating a crucial decision-making process through analysis or improving a process that saves time, money, and effort. Documentation can quickly become obsolete in this fast-paced environment due to technology changes, feature enhancements, or market changes. Whenever you create a document, consider its relevance, value, maintenance, and ownership. Do not get caught up in word count or flawless formatting of documentation in business analysis. Instead, focus on essential factors such as sharing knowledge, communicating details, and recording for future reference.

Sumi PrasadAuthor: Sumi Prasad, VISA - CPOA | PSPO I | ICP-APO

Sumi Prasad is an experienced business analyst at Visa Inc based in Auckland, New Zealand. She has strong product- oriented mindset and loves to think creatively. She is a fun loving person who is very enthusiastic  about learning and advancing in business analysis space. 

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