What is business analysis?

What is business analysis?

What is Business Analysis?

The purpose of this article is to explain the definition of business analysis, and what it’s purpose is within an organisation. This article follows on from my previous article of What is a Business Process?

I am using the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK v3) as a reference for these posts so that I can learn and consolidate the information in my mind whilst also sharing the information with a broader audience.

My interpretation is that business analysis is a structured approach to business improvements to solve specific problems within a business. Business analysis includes defining what the problem is, who the problem impacts, what the solution is and what needs to happen to implement the best solution to the problem for the business or organisation.

People who perform business analysis activities are usually called Business Analysts. They generally work on projects of improvement. A Project Manager oversees the project to ensure the project is successful. There is a whole body of work that goes into the set-up of a project that is explained under project management methodologies. Projects can be small or very large and complex.

Who performs business analysis?

business analyst activities

A person who performs business analysis tasks as described above is a Business Analyst.  They may have a different job title but still perform these tasks. A few other titles for business analyst include business systems analyst, data analyst, business architect, enterprise analyst, management consultant, process analyst, product manager/owner and systems analyst. Their main role is to ensure that the solution to the business problem meets the needs of all the parties who have an interest in the solution and that the chosen solution is designed, developed and delivered according to those needs. Often, someone who is a subject matter expert in a particular business area is given the task of performing the business analysis tasks as they are already familiar with the business and its problems.

Business Analysis Knowledge Areas

The business analysis profession describes different stages of the tasks that a business analyst undertakes to enable valuable change within an organisation. In order to bring about that change, a business analyst usually works systematically through all of these key knowledge areas (BABOK v3):

  • Business analysis planning and monitoring
  • Elicitation and collaboration
  • Requirements life cycle management
  • Strategy analysis
  • Requirements analysis and design definition
  • Solution evaluation

These knowledge areas are in-depth topics, containing specific expertise that includes many tasks. The Business Analysis Core Concept Model (BACCM) (BABOK v3) shows the relationships that play an important role when implementing any kind of change in a business. Business Analysts manage these relationships by applying and implementing these key knowledge areas to the problem to achieve the desired outcome.

The Business Analysis Core Concept ModelTM

Business Analysis Core Concept Model

This framework shows the relationships between the 6 core concepts of the BACCM. They are all essential components to business analysis. They are used by business analysts to measure and monitor work done (BABOK v3).

For each business area, the business analyst applies the BACCM framework within its context. This ensures the correct tasks are completed with the relevant outputs produced for the business. As you can see, the areas are all dependent on each other.

What types of skills do you need for business analysis?

The business analysis skills needed include a combination of soft skills and hard skills/technical skills.

Soft Skills for Business Analysis

These are skills not exclusive to the business analysis arena. Some of the keys soft skills I think are important and so does the (BABOK v3), include, but are not limited to:

  • good communication skills
  • problem solving skills
  • analytical skills
  • interviewing skills
  • conceptual thinking skills
  • decision making skills
  • the ability to quickly learn new things
  • the ability to translate technical terms into business terms
  • adaptability
  • good time management skills
  • general business knowledge.

Hard Skills for Business Analysis

These are the more technical skills or required to perform business analysis activities. They are important business analysis techniques used by business analysts. Some of these include, as listed in the BABOK v3:

  • acceptance and evaluation criteria
  • benchmarking and market analysis
  • business capability analysis
  • business rules analysis
  • concept modelling
  • data flow diagrams
  • decision analysis
  • document analysis
  • financial analysis
  • functional decomposition
  • item tracking
  • metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • non-functional requirements analysis
  • prioritisation
  • process analysis
  • process modelling
  • prototyping
  • risk analysis
  • root cause analysis
  • stakeholder list, map or personas
  • state modelling
  • SWOT analysis
  • use cases and scenarios
  • user stories
  • vendor assessment
  • workshops.

A business analyst needs the right tools to be able to perform their jobs. These tools are usually software applications designed to make the task easier and more efficient. The business analyst may also use very specific tools for specific jobs. An example is a tool for gathering and recording requirements. Various tools are used for collaboration, sharing of information, creating and maintaining outputs/documentation, measuring and monitoring progress and change, modelling concepts and tracking issues. Business analysts also use tools to increase productivity.  Each organisation’s specific needs will determine the tools they use.

Conclusion of what is business analysis?

This article has covered what business analysis is and provided a basic understanding of the tasks and key fundamental skills that a business analyst needs to perform business analysis. The article has also briefly touched upon the 6 key knowledge areas as outlined in the BABOK together with the BACCM.  Business analysis is the practice of many techniques and tools combined to support a business with improvement and change. Each business/organisation uses their own unique combination of tools and techniques to investigate, recommend and then implement the correct solution for their business.

If you are looking for help with your business analysis then contact us today!

What is a business process?

What is a business process?

Let's first look at a generic definition of a process. It is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular result. In business we can be more specific when it relates to the business and how the process helps achieve the business goals and objectives. Then we call it a business process.

The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) defines a business process as "An end-to-end set of activities which collectively responds to an event, and transforms information, materials, and other resources into outputs that deliver value directly to the customers of the process. It may be internal to an organisation, or it may span several organisations."

Some great examples of business process are:

  • a client onboarding process
  • accounting management process
  • quality assurance and change management process

While these are great examples, it is not a complete list. Anything that happens in a business that needs to achieve a certain goal, is a business process. We can clearly see this in the above examples.

Breaking down a business process

As we can see from the BABOK definition, a business process  has various components that make it whole. Let's have a closer look at these to better understand what a business process is.

The basic components of a business process are the inputs, outputs, stakeholders and the activities or tasks. To show this further, let us use a sample of Person A who wants to withdraw funds from their bank account via an ATM. The process also has a sequence flow to indicate the order the process follows.

Inputs are the resources that are used to achieve the task successfully. It can be information from a spreadsheet, a price list or any piece of information that can be used to complete the process. In the above example, it is the client's card and their pin code.

Stakeholders are people, roles, systems that take part in and have a stake in the process. In our example the client, the ATM and the bank are the stakeholders in our example process.

Outputs are the successfully achieved goal of a process. In our example, the goal of the process is to withdraw money. If the client is able to successfully get their money from the ATM, the process ends and the goal is achieved. If there are any errors that prevent the client from getting their money, then the process stops and cannot finish successfully.

A process always has something that triggers it to begin. In our simple example above, the trigger is when a client puts their card into the ATM and enters their pin.

Difference between a process and a procedure

A process is not the same as a procedure.

A process is a series of tasks that uses inputs (information) to create an output (a result).

A procedure is a series steps used to execute a process or part of a process (the how-to).

Other terms used for business process

There are many terms used to today to describe business processes and the management of them. Below are some known terms that relate to business processes.  That is as far as the likeness goes.

  • business process flow - the sequence flow of the activities or tasks of the business process
  • business process improvement (BPI) - the purpose of improving business processes to improve business products, quality and ROI
  • business process re engineering (BPR) -  recreating core business processes with the goal of improving product output, quality, or ROI.
  • business process management (BPM) - a discipline in operations using various methods to analyse, measure, improve, optimise, and automate business processes
  • workflow management - the work/tasks people do and whether they can be automated
  • business process modelling - modelling the process in a diagram

An article is not complete without mentioning that business processes are best represented in a business process model. Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is an industry standard. It is a diagramming format that represents the sequential flow of work across defined tasks and activities through an enterprise or part of an enterprise.  The above ATM example is modeled in BPMN.

What is a Content Management System (CMS) and which is the best one for my website/blog?

What is a Content Management System (CMS) and which is the best one for my website/blog?

The topic of getting a website for your business is raised quite a bit. I’ve written about it a couple of times as well. See here. This article is the second in a series of How to create a successful website. The first article was How To Plan for a Successful Website. Working out what CMS you want to use for your website is part of the process that can be confusing for new business owners. Below you will discover what a CMS is and how to choose the best CMS to suit your business needs.

Introduction to What is a CMS (Content Management System)

How do you work out which is the best CMS for your business website/blog that you want to build? Well, first you need to know what a CMS is. A CMS or Content Management System basically allows users to create, edit and publish content on their website. This is usually digital content and includes text, images, audio and video files as well as graphics and code. The CMS chosen highly depends on what the content is used for. Different business websites require different functionality, so identifying the best solution for your business upfront, can save a lot of headache down the track. Your choice will depend on your business goals, budget, technical expertise and the purpose of the website.

In this article, I will discuss the main types of CMSs. Which ones are the most well-known, explain some terminology and provide a recommendation for the best CMS (in my opinion) to use if you are building a business website/blog.

Types of CMS (Content Management Systems)

CMS

While there are hundreds of CMSs they all fall into two categories. Namely, Open Source and Proprietary. These CMSs also have varying levels of complexity in using them. Some are very user-friendly and easy to use, while others are more advanced. You may need some technical knowledge and ability to use them. (See this article for more info).

Open source CMS

Open source CMS means the program code is freely available and can be accessed by anyone. These are popular Content Management Systems and are usually developed and maintained by a community of developers who constantly work on developing and improving the platform. Furthermore, opensource platforms have large developer bases that work on creating and developing plugins and extensions for additional functionality on these platforms. These CMSs are often easy to use and are popular amongst bloggers and other DIY users.
Examples of open source CMSs are:

  • WordPress,
  • Joomla and
  • Drupal.

Proprietary CMS

Proprietary CMS solutions are licenced and paid for solutions. They are usually developed by a company and are often used in specific industries, eg medical practices, beauty salons, accounting software, etc. These are often COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) solutions that are paid for by a one-off licence or a regular recurring licence yearly or monthly. They can also be highly customisable solutions for different industries. Examples of proprietary CMS are:

  • Xero (accounting software),
  • Wix, Weebly, Squarespace (website management software) and
  • Active Campaign (CRM and email responder software).

Additional Useful Information for CMS

To understand all this further, It helps if you understand the different terminology that comes with content management systems.

Domain name

The domain name is the address on the internet. It is unique to the user/business that is using the domain name. You first have to have a domain name before you can get hosting for that domain name. An example is www.abccompany.com. The letters that come after the name, such as .com, .com.au, .co, .biz etc often relate to the country of the domain or the type of website.

Hosting

Hosting is where a website and all it’s content is kept. There are many types of hosting available and it is important to do your research to find the best hosting that suits your business or personal needs.

The most popular is Shared Hosting. This is where there are many websites on one server and they all share the server’s resources. This is usually a good option for a new start-up business. It does not require a lot of technical knowledge to use.

Dedicated Server Hosting is when you rent a server specifically for your website and your website is the only one using it. It is a more expensive option but the benefits are having more control over the server and it’s functionality as well as being the only website using the resources. This is the best option if speed is essential. The website owner has all the control but a high level of technical expertise is required for this option.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is where a server is divided into virtual servers, giving website owners more control over their server but it is still shared with other users. This is ideal for users who want dedicated hosting but do not have the technical knowledge to implement it.

Cloud Hosting is where many computers work together, running applications using combined computing resources. This means more than one web server is used and allows for scalability for websites that grow a lot.

Finally, Managed Hosting. This forms the majority of the hosting services you will find online. The hosting company provides, amongst other things, technical services such as hardware and software set-up and configuration. Also maintenance and technical support. WordPress is a sub-category of managed hosting and many hosting companies specialise in providing managed services for WordPress.

Information obtained by Techradar

Plugins

Plugins are pieces of software in the WordPress space that provide additional functionality to a CMS. They are very popular options, especially if a website owner is not a developer or someone who knows how to code. The functionality plugins can provide range from backing up websites to installing some code on your website. A word of caution here, while plugins are extremely useful and many of them are free, by using too many plugins on your website, you run the risk of slowing down the website load time and thus losing visitors to your site due to the slow load time.

Conclusion – The best CMS (Content Management System) in my opinion

WordPress is a well-known Content Management System and I believe it is the best CMS. It is a cost-effective solution for small businesses as well as bloggers and other DIY business people. It’s relatively easy to use and has the largest percentage of websites built on it on the internet (approximately 35%). It’s also popular because it’s free to use. Business owners can have a website presence without dishing out large amounts of cash. There are heaps of resources and tutorials available on WordPress, which makes it even more appealing. One such site is WPBeginner. It’s one of the best and clearest I have found. It has blog posts, tutorials, newsletters and special deals for people who sign up to their email list.

It is also easy to find a wealth of information regarding the additional aspects of building a website, no matter what CMS you use. All the major search engines have excellent results that provide in-depth information from beginner level to the very advanced level.

And remember, once your website is built, your work is not over. See here.

 

 

How to plan for a successful website

How to plan for a successful website

website planningHow to Plan for a Successful Website

You’ve started a business and you are ready to tell the world you are here and how you can help them. You are now prepared for your own website to attract your customers, so where do you start…..?

This article is to help you ​plan for a successful website. It will reveal what I believe to be the crucial elements you need to know about if you are looking to build a website that is profitable.

What outcome do you want?

While this may not seem obvious to the new entrepreneur, this is really a vital component to your strategy. This is the place to start. By figuring out the website purpose, you clearly define what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it, ie it’s objective. I’ve mentioned this previously in my article I want a website, where do I start and I have seen it mentioned in many other articles as well. Here is one such article that I found that confirmed what I had learnt during my entrepreneurial journey.

The first and most important thing to figure out when you start a business, is what kind of business it is and who are you going to serve, ie What is the Purpose of your website? Who is your ideal client, and what problem do you solve for them? The answer to this will help you work out where to lead site visitors to their desired solution.

After all, a website is not just about showcasing you and your business, it’s really all about your prospective clients and providing them with a solution to specific problem (need). It is an important marketing tool.

​Important questions for an effective websiteplan

​There are 4 questions you need to answer to create an effective website:​

  1. Who is the website being built for, who is the target audience?
  2. What is the problem they are trying to solve?
  3. How do you solve their problem?
  4. What do they need to do?

Figuring out these key elements will make creating a money-making website a lot easier as they will help attract your ideal clients to you.

Who is your target audience?

Knowing who your target audience is important for getting the correct message across. If you know who they are, what the do, where the work, what income bracket they are in, what they do in their leisure time, what kind of problems so they have, then you will understand what your audience’s challenges. When you understand this you can then offer a solution in words that your audience relates to and understands. It builds rapport with your audience and is the beginning of your relationship with them.

What is their problem?

When you understand your audience’s exact problem/s, it makes it easier for you to offer appropriate solutions. What are the solutions people are looking for? Do they want to overcome their fear of public speaking? Or maybe they want a website on a shoestring budget. Clearly articulate what problem is being addressed and then go on to show visitors how you can solve it for them.

How do you solve their problem?

Here you need to clearly state how you solve their problem. It must be simple and action oriented. An example is to sign up for a free cheat sheet that provides tips or hacks that can be instantly applied to solve their specific problem.

​Avoid long explanations and lots of text. People ignore these. They want short sharp answers that they can find quickly and easily. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they will take the desired action.

What does your audience need to do on your site?

Your homepage should be simple and uncluttered. It must be easy for your visitors to understand what action you want them to take. It must also be very clear what action you want your visitor to take. For example, Buy Now, or Learn More. This is known as a Call To Action (CTA). Having a CTA above the fold and in a prominent location makes it clear what action a visitor can take.

clear path

Design and placing of elements assist in this area. Strategic placing of certain elements in certain locations helps the visitors to take the actions you want them to take. Remember, technology (ie your website) is only a tool, and it can only perform based on how you use it. If you are clear on its purpose before you build it, and the path you wish your prospects to take, building it will be easy, as you will know who you are addressing, what problem you are solving and how you can help your them.

​Another consideration is the type of website. Is it an ecommerce site, a brochure type site, a course/membership platform? Or is it a blog to share useful resources in a certain field? Whatever the answer is, it needs to match to all of the above if it is to be successful.

​Naturally, as is often usual, there are bound to be some overlaps of the types of websites, and that is quite ok. Just be aware of the overlaps and how each one has a specific objective. Make sure your website meets your business objectives.

How do I get a website?

Once you have completed this first step, you are ready to find the right person to design your website.

​Get in touch today if you would like us to assist you with your website design!

19 Essential Steps to Secure Your WordPress Website

19 Essential Steps to Secure Your WordPress Website

Secure Your WordPress Website with these 19 Essential Steps

Being a WordPress website owner, you may or may not be aware of the necessity to take some essential steps to secure your website against unwanted intrusions. In this post, I am giving you the 19 best security tips that I have found in my research to assist you in keeping your site as secure as possible.  These tips are for those business owners or blog owners who have their own website being hosted with a hosting company.

It is important to realise that website security is not a one-off event.  Rather, it is an ongoing practice to ensure that your website can do its job of attracting your customers.

1. Choose the best hosting service possible.

You will need to do your research to know what you need so that you are able to choose the best option for you. For example, if you are expecting to attract a lot of traffic to your website, like over 50,000 hits per day, you may want to avoid shared hosting and look at dedicated hosting or a service with cloud hosting.

2. Pick a good, unique username.

DO NOT use admin, test or your website name! Part of this includes using a good strong password as well. Use this link to check how well your password performs https://howsecureismypassword.net/

3. Install the Wordfence plugin.

This is hands down the best security plugin out there and one of the best tools to help you secure your website. The free version deals really well with such things as limiting login attempts, blocking unregistered users from trying to login and blocking random bot attacks. The settings are quite comprehensive and allow for customization as well. If you feel you need extra security, you can always opt in for the premium paid version. Check out all the necessary documentation here: https://docs.wordfence.com/en/Wordfence_Official_Documentation.

4. Find out if a website username is hidden or not.

Type in a website domain and follow it with /?author=1 and hit enter eg www.yourdomain.com/?author=1 This reveals the username to log into the site if not properly secured. If the site is properly secured, the user is referred to a Page that says No Results.

5. Limit login in attempts to your website.

5 is a good number. Enough to still let you in if you make a mistake yet not enough to allow someone else to gain access. The Wordfence plugin has settings that allows you to do this. It also allows you to select how long the user has to try those 5 login attempts and then allows you to choose the time frame that they are locked out for. (See image below). This is a quick and easy step to secure your website.Wordfence login limits settings

6. If you are comfortable going into your website backend, hide the core WordPress file wp-config.php.

This is the main file to make your website function. It is typically stored in your WordPress installation directly. By moving it up to the public_html/ folder, it makes it inaccessible to hackers.

7. Select a good and reliable backup plugin.

The best plugin will depend on the size of your website. For smallish websites, free plugins like Duplicator or Updraft Plus are good choices. Updraft Plus is also a good choice for larger websites. You can store your backup files locally or in a location of your choice (see image for Updraft Plus choices). The settings in Updraft Plus means you can schedule backups at regular intervals automatically. A good practice is before making any changes to your site, always make a backup first.backup settings

8. Make sure the latest version of WordPress has been updated.

Before you do this, backup your site! Updating the WordPress version prevents hackers using out of date versions to gain access. Hackers can find this information just by viewing source code. It is best to remove the version of the WordPress file. The Wordfence plugin will remove this for you, you only have to tick the box to achieve this.

9. Consider your computer’s security to your website.

Run an anti-malware software program regularly on your computer to make sure it is safe.

10. Check if your website files are opening for public view

  • Go to your domain name and type it into the url followed by /wp-includes
  • If you are redirected to your homepage that is good.
  • Should you see a list of files on your web page that means you are not safe.
  • Add 2 lines of code to your .htaccess file to prevent folder browsing. Add it right at the beginning of the file.

   # Prevent folder browsing options

     Options All-Indexes

11. If you have multiple authors, regularly review what users are doing.

Doing this allows you to see if there is any suspicious activity. Make sure you set up new users properly with only the permissions they need to access your site. Remember to backup your site before adding a new user. Then, Pay attention to:

  • Who is logged in
  • When they logged in (at odd times)
  • What they add/delete/edit (ie what are they changing?)
  • You can use the plugin WP Security Audit Log to record activity if you are concerned about the activity you see.

12. Password protect your most vulnerable website files.

You can do this In your hosts cpanel by going to Password protect your Directories. DO NOT PASSWORD PROTECT YOUR MAIN ROOT DIRECTORY! However, It is ok to password protect the wp-admin folder with a username and password. Again, make sure you use a strong password. https://howsecureismypassword.net/

13. Choose your theme or plugin from a reputable source.

Do this by reading the reviews and doing your research.

14. Take note of when themes and plugins were last updated as there is increased risk if they are out of date.

This means you can see if changes were made to any files that were not part of the update. It also means if they are out of date (see item 14).

15. Make sure you always keep your themes and plugins up to date

Out-dated plugins and themes are often exploited by hackers to gain access to websites. Ensuring yours are up to date will prevent hackers from using this tactic to gain access to your site.

16. Uninstall any themes and plugins you are not using.

These take up space on your website and can contribute to slowing down your website.

17. Ensure you keep your WordPress version up to date as well.

Usually if the WordPress version is out of date it means it was updated because there was some kind of vulnerability detected in the current version. Keeping your WordPress version up-to-date ensures you are covered in this instance.

18. Back your website up regularly.

Having regular backups gives you peace of mind. Store the backups in several locations so that if one location falls over, you still have a backup plan to save your website.

19. Be active in your website security.

Gone are the days where you put up a website and you forget about it. Your website is a living tool, that adapts and changes to your marketing needs. Being active in your security is a key component to keeping your website secure and attracting your clients to your business.

While this is not a fully comprehensive list, it is a great start in keeping you safe. If you have any trouble with any of the steps you can contact us and we can implement them for you. We have great value maintenance plans on offer to make this easy for so that you can be assured your site is safe.Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save