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How does your organization decide which projects to fund? When a project is done, how do you know if it was successful? Business problem analysis is a set of techniques that identify and evaluate areas in which stakeholders are unhappy with an existing situation. These techniques help you understand the business problems and their context sufficiently to isolate the real pain points, manage a problem backlog, establish a basis for measuring success, and initiate basic cost-benefit analysis to help you make the right decision.

Problems analysis for requirements definition

Business Problem Analysis:

  • defines the scope for projects
  • ensures common understanding of purpose of projects
  • establishes foundation for funding of projects
  • creates basis for development of test strategy and plan
  • sells a project to all stakehoders
  • facilitates cross-project risk-based management decisions
  • avoids marginal-value add-ons

When Should You Analyze Problems:

Ideally, business problem analysis should precede the development of the solution. However, any time decision makers can not communicate what problems the project will solve (regardless how advanced the project is) is the best time for business problem analysis.

Who Should Analyze Problems?

Business analysts, product owners, project leaders, managers, and virtually anyone working on the project need to understand the business and technical problems that the project will solve.

A Problem Analysis Technique

Basic Problem Definition

Step 1Step 2Step 3

Get a written list containing 5 – 9 answers to the question:

What is the problem?

from each involved party.

Define who wants to solve each problem, who cares how it is solved, and who might resist the solution.

Identify the players by role or job title, not name.

Separate the "real" problems from the symptoms and proposed solutions.
A "real" problem has multiple potential solutions. A good solution will cause all related symptoms to disappear.

If necessary, apply problem/symptom reduction.

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