Business Analysis Foundation – Course description
This course in our Guides to Success series is for people wishing to:
- Self study online for the BCS Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis exam
- Develop an understanding of and expertise in the principles of business analysis
The course comprises 13 modules.
Each module contains one or more lessons covering specific topics from the BCS Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis syllabus.
- A short video covering the main aspects of the lesson topic
- Detailed text description of the topic
- Multi-choice exam style quizzes
Some of the lessons also include:
- Interactive quizzes and other information to further consolidate your knowledge
- Practical exercises to supplement the multi-choice quizzes
There are also practice exams that help you to practice your timing when answering quiz questions.
We provide valuable hints, tips and tactics to prepare you for taking the exam.
There are no specific prerequisites to taking the course.
Module 1 – What is business analysis?
The lessons in this module collectively:
- Answer the question, “What is business analysis?”
- Examine how business analysis originated and developed
- Review a life-cycle for managing business change programmes
Module 2 – Competencies of a business analyst.
In this lesson we exam qualities, skills and knowledge required by a business analyst, specifically:
- Personal qualities
- Business knowledge
- Professional techniques
Module 3 – Strategy analysis
Business analysis concerns identifying business changes that will help the organisation achieve its strategic objectives.
It is essential that a business analyst understands the strategy and direction of the organisation for which they work. This will provide a context for everything that they do.
with their understanding of the organisation’s strategy, the business analyst is well placed to help to align an IT strategy to support the achievement of business objectives. They may help to develop a business architecture to support this.
In this module we explore:
- The concept of business strategy
- Some classic techniques for considering possible strategies
- What is meant by a value proposition
- Business architecture
- Execution of strategy
Module 4 – The business analysis process model
Whereas some business analysts work in a “Business as usual” (BAU) environment, many will also work on business change programmes.
Any piece of business analysis work may be managed as a project. In a business change programme there are likely to be many projects and the focus for some of them will be business analysis.
Before starting a project, the business analyst needs to clarify the nature of the problem to be solved or the opportunity to be realised. They can then write clear terms of reference for the project.
This lesson explores:
- Techniques for problem solving and for writing terms of reference.
- A framework for managing business analysis projects or indeed any business change project: this is known as the business analysis process model.
Module 5 – Investigation techniques
Much of the business analyst’s work involves investigating areas of the business in order to qualify and quantify the significance of business problems, opportunities and drivers for change.
We describe a number of popular techniques that are essential for a business analyst to work effectively. Specifically, we cover:
- Facilitated workshops
- Special purpose records
- Activity sampling
- Document analysis
Module 6 – Stakeholder analysis and management
Having identified the problems it is essential to now identify the owners of those problems. These are the stakeholders, the people in the business with an interest in resolving the problems, avoiding threats and seizing opportunities.
In this module, we examine some popular techniques for working with and successfully managing stakeholders.
- Stakeholder categories
- Stakeholder identification and management
- Soft system methodology
- Analysis of stakeholder perspectives
- Business activity models
Module 7 – Modelling business processes
Business process modelling and management is a vital skill for a business analyst.
Business processes are the means by which an organisation:
- Acquires, creates, sells and delivers its products and services to its customers.
- Manages its internal operations.
They are a major element in a business architecture.
In this module we look at:
- The nature of processes and their link to organisational strategy.
- Techniques for modelling, analysing and improving these business processes.
Module 8 – Gap Analysis
Gap analysis is the difference between where an organisation is currently and where it wants to be in the future.
It can be performed at various points within a project.
This module explains the rationale for and approach to gap analysis.
Module 9 – Making a business and financial case
A business analyst must understand that spending on programmes and projects is an investment on behalf of either shareholders or taxpayers.
As initiators of change, we are always spending someone else’s money. This must be done with care. Investments should not normally be undertaken if they will lose money.
Even with change projects performed to implement government legislation, it is essential to be able to manage the money that is spent.
In this module, we look at the creation of business cases and their supporting financial case.
Module 10 –What is a requirement?
Identifying and managing requirements is at the heart of what a business analyst does.
Every requirement should be framed in the context of the identified business problems or opportunities.
Summarised by Alexander and Beus-Dukic as ‘Simple but not easy’, requirements success eludes many programmes and projects.
In this module, we look at the nature of requirements and categorise them according to well-established schemes.
Requirements are commonly organised as a hierarchy. We examine a particular hierarchy relevant to the syllabus for this course.
We also examine a framework for identifying, analysing, validating, documenting and managing requirements.
Module 11 – Documenting requirements
Whether formally or informally it is essential to document requirements specifications.
Requirements may be specified by using a combination of text and diagrams; we consider a selection of popular techniques for doing this including:
- Traditional ‘text only’ specifications
- Use cases
- User stories
Requirements specifications frequently refer to the data that is used. Modelling of this data can help to elaborate and refine the requirement specification. We look at two techniques for modelling data:
- UML class model
- Entity relationship diagrams (ERDs)
Module 12 – Systems development life cycles
The requirements are the basis for the design, development and implementation of the required changes.
A number of approaches to managing software acquisition and implementation are in popular use; these approaches are known as systems (or software) development life cycles (SDLCs).
In this module we examine the following life cycles:
- V model
Module 13 – Implementation and benefits
Following the delivery of the changes to the business, it is essential to track them to assess the extent to which the benefits, as predicted in the business case, are actually achieved.
This module examines the process of assessing the achievement, or realisation, of benefits.
We also consider some of the human aspects of change.
Taking the exam
Exams may be taken at a Pearson VUE test centre.
Important information for those taking the BCS examination
All course delegates who intend to take the associated examination must ensure that they familiarise themselves with rules covering photographic identification and the guidelines on eligibility for requesting additional time for the examination. Please click this link to see the BCS identification policy.