Business Analysis Terms

Using precise and accurate language is critical for business analysis. Requirements are always documented using words, whether they are presented in textual sentences, labels on diagram boxes, or verbally. Unfortunately, many terms used in business analysis are still used inconsistently and defined differently by various publications.

Below are definitions for some commonly used business analysis terms which may help you and your organization get more clarity around your business analysis work. To learn more about business analysis read Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis by Barbara A. Carkenord.

Term Definition/Usage
Business Case This is the justification for work to be performed. It is also referred to as business value or cost benefit analysis. A business case may be very formal and documented or may be informal and undocumented. A business analyst should always be assessing the business case or business value of his or her work and alerting his or her manager if the work will not bring enough business value to the organization.
Business requirements These are description of business goals, objectives, processes, information, rules, and parties. They are written in business language. They are often AS-IS, or current state representations because the business needs continue regardless of the solution used to accomplish them.
Core requirements components People, information, processes, and business rules are the core requirements components.
Product A thing created to solve a business problem or address an opportunity. A product is usually designed and created by a project. The product may be a unique, one-of-a-kind item created for a particular customer or use. A product may also be a mass produced item for sale to external customers.
Product scope The characteristics of the product including size, shape, features, usage, technology involved, etc.
Project scope Things needed for the project to be successful. Ideally if the project is going to result in a project or solution, the product scope or solution scope should be clearly defined before project planning. The project scope includes the resources needed to create the desired result.
Requirement Something wanted or needed by a stakeholder to meet a current or future objective. Anything important enough to discuss, analyze, document and/or validate (Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis, 2008). Requirements which are raw or unrefined are also known as requests. Features, functions, capabilities are all other words for requirements.
Solution Anything which will solve a business problem or address an opportunity. A solution can include software, hardware, equipment, process changes, personnel changes, organization changes, outsourcing, or any combination of the above.
Solution requirements These are descriptions of how a new solution should work. They describe how the user would interact with the solution and how the solution will interface or integrate with other solutions in the organization.
Stakeholder requirements These are requests from individual stakeholders. In agile approaches these make up the product backlog. They are unrefined, unanalyzed needs which may not yet be prioritized or approved for development. There are TO-BE or future state requirements.
Technical requirements or system requirements These are specifications which describe how the solution will be built. These requirements are not usually the responsibility of a business analyst.