Process of Solution Assessment and Validation is ensuring that the solution built matches the requirements.
Once requirements are handed to the solutions team the business analyst will be expected to assess the design returned to the project team. The Business analyst maintains much of the project’s intellectual property – especially requirements and is the ablest person to assess the appropriateness of the solution design in terms of alignment and quality.
Solution validation is the activity of explaining the solution’s appropriateness to stakeholders and sponsors. Solution validation also involves inspecting or managing the test plans and activities. Often documents are created to govern the testing process including a test strategy and test plan.
At each of these quality checks, the BA should be in a position to highlight problems or acknowledge that the solution has been built to the appropriate standards. The V-Model expands upon the testing activities of the SDLC further.
These activities are not just limited to application software, but address a variety of other areas such as business processes, organizational change, outsourcing agreements, and any other component of the solution. The knowledge area consists of six tasks, which are:
- Assess Proposed Solution
- Allocate Requirements
- Assess Organizational Readiness
- Define Transition Requirements
- Validate Solution
- Evaluate Solution Performance
Assess Proposed Solution
After requirements have been defined and prioritized, the proposed solution with its set of requirements is analyzed to determine whether the solution will deliver sufficient business value to justify its implementation. This can be viewed as a kind of checkpoint or gate to make a go/no go decision before the solution is acquired or built. Solution assessment may be performed on a single solution or be used to compare multiple proposed solutions to recommend the best course of action to proceed.
Solution validation is required to ensure that the project and its outputs deliver a proposed solution that meets defined requirements. Problems identified through solution validation are reported and prioritized for resolution. When a problem is identified with the solution such as a failure to meet a stakeholder need or requirement that was not correctly specified, the business analyst helps the team determine the most appropriate action to resolve the problem.
Defects are generally identified through participation in lifecycle events. Below are some examples of lifecycle events for waterfall projects:
- Design Review
- Code Review and Demonstration
- System and Integration Test
- User Acceptance Test
- Organizational Change Plan
- Solution Deployment Plan
Evaluate Solution Performance
Solution performance evaluation involves analyzing how a solution is functioning after it has been deployed. Assessments are performed to determine if the solution is achieving the expected benefits in the business case. Solutions are adapted and modified by end users, often using workarounds, recording additional information in spreadsheets, or adopting informal policies and procedures to resolve problems.
Solution assessment and validation have several objectives:
- Evaluate organizational preparedness for the proposed change
- Evaluate the performance of existing solutions to support enterprise analysis
- Assess the proposed solution before its selection
- Validate the designed solution to ensure that it meets the requirements
- Determine transition requirements for moving from the current state (“as is”) into the target state (“to be”).
Three Business Analysis Techniques for Solution Validation
Acceptance and Evaluation Criteria Definition. Early on in your project, you and the team need to make sure that you define the set of requirements that will be used to validate the resulting project’s solution. This set of requirements must have defined, measurable acceptance criteria for you to use in your validation efforts.
Problem Tracking. Never, ever forget that problem tracking is your formal vehicle for identifying and tracking identified defects in your solution. This technique ensures that the defects found during solution validation are addressed and resolved. I find myself using this technique later in the project life cycle, but the mechanism for identifying, logging, and tracking project problems, defects or issues should be available very early in the project life cycle, just in case.
Root Cause Analysis. Root cause analysis allows you to determine the underlying reason for a problem or defect in your solution. Identifying the real cause of the problem is a significant step in addressing and fixing that problem. This straightforward and effective business analysis technique allows you to correct the actual cause of the defect versus correcting a symptom of that defect and not the defect itself.