Event Details

Increasingly, organisations are operating in fast-moving and often volatile business environments. Project teams need to respond quickly to tricky and often ill-defined problem situations, enabling the organisation to adapt and meet the ongoing demands of its customers and environment. In these contexts the pre-project stage is crucial: For our change initiatives to be successful, we need to truly understand the problem we are trying to solve. By understanding the problem we can ensure that any future project activity is built upon a firm foundation, and is heading towards a set of goals that are concise, precise and have been agreed upon.

This practical, hands-on workshop, focuses on the problem-solving skills that practitioners need in order to collaboratively explore and describe problems, and to co-create potential options for improvement. These skills are extremely valuable pre-project and early in the project life cycle, and this course will be of interest to business analysts and other practitioners who help analyse, assess and solve tricky organisational problems.

Course Outline


  • What is ‘Problem Analysis?’: A brief introduction to the course, and a discussion of why it is important that we analyse the problem before assuming or implementing a solution

Stakeholders in Problem Analysis

  • Identifying Stakeholders: Tips for identifying likely stakeholders, along with suggestions of potential ‘generic’ stakeholder types that regularly warrant consideration
  • Stakeholder Analysis: Categorisation of stakeholders
  • Communication/Engagement Planning: Planning how to liaise with stakeholders in the early stages of problem investigation
  • Power & Politics: Discussion of how power & politics can affect problem-solving, and how it affects us as practitioners

Understanding the Problem Situation

  • Elicitation Techniques: Very brief overview of relevant eliciting techniques relevant for pre-project problem analysis 
  • Categorising Problematic Situations: The difference between a ‘difficulty’ and a ‘mess’
  • Problem Analysis Techniques: Practical overview of:
    - 5 Why
    - Fishbone Diagram
    - Multiple Cause Diagram
    - Casual Loops 
  • External Environment Analysis: Practical overview of the STEEPLE technique for analysing the broader business or organisational context
  • Perspectives: The importance of understanding that different stakeholders may perceive the problem situation differently
  • Defining the Problem: Overview of a typical ‘Problem Statement’, along with a discussion of pros/cons and when it is most useful
  • Defining Success: Critical Success Factors (CSFs), Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Balanced Business Scorecard

Defining Business Requirement Scope

  • Roles & Goals: Defining the ‘roles’ that are involved in the problem space and their (business) goals
  • Business Use Case Diagram: Introduction to Business Use Case diagrams as a way of scoping out the high level business requirements on a problem situation/potential project concept
  • Requirement Types: Brief discussion of other requirement types that may emerge early in the project lifecycle

Identifying Areas for Change

  • Gap Analysis: Comparing the output from the techniques in previous sections to identify areas where change is desirable
  • Existing Solution Evaluation: Discussion on approaches for benchmarking/measuring existing solutions to determine where improvement may be needed

Generating Improvement Ideas

  • Creative Thinking Techniques: Techniques for generating a range of potential ideas for improvement:
  • Brainstorming
  • Brainstorming Enhancers
  • Types of Improvement Approach: Discussion of the breadth of improvement approaches that are generally available, which is often wider than initially anticipated.

Bringing It All Together

  • Project Concept Summary: Overview of a one page ‘project concept summary’ outlining the problem, likely requirement scope, and potential solutions
  • Validation: How to ensure the ‘project concept summary’ is validated by key stakeholders
  • Next steps: What next after the ‘project concept summary’

IIBA Accreditation

This course, Pre-Project Problem Analysis: Practical Techniques for Early Business Analysis Engagement, is a course endorsed by the IIBA. The course is aligned with the BABOK v3. By attending this course you will earn 14 PDs (Professional Development hours) or 14 CDUs (Continuing Development Units).


After attending this training course, delegates will:

  • Understand what pre-project problem analysis is, and its significance in the analysis and project lifecycle
  • Understand the importance of stakeholder identification, categorisation and management
  • Be able to use a range of problem analysis techniques to understand problem situations
  • Be able to define a problem using a ‘problem statement’ and understand how successful outcomes can be articulated with Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators
  • Understand what a Business Use Case diagram is and understand its value in articulating scope during pre-project problem analysis
  • Use a 1 page ‘Project Concept Summary’ template to bring together a potential project idea onto a page
Who Is It For?

This training course is well suited to anyone needing to understand how to undertake problem analysis early in the project lifecycle. It will be of particular interest to BA teams that are looking to ‘left shift’ and seek early engagement. Typical delegates include: Business Analysts, Consultants, Requirements Engineers, Business Systems Analysts, Product Owners, Requirements Managers. It will also be of interest to Project Managers seeking an understanding of the types of analysis that can be undertaken pre-project.

There are no specific entry requirements, however the course will be, of most value to practitioners with some existing experience in business analysis who are looking to broaden their knowledge of strategic and pre-project business analysis.

Adrian Reed
Adrian Reed
Principal Consultant
Blackmetric Business Solutions
Adrian Reed is a true advocate of the analysis profession. In his day job, he acts as Principal Consultant at Blackmetric Business Solutions where he provides business analysis consultancy and training solutions to a range of clients in varying industries. He is editor-in-chief of the quarterly open-access magazine BA Digest, and he speaks internationally on topics relating to business analysis and business change. Adrian wrote the 2016 book ‘Be a Great Problem Solver… Now’ and the 2018 book ‘Business Analyst’ You can read Adrian’s blog at http://www.adrianreed.co.uk and connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/adrianreed/