#Microsoft365 #Office365 Not sure what Citizen Development is? Well if you’re not a developer and you’re building cool stuff with #SharePoint #Flow #PowerApps etc., then you’re a citizen developer. There’s lots of resources out there to help you with the technical skills, but you also need some soft skills to become a great citizen developer. Today we’ll take a look at business analysis – ask the right questions.

For previous posts in my #Microsoft365Challenge go to the index page.


Audience:  This blog is NOT a 5 minute read. It’s meant to get you thinking, to change cultures, to change people into lifelong learners. Please share this with the Power Users in your company who are building SharePoint / Teams / Flows / PowerApps. Thank you for helping me reach as many people as possible, to make their jobs easier, less stressful AND MORE FUN.

The purpose of this blog is to help you become a better solution builder. As mentioned, you might have the technical skill – but I want you to rock at building great solutions. And to do so, there’s some other skills you require as well. Like Business Analysis, Project Management, Communication, Problem Solving & Creativity. I’ll be basing this on the 8 Digital Literacy Pillars that I support through training, and you’ll see that Business Analysis is supported by all 8 of the pillars, so you need to apply all those skills in your business analysis.

According to ontological design, I believe that what we create, creates us back – so I want to ensure that whatever I put out there for people to use, comes back to me and makes me a better person too. I believe that every email, blog, video, letter, website, solution we create becomes our legacy. It’s something that speaks on your behalf when you’re not there to defend yourself. I want to make sure that ‘whatever they say’ is good and will make my mother proud 🙂

Citizen Development

So let’s get back to citizen development. I wrote a blog about this a couple of months ago:  The rise of the citizen developer which will explain this a bit better. I do suggest you read this first if you’re not familiar with the concept.

Building small solutions

So here you are. You’ve been given Full Control on a SharePoint Site, or permissions to create Teams. You’re starting to understand the technical side of things and hopefully your company has invested in you through awareness training so you’re aware of the governance rules and the impact of your actions on the systems.


You’ve just built a library with some metadata. It has filtered views and uses alerts to notify users when something is deleted. You’ve also setup a Flow to send items for approval etc. You think this is a simple small solution right? You’re wrong. When you calculate ROI on solutions it will blow your mind with how much value it adds / money it saves per year. Below are links to two old blogs I wrote about solutions registers and determining ROI on your solutions. I will be recreating these as part of THIS series and will replace the links thereafter.

So, you’ve built a great little solution. The challenge you have is that it needs to form part of this unique little ecosystem. It’s not just about sending out the link to the users.

  • You need to ask the right questions before you build (or you’ll be fixing it for the rest of your life)
  • You need to communicate it in a specific way with the users (launch)
  • You need to follow up, review and update the solution.
  • And yes…. there’s some documentation to be done.

I know you might be thinking it’s not necessary as it’s so small, and the impact is not that big. The problem is, pretty soon you’ll be building solutions that save the company millions, and if you don’t do this right from day one – you never will, and you’ll never go back to correct it. So start small and start right.

I will try my best over the next couple of blogs to break the complexity down for you, to share best practice and methodologies in layman’s terms, so you can make it your own AND that it will add value for you.

Believe me – I do NOT do things simply for the sake of doing things. Through every step of the way I’ll explain why it’s a good idea to do these things – and it’s not because someone said you should.

So let’s start with Business Analysis.

What is Business Analysis?

  • Creating and maintaining the business architecture
  • Conducting feasibility studies
  • Identifying new business opportunities
  • Scoping and defining new business opportunities
  • Preparing the business case
  • Conducting the initial risk assessment

What is Business Analyst?

A business analyst (BA) is someone who analyzes an organization or business domain (real or hypothetical) and documents its business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology.

The role of a systems analyst can also be defined as a bridge between the business problems and the technology solutions. Here business problems can be anything about business systems, for example the model, process, or method. The technology solutions can be the use of technology architecture, tools, or software application. System analysts are required to analyze, transform and ultimately resolve the business problems with the help of technology. – Wikipedia.

I suppose right now you’re thinking: “That’s not me, I’m just a normal guy or girl trying to make things better.” Well, you’re wrong. You’re already doing most of these, you might just not call it that.

I never studied after school – was thrown straight into the workforce at the age of 14. A blue collar who kinda worked her way up into greater opportunities. Too stubborn to know any different. I did however struggle with my self esteem because so many people around me was using “big words”. All these theories and methodologies made me feel like a failure. Well, luckily with time comes age, and with age comes wisdom. And I stopped caring – learning as much and as fast as I could. Below is something (I made up of course) I always share with my students:

And I reckoned I could deal with a font size, so that was OK… 🙂

Theory vs Practice

I’m a practical person, most of the time I know how to do things without know what they’re called. So don’t be afraid if you read things that seem above you – it’s not, and you’ll get there, I promise. No one is born with a dictionary in their head – some get it faster through going to college or university, and some of us learn the long way round. I didn’t start believing in myself though through self-help books etc. Nooo…. I’m too human for that. It took years, and people who I felt threatened by (with their degrees and BIG words), first had to come to me, and ask my help and confirm that was I was doing was working – before I started believing that I added value as well. Afrikaans is my first language as well – so that was an extra barrier to cross. But practice makes better (perfect).

It’s a good idea though to learn the methodologies behind what you already do. So study and research as much as you can, and pretty soon you’ll throw those funky BIG words around in meetings.

The most important part of business analysis is the questions we ask. Documentation comes next and I’ll talk about that in part 2 of this mini series.

5 Questions

I have 5 questions I ask my “clients” when looking at a solution to build. I’ve added why I ask those questions. You can change this and add detail based on the environment / department you work in. This would represent the current solution as well as the future state:

  • Who > Stakeholders / People = Permissions + Interaction
  • What > Relationships / Interfaces = 3rd party / complexity?
  • When > Frequency = Versions / process etc.
  • Why > Business Goals / Policies = Output / reports / views
  • How > Process = Process / complexity

The Why is very important –  if you haven’t seen the YouTube clip – Simon Sinek – Start with Why – please take the time to do so.

I always tell my clients that if they can’t tie a solution back to any of the Company’s strategic objectives, then they’re wasting their time (and mine).

For example:  One of the company’s strategic objectives for 2018 is to print less, or go digital etc. Well then your solution definitely supports that!!! 🙂

Why would I want to ask the right questions before building a solution? I’l use grocery shopping as an example. You’re going to town and without asking the household, you’ll buy what you think they need. I bet you’ll forget some stuff – and buy things you don’t need. That wastes time and money, and might mean a couple of extra trips to town – just because you didn’t ask the right questions upfront.

For a couple of years in the beginning of my SharePoint career I had a bit of an ego, as I thought I knew exactly what people wanted, because I was really good at SharePoint. I was wrong.

This covers the methodology and terminology around Business Analysis. In the next part I’ll show you how to easily document this, I’ll share a solution planning spec sheet, solution register as well as the ROI calculator for your solutions. 

A great tool for Soft Skills

MindTools is a great site – available as App for iOS and Android as well. I use this regularly – have a look:  MindTools – https://www.mindtools.com

Our career-boosting resources are rigorously researched and reviewed, and designed to help you take immediate action to develop your skills.


See you soon! Remember to comment on the blogs if you have questions or feedback 🙂

Purpose of this blog challenge:  I will write 365 blogs in 365 days around Microsoft 365. I did a similar challenge with Office 365, blogs can be found here. I won’t just be talking about the new Microsoft 365 subscription model. I will be sharing any news, tips and tricks around Office / Office 365 / Windows / Mobility and Security. And let’s not forget all the great new Apps & services available.  A lot of what I’ll share on Office and SharePoint will also be applicable to none “Office 365” versions.

You can also find me contributing to REgarding 365. I’m a member of a group of enthusiasts, sharing their stories, thoughts and opinions about Microsoft 365. Catch us at https://regarding365.com | @regarding365 on Twitter and regarding365 on YouTube 

Want to work with me? You’re welcome to CONTACT ME:

(If it’s related to a specific blog, rather comment on the actual blog please – do not send an email)