Business Analysis: How To Analyze Any Business

Business analysis is a research discipline that helps driving change within an organization by identifying the key elements and processes that drive value. Business analysis can also be used in Identifying new business opportunities or how to take advantage of existing business opportunities to grow your business in the marketplace.

A quick intro to the Business Analysis Framework

On FourWeekMBA, I’ve looked at hundreds of business models of companies from high-tech industries (Alphabet’s Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft) to more traditional industries, like luxury empires (LVMH, Kering Group, Tiffany, Brunello Cucinelli, Prada) and more.

I’ve analyzed from listed public companies, for which data can be found in financial statements, to small businesses for which data is not publicly available.

As I received this question repeatedly, I thought to show a simple framework to analyze any business.

For the sake of this framework, we’ll leverage business analysis to reverse engineer a business to either help it grow or to gather insights that can help us grow our own company.

Keep in mind that business analysis requires a good amount of creativity.

While a single framework is a good starting point, you will need to use your experience, understanding of the industry, and what is available out there to draw a picture of what you’re looking at.

In short, I think a practical approach to business analysis is that of the artist rather than the scientist.

Thus, while we’ll be using a few data points to understand a business, we want to keep our minds able to connect the dots in several areas to draw a picture that unlocks strategic insights that we can test.

To provide a framework as a starting point to analyze any sort of business, you’ll need to answer a few simple questions, each addressing a key element of the business.

We’ll tackle it by looking at three main competitive advantages a business can create over time:

Core moat:

  • What’s the key asset? (core asset)

Market moat:

  • Who’s the key stakeholder? (stakeholder profiling)
  • What player is competing for the same customer? (context mapping)
  • What’s the key touchpoint between the brand and the customer? (core distribution)

Financial moat:

  • How does it make money? (revenue generation)
  • Where’s the real cash? (cash generation)
  • How does the company spend money? (cost structure)

Let’s analyze each of those elements to uncover and draw the picture of any business. We’ll start from the outer layer (the financial moat, to get to the core asset.

Financial moat

In the. financial moat stage we’ll answer:

  • How does it make money? (revenue generation)
  • Where’s the real cash? (cash generation)
  • How does the company spend money? (cost structure)

The purpose of the financial moat is to follow the money to dig deeper into the business and move toward what gives it a real market advantage, and eventually, we’ll look for the business core asset.

How does it make money?

Revenue streams are important as a baseline to understand any business.

Following the money can be very powerful in business as it unlocks a set of questions that will help us drill down into the current picture but also to draw some possible conclusions about future operations and strategy.

For instance, if you look at Google revenue streams it’s interesting to notice a few things right away:

Google (now Alphabet) primarily makes money through advertising. The Google search engine, while free, is monetized with paid advertising. In 2021 Google’s advertising generated over $209 billion (beyond Google Search, this comprises YouTube Ads and the Network Members Sites) compared to $257 billion in net sales. Advertising represented over 81% of net sales, followed by Google Cloud ($19 billion) and Google’s other revenue streams (Google Play, Pixel phones, and YouTube Premium).
  • The company still primarily makes money from advertising
  • Google revenue streams are diversified (even though advertising is still the primary revenue stream)
  • A very small percentage of Google’s revenues come from other bets

From those simple statements, we can drill further down and look at each revenue stream:

  • Advertising revenues: Google makes money by two primary mechanisms: Google Ads and Google AdSense
  • Other revenues: that comprises things like in-app revenues, but also hardware devices which Google sells
  • Other bets: it comprises investments in other ventures

From this first look, we can depart from looking at other bets and other revenues. Not because those are not important for the future. Quite the opposite, one of the hidden gems of Google’s success in the next ten, twenty years might hide there.

But here we’re not trying to predict the future, which is impossible.

We want to reverse engineer the current business to gather some insights which will help us drive our own strategy now (for instance, if you’re building a business today by gaining organic traffic from Google understanding its logic helps a lot!).

Therefore, we’ll decide to drill down more

Why? We want to uncover where the real cash is.

Where’s the real cash?

When asking “where’s the real cash?” we’re not talking about cash flows, but rather about margins. In short, for companies like Netflix which run cash negative business models, it would be misleading to ask where’s the cash.

Instead, we want to look at the part of the business that has high-profit margins. For instance, if we look at Google’s advertising machine we can notice a few things:

Google generated over $116 billion from advertising revenues in 2018, which represented 85% of its total revenues. Of those revenues over 70% came from traffic via Google’s main properties (Google search engine, YouTube, Gmail, and others). Google’s main properties are monetized primarily via a cost-per-click mechanism. Network members’ sites are primarily monetized on a cost-per-impression basis. Google also spent over $26 billion in 2018 to sustain its traffic on both its properties and as a revenue-share mechanism with its network members (AdSense and AdMob).

To build a cash cow the company might do the following:

  • Give up part of the margins on a line of business to strengthen another more strategic and scalable part of the business (think of how Google splits revenues with network members thus giving up a good chunk of margins, yet by making its search pages way more valuable for users, and advertisers)
  • Build a freemium part of the business which while doesn’t get monetized it helps amplify the brand and to build a valuable core asset monetized asymmetrically (we’ll see what that means)

How does the company spend money?

The cost structure is one of the building blocks of a business model. It represents how companies spend most of their resources to keep generating demand for their products and services. The cost structure together with revenue streams, help assess the operational scalability of an organization.

How the company spends its money informs about how it’s investing back into strengthening its core asset, thus building future growth.

The traffic acquisition cost represents the expenses incurred by an internet company, like Google, to gain qualified traffic – on its pages – for monetization. Over the years Google has been able to reduce its traffic acquisition costs and in any case, keep it stable. In 2021 Google spent 21.75% of its total advertising revenues (over $45.56 billion) to guarantee its traffic on several desktop and mobile devices across the web.
Companies like Google have to cut distribution deals and split revenues with content partners to bring traffic back to their main properties online. For instance, in 2021, Google spent over $45 billion in traffic acquisition costs, but it generated over $209 billion in advertising revenues. This means that Google could monetize its traffic 4.6 times its traffic acquisition costs. An increased monetization multiple over the years is a good sign. It means that Google was able to keep its advertising machine competitive. On the opposite side, a negative monetization multiple means the advertising machine is losing traction.

Market moat

At this stage, we’ll ask:

  • Who’s the key stakeholder? (stakeholder profiling)
  • What player is competing for the same customer? (context mapping)
  • What’s the key touchpoint between the brand and the customer? (core distribution)

The objective here is to understand what creates a competitive market advantage and point us toward the core asset of the company, which makes the business sustainable in the long-term.

Who’s the key stakeholder?

If you look at a companies’ like Amazon the complexity of the business goes well beyond a regular company.

In short, at this stage, it’s important to highlight the difference between small businesses which are more linear in how they approach customers.

And platform business models that instead have a more complex value chain.

Linear business models create value by selling products down the supply chain. Platform business models create value by enabling exchanges among consumers.

We could make this process harder and harder by finding more business types, and classifying them into B2B, B2C, B2B2C, and more.

Or we can take a more straightforward approach.

Who’s the key user/customer, and what’s the value provided to her?

Amazon Value Proposition
A company like Amazon has multiple value propositions, as it serves several target customers in different markets. With its mission “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices,” Amazon value propositions range from “Easy to read on the go” for a device like Kindle, to “sell better, sell more” to its marketplace.

In Amazon’s case, for instance, the company has multiple products and each of them has a different value proposition.

Therefore, focusing on them all would be a mistake, as we want to go back and reconsider.

Who’s the Amazon repeat customer?

The customer who goes back to the Amazon e-commerce platform to buy over and over again is the key customer and where the company has built its success.

When you do look at the customer from that perspective, you stop assuming that Amazon Prime is another revenue stream. Instead, you understand that besides that, that is a way for Amazon to lock-in loyal customers and make their repeat purchases convenient (Prime Customers won’t pay for delivery).

The same happens if you go back and ask a similar question for a company like Google.

Who’s the person that drives up the value of the most important company’s asset?

If you look at Google’s business model, it’s easy to get fooled:

Google is a platform, and a tech media company running an attention-based business model. As of 2021, Alphabet’s Google generated over $257 billion in revenues. Over $209 billion (over 81% of the total revenues) came from Google Advertising products (Google Search, YouTube Ads, and Network Members sites). They were followed by over $28 billion in other revenues (comprising Google Play, Pixel phones, and YouTube Premium), and by Google Cloud, which generated over $19 billion in 2021.

You might assume that as Google makes money by selling advertising to businesses, it will be the advertiser who pays Google to be the most valuable customer.

Yet, in Google’s case, the most valuable customer is the one who doesn’t pay: its users

Google’s mission statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Its vision statement is to “provide an important service to the world-instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic.” In 2019, Sundar Pichai emphasized a renewed mission to allow people “to get things done!”

That is because Google runs an asymmetric model.

In short, the company won’t monetize directly its users, but it will monetize the core asset which is built on top of the free users’ attention.

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Where free users provide valuable data to Google’s algorithms, the company matches its technology with the users’ data and sells part of that as paid adverting.

In short, in an asymmetric model user and customers are not the same.

In a more symmetric model instead, users and customers are the same stakeholders.

The customer wearing the hat of the user provides valuable data to the platform. The company refines that data through proprietary algorithms and as a result, it gives back a valuable service to its customers.

That is how the Netflix business model works.

In those cases when the user is what provides valuable data to the core asset of the company, it’s important to understand that the tech company will prioritize its strategy around the user over time.

What player is competing for the same customer?

Once found the key stakeholder, the person who helps the company build its most valuable asset, we can zoom out a bit and understand the context in which the company operates.

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis, it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

One way to find comparable companies to map out the context is to look for those organizations that match the business and financial profile.

We do that because there is no company operating in a vacuum.

And even when a company that is better suited to help customers get things done might dominate.

In many other circumstances, better distribution strategy, capital moats, and more effective business models can help companies dominate beyond the value provided by their core products.

That’s why context matters.

In Google’s case we’ll look at the other players which are also grabbing the attention of users around the globe:

The hidden revenue generation model is among the most profitable patterns for business models built on advertising. In fact, businesses like Google and Facebook have managed to gain more than $290 billion in 2021 from advertising on their platform, even though many users might not be aware of the mechanisms that drive those platforms.

An attention-based model usually follows an asymmetric monetization strategy. Therefore, given Google’s key stakeholders (its users), and the fact that it’s an attention-based model, we can understand right away what products/platforms in the marketplace are comparable:

Therefore, in order for Google to keep its competitive advantage is important to keep an eye on these.

*Note: The reason why Amazon is on the list as its website is one of the most important product search engines, intercepting the commercial intents of billions of people in the western world.

What’s the key touchpoint between the brand and the customer?

While disruptive startups built their name and grabbed market shares quickly by breaking down the trade-off between value and cost (at the basis of a blue ocean strategy) there is another component of the success of any organization which can’t be ignored: distribution.

Distribution is the key touchpoint that makes customers connect with a brand, that enables companies to monetize their core assets and that enables them to keep tight long-term control over their business.

The importance of a distribution strategy can’t be overstated. Distribution isn’t just about delivering a product in the hands of the key customer that is also about:

  • Enabling the company to be perceived inline with its pricing strategy and the brand’s identity
  • Building up the habits that enable users/customers to become champion of the product (just like you can’t stop using Google)
  • Build competitive moats

Core moat

Finally, at this stage, we can identify the core asset and put all together.

What’s the key asset?

Alphabet’s Google key asset, its search results page, which for over two decades helped Google become a trillion-dollar company!

The key asset is the main property that enables the company to make money in the long run.

For a tech business like Google, which is represented by its search results pages endowed by users’ data and algorithms, makes them extremely valuable to advertisers.

If we think of a smaller business or a non-tech company that can be represented by its premises or its brand.

For instance, a small Boutique hotel’s location is the key asset. For a luxury company, its brand is the most important asset.

The former is physical and easily identifiable.

The latter is instead non-physical and abstract, yet still extremely valuable as it enables companies like Prada, LVMH, Tiffany and other luxury brands to capture high margins.

Therefore depending on the company, the main asset might be the technology, data or brand. Or better yet a mixture of those things.

Putting it all together

As we identified the core asset, market, and financial moat, we can move backward to uncover the whole story.

In a case like Google, the company makes its money primarily by monetizing its search results pages (core asset).

It runs an asymmetric business model where the user and the customer are not the same (stakeholder profiling). Products and platforms like Amazon, Facebook and Twitter also draw the attention of users (context mapping), however, Google has a strong distribution network given for instance by the fact the company can cover the whole users’ journey (core distribution), and most of its money is spent to maintain its core asset competitive (cost structure), while advertisers provide revenues and cash to the company which makes it financially sustainable (financial moat).

Where do you find the data?

A set of useful resources to find the data you need to analyze several businesses are:

  • EDGAR Filings
  • Crunchbase
  • Owler
  • SimilarWeb
  • LinkedIn

It’s important to remark that when it comes to data it’s not important how many data points you find. Often it requires a bit of creativity to ponder the right question.

In that case, a single data point can tell you a lot about a business that you can use to assess the company or to drive the strategy for your own business.

FourWeekMBA business analysis framework summarized

To analyze any business, you can ask a few simple questions:

  • Who’s the key stakeholder? (stakeholder profiling)
  • What player is competing for the same customer? (context mapping)
  • What’s the key touchpoint between the brand and the customer? (core distribution)
  • How does it make money? (revenue generation)
  • Where’s the real cash? (cash generation)
  • How does the company spend money? (cost structure)
  • How does it make money? (revenue generation)
  • Where’s the real cash? (cash generation)
  • How does the company spend money? (cost structure)

Each of those questions will lead to an understanding of the several blocks that make up internal and external strategic forces that shape the business.

Case study: how to make an everyday free tool your go to BI alternative

While it’s tempting to complex things up when performing business analysis, in reality, there is a simple tool, that you have been using for years, which can help you to perform a good part of your analysis: Google.

As pointed out on the Google blog in 2012:

Search is a lot about discovery—the basic human need to learn and broaden your horizons. But searching still requires a lot of hard work by you, the user. So today I’m really excited to launch the Knowledge Graph, which will help you discover new information quickly and easily.

…The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.

…the Knowledge Graph can help you make some unexpected discoveries. You might learn a new fact or new connection that prompts a whole new line of inquiry. Do you know where Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons (one of my all-time favorite shows), got the idea for Homer, Marge and Lisa’s names? It’s a bit of a surprise:

In 2012, Google started to roll out officially its Knowledge Graph (though its attempt to make the search experience even smarter and more semantic started way back and it escalated when the company acquired MetaWeb).

With that, Google started do develop more and more features related to giving beyond the classic ten blue links we have seen for years.

Those features we see appearing more and more on search results are coming from the massive Google’s semantic database made of billions of data points called Knowledge Graph.

Within the Knowledge Graph, Google combined semantic knowledge, to billions of users’ preferences and data, refined by its powerful algorithms and refined by its human raters.

This massive knowledge base is there to be explored, for free, it only requires you to be aware of it.

Industry analysis and setup

To start using your free BI tool by performing a simple search like “Amazon” you will see how Google will suggest on the search results a set of entities, or defined things in the Google Knowledge Graph. This matters because those entities draw data from Google Knowledge Graph which is a combination of things that Google’s algorithms learned over the years, as the data coming from billions of users each day. In short, you have a powerhouse at your disposal to start up your analysis.

When searching for “Amazon” on Google, at the bottom of the page (from desktop) you will find several suggestions from Google, based on the industries where Amazon operates.

In short, Google is suggesting that Amazon primarily operates as an online retailer, and as such it compares it with other retailers (online and offline). Yet Google’s Knowledge Graph also expands on that and tells you more.

Amazon is also an AI company competing against other AI companies which offers you an interesting insight into the products of the company.

At the same time, Google is suggesting that Amazon is also a key player in the cloud space, thus it offers you some perspectives of how the cloud industry looks like by pointing out some direct competitors (like Microsoft and Oracle) and other companies operating in the cloud space.

How the Google Knowledge Graph expands your search by providing interesting insights and a quick overview of companies that might make sense to comprise in your analysis. This is extremely useful to speed up the set up of your analysis.

Expand the research

From there, you can drill down into each of the carousels you see showing on Google to have a more detailed overview and expand the research. You can stretch it as far as you want, depending on the scope of the analysis.

Example of how you can differentiate among physical retailers and department stores by looking at “related search.” This is a great feature as it enables you to see how in the mind consumers ho a brand is potentially perceived. So what they look also for when looking for the same brand.
You can also drill down in each category, suck as “AI companies” and navigate within the carousel to find out all the potential companies in the space, thus expanding you analysis.
You can do the same with “cloud companies”

Discover new data points

As an example, when you drill further down and search for “cloud companies” at the bottom of the search result page, you will find other categories of companies part of the cloud industry.

From PaaS to IaaS models, all were born as part of the cloud industry.

Expand the search to find out more and figure out new models from PaaS to IaaS and more.

Key takeaway

When performing an analysis, try to ask a difficult question like “what’s the single data point (or data points) that can tell me a lot about the company I’m researching?”

While it’s easy to look for the ultimate business intelligence tools when performing an analysis, in reality, it makes sense to stop for a second and think about what might be the single data points that can give you insights about a company.

From there, you can use explorative tools, like Google to find out and drill down to draft an analysis that can give you different insights and enable you to reverse engineer many large companies.

Key Highlights

  • Business Analysis Framework Overview:
    • The framework aims to analyze businesses for growth opportunities and strategic insights.
    • It involves three main competitive advantages: Core moat, Market moat, and Financial moat.
  • Core Moat:
    • Identifying the key asset that gives the company a competitive advantage.
    • Understanding the main value proposition of the business.
  • Market Moat:
    • Recognizing the key stakeholders and their value in the business.
    • Identifying competing players in the same customer segment.
    • Understanding the crucial touchpoints between the brand and customers.
  • Financial Moat:
    • Analyzing revenue generation methods of the business.
    • Identifying where the significant cash flows come from.
    • Understanding the cost structure and how the company spends money.
  • Asymmetric Business Model:
    • Distinguishing between users and customers in the business model.
    • Highlighting the importance of leveraging data and technology.
  • Google’s Knowledge Graph as a BI Tool:
    • Using Google’s Knowledge Graph for insights and research.
    • Expanding analysis by exploring suggested entities and categories.
    • Discovering new data points to enhance the analysis.
  • Key Takeaway:
    • Focusing on single data points that offer valuable insights.
    • Using explorative tools like Google to gather insights about a company.
    • Emphasizing the importance of creative analysis and critical questions.
  • Overall Impact:
    • The framework provides a structured approach to understanding various aspects of a business.
    • It aids in identifying growth opportunities, competitive advantages, and strategic insights.
    • The use of Google’s Knowledge Graph enhances research capabilities.

Connected Analysis Frameworks

Failure Mode And Effects Analysis

A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach to identifying design failures in a product or process. Developed in the 1950s, the failure mode and effects analysis is one the earliest methodologies of its kind. It enables organizations to anticipate a range of potential failures during the design stage.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

Business Valuation

Business valuations involve a formal analysis of the key operational aspects of a business. A business valuation is an analysis used to determine the economic value of a business or company unit. It’s important to note that valuations are one part science and one part art. Analysts use professional judgment to consider the financial performance of a business with respect to local, national, or global economic conditions. They will also consider the total value of assets and liabilities, in addition to patented or proprietary technology.

Paired Comparison Analysis

A paired comparison analysis is used to rate or rank options where evaluation criteria are subjective by nature. The analysis is particularly useful when there is a lack of clear priorities or objective data to base decisions on. A paired comparison analysis evaluates a range of options by comparing them against each other.

Monte Carlo Analysis

The Monte Carlo analysis is a quantitative risk management technique. The Monte Carlo analysis was developed by nuclear scientist Stanislaw Ulam in 1940 as work progressed on the atom bomb. The analysis first considers the impact of certain risks on project management such as time or budgetary constraints. Then, a computerized mathematical output gives businesses a range of possible outcomes and their probability of occurrence.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

CATWOE Analysis

The CATWOE analysis is a problem-solving strategy that asks businesses to look at an issue from six different perspectives. The CATWOE analysis is an in-depth and holistic approach to problem-solving because it enables businesses to consider all perspectives. This often forces management out of habitual ways of thinking that would otherwise hinder growth and profitability. Most importantly, the CATWOE analysis allows businesses to combine multiple perspectives into a single, unifying solution.

VTDF Framework

It’s possible to identify the key players that overlap with a company’s business model with a competitor analysis. This overlapping can be analyzed in terms of key customers, technologies, distribution, and financial models. When all those elements are analyzed, it is possible to map all the facets of competition for a tech business model to understand better where a business stands in the marketplace and its possible future developments.

Pareto Analysis

The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.

Comparable Analysis

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

PESTEL Analysis

The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

Business Analysis

Business analysis is a research discipline that helps driving change within an organization by identifying the key elements and processes that drive value. Business analysis can also be used in Identifying new business opportunities or how to take advantage of existing business opportunities to grow your business in the marketplace.

Financial Structure

In corporate finance, the financial structure is how corporations finance their assets (usually either through debt or equity). For the sake of reverse engineering businesses, we want to look at three critical elements to determine the model used to sustain its assets: cost structure, profitability, and cash flow generation.

Financial Modeling

Financial modeling involves the analysis of accounting, finance, and business data to predict future financial performance. Financial modeling is often used in valuation, which consists of estimating the value in dollar terms of a company based on several parameters. Some of the most common financial models comprise discounted cash flows, the M&A model, and the CCA model.

Value Investing

Value investing is an investment philosophy that looks at companies’ fundamentals, to discover those companies whose intrinsic value is higher than what the market is currently pricing, in short value investing tries to evaluate a business by starting by its fundamentals.

Buffet Indicator

The Buffet Indicator is a measure of the total value of all publicly-traded stocks in a country divided by that country’s GDP. It’s a measure and ratio to evaluate whether a market is undervalued or overvalued. It’s one of Warren Buffet’s favorite measures as a warning that financial markets might be overvalued and riskier.

Financial Analysis

Financial accounting is a subdiscipline within accounting that helps organizations provide reporting related to three critical areas of a business: its assets and liabilities (balance sheet), its revenues and expenses (income statement), and its cash flows (cash flow statement). Together those areas can be used for internal and external purposes.

Post-Mortem Analysis

Post-mortem analyses review projects from start to finish to determine process improvements and ensure that inefficiencies are not repeated in the future. In the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), this process is referred to as “lessons learned”.

Retrospective Analysis

Retrospective analyses are held after a project to determine what worked well and what did not. They are also conducted at the end of an iteration in Agile project management. Agile practitioners call these meetings retrospectives or retros. They are an effective way to check the pulse of a project team, reflect on the work performed to date, and reach a consensus on how to tackle the next sprint cycle.

Root Cause Analysis

In essence, a root cause analysis involves the identification of problem root causes to devise the most effective solutions. Note that the root cause is an underlying factor that sets the problem in motion or causes a particular situation such as non-conformance.

Blindspot Analysis


Break-even Analysis

A break-even analysis is commonly used to determine the point at which a new product or service will become profitable. The analysis is a financial calculation that tells the business how many products it must sell to cover its production costs.  A break-even analysis is a small business accounting process that tells the business what it needs to do to break even or recoup its initial investment. 

Decision Analysis

Stanford University Professor Ronald A. Howard first defined decision analysis as a profession in 1964. Over the ensuing decades, Howard has supervised many doctoral theses on the subject across topics including nuclear waste disposal, investment planning, hurricane seeding, and research strategy. Decision analysis (DA) is a systematic, visual, and quantitative decision-making approach where all aspects of a decision are evaluated before making an optimal choice.

DESTEP Analysis

A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

STEEP Analysis

The STEEP analysis is a tool used to map the external factors that impact an organization. STEEP stands for the five key areas on which the analysis focuses: socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political. Usually, the STEEP analysis is complementary or alternative to other methods such as SWOT or PESTEL analyses.

STEEPLE Analysis

The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Activity-Based Management

Activity-based management (ABM) is a framework for determining the profitability of every aspect of a business. The end goal is to maximize organizational strengths while minimizing or eliminating weaknesses. Activity-based management can be described in the following steps: identification and analysis, evaluation and identification of areas of improvement.

PMESII-PT Analysis

PMESII-PT is a tool that helps users organize large amounts of operations information. PMESII-PT is an environmental scanning and monitoring technique, like the SWOT, PESTLE, and QUEST analysis. Developed by the United States Army, used as a way to execute a more complex strategy in foreign countries with a complex and uncertain context to map.

SPACE Analysis

The SPACE (Strategic Position and Action Evaluation) analysis was developed by strategy academics Alan Rowe, Richard Mason, Karl Dickel, Richard Mann, and Robert Mockler. The particular focus of this framework is strategy formation as it relates to the competitive position of an organization. The SPACE analysis is a technique used in strategic management and planning. 

Lotus Diagram

A lotus diagram is a creative tool for ideation and brainstorming. The diagram identifies the key concepts from a broad topic for simple analysis or prioritization.

Functional Decomposition

Functional decomposition is an analysis method where complex processes are examined by dividing them into their constituent parts. According to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), functional decomposition “helps manage complexity and reduce uncertainty by breaking down processes, systems, functional areas, or deliverables into their simpler constituent parts and allowing each part to be analyzed independently.”

Multi-Criteria Analysis

The multi-criteria analysis provides a systematic approach for ranking adaptation options against multiple decision criteria. These criteria are weighted to reflect their importance relative to other criteria. A multi-criteria analysis (MCA) is a decision-making framework suited to solving problems with many alternative courses of action.

Stakeholder Analysis

A stakeholder analysis is a process where the participation, interest, and influence level of key project stakeholders is identified. A stakeholder analysis is used to leverage the support of key personnel and purposefully align project teams with wider organizational goals. The analysis can also be used to resolve potential sources of conflict before project commencement.

Strategic Analysis

Strategic analysis is a process to understand the organization’s environment and competitive landscape to formulate informed business decisions, to plan for the organizational structure and long-term direction. Strategic planning is also useful to experiment with business model design and assess the fit with the long-term vision of the business.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF FrameworkBCG MatrixGE McKinsey MatrixKotter’s 8-Step Change Model.

Main Guides:

About The Author

Scroll to Top