Chat GPT as a tool for business analysis

The use of language models in Artificial Intelligence can leverage the productivity of Business Analysis.

[PT] Leia esse artigo em Português na Gigante Consultoria.

In this article, I demonstrate how it is possible to use Chat GPT as an assistant (or helper) in executing business analysis tasks based on a case study that deals with developing an application by a startup. You will see artifacts produced by an AI from instructions and questions that a business analyst would ask his stakeholders.

“An artificial intelligence doing business analysis”

Image generated by DALL·E

I recently called ChatGPT Assistant for an interview about what will be the future of work after the entry of the fantastic Artificial Intelligence tools that are becoming available in the market. The bottom line is that repetitive jobs will be replaced by machines. Still, creativity and empathy will continue to depend on humans who will be better equipped to work with AI tools capable of increasing their productivity. Companies and governments must address the ethical question of how they intend to use these tools to make the world better and fairer. This is a human decision.

Check out this interesting interview and the behind-the-scenes of how it was carried out in the Interview with GPT Chat article.

Thinking about this use of AI as a tool to improve work and specifically focusing on the audience of Business Analysis practitioners and ChatGPT, I decided to test it out by putting my Assistant to work with me. What you will see below is a new conversation I had with it to demonstrate its usefulness in a realistic scenario of a BA practice.

Contextualization

I recommend everyone who intends to start a job using this tool to start with a contextualization so that ChatGPT can optimize its answers within what you are looking for.

I tried to contextualize my conversation using the concepts and tasks defined in the BABOK guide published by IIBA, the International Institute of Business Analysis.

Fabrício: Do you know the BABOK Guide?

IA: Yes, I am familiar with the BABOK Guide. It stands for “Business Analysis Body of Knowledge” and it is a guide published by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) that describes the tasks, knowledge areas, and techniques used in the field of business analysis. It is widely used as a reference and training tool for business analysts.

What ChatGPT can do to support a Business Analyst

The BABOK Guide defines a Business Analyst as “any person who performs the Business Analysis tasks described in the guide, regardless of their title or job function.”

Having defined this context, and knowing that ChatGPT has already read the guide, we were able to continue the conversation to understand what it has to offer.

Fabrício: Based on the tasks and concepts defined in the BABOK guide, how do you suggest that a Business Analyst use ChatGPT to improve their performance?

AI: The BABOK Guide defines various tasks and concepts related to business analysis, including requirements elicitation and analysis, process and data modeling, and stakeholder communication and management.

There are several ways in which a Business Analyst could use ChatGPT to improve their performance in these tasks. Some suggestions include:

  1. Requirements Elicitation and Analysis: ChatGPT can be used to automatically generate requirements documentation, such as functional specifications and use cases, from stakeholder interviews or other sources of information. This could help save time and effort in eliciting and analyzing requirements.
  2. Process and data modeling: ChatGPT can be used to automatically generate process flow diagrams and data models from verbal descriptions of processes and systems. This could help save time and effort in process and data modeling.
  3. Stakeholder communication and management: ChatGPT can be used to automatically generate reports, presentations, and other communication materials, based on data and information collected from stakeholders. This could help save time and effort in communicating and managing stakeholders.


In general, ChatGPT can be used as a tool to automate repetitive and/or time-consuming tasks, allowing Business Analysts to focus on more strategic tasks with greater added value.

Practical examples of using ChatGPT for Business Analysis

Starting from each one of the ways that the Assistant suggested to support BA, I asked it to create realistic examples and this is where it got really interesting, as it is possible to see in practice how the use of an AI can accelerate Business Analysis by offering ideas and suggestions from provocations made by the analyst.

Of course, for it to work, the analyst once again needs to provide the context of a business initiative. The more specific and detailed the analyst is the better the AI will respond. In the next point consider we are still setting the context.

Fabrício: I would like you to give a practical example for each of your 3 suggestions. For this, I ask you to consider the following scenario:

“A business analyst is working on a mobile app development project for a startup. This app will connect service providers with their potential customers within a short distance range. The application development is carried out by a third-party company following an agile approach. The business analyst is responsible for eliciting requirements, modeling the business solution, and managing the collaboration of all project stakeholders.”

IA: Of course, here are some practical examples of how a Business Analyst could use ChatGPT to improve their performance in the described project:

  1. Requirements Elicitation and Analysis: During stakeholder interviews, the business analyst can use ChatGPT to automatically generate requirements documentation such as functional specifications and use cases. For example, from a stakeholder’s verbal description of how the application should allow service providers to be notified of new orders from customers in their area, ChatGPT could automatically generate a functional specification describing that functionality.
  2. Process and data modeling: During the application development, the business analyst can use ChatGPT to automatically generate process flow diagrams and data models. For example, from a stakeholder’s verbal description of how the application should work to fetch and display information from service providers, ChatGPT could automatically generate a process flow diagram showing this functionality.
  3. Stakeholder communication and management: During project management, the business analyst can use ChatGPT to automatically generate reports, presentations, and other communication materials. For example, from the data and information collected from stakeholders, ChatGPT could automatically generate a weekly report for the development team, showing the progress and next steps of the project.

It is important to note that these examples are merely illustrative and that the use of ChatGPT must be adapted according to the specific needs of each project and team.

Functional Specification generated by ChatGPT

A Functional Specification (FS) is a formal document that details all the features and specifications of a given software product. It is normally created incrementally from successive needs assessment sessions with the project’s stakeholders.

There are different formats and recommendations in the literature for creating an FS and certainly, I could point to some known model and ask ChatGPT to do it following its structure, but at this point, I left it free and asked it to create an FS only with a focus on one feature.

Fabrício: Let’s go deeper into these examples, one at a time, starting with the first one. Create a Functional Specification from the following verbal description of a provider:

“Whenever a customer is interested in one of the services I provide, I would like to be notified by email with the customer’s data and a preview of what he/she wants, so I can prepare myself to get in touch with him/her and make a service proposal. If a standard service is expected, something that already has a clear scope and pre-defined price, I would like the customer to already schedule this service considering the availability of my agenda that is currently controlled in Google Calendar.”

AI: Here is a possible functional specification based on the given verbal description:

Title: Notification of New Orders to Service Providers

Description: The application should notify service providers by email whenever a customer is interested in one of the services they provide. The email must include the customer’s data (name, email address, telephone number) and a preview of what he/she wants (description of the service) so that the provider can prepare to get in touch with him/her and make a service proposal. If it is a standard service that already has a clear scope and predefined price, the customer must be able to schedule the service directly in the application, considering the availability of the provider’s schedule, which will be controlled in Google Calendar.

Functional requirements:

  1. The app should email the provider whenever a customer is interested in one of your services.
  2. The email must include the customer’s data (name, email address, phone number) and a preview of what the customer wants (service description).
  3. The application must allow customers to schedule standard services directly in the application, considering the availability of the provider’s schedule, which will be controlled in Google Calendar.
  4. The application must allow service providers to access the provider’s calendar availability in Google Calendar.


Non-functional requirements:

  1. The application must be developed using the best security practices to ensure the privacy and security of user data.
  2. The application must be easy to use and must have an intuitive interface.
  3. The application must be compatible with the most used operating systems of mobile devices (iOS and Android).

This is a general functional specification, but it can be improved in more detail depending on the project, and it can be improved based on feedback.

Use Case Generated by ChatGPT

There are several techniques for describing functional requirements that can be used within a FS. When the intention is to describe in detail all the interaction steps between the user and the system, one of the most used is the Use Cases Description.

Fabrício: Could you describe this notification feature in the form of a use case?

​IA: Of course, here is a possible description of the notification feature in the form of a use case:

Title: Notification of New Orders to Service Providers

Actors: Service Provider, Customer

Precondition: The service provider and the customer must be registered in the application.

Main flow:

  1. The customer selects the desired service in the application and fills in the necessary information (name, email address, phone number, and description of the service).
  2. The application sends an email to the provider with the customer’s data and a preview of what he/she wants.
  3. The provider receives the email and prepares to contact the customer and make a service proposal.

Alternative flow:

  1. The customer selects the desired standard service in the app and fills in the required information (name, email address, and phone number).
  2. The application checks the availability of the provider’s calendar on Google Calendar.
  3. If available, the application allows the customer to book the service directly.
  4. The provider receives an appointment notification and prepares to perform the service.

Postcondition: The provider is notified of a new service request and prepares to contact the customer.

This is a general description, but like every use case, it can be refined and detailed according to the specific needs of the project and the business. Additionally, other use cases can be created to follow the flow of scheduling, canceling, and other related functionality.

Process Model created by ChatGPT

A process model presents the sequence of all activities required to generate valuable outcome to a stakeholder. There are also a lot of possible notations and formats and for this example I didn’t specify any, which left the description pretty high-level and the Assitent suggested me some possible notations to delve into.

Fabrício: Let’s move on to example 2. What would the model for the provider notification process look like?

IA: Here is a possible description of the provider notification process model:

  1. Start: The customer selects the desired service in the app and fills in the necessary information (name, email address, phone number, description of the service).
  2. Availability Check: The app checks the availability of service providers for the selected service and selects the available providers.
  3. Sending notification: The application sends a notification to the selected providers, including the customer’s data and a preview of what he/she wants.
  4. Receiving notification: Selected providers receive notification and prepare to contact the customer.
  5. End: The notification process is completed and providers are ready to contact the customer and make a service proposal.

This process model can be represented visually using process flow diagrams such as BPMN or UML. Process flow diagrams are useful tools for graphically representing how tasks are performed and how they are related to each other. Furthermore, they can be used to analyze and improve the process, identifying improvement points and optimizing process efficiency.

Fabrício: I would like to represent this model in a free tool that imports XML. What do you suggest?

There are several free tools available that allow you to import XML files and create process flow diagrams, including:

  1. BPMN.io: is a free and open-source BPMN diagram creation tool that allows you to import BPMN XML files and edit them directly in the browser. It has an easy-to-use interface and offers a lot of functionality for creating and editing BPMN diagrams.
  2. Draw.io: is a free and open-source diagram creation tool that allows you to import BPMN XML files and other types of diagrams such as UML and ER. It has an easy-to-use interface and offers a lot of functionality for creating and editing diagrams.
  3. yEd Graph Editor: is a free and open-source diagram creation tool that allows you to import BPMN XML files and other types of diagrams such as UML and ER. It has an easy-to-use interface and offers a lot of functionality for creating and editing diagrams.

I pushed my Assistant a bit over the edge. I know that ChatGPT doesn’t generate images and diagrams, but I’ve seen examples of programmers using it to generate source code for computer programs. Generating XMLs from process drawings would not be that far from it. But I seem to have encountered a limitation.

Fabrício: Generate an XML of this process so that I can import it into the BPMN.io tool

IA: Unfortunately, as I am only a trained language model, I don’t have the ability to generate XML files or create BPMN diagrams. However, there are several BPMN diagram creation tools available, including the aforementioned BPMN.io, which allow you to create BPMN diagrams in an easy and intuitive way. Some of them also let you import BPMN XML files and edit them directly in the browser.

I recommend that you read the documentation for your chosen tool and follow the instructions for importing an XML file and creating BPMN diagrams.

Fabrício: Okay, but on this one, you let me down.

IA: I’m sorry if you felt that way. I’ve tried to help you as best I can, but as a language model my skills are limited and I can’t generate XML files or create BPMN diagrams. However, I’m always ready to help with information and tips about the chosen tool and other related ones. If you have any other questions, please ask.

Data Model created by ChatGPT

A Data Model is a visual representation of a company’s data elements and the connections between them. For that there are also several notations and abstraction levels that I didn’t specify in this example and it suggested to me what is the most common: Data Entities with their attributes, primary and secondary keys in a logical model abstraction level.

Fabrício: Suggest a data model for this application.

AI: Here is a possible data model suggestion for this application:

Table 1: User

  • ID (primary key)
  • Name
  • Email
  • Password
  • Type (customer/provider)

Table 2: Service

  • ID (primary key)
  • Name
  • Description
  • Price (if applicable)
  • Category

Table 3: Provider

  • ID (primary key)
  • User ID (foreign key to user table)
  • profile description
  • Availability (days and times available)
  • Offered services ID (foreign key to service table)

Table 4: Order

  • ID (primary key)
  • Customer ID (foreign key to user table)
  • Provider ID (foreign key to provider table)
  • Service ID (foreign key to service table)
  • Order date and time
  • Service description (additional information provided by the customer)
  • Status (pending/accepted/declined/canceled)

Table 5: Schedule

  • ID (primary key)
  • Provider ID (foreign key to provider table)
  • Appointment date and time
  • Service ID (foreign key to service table)
  • Customer ID (foreign key to user table)

This is a general data model, but it can be refined and detailed according to the specific needs of the project and the business. Also, it can be adapted and changed according to your data storage needs, for example, if you are going to use some NoSQL database structure.

Apparently I could go a lot deeper with this and use ChatGPT to successively evolve my model from a conceptual stage, through the logic to the physical model. As it is able to maintain the context of what was presented previously, it would even be able to identify inconsistencies and missing attributes so that one or another functionality can be successfully implemented.

Fabrício: Do you know how to generate an SQL statement to create these tables?

IA: Yes, I can provide SQL statements to create these tables. Please specify which database is being used (PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite, etc) so that I can generate the SQL statements correctly.

Fabrício: It is not necessary at this time. Just wanted to know if you know how to do it.

IA: Yes, I can generate SQL statements to create tables in the database. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the SQL statements can vary depending on the database used, so it’s important to specify which database is being used so that I can generate the statements correctly. Also, it is important to note that this suggested data model may need tweaking and adapting according to the specific needs of the project and the business, and it is recommended that you consult a database expert to ensure that the tables are created correctly and conform to best database design practices.

Structure of management reports created by ChatGPT

One of the key points in the success of a software development project is the management of stakeholder engagement, keeping everyone informed and following what is happening with the project. The ideal is to provide transparency through periodic reports.

There are also several templates and methodologies for doing this, as I didn’t have any in mind, I asked my Assistant for a suggestion.

Fabrício: For stakeholder management, I would like to provide a project monitoring report on a weekly basis. What structure do you suggest for the report?

AI: Here is a possible structure for a weekly project tracking report:

  1. Progress Summary: An overview of the project’s progress to date, including achieved goals, issues encountered, and actions taken to resolve them.
  2. Activities Performed: A list of activities performed in the previous week, including start and end dates, assignees, and status (completed / in progress / late).
  3. Planned Activities: A list of activities planned for the upcoming week, including start and end date, assignees, and status (planned /in progress / late).
  4. Risks and Issues: A list of identified risks and issues, including their severity, likelihood of occurrence, actions taken to mitigate them, and current status.
  5. Changes: A list of requested changes, including description, project impact, status (pending/approved/rejected), and actions taken.
  6. Costs and Budget: An overview of the project’s costs and budget to date, including actual and anticipated expenses for the coming week.
  7. Stakeholder Participation: An overview of stakeholder participation in the project, including actions taken to involve them and feedback received.

Business strategy created by ChatGPT

So far, my assistant has proven to be very useful for carrying out specification activities and even guiding me in management, but I also wanted to test its ability to support strategic activities focused on the business.

Fabrício: The startup that develops this application intends to make it profitable. What strategies could be used to make money from it?

AI: There are several strategies a startup could use to make money from an app, some of them include:

  1. Transaction Fees: Charging a transaction fee to service providers when they accept a service request through the app.
  2. Membership Fees: Charging a membership fee to service providers who want to sign up for the app and gain access to potential customers.
  3. Advertising: Selling in-app advertising space to businesses and brands interested in promoting their products and services to app users.
  4. Premium Subscriptions: Offering additional features or exclusive functionality to users who pay a monthly or annual fee.
  5. Additional content or services: offering additional content or services, such as tutorials, courses, e-books, consulting, etc., to users of the application, for a fee.
  6. Partnerships: Establish partnerships with other companies or organizations to expand the app’s reach and generate additional revenue.

These are just some of the strategies a startup could use to make money from an app. The best strategy will depend on the specific needs of the project and the business, as well as your target audience and the market in which it operates. It is important to take into account that, to be successful, the startup must find the right combination of strategies and apply them in a strategic and well-planned way. In addition, it is important to always keep an eye on market trends and be open to changes and adaptations, such as testing different business models, such as freemium, which offers a free version of the application, but with additional content or functionality that can be purchased.

List of features created by ChatGPT

The strategic definition should guide the entire development of an application, creating functionalities that support the achievement of its objective. I probably should have started my project with that definition, but in the real world and in real conversations and initiatives, those boundaries are never so clear and well defined. Again, what is really fascinating about ChatGPT is that it is able to maintain the context of the conversation and naturally evolve the understanding along with you.

Once the strategy is defined, the features needed for this example become clearer.

Fabrício: Considering that the startup in question intends to invest in strategies 1, 2, and 6 suggested by you, list the main features that need to be available to users of this application.

AI: Considering strategies 1, 2, and 6 I suggested (transaction fees, membership fees, and partnerships), the main functionalities that need to be available to users of this app include:

  1. Payment system: To allow service providers to pay membership and transaction fees, as well as to allow customers to make payments for contracted services.
  2. Provider registration system: To allow service providers to register in the application, provide their information and pay the membership fees.
  3. Availability Management: To allow service providers to manage their availability and adjust their schedule according to the appointments made by customers.
  4. Search and filtering system: To allow customers to find service providers according to their needs and preferences.
  5. Rating and feedback system: To allow customers to rate and give feedback on contracted services and service providers.
  6. Communication system: To allow customers and service providers to communicate before, during, and after contracting the service.
  7. Partnership system: To allow companies or organizations interested in partnering with the startup to register and have access to user data.
  8. Reporting system: To allow the startup to track and analyze user statistics and transactions carried out by the application.

These are just some of the features that need to be available to users of this application, but it is important to note that other features may be needed depending on the specific needs of the project and the business.

In addition, it is important to take into account the user experience and ensure that the application is easy to use and intuitive. Some other features that might be considered include:

  • Notification system: To allow customers and service providers to be notified of new orders, confirmations, messages, and other important updates.
  • Calendar integration: To allow service providers to integrate their availability calendar with the app and avoid scheduling conflicts.
  • Profile Management: To allow users to update and manage their profile information and account settings.
  • Integration with other platforms: To allow users to share information and updates with other platforms, such as social networks or other applications, or to allow the application to integrate with other tools, such as project management systems or data analysis tools.
  • Technical Support: To ensure that users have access to technical support and can get help with application-related issues or questions.
  • Security: To ensure that user data and transactions are safe and secure from cyber threats.
  • Location: To allow users to search for service providers according to their geographic location.
  • Accessibility: To ensure that the application is accessible to all users, including those with special needs.

Conclusions

From a fictitious case study, it was possible to see in practice ChatGPT supporting the identification and specification of various information related to Business Analysis:

  • Functional Specification
  • Use case
  • Process Model
  • Data Model
  • Structure of management reports
  • Business strategy
  • Feature List

These are just some examples. Several other types of artifacts and analyses could be generated using this tool. Just point it to the reference source to contextualize what you expect as a result and it will go on detailing iteratively from your provocations. With each round, understanding will become more accurate.

I have always understood this “ability to provoke” to be one of the main characteristics of a good business analyst. A good question is 90% of the way to finding the answer. And that’s exactly what we do when we’re dealing with the ChatGPT Assistant: questions. I’ve always done this with the stakeholders of the projects I’ve worked on, whether in interviews, workshops, or periodic follow-up meetings. Now I have a well-informed assistant who gives me very well-crafted answers.

It seems that we are at the dawn of a new era of intelligent tools capable of greatly leveraging our productivity and the quality of our deliveries. I see ChatGPT as the first example of a trend that will spread quickly and change the way we produce content.

Business Analysis could benefit greatly from this shift and business analysts are in a unique position. As professional “questioners” and solution seekers to solve business problems, our skills are exactly what it will be needed to pilot such tools.

References

  • ChatGPT: “This article was produced using ChatGPT, a language model trained by OpenAI.”
    https://openai.com/blog/gpt-3-apps/
  • Dall-e: “The image used in this article was generated using the Dall-e imaging tool, developed by OpenAI.”
    https://dall-e.openai.com/
  • The BABOK Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge cited in the article was developed by IIBA, the International Institute of Business Analysis.
    https://iiba.org.