Conceptual Analysis

What is conceptual analysis

In this stage we clarify what the user requirements are, and document them at a reasonably high level. The user requirements will be reviewed and brought under change control if required. A User Acceptance Test Plan should at least be in draft form by the end of this stage. Normally conceptual analysis would be conducted according to the principles of structured analysis, this section will deal with some of those principles.


  • User Requirements
  • Project Initiation documentation

Work Products

  • Business Process diagrams (As Is and To Be)
  • Decomposition Diagram
  • Examples of business process
  • Functional Requirements Document
  • User Acceptance Test plan (UAT)

Conceptual Analysis is the decomposition of a problem to its elementary component parts in order to understand how the problem may be solved, the outputs of conceptual analysis will be the inputs to the design process. Conceptual Analysis represents the decomposition of the business requirements to a state suitable for a design process. Design is a process of synthesis and the synthesis uses business process specification to build the new design which is then used in the construction of the solution.

Conceptual Analysis
Analysis, Design, Construction


Timing of these stages will depend on the nature of the project and the resources available; however they may well overlay and iterate. When Conceptual Analysis is completed the intended scope of the project will be fully defined and the outputs from the analysis should be suitable for user review and approval. In the project plan Conceptual Analysis completion is a natural gate and should be monitored by the project plan.

Conceptual Analysis is divided into three interrelated areas:

  1. Visualization
  2. Process Model
  3. Information Model

Conceptual Analysis will also provide further feedback to the project planning process as features are clarified and the scope more accurately defined. Conceptual Analysis addresses two audiences, the customer and the next phase of development, this provides opportunities to communicate the understanding of both the problem and the solution to the business stakeholders who will be using the solution and the developers who will construct the solution. Analysis is successful if the work products inform the customer of what requirements are being addressed and inform the developers of the responsibilities that the solution must support.

Requirements are an important part of Conceptual Analysis; however there is no reason to limit the collection on requirements to analysis. Further stages will incrementally refine requirements as further feed back is required. The new solution should present the customer with new opportunities that will need to be explored and these will also refine requirements. The Conceptual Analysis stage aims to provide a more detailed map of the problem to be solved, so that the solution can be designed; but it does not signify the end of business analysis, particularly as the solution should be an enabler to improved business process and the associated opportunities. The three areas described for analysis are Visualization, the Process Model and the Information Model. These areas are usually separated in development process as they will be implemented using different technologies. This also aids the analysis by separating the problem into appearance, process and data.