Sampling is very similar to the Observation technique. But while Observation is generally focused on what people do and how they do it, sampling is focused on deriving quantifiable data such as how long someone takes to do something, and how much of their time is spent doing it. As with Observation, the business analyst is unlikely to have the time to gather data from every individual who performs an activity, and the BA thus chooses a representative sample of users from which to gather data and assumes that the data gathered from those users will be similar to that of other users.
However, sampling does not have to be people-focused. A business analyst can also do sampling of the outputs of business processes to find out what variations in the output are most common (variations can include both differences in quality and differences in content); or to gather data about the sources or recipients of the business output.
Sampling can therefore be used for many business analysis purposes, including:
- Gathering time values of work performed to determine where process automation or process improvement efforts would have the greatest impact.
- Gathering time values of work performed as inputs to Cost Benefit Analysis.
- Assessing business assumptions or knowledge gaps (for example, if he business says that their output rarely goes to X, but sampling shows that 20% of the samples gathered went to X, you will need to investigate further)
- For scoping and stakeholder identification efforts (to help determine both impacted business processes and business units/clients)