business analyst

Who is a Business Analyst?

date: 9 May 2018
reading time: 4 min

A Business Analyst’s (BA’s) work can be briefly summed up as investigating business needs to conduct an analysis of the problem and propose the best possible solution. But there’s so much more behind the curtain!

A Business Analyst’s main role is to engage during the early phases of a project, and conduct analysis throughout its entire duration. BAs are experts in the field of understanding the requirements, which are later converted into documentation for the purpose of clear and precise management of the project.

A Business Analyst is often perceived as a link between the business and the IT team, as they can not only understand both parties, but also translate business goals into a language digestible for the programmers. By cooperating with stakeholders, they constantly care about setting the right priorities, thus ensuring the delivery of a valuable product.

What is Business Analysis?

The International Institute of Business Analysis describes this activity in the following way:

Business Analysis is the practice of enabling change in an organizational context, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.
In other words, Business Analysis helps businesses do business better.

The insights gathered through Business Analysis are harnessed to identify and facilitate the need for change. A BA acts as a guide through the company’s development and aims to maximise value delivered by the organisation.

Business Analysis – tools and techniques

In order to collect data and build an understanding of client’s needs and expectations, a BA conducts adequate research and analysis. Resulting ideas are later gathered and transformed into a proposed solution, that may be prototyped and tested by other team members.

For this to happen, a BA uses a variety of tools, such as Enterprise Architect, Bizagi Modeler, XMind, Visual Paradigm, UMLet, Microsoft Visio or Jira/TFS. What is more, a wide range of techniques must be employed in order to meet the goals of the project, such as Stakeholder Mapping, SWOT analysis, Use Cases, User or Job Stories, Story Mapping or Business Model Canvas.

The role of a BA is also to deliver the highest quality outcomes. That is why they are proficient in notations such as BPMN or UML, as well as IIBA®, Scrum or IQBBA® standards. At the same time, close cooperation with UX designers and IT team is crucial for the project to succeed.

The benefits of having a Business Analyst in the project

A BA allows scaling new peak of business success by adding value in the field of reducing costs, identifying benefits and opportunities as well as clear understanding of capabilities in the organisation at the early stage of the IT project.

Thanks to a BA’s presence:

  • Business goals are clearly defined, and system requirements are closely related to the goals.
  • Projects risks are identified and evaluated.
  • Business assumptions behind the project are verified.
  • Requirements are prioritised, which is helpful to correctly plan the project and provide the most important elements in the first place.
  • A common industry language is used. Through close cooperation with a BA, the client is supported in translating requirements into technical language, so that everyone is on the same page.

Furthermore, a BA’s work is unique in the way it delivers documentation of the solution that provides input needed for development of the software project with any IT provider. And as a BA understands the whole ecosystem of the project, it is more likely that they will come up with a better architecture and integration with other solutions – both internal and third party.

The threats of not having a Business Analyst in the project

If a BA is not present during the early stage of a complex project, the whole endeavour can face some serious threats. As a BA supports many people’s responsibilities in the project, their absence decreases efficiency in implementation of crucial tasks.

What is more, without a BA the risk of incomprehensible or ambiguously interpreted requirements grows significantly. Not to mention that the requirements may be incomplete or contradictory.
At the end of the day, it is also possible that without a BA, the project is more likely to be off-time, off-schedule, and what’s worst – not meeting the needs of end-users.

Business Analyst in a project – a summary

A BA highly increases the chance that an optimum solution to a given business problem is proposed. A Business Analyst ensures each stakeholder is involved from the very early stage of a project, and thus creates a valuable source of new insights to a business process.

As BAs understand the needs for change and are able to assess business impacts of those changes, their input helps create cutting edge solutions that meet the needs of relevant stakeholders. Although their presence requires additional investment, it is surely a sum well spent.

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