What Is A Business Analyst?

This Article Explains What is a Business Analyst and What Are The Responsibilities of a BA. You Will Also Learn The Importance of a Good Business Analyst:

A Business Analyst is a person who analyses an organization, designs processes and systems, assesses the business models so that it can be integrated with technology. 

Many times their role is not fully understood. Business analysts are the agents of change, as they introduce, manage, and facilitate the necessary changes to your business model.

They also serve as a communication channel between the sponsors, stakeholders and the project team.

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What Is A Business Analyst_

What Is Business Analysis?

According to IIBA(International Institute of Business Analysis ):  Business Analysis is “The practice of enabling change in an organizational context, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.”

 Business Analysis

 Let’s understand the above important keywords for business analysis:

  1. Enabling Change: This is the key role of a business analyst. Helping organizations in changes could be related to new technologies, new systems, improve the existing process/system.
  2. Defining needs: Someone determines the need, the business analyst defines that need in detail and the organization addresses that need.
  3. Recommending solutions: Solutions may include: systems, processes, policies, and training.
  4. Deliver value to stakeholders: Anyone impacted by our work. Management, other departments, regulators, partnering businesses, customers, etc, so attention should be on delivering value to all the stakeholders.

Who Is A Business Analyst? 

According to IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis):  Business Analyst is “A Liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals” 

In other words, a Business Analyst can be defined as a bridge between business and technology.

Responsibilities Of A BA

Requirements form the heart of any project and capturing them is very vital as they are the changes that enable the businesses to move to the next level.

The responsibility of capturing the right requirements for business changes lies with the Business Analysts. Thus BAs are a valuable asset to the organization.

The major task of a Business analyst is to deal with requirements which can be further categorized into two parts:

Interaction with CustomerInteraction with Techinical Team
Gathering requirementsRequirement Communication
Documenting requirementsClarifications
Modelling requirements
Eliciting requirements
Analyzing requirements
Change Requests
Functional Testing
UAT co-ordination

Now the question arises in mind what is a requirement and why it is important for a BA?

According to the Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), “A requirement is a usable representation of a need. Requirements focus on understanding what kind of value could be delivered if a requirement is fulfilled. The nature of the representation may be a document (or set of documents), but can vary widely depending on the circumstances.”

Here are a few important points that need to be focused with respect to requirements:

  1. Requirements are documentation. Requirements can be Word docs, PowerPoints, Prototypes, mock-ups, Flowcharts.
  2. Requirements provide the change roadmap i.e. requirements help us to compare the Current state Vs. Future State.
  3. Requirements need to be easy to understand, clear, well structured, straightforward to implement, straightforward to test.

As business analysts, it’s our responsibility to understand the requirement clearly and maximize the value in our solution.

Listed below are some of the major responsibilities of a business analyst-

#1) Communication And Collaboration

Business Analysts drive effective collaboration across the organization. Communication plays a prominent role to achieve collaboration. A significant portion of project spending is wasted on rework caused by errors in requirements.

BAs play a vital role here as they are the ones who gather the requirements from the stakeholders. Having a right BA would reduce the costs incurred by the misunderstanding of the requirements.

As Business Analysts, they understand their spectrum of stakeholders spans across the whole organization right from the business owners, IT depts, Tech leads, QA and Users. Accordingly, they structure their communication channels responsibly by communicating the right information to the right people thereby achieving their objectives.

Setting up a friendly environment for connecting varied people and teams together is one of the primary roles for enabling seamless communication.

Facilitating working meetings by asking the right questions with stakeholders to understand the project needs, being a good listener to listen to the answers clearly and absorb what’s being said, communicate the appropriate information down to the IT teams are all a part of their jobs.

Being a strong communicator via digital means such as coreference calls and web meetings is also an important skill for a BA.

Collaborative BA

The teams or stakeholders involved have different objectives within themselves.

For Example, the project team’s objective would be to deliver the project on time, QA team’s objective is to ensure that all the defects are identified and fixed while the Business team's objective is to ensure that the product is fit for purpose. Thus, internal teams have varying objectives even though the vision of the project does not change.

It would be the role of the BA to bring together these teams with varied objectives and direct them towards the vision of the project. This involves negotiating and setting up business priorities within the team whenever required.

In the whole lifecycle of the business change, they are privileged to be an active participant and a good team player, by managing self-commitments and deliverables all the while.

#2) Processes And Tools

Structured and well-formatted processes all along with the requirements gathering, scoping and prioritization by the business analysts are absolutely necessary for achieving the business program objectives.

As elicitation of requirements is the first step towards scoping and as it determines the way forward for the project, BAs perform focussed analysis using various techniques such as brainstorming, interviews, and workshops.

Structured BA Processes

Business Analysts then develop the Business Process models in the form of wireframes, flow charts, state transition diagrams, use cases, Visio diagrams, etc., in such a way that all the teams who are consuming this information, are able to interpret the flows and interactions appropriately.

Any activity would not be complete without relevant reviews. Thus BAs include constant feedback loops in every process to ensure that there are no gaps in achieving the business objectives.

Once the program is progressed, they involve themselves in doing a simple validation and then demoing the product to the relevant stakeholders at appropriate times, to ensure that there are no gaps. Also, they take pride in preparing business case studies and success stories so that the learnings would be helpful for the subsequent programs.

#3) Leveraging Knowledge

With the growing business needs, it is very essential to leverage their own skills and experience to the best possible, thereby bringing more value to the organization. Business Analysts naturally have strong analytical skills. Due to their strong and adaptive nature, they grasp the domain knowledge more easily and become SMEs.

Having good domain knowledge enables them to understand the requirements from the stakeholders and they would be able to relate them back to the program objectives easily.

Moreover, their knowledge allows them to perform risk assessments for the multiple options presented to them both from a technical and business perspective. Subsequently, driving the right balance in merging the business and technology would be possible for them and they help by recommending the right solutions.

Recommending solutions and facilitating the business change with the IT teams is just one part of the story. With a precise understanding of the project and the program objectives, they can rightly correlate the project for the end to end business processes.

This selects them to be the best person for educating the users on the usage of the project for their business objectives thereby supporting them with business process assurance.

Conclusion

A business analyst is a critical component of a project. They help in analyzing the business processes, business model and its integration with technology. While the project manager keeps the project on track, a BA ensures that the project manager leads the right project for achieving the objectives.

Though the activities of business analysts are context-sensitive, in short, having a strong BA with critical thinking, analytical mind and process knowledge could save a project from failure.

Now we are clear on business analysis, requirements and role of a business analyst. Let’s move to the next topic i.e. certification for a Business Analyst.

Are you looking for a BA for your company? We hope this article helped you learn – what a Business Analyst is!!

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