Are you thinking of exploring a career as a business analyst? Perhaps hire one?
We asked experts to explain some of the fundamental roles of a business analyst.
Business Analyst, Zemoga Inc.
What Does a Business Analyst Do?
In a few words, Business Analysts assess, understand, manage and enable change within your business or company. Especially in relation to digital products, change is the only constant businesses face every day.
With the emergence of new technologies (from personal devices and wearables to Business and Artificial Intelligence), choosing the best strategies, tactics, and tools that allow your business effectively reaching its audiences requires a constant adaptation process. This means not only understanding what your users or customers want and need but also identifying how to best communicate with them and ensure their interactions with your product meet their expectations.
Embracing change requires a plan. Identifying and understanding your users and the space in which they interact with your product will take time and effort from your team, but with a structured and iterative approach that allows you to make the right decisions, your chances for success increase rapidly.
This is what Business Analysts help you do: They help you understand where you are, where you want to be, and the series of steps you need to take to get from the former to the latter.
How do they do it? Regardless of the type of product, you’re building, such as a redesigned version of your website, a new mobile application, or a social network campaign for a new product launch, Business Analysts use very effective tools and techniques for understanding what you need to do to achieve success:
Market and user research
These are very important to understand the space in which your product will live, and the audience who will use it. People interact differently with a digital product depending on the platform they use (computers, smartphones, TVs, etc) and the purpose behind the interaction. You also need to understand what similar products are doing in the same space, and what opportunities this environment offers for your product to kick in.
Business and product analysis
Business and product requirements define the main characteristics of your product and how your company will benefit the users’ interactions with it. Business rules define the goals of your product from your company’s perspective and ensure the product’s effectiveness.
Business Analysts collaborate with other disciplines and stakeholders in the definition of the solution or product that will be built to satisfy the business and users needs. Business Analysts provide valuable insight to the team in charge of designing and developing the product and ensure all decisions are made with the project goals in mind.
Business rules and users needs must be translated into functional and nonfunctional requirements that your team can understand, design, code, test and deploy. Business Analyst specializes in the elicitation, documentation, prioritization, and communication of your products requirements. All of these activities are crucial for maintaining a clear and healthy list of “to-do items”, also known as the product’s backlog, which can then be tackled across the projects development phases.
Business Analysts are also great collaborators. They help centralizing valuable information and making it accessible to the entire production team, ensuring requirements visibility and understanding for every team member involved in the project’s execution.
Every product iteration needs to be reviewed and evaluated. This produces new requirements, and of course, more changes. Changes are assessed again and translated into more requirements that are classified in the product’s backlog to be tackled in the subsequent development phases. Business Analysts collaborate with business stakeholders to analyze the results of a product iteration and prepare the backlog for the next, keeping in mind user and business value of the requirements that will be addressed.
In conclusion, Business Analysts play a key role in decision-making processes and product development planning. They ensure any relevant information is thoroughly captured, assessed and documented, to properly inform every stage of the product development process, regardless of the methodology or framework being followed.
When you know all the variables that influence your business space and you have a clear understanding of available technologies your product can benefit from, the product’s chances for success increase dramatically and your team will be able to have an effective action plan.
Senior Business Analyst and Logistics Professional, Resolute Technology Solutions
The business analyst’s role is to identify or be presented with, a need or opportunity and bring the pertinent business stakeholders together with resources to discuss, evaluate and analyze the issue.
A project will be initiated if sufficient agreed to potential value exists. The business analyst plays a key project role through eliciting, verifying, validating, specifying and modeling requirements that are used to create, implement and maintain an effective solution.
An effective business analyst has highly developed analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, is an effective communicator, knows their industry and understands the tools, techniques, and technology used within their organization, industry, and profession.
The business analyst wears many hats throughout the project life cycle playing the role of change initiative ambassador, communicator, facilitator, and moderator. The business analyst ensures stakeholder needs are met by performing the project related tasks within each business analysis knowledge area which includes:
- Business analysis planning and monitoring
- Elicitation and collaboration
- Requirements life cycle management
- Strategy analysis
- Requirements analysis and design definition
- Solution evaluation
Jorge Medina Zambrano
Executive Director, Andromeda CG
A business analyst can do many things. Some business analysts specialize in one specific area. Others are more general. Rather obvious first description. However, I can tell you a big difference that I’ve seen personally and something that not only describes what a business analyst does, but what a great business analyst does.
Ask the right questions.
Any person can come into a company and ask the generic questions that can provide certain insights into a company’s well being, operational costs, conversion rates, cost of acquiring new customers, projections, sales systems, and corporate protocols, marketing spend vs return and IT infrastructure.
However, beyond the outlining of the business processes and determining how it works, it’s truly in asking the questions that can reveal what could work best in the future. Sometimes this translates into revealing fears of an aging workforce that does not want to change ‘what works’ for more efficient, albeit initially challenging, software systems that can help speed up some of those areas that were less-than-great, revealed by the aforementioned evaluation.
When a business analyst is requested, it is usually because a business has hit a plateau and changes could provide a boost in business health. What this truly entails is that there is a leadership problem. Either it was something ongoing or new management wants to overhaul operations based on an outside perspective, perhaps based on industry best practices.
What’s interesting about this is that the business analyst must compare the tangible data and match it to the intangible, and make an accurate balancing act of a strategy that could benefit both the current workforce and keep the management happy. It truly is finding out how to increase the potential of the people working in an organization. That could mean a software system overhaul or more bonding corporate outings that bring the team spirit together.
In short, what a business analyst does is listen and find out the inner ‘why’s‘ that made a company reach a specific stage. Afterward, based on the correct identification of the deep reasons why the situation at hand has truly developed, the business analyst’s role is to formulate a strategy that creates lasting and sustainable change to benefit the business in the short, medium, and long terms.