Mention the term “business analysis” or “business analyst” and you will get a diverse reaction such as:
- Isn’t that what a Project Manager does?
- Aren’t they the technical ones?
- Don’t they just ask questions and then are supposed to understand our requirements?
- I thought you only needed BA’s for IT projects?
- Our projects aren’t big enough to need a BA.
- BA’s are only needed for large organisations.
- Can’t the Project Manager just work out the requirements?
- Do you mean Systems Analyst or Business Architect or Enterprise Analyst or Product Owner…or Project Manager?
So what is Business Analysis?
What is the value add of a Business Analyst (BA) to your organisation in today’s age of information?
The IIBA defines Business Analysis as:
“…the practice of enabling change in an organisational context, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders”.
The Business Analyst is a vital change enabler in any organisation – private, public or not-for-profit. Unless real needs are defined, understood and even challenged in this process with solutions articulated accordingly, how can we be truly successful in our initiatives?
Are you really setting up your projects for success by glossing over the need for a business analyst, by assuming that this is part and parcel of the project manager’s role (and they have such a skill-set)?
Are we being blinded by the halo effect yet again – we inherently assume that since a project manager is good at their role, that will mean that they will be good at defining needs and recommending solutions (i.e. being a business analyst).
The 5 Top Strengths of the BA Today:
- Determine REAL business needs. Information, requirements, requests, documentation, process flows, wants and so-called needs are there for the taking in every organisation; it is not just the BA who can collect or access this information. The value add of the BA is to listen, understand, evaluate and identify the gaps: what’s missing, what isn’t being said – that could be the difference in determining the real needs.
- Be an Analyst in the true sense. A financial analyst researches, studies, evaluates, analyses, interprets, facilitates understanding and makes strategic recommendations. The true BA operates in this manner – focussing on analysis not just data collection
- Understand the art, science and skill of Facilitation. Facilitation is generally considered to be a process in which a neutral person helps a group work together more effectively. A BA needs to provide facilitation techniques for exploring issues in meetings and events with stakeholders. The BA needs to be:
- Informed. How to run workshops as an independent facilitator
- Intelligent. Respected by those present
- Impartial. Objective and non-judgemental
- Be Solution-focussed. Think again about the meaning of Analyst – it is about recommending appropriate solutions to business needs. The trusted BA articulates business solutions, highlighting impacts and dependencies on other initiatives and business as usual, recognising trade-off’s between practical usability and performance needs.
- Be a Business Advisor as well as an Analyst. The true BA not only understands the intricacies of complex business systems, approaches and needs, but is the one the business can turn to for advice; the experienced BA anticipates the future. True BA’s are skilled in looking at business from a strategic perspective, articulating possibilities for growth and recommending the path forward.
The true Business Analyst of the future is the Business Change Advisor and Enabler.