A Business Analyst is someone who identifies the need for change and facilitates the implementation of that change in an organization. He does that by discovering, gathering and analyzing information from varieties of sources within an enterprise including tools, documents, processes, and stakeholders. The solution he provides can be IT or non-IT related, it can also be humongous or even a minor change.
To really understand who a business analyst is, let’s take a look at this example.
Suppose you want to build a house, the first thing you do is to buy a piece of land, right? After that, you seek the services of an architect. The architect engage with you, asking you a series of questions–about your budget, what style of house – a bungalow or a duplex? how many bedrooms? how big do you want your packing space? what type of roofing? etc.
Having done that, the architect then comes up with a plan which you have to give approval on. He then consults with the builders to understand the cost and how long the process will take to build your house. After the dialogue with the builders, he meets with you again to relate this information to you for your consent.
Suppose you agree, work on the house begins. As building progresses, the architect keeps monitoring the progress to ensure the house is built according to the plan – your need.
On a few occasion, problems might arise requiring the plans to be re-examined due to some unforeseen circumstances or, you might want to make some changes to the plans which you would need to agree with the building contractor. Eventually, you get your house built!
A business analyst role is more like that of this architect but instead of building a house, he is acting as an agent of change within an organization or an enterprise. He is responsible for eliciting the actual needs of the stakeholders. He does this by investigating and clarifying their desires in order to determine the causes and underlying issues.
Now, instead of producing plans as in the case of the architect, a business analyst produces ‘requirements’. The requirements state the business needs and align with the business processes. These requirements are then used by the IT team or external suppliers to build or modify the system. While work is in progress, the business analyst is ever ready to deal with issues, questions and to support the business in implementing the required changes to make effective use of the new solution.
Often times, the business analyst role is seen as the communication bridge between IT and business stakeholders. This is why the business analyst must be a good communicator– both written and verbal, a problem solver, must have excellent analysis and critical thinking skills. He or she must also be a good facilitator.
Another thing is, a business analyst does not necessarily need to have an IT background although it is quite helpful if he understands how IT systems work. There are at least four areas of Business analysis which are :
Business developer – to identify the organization’s business needs and business’ opportunities
Business model analysis – to define the organization’s policies and market approaches
Process design – to standardize the organization’s workflows
Systems analysis – the interpretation of business rules and requirements for technical systems (generally within IT)
There are many interpretations of the Business Analyst’s role out there. In some organizations, they have business analyst works on a Project while in some, the Business Analyst works in the Business Unit. In all, Business Analysis is a growing career and it has come to stay!
Learn more about the Roles and responsibilities of the Business Analyst by attending the IIBA Business Analysis training course. You can also gain a formal business analysis qualification.