What Does a Business Analyst Actually Do?
The business analyst role is one of the “hidden costs” when outsourcing an IT company. Business owners often do not understand why they need a business analyst on a team while their primary goal is to develop a software product.
However, forward-thinking entrepreneurs know all the benefits that business analysts bring to a business and understand that this role is crucial for project success. In this article, we will try to define the business analyst role and explain why it is so important.
The definition of the business analyst role
If you look for the definition of the business analyst role on the Internet, you will most probably see the one presented by CIO:
“Business analysts (BAs) are responsible for bridging the gap between IT and the business using data analytics to assess processes, determine requirements and deliver data-driven recommendations and reports to executives and stakeholders”.
However, this description does not quite fit the role of a business analyst in the IT industry. The main thing to remember about the IT business analyst is that this role can also be called the requirements analyst. So if we define the IT business analyst, the following description will be more accurate:
“A requirements analyst determines the needs of a project and acts as a liaison between managers, stakeholders, and the software development team”.
In the IT industry, a business analyst is a person responsible for translating the client’s needs and requests into understandable requirements. As well, by constantly communicating with all stakeholders, the business analyst can get a holistic view of the project and offer a more effective solution to the problem.
Some may ask still: but why do I need a business analyst? There are so many tools like Slack or Trello that will help me communicate with developers without any third-party intervention.
While it may sound true, the reality is the opposite. Let’s see how exactly a business analyst supports the development of software projects.
Reduction of costs
When developing a software project, one has to be ready for change requests, alteration of the initial requirements, redesign, and other issues that result in additional costs. However, if you have a business analyst on a team, you can avoid paying extra while retaining the needed quality and functionality.
One of the core functions of a business analyst is communication with all stakeholders and the development team. The aim of this is to ensure that stakeholders reach the common ground and that the development team understands exactly what has to be done. Therefore, when discussing a project with the stakeholders, the business analyst can always remind about the taken decisions, notify whether something has been discussed before, and suggest a more suitable solution.
In this way, the business analyst presents a clear and cost-efficient solution while avoiding double costs and eliminating unnecessary spendings and discussions.
Bridging communication gaps
Communication is one of the most intricate and important issues in software project development. And one of the most common communication issues is the misunderstanding between the stakeholders and the development team when it comes to the project realization.
Communication issues, in turn, lead to such problems as wrong requirements or lack of information. As a result, the team has to redo the work while the deadline is being prolonged and stretched. Add to this the fact that the whole team is annoyed and frustrated - not the best thing to have when creating a software product.
A business analyst serves as an intermediary between the development team and the stakeholders. After meeting with the stakeholders and collecting their requests and opinions, the business analyst then transforms these ideas and requests into understandable and clear requirements that software team members will understand.
In this way, the business analyst ensures that everyone stays on the same page and that the designed functionality aligns with the business goals.
We have mentioned that above but this topic is too important. A business analyst, alongside a Project Manager, helps to efficiently manage the requirements and to ensure that the client receives exactly what he intended to.
During software product development, the requirements for the project tend to evolve and change at a constant pace. By having a BA on a team, a client always knows there is a person whom he can contact regarding any changes. As for the main BA responsibilities related to requirements management, they include:
- Requirements elicitation and prioritization
- Requirements modeling
- Validation of the collected requirements
Depending on the company size, a BA can take some of the responsibilities of a Project Manager or work together with the PM. Sometimes a PM is the one responsible for the communication and requirements management but it’s always better to have a business analyst for such kind of tasks.
Business analyst responsibilities and requirements
The benefits listed above cover the majority of the business analyst’s responsibilities. But in order to better understand this role, it is important to look at the regular and more specific tasks that BAs perform on a daily basis.
The typical responsibilities of a business analyst include:
- Analysis of the project,
- Project estimation,
- Definition of high-level (core) requirements
- Definition of low-level requirements,
- Communication with all the parties involved,
And these are not all the tasks that a business analyst works with. Depending on the company size and project scope, the BA can perform different functions.
From these responsibilities, it’s easy to guess that a good business analyst has to have excellent organizational, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills. As for the required soft skills, they are:
- Communication and negotiation
- Attention to detail and creativity
All these skills help a business analyst not only to be efficient but also proactive enough to work on the best possible solution.
The role of a business analyst is critical for project development if you wish to have clear requirements, avoid unnecessary spendings, and overall improve the initial product concept. Being in the IT industry for over 12 years, SoftTeco always emphasizes the importance of the business analyst role on a team and explains its benefits. In this way, we make sure our clients receive a product that precisely fits their needs and looks and functions as intended.
Irina LinnikView all articles by this author.
Great post. So well written. It is very informative.