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29/09/2022

The Crucial Role of Business Analysts in Software Development 

A business analyst (BA) is one of the most critical positions in the software development process. Acting as a bridge between the IT and business sides, they are an essential partner in guiding a company through an era of digital transformation. What are business analysts’ responsibilities, what skills do they possess and why are they so important?  

Business analysts in IT – guardians of value 

A business analyst should have excellent analytical, problem-solving, decision making and communication skills, along with a dash of technical knowledge that supports development teams with handling requirements. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes business analysts  as “change enablers,” responsible for “introducing and managing change to organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.” 

As a guardian of business goals, a business analyst is always available to the team, understands project goals, endeavors to ensure quality, and takes care of the business value. A business analyst is key to increasing retention, client satisfaction and a company’s revenue. 

Along with critical and analytical thinking, solving complex problems and dealing with stakeholders up to the C-suite level is bread and butter for them daily. Being a good listener won’t be enough, as they must be well-organized and capable of creating in-depth documentation dependent on project and business needs.  

Being skillful at communication and comprehending the environment they work in, business analysts know when and how to harness the knowledge of a development team. They understand when to involve the right team members, bring the person with the fitting competencies into the conversation and facilitate such a dialogue. Always goal and business-oriented, with solution requirements being the primary concern, a business analyst truly acts as a guardian of value in every company. 

The visible work of a business analyst in software services 

Specifying requirements – taking care of backlog items, such as user stories, and preparing clear descriptions for the development team of what needs to be delivered and its acceptance criteria.  

Managing the backlog – breaking down features into manageable, prioritized pieces.  

Communicating requirements – enabling a team to understand what needs to be done and why. 

Assisting the team and the client daily – answering questions for parts not explicitly covered in the requirements, clearing up any doubts, understanding the process and providing additional information. 

The invisible work of a business analyst  

Requirement elicitation understanding a client’s business, processes and goals, exploring different avenues and noticing the edge cases to define requirements. Conducting special workshops for clients is a proficient method of achieving this. Elicitation is not about gathering requirements, it is about capturing the needs behind the stated requirements and designing a solution to address these needs. This leads to minimizing the number of change requests to already implemented features later in the process

Identifying the goal, needs and pain points – helping to pinpoint the overarching goal of a product and areas that would benefit from a change. 

Validating and optimizing the business value – striving to increase the benefits and decrease implementation costs by challenging, eliminating or simplifying concepts from work early on. 

Learning and understanding the business – grasping and mapping the processes to design better solutions while enhancing the value of the product within the developed features. 

Refining the requirements – removing all the unnecessary bits, moving the necessary ones in place and the explaining or addressing the unknowns. 

Advising the client – seeking improvements and providing timely advice to client whenever it may be helpful. 

Problem solver all the way 

Since there is never a situation in a business analyst’s line of work where everything is known or where features are not interconnected with other elements, business analysts are responsible for assessing their impact and dependencies. Corresponding features generate risks that need to be identified and mitigated, if possible, and then accepted by a client. As the product grows and evolves, it is bound to have fissures in the scope. Knowing the complete solution makes a business analyst the best candidate to identify any gaps. 

A business analyst work goes further, as non-functional requirements also lay in their scope. Even if performance, accessibility, maintainability, usability, adaptability and compliance are not solely the realm of business analysts, their job is to highlight the need to specify these elements, preferably early on.  

A good relationship can go a long way and work wonders. Not only does it streamline the project work and help with negotiations, but it also enhances a software partner’s reputation. As a business analyst communicates with a client and a team, building rapport remains their focus. They are also accountable for stakeholder management, constantly aware of who is responsible for signing off requirements. Who should be consulted about them, and who remains answerable for each area in the company? It is vital to define this information early on – a task that falls on the shoulders of a business analyst.

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What are the risks of not working with a business analyst? 

Not hiring an experienced business analyst or not making them a part of your team will lead to significant drawbacks and unnecessary challenges. First, eliciting and specifying the requirements leads to fewer change requests in already implemented solutions. Conducting the requirements process with an unskilled business analyst means the product may end up with unnecessary or poorly executed functionalities.  A business analyst optimizes implementation costs through insightful communication with the team. Describing business needs during the refinement stage works miracles, as the development team can present a more efficient solution than previously designed. 

A business analyst tries to eliminate all problems that come from  miscommunication, context switching, and trust issues for all parties involved. Eradicating these challenges is crucial for reducing team disorganization and internal frustration, both of which cause a drop in a team’s productivity. A business analyst empowers the team and guards the priorities by constantly posing insightful questions, pivoting and helping to establish what is crucial, thus allowing the project to cross the finish line successfully.    

Furthermore, the chances of not getting the right budget to implement a solution, due to more generic input for the stakeholders and a lack of essential details, are reduced. Since mitigating unnecessary and additional costs is a part of business analysts’ responsibilities, their absence might lead to bloated budgets and excessive spending. You also need to factor in that end users might not be pleased with the final product, since there was no one to act as the ‘guardian of the project’.  

Finally, the lack of a business analyst affects how product growth is presented. Often the mistake is to show what has been added rather than what value it brought to the business and users. Usually, this misguided approach affects the perception of the project and its future budgeting. An experienced business analyst knows how to prevent such a scenario from happening. 

An essential liaison between IT and business 

One might describe a business analyst as ‘everything missing from the project.’ It is not a 100% accurate characterization, but as most business analysts come from different backgrounds, they tend to spread to other areas. The many hats business analysts wear are all crucial for a modern-day company. After all, even the best-run business needs it’s a guardian. To deepen your knowledge and understanding of the BA role, check the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge which outlines the global standards of practice for Business Analysts in IT. 

Whether seeking to accelerate your digital business, looking to boost your business value, or searching for top-notch access to talent, feel free to contact our experts by filling out this form. 

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