Introduction – Who is a business analyst?
A business analyst is a professional who evaluates a business to establish the workings of its systems, procedures and operations. Business analysts help guide businesses in improving processes, products, services and software through data analysis.
BAs are also responsible for bridging the gap between stakeholders and the development team, interpreting business requirements into understandable development tasks to match a final software product with the expected business value. They may use data analytics to assess processes, determine requirements and deliver data-driven recommendations and reports to executives and stakeholders.
At all development stages, a business analyst communicates with stakeholders, which may include product and marketing managers, to capture business- and market-level requirements and then interacts with developers through a project manager, without a direct impact on the development process.
Simply put, a business analyst is a member of a product development team who analyzes the business domain, documents its processes and systems, outlines business requirements, and matches a software business model with the software being built.
Clarifying a business idea and defining the project scope
It all begins with establishing the existing problem and envisioning a solution. During this stage, all stakeholders are involved to ensure that the analyst gains exhaustive information to enable them make critical decisions regarding what constitutes an improvement.
It is at this stage, the business analyst makes efforts to understand the principles of the business and new terminologies, especially when entering a new business domain. The BA evaluates the business needs, makes sense of the available information and ensures that the project team understands all the details they require.
The business analyst collaborates with numerous stakeholders to ensure that their concerns, and requirements are included in the business case. A business analyst should also define the ultimate vision of what the project should look like early on, effectively limiting the scope of development. A precisely defined project scope will help the team prioritize features in order to deliver a minimum viable product as early as possible instead of spending time on secondary and nice-to-have features.
As a business analyst, it is your responsibility to manage the business requirements and objectives as they’re understood as well as making sure that the requirements are appropriate for the business need.
Requirement Gathering and Client Workshops
During the initial phase, you are accountable to manage the collection process of requirements. Since there may be more than one stakeholder in a project, it is key that you consult all essential people in pivotal roles and make sure their ideas are heard. You can achieve this by conducting client workshops and discovery calls. Finally, it is paramount for you to ensure that the project’s direction is always in the best interest of the business.
Accepting Changes and Testing
During the execution phase of a software development project, it is quite common to expect changes. Therefore, you must learn to accept the idea that requirements will evolve throughout the life-cycle of a project. When this happens, as a business analyst, your first step should be to validate the new incoming proposals to appropriately capture the change needed in the project. Secondly, you should be to self detect when a change may be needed. Accordingly, you should promote the idea which is most beneficial to the business. Finally, once a change is approved, you must assist the project manager and your team in planning and executing the said changes to make sure the project keeps progressing smoothly.
Another important role of a business analyst in software development is the role of a tester. A product tester is someone who catches flaws in developing software, conducts automated and manual tests based on preset conditions and documentation. As a business analyst, you have an in-depth knowledge of the business need. Thus you are in the best position to judge whether the software solution is in line with the business objective.
Finally, the business analyst validates the project completion in the final phase of the project. Your role is to ensure that the requirements are accomplished and that the final product fulfills the business objectives.