Each business demands satisfying its needs. If this does not happen, there is a feeling that something went wrong. For example, you lag behind competitors, lose customers, the quality of products falls, and employees' motivation decreases. Business sees this as a problem, and all these things are just its indicators. Here, as in a parable: young parents asked the guru: "Our child is three months old. When to start his upbringing?" The guru replied: "You are three months late." The same thing is with business analysis. It should always come first. BA in software development should appear in the project from the first day of its launching, or the first days of setting a company — or better, even before that. The strategic goal and development plan must be in place even before the company is formally set out.
- What is the Role of Business Analyst in Software Development?
- Business Analyst Short Job Description
- Business Analyst Salaries in the IT
- What Does A Business Analyst Do in The IT Company?
- Role of Business Analyst in Software Development Life Cycle
- Tools Of BA
- Why A Business Analyst In A Team Means Savings
- Strong Sides and Weak Sides Of BA
- One Day Of Business Analyst In IT
- How to become a business analyst and where to go next?
- When To Turn To Business Analytics
What is the Role of Business Analyst in Software Development?
Before launching the project, you need to determine which solution it is aimed at, its scope, how the business process is arranged now, what project should become, its boundaries, and its success criteria. While seeking answers, you may face that each of several influential stakeholders on the client's side has their own vision of the project. If not streamline the varying perceptions into a shared vision, the project can stop at any time. In the other case, the project may proceed, and the context may change: what was very important yesterday may become secondary today, or there can be a change in regulatory requirements, the system's interface, a solution/project integrated. All these changes require to be managed. This means that someone needs to take over the functions of moderator/facilitator, run a series of discussions, and build a shared vision. At this stage, business analysts appear. Business analysis plays an indispensable role in information technology today, providing links between information technology capabilities and their bump on a company's business goals.
Business Analyst Short Job Description
A specialist is often referred to as a BA and called upon to help a company sustainably develop by shaping new or improving existing business activities, chief and supporting business processes following its strategic goals and stakeholder requests. It is a primary person responsible for ensuring cooperation with user representatives and other parties interested in the project. BA analyzes the business needs, investigates a problem, and produces its concept in the form of requirements, followed by software developers when designing a product.
BA is also a communication broker, clarifying vague user perceptions and converting them into precise specs that guide the product development team.
Business Analyst Salaries in the IT
Today BAs are in short supply, and the market demand for true professionals is exceptionally high. BA wage varies with work experience and the level of professional skills. Before digging into the numbers, it's worth considering that Breaking Glass, BA jobs are forecasted to grow 14.3 percent over the next decade. Today, the global average salary for a Business Analyst is $74,000. In the US, the highest BA salary is $116,940 in NYC, and the lowest is $68,900 and around $21,600 in Poland and Ukraine.
What Does A Business Analyst Do in The IT Company?
Most people believe that developing a program or an app requires software developers to write the code, and that's all necessary to make the customer's dream come true. There is an absolute chasm between what the client says and what the programmer will eventually do. That is because the customer thinks on the scale of the ultimate goal: what the software should do and what he wants to use it for, while the programmer is obliged to ponder over the implementation details: how the program should work and how to do that in the right way.
Information technology business analysts identify the existing customer's business challenges and turn them into reliable and effective solutions.
Role of Business Analyst in Software Development Life Cycle
In consumer product companies, the IT business analyst role is often represented by the product manager or marketing person. In essence, the product manager operates as a business analyst, often emphasizing understanding the market landscape and anticipating external users' needs. But, suppose the project has both a product manager and a BA. In that case, the former usually concentrates on the external market and user requests, while the latter translates this information into functional requirements.
BA's primary role is to identify business requirements and convert them into a solution by figuring out why users need a new application and then defining the user, functional, and quality requirements that teams can use to evaluate, plan, design, and build a product.
Depending on the company's type of business, BA can fulfill one of two roles:
- Create and enhance the company's products — if one designs its own solutions.
- Business analysts in outsourcing and outstaffing are on the front line of communication with clients. They are engaged in collecting requirements, drawing up technical specifications, and much more.
Analysis of all the connections is one of the initial BA steps within the project. A business analyst examines the structure of the team and the number of people with whom the BA will work; management structure — who reports to whom; client — background, expectations, priorities. In a normal situation, the PM conducts onboarding for the BA and answers questions. If this does not happen, the business analyst needs to proactively find answers because stakeholder analysis provides an essential context for the rest of BA decisions.
Documentation Of Requirements
The business analyst in information technology works with specifications at all stages of the product development lifecycle and continuously acts as a liaison between the customer and the team. (S)He produces required documentation (requirements) to keep everybody on the same page by understanding stakeholders' vision and translating it to all involved in the project. Requirements are clear descriptions of what needs to be implemented in a product: system behavior, properties, and attributes.
The documents that describe different types of requirements are divided into three levels:
- PRD — Product Requirement Document — describes the product your company will build. It drives the entire product team's efforts and sales, marketing, and customer support efforts. It's hard to develop a more important, higher leverage piece of work for a company.
- BRD — Business Requirement Document — business requirements. Goals and tasks that the user can solve using the system.
- SRS — Software Requirement Specification — special documentation containing information about how the system should behave, what functions it should perform, what load it should withstand, etc.
BA works with specifications at all levels and with SRS documentation and can be assisted by a team lead or a technical project manager.
Tools Of BA
An experienced analyst possesses a wide range of techniques, and (s)he knows when to apply them and when not. To collect precise specifications for the successful product implementation, a business analyst must be able to:
- Analyze the problems and needs of the user.
- Visualize information for the customer and the team.
- Create and maintain project documents.
The software required for effective BA operation can be arranged into four broad groups of tools:
- Creation of documents, images, presentations, digital tables, prototypes: Google docs, inVision Studio, and analogs.
- Organization of online interactions, the correct collection of requirements in Confluence, and similar tools.
- Tracking the interrelationship between requirements, working with data analysis, visualization: Google Analytics, Open Web Analytics, QlikView BI, Tableau, behavioral analytics:, Mixpanel, Miro.
- Tools for analyzing competitive environments: SE Ranking, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, SEOPressor.
- Tools for modeling and diagramming: Cawemo, Diagrams.net, etc
Why A Business Analyst In A Team Means Savings
From the point of view of the team, the quintessential task of BA is to reduce uncertainty. It is not enough to do things right (we have excellent technical expertise and best practices in creating complex solutions). Still, we also aspire to do the right things and translate the complicated business processes into simpler tasks to solve the client's business problems. The presence of a business analyst in the team can help reduce expenses. It may seem that one more person on the team requires additional investment, but in the long run, this leads to a decrease in value. ROI of Business Intelligence = (Rework Costs Avoidance) / Price of Business Intelligence. Reducing the amount of work required to achieve goals is a cardinal element. Clarifying all stakeholders' needs, creating an overall agreed picture, linking all requirements to business goals — all this allows you to avoid numerous redesigns in the future.
Strong Sides and Weak Sides Of BA
The business analyst profession's main advantage is the ability to penetrate the core and be profoundly insightful: to understand things and how they work, what parts they consist of, how they are connected and interact with each other, and then describe complex things using simple but useful models.
Among the shortcomings, there are difficulties in evaluating your work, in communication with the customer, when good ideas cannot be conveyed or restrictions in time and budget interfere. Moreover, it often happens that BA has to deal with the same problems from project to project/from client to client, and the rules of the game are very abstract.
One Day Of Business Analyst In IT
Let's dive into a typical working day of a business analyst covering all of his primary functions. Of course, not all BA workdays go precisely this way. Based on the current tasks and the stage of project development, BA adapts, but in an ideal world without burning deadlines, the analyst's schedule looks like this.
10:00 —12:00 Working with the team
In some cases, communication with the team can take almost the whole day. In an ideal agenda, BA participates in discussions and brainstorms the critical points with the team. The course of execution may turn out additional technical limitations, and the previously approved solution will take much longer. BA organizes a meeting to synchronize the team with the initial business need and asks if the team can develop a solution that takes less time and resources. If a better option is available, then the business analyst changes the requirements. The BA always needs to clearly understand how vital a particular requirement is to the client and whether changes need to be further discussed with him. At first, it's better to ask everything. Understanding in which situation you can decide on your own comes with experience.
What is essential when working with teams:
- Be in touch almost 24/7.
- Focus on determining the problem: find out the point, turn the conversation into a positive-constructive channel, and offer an alternative solution.
- Escalate issues on time: do not try to solve everything yourself.
- Understand and discuss the challenges that the project may encounter in case of some changes. Notify stakeholders in time. It is vital not to get hung up on communication with the team and understand when all current issues are resolved, and concentrate on other tasks.
12:00 —14:00 Writing And Working With the Documentation
At this stage, business analyst deals with business processes modeling:
- Creates specifications.
- Describes user stories/acceptance criteria/use cases.
- Formulates non-functional requirements — describes the conditions under which the system is effective. Such as: "The system must be fault-tolerant and compatible with Google Chrome."
- Simulates business processes.
- Prototype solutions.
What is essential when writing specs:
- Determine the required artifacts in advance.
- Describe the requirements in detail.
- Follow the principles of usability.
14:00 —15:00 Lunch
Lunch is an ideal opportunity to get to know people and chat with the team in an informal environment, so it is advisable not to dine alone.
15:00 —18:00 Communication With The Client
Negotiation is one of the main functions of a business analyst. BA needs to understand the business's subject area. There is always a collection, identification, and clarification of requirements during interviews, demonstration of documents, prototypes, models, diagrams, product demo, or even a ready-made solution.
At the first stage, BA needs to meet with the client, study his problem, analyze, offer ideas and draw up, in a first approximation, a scheme of work. It may also happen that the client does not clearly understand what he wants or cannot formulate the problem. The main task in this case, as marketers say, is to identify the need. Workshops are those meetings where you can learn about the requirements and get to the bottom of the client's real needs. In other words, to answer the question "why do we need this?" and think if the solution is optimal or there are still better options. As the project progresses, BA shows the client the results, the coordination of product changes.
It may happen that a client suddenly reconsiders doing (or not doing) something and wants to make corrections on the fly or even after the end of the sprint (this is called a Change Request). Well, yes, it's not just a pain for designers. When it comes to code changes, things are much more complicated, and BA deals with all that.
18:00 —19:00 Consultations With Tech Leads
When BA drafts requirements, he must understand all related technical details. It is imperative to consult with those engaged in development: architects, team/tech leads, and subject specialists. At such consultations, high-level requirements are discussed: how best to design, implement, decompose, and so on. BA's direct responsibility is to study the subject area from all perspectives: the business and technical aspects.
How to become a business analyst and where to go next?
- To be a business analyst means to be a multi-faceted professional with knowledge in almost all areas. This is the first step towards becoming a BA: to understand who these "miracle healers" are, structure all your developments, understand gaps, and try to fill them in with strong knowledge as soon as possible. These can be online courses, books on introduction to the specialty, feature articles, educational portals, and many other sources. In the digital age, finding the information you need is not difficult.
- Identify the skills that make you a unique specialist. Compare yourself with employers' requirements, improve academic knowledge level (do not underestimate this, knowledge, in theory, is a hallmark of professionals).
- Two articles - 3 reps and an online course - 4 reps. Once you have gained confidence in choosing a profession and that your skills are more than enough for real tasks, it's time to get hands-on experience and real feedback. At this stage, you can no longer mindlessly click on vacancies and dream of six-digit numbers in the "salary" column. It is necessary to formulate your capabilities and act purposefully clearly. Most likely, your first job will not be your childhood dream. But there you can learn everything useful in the future for a successful career.
- No pain, no game. Of course, understanding technical processes can come in handy, but more to optimize and improve the quality of your work. If you have a technical mind, then everything else is not a problem. The main thing is to understand the structure of business processes. Again, there is plenty of materials and literature on the Internet for every taste. Plus, courses - there you can also get feedback from colleagues and teachers.
As for personal qualities, BA must:
- Have extensive analytical thinking to define customer's business needs accurately and turn them into functional specs.
- Easily navigate in an unexplored area.
- Must be a creative thinker who can provide alternatives to existing or proposed solutions;
- Have coping skills and be able to make swift decisions if the situation requires;
- Systems thinking skills. See a full picture and validate the requirements based on the knowledge of the enterprise as a whole;
- Quickly learn new material, be it new ways of working with requirements or features of the subject area;
- Interpersonal and communication skills — written and oral — the ability to tailor the message to different audiences;
- The ability to interview and to ask questions.
- The ability to listen.
- Be attentive to details;
- Creating comfortable communication conditions: organizing a friendly atmosphere to clarify requirements is an analyst's essential skill. Building trust can lead the organization to success.
- Express ideas in an understandable way;
- Have a zeal to make a difference;
- Be proactive, dynamic, coupled with strong business knowledge.
Short Checklist For Business Analyst Skillset covers:
- Understanding your specific role as a business analyst in your company, as the tasks from project to project, can vary greatly;
- Identify all the problem areas that need to be analyzed;
- Know the software life cycle following different methodologies;
- Understand the basics of programming, testing, algorithms, economics.
- Reading BABOK and Software Requirements (Developer Best Practices) by K.Wiegers.
- Highlighting missing competencies and undergo training on them.
- Mastering the basic BA techniques and implementing them into work, and tracking the results.
- Applying for a junior position with a cover letter. Write down why you want to work in this company and why they should hire you: add what you did for this, what courses you took, and what you can do. Don't be afraid to add test projects to your portfolio — they can be an excellent example of your work experience.
When To Turn To Business Analytics
Companies' problems are often associated with conducting business, competitors, work with clients, management, advertising, and information technology. The work of a business analyst has many advantages. But do not forget that being an analyst is often about a routine, abstract rules of the game, difficult assessment of work, and the occasional need to collaborate with people you don't want to deal with. And it doesn't matter at all whether you have experience in the field of business if you can associate the loss of customers with the wrong location of the order button on the site or a decrease in the average check with bad weather conditions. Moreover, every project has its specifics, and you will have to delve into each time like the first time. Improvement of business processes became a reserve for the overwhelming majority of companies. So for the foreseeable future, the demand for high-quality business analysts will only grow.
I hope this article will help those looking for BA specialists for their next project and those interested in starting a new career.