by Business Analysis,
The role of Business Analysts itself emerged when large software companies found it immensely difficult to respond to the needs of the end users. Some four decades back when programmable computers found their way into our lives, their use was still limited to technicians and operators. Bulky codes were written to operate the machines and get the job done.
With the advent of personal computers, information systems found their way into our homes and became a commodity. And like every other product available on the shelf, consumers got the power to make or break the product. End users were now the general population and their feedback mattered. The focus shifted from getting the job done to improving the user experience. However, the communication gap between the technical team and the non-technical end users proved to be too troublesome. A specialist was required who could talk to the users, understand their requirements and communicate them back to the programmers in a language they understand. Enter the BA.
With time, the role of BAs and the expectations associated with the skillset have evolved. From being described merely as a ‘bridge’, BAs have now evolved into leaders in change initiatives. An excellent business analyst leader would naturally shape ways of working, project/product scope, solution design and delivery approach, rather than just applying existing patterns (Britsch, 2018). Similarly, business analysis as a practice has evolved too. IIBA defines business analysis as “the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders” (IIBA BABOK V3). Business analysis excellence today is more about understanding the real needs of a organisation and it’s customers, supporting stakeholders and facilitating delivery teams to attain desired outcomes.
What does it mean to be a Business Analyst
Business analysis can mean very different things depending on how an organisation implements it, the role is not strictly defined nor delineated. This often makes it difficult to specify what it means to be a Business Analyst. Surely BAs are not just scribes whose sole responsibility is documentation, nor are they meant to be motivational speakers who would charge a team through projects. So, what is this role about? What can we expect of a BA and who gets to be titled as an ‘excellent’ BA.
Business Analysts enable teams to fit information pieces together, explore items under discussion and bring consensus on a clear and common outcome. This makes it apparent that a good grip of tools and techniques would at best make one an ‘ok’ BA. But do not get me wrong, BAs must have a deep knowledge of the continually developing array of available tools and techniques. This is a foundation of the role, however excellence here is based on a mix of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills. At the core of what a BA does, and a distinguishing factor is the management of complex and uncertain problems, deriving to valuable solutions. This requires a mindset of high self-awareness and continuous learning which further boils down to two things: cross- discipline learning and cultivating your mind (Britsch, The Digital Business Analyst, 2018).
Becoming an exemplary Business Analyst
It is almost essential for a BA to recognise themselves as not the experts but merely the facilitators, as crafters and not creators. This
seemingly insignificant variance plays a key part. It helps avoid conflicts within workshops, fosters trusted relationship with stakeholders and most importantly keeps a BA focused on their core responsibility. This attitude should be at the heart of every Business Analysis practice.
Additionally, although a BA is not required to have such advance technical knowledge to be able to write a code or design a UX, technical awareness is important to understand what good looks like and be able to effectively communicate it to the technical team. Effective communication is the building block of any team project, and communication relies on common language. Having ample technical awareness enables BAs to hold a discussion with broad spectrum of stakeholders. This helps them better understand and convey what the ‘deliverable’ product would look like and highlight any technical concerns that the development team might have around the project.
Good BAs who would like to become an excellent BA will continuously strive to polish their practise. Reading books, blogs and attending business analysis events keeps one up to date with ‘what’s new’ in the world of business analysis and the tools and techniques that help make sense of complex problems and convey information. Similarly, a general awareness of the global political, economic and technical headlines broadens topics for communication. Often a times, even being a fan of the same football club can prove to be the best icebreaker between a BA and the stakeholders.
Britsch, M. (2018, Sep 17). The Digital Business Analyst. Retrieved from https://thedigitalbusinessanalyst.co.uk/how-bas-will-need-to-adapt-d8ce15179459
Britsch, M. (2018, Oct 05). The Digital Business Analyst. Retrieved from https://thedigitalbusinessanalyst.co.uk/how-to-become-a-business-analyst-4-how-to-get-into-business-analysis-bf96e0a14858