As a business analyst, I often receive many questions about how a business analyst add value. They usually go like these:
What value addition will a Business Analyst bring to a project?
Why do we even need a Business Analyst?
These questions are valid and as a Business Analyst, we must be willing to defend ourselves!
It is important understand the project performance metrics being looked at to better understand the advantages business analysts bring to a project. Generally, there are four key elements common to productive projects:
- Delivery on Time
- Allotted Budget
- Impact on Business
- Adopted Business Solution
Stakeholders are interested to know the answers for the above-mentioned elements i.e. Within the allocated budget, and approved delivery time, will we get what we want without impacting our BAU (business as usual) activities?
Here are 4 ways Business Analysts Add Value
1. Establishing Project Goals
The most important objective for a Business Analyst is to define and clarify the requirements of a business for a project. It’s a Business Analyst’s duty to establish an in-depth understanding of a goal to ensure it achieves its intended outcome once the client/stakeholders identify the goal.
However, a Business Analyst also maximizes the efficiency of the project team, which is a fact often overlooked. While the development team works on the technical roadblocks and comes up with a solution feature, the business analyst provides timely information and clarifies any queries/doubts.
This lets him or her remove any bottlenecks which might hamper the project’s success.
2. Handling Change Requirements and Documentation
Every firm has got overlapping priorities, financial limitations and stakeholders who hold a different point of view. After the project has been approved, there is tremendous responsibility to achieve the business objective in an agreed timeframe within the allocated budget.
At this point, the employees are also be asked to contribute more to the project by taking some time away from their BAU activities for defining requirements, providing feedback to developers, and testing functionality as it is created.
>> Here, a Business Analyst plays an especially important role:
a. Ensuring Project is Within Scope — A skilled business analyst is adept at understanding business goals. He/she understands critical/important features and ensures these are defined correctly and omits those features that are less important to save time and money.
It is the responsibility of the Business Analyst to articulate the needs of a business which can be met with highest productivity while ensuring less impact on the cost.
b. Conducting Requirement Discussions — An achievable goal can’t be defined if there are multiple stakeholders who disagree. This creates too much confusion and does not paint a realistic picture of priorities of a project.
A business analyst bridges these gaps by ensuring all stakeholders’ opinions are properly heard. He or she then prioritizes which goals must be met first in the project.
c. Advocating for the client/stakeholder — After the project has started, its inevitable for a client/stakeholder to maintain focus and commitment for their primary roles.
This may lead to a diversion from the project. In these scenarios, the business analyst acts as an advocate for the client/stakeholders to reduce the impact of their absence on the project. The Business Analyst can successfully represent the client or stakeholder in their absence.
d. Testing and Documentation — The Business Analyst will prepare documents which will be used to build test cases that need to be implemented.
The prepared documents act as a form of bible since the business analyst has a detailed knowledge of business requirements and strategic initiatives. These documents also act in a way to deliver knowledge transfer to stakeholders/clients.
3. Acting as a Bridge Between Client and Developers
Time spent with client/stakeholder in refining the requirement can be done by developers, but that time is not spent in developing. The Business analyst ensures that information gathered for understanding requirements is at the right level of detail as required by developers.
This ensures that the developers can spent time in developing, and less time refining requirements. Such time management helps developers to focus on what they are best suited for i.e. creating solutions.
Managing backlog is one of the key tasks of a business analyst to let the development team know in advance what is coming in their bucket in the next 2–3 weeks. This helps them get well versed with the requirements allowing them to properly plan their approach.
This also gives them time for clarifying doubts about any risks or other development related questions.
4. Handling Changes and Preserving Project Scope
a. Change Management — There are situations where the client/stakeholders want an extra feature outside the initial project scope. This is where the business analyst helps explain the feature’s economic importance to educate decision makers.
Such type of scenarios is common in many projects. Proper care needs to be taken for an effective delivery approach that will have a greater impact on successfully delivering a project.
The Business Analyst helps project managers/scrum masters to manage the project scope, costs and time by elicitation of the detailed requirements of a project.
This lets a business analyst be the first to communicate when priorities may require a shift or when the requests seem to divert from the current scope.
b. Maintaining Team Communication — The Business analyst helps the project manager to keep the team moving towards the agreed business objective. Such actions keep the team on track and prevents scope creep.
The Business Analyst drives value for a project in 4 principle ways:
- By increasing the team’s efficiency
- By defining business’ goal/objective and advocating for them for a client/stakeholder
- By managing backlogs for developers and clearing any doubts/confusion related to a requirement. This lets them focus on their core competencies i.e. development
- By helping project managers/scrum masters navigate change management and restrict the project’s scope as required
Business Analysts gather, refine and document requirements. However, the value that a business analyst brings to the table far exceed these tasks. Their sense of objectivity and perspective ensures that a business problem is well understood and provided with the best solutions to effectively meet the business’s need.
Author — Santosh Kumar, DLT Labs™
About the Author: He is cheerful advocate of Agile (SCRUM) practices with an emphasis on leading team growth, working with DLT Labs as a Senior Business Analyst. He is a result-oriented professional translating business user concepts and ideas into comprehensive business requirements.