It’s not a secret that business analysis is an integral part of any project. If you don’t have a clue about the problems that need to be solved in a company, any project that is being developed for this company will hardly be successful.
When we talk about the development of a project that is aimed to solve the particular issues of a particular business, one of the first people to enter the battle is a business analyst.
Surprisingly, even nowadays there are cases when a business analyst’s role is underrated. Sometimes the clients don’t see the point of a business analyst’s participation in a project.
We decided to interview Margarita Kasperovich, a business analyst at IntexSoft, in order to make everything clear and clarify the following vital information:
- Who is a business analyst?
- What is the role of a business analyst in a project?
- How can a business analyst contribute to project efficiency?
- Who is a business analyst? What is the main role of a business analyst?
- A business analyst communicates with the stakeholders, elicitates, documents, discusses and validates the requirements in order to help the client to reach the set goal. In simple words, a business analyst investigates the client’s business, works with the requirements, works with the development team and makes sure the provided solution corresponds to all the requirements and solves the client’s problem.
- What should a business analyst know and be able to do? What are the qualities a business analyst should have?
- Primarily, an analyst should have analytical skills. A business analyst should be focused on the details and get to the root cause of the client’s problem by analyzing large streams of information.
Of course, a business analyst should have communicative skills. It applies to communication with both the client and the development team. It is necessary to convey your thoughts so that you are understood unambiguously. And, of course, you should make sure that you have done so. In addition, a business analyst should competently solve all the issues that arose during the project by communicating with the stakeholders.
It is obvious that an analyst should be able to document. We create documents not simply to have them created, but to have a supporting base for development. All the documents should be readable, correct, non-contradictory, concise and accessible.
Organizational skills are also very important in the business analysis sphere. A BA works with loads of initially disordered information. All the data we have should be structured carefully, and the core meaning should be carved out.
Since a business analyst can perform the role of a project manager, he/she should have management skills as well. A business analyst should understand how to manage a project.
In fact, there are a lot of other required skills, but these are the first that come to mind.
A business analyst should also know and understand the following things: OS development basics, UI/UX basics, English language, of course, domain field expertise. But, as a rule, you gain such knowledge when you are directly involved in a particular project or a task. Of course, you should be able to operate with the tools needed for a business analyst’s work as well as to create artifacts competently.
As for the qualities of a business analyst, they are as follows: sociability, flexibility, stress tolerance, motivation, and literacy.
- You mentioned a business analyst can also perform the role of a project manager. So what is the core difference between a BA and a PM?
- Project management is aimed at meeting the requirements of a particular project. Business analysis is aimed at defining the needs and solving the problems of a business. A project manager or PM defines the scope of the project, is responsible for deadlines and budget, manages the workers, budget, risks, and change requests; a PM makes sure the work is being done according to the plan. It’s important for a PM to have management skills.
A business analyst monitors the project is carried out strictly in accordance with the requirements and works with them. A BA is focused on the details, while a PM rather evaluates the overall picture. A BA helps the stakeholders and subject matter experts to describe the processes. An analyst, like a PM, works with change requests, and it’s crucial for a BA to have research skills.
- What is a the main role of a business analyst in a project?
- The main role is to make sure the solution that is being developed really solves the client’s problem and is valuable for him/her. Of course, all these should be done according to the deadlines and budget: if an analyst also manages the whole project, it’s crucial to take exceptional care with it.
- At what stage is a business analyst usually involved in a project?
- In fact, a business analyst is assigned to a project when it’s already begun, right at the stage of defining the needs and requirements of the client. It’s more rational to involve a project manager on the presale stage. A PM elicits the basic requirements, enough for the initial project evaluation. An analyst, on the other hand, works on thoroughly defining the requirements, which are needed for the development itself. If there is a presale business analyst in a company, then he/she is involved at the presale stage.
- Do all projects require a business analyst? Are there projects where a business analyst’s participation is not needed?
- Unfortunately, the reality is that some projects are being developed without a business analyst, especially if the project is small. However, as practice shows, without a business analyst sooner or later difficulties can arise: since the requirements are not properly documented, misunderstandings occur between the customer and the developer.
In the case that a PM or a Team Lead has the skills to work with the requirements, and in fact, they fulfill a business analyst role, then the participation of a business analyst is not required.
- Tell me please more about the difficulties and problems that a business analyst faces during the project’s implementation most often? How are these issues resolved?
- As a rule, there are large volumes of unstructured information and poorly stated requirements. Strong organizational skills, thorough analysis, and documentation will help here.
There are also change requests. Here the work of a manager begins. We need to explain to the client what these changes can potentially impact on, how they will affect the implementation time frames, whether it will be done to the disadvantage of other functionalities, how much it will cost, etc. Negotiations and the right questions help us to understand whether any changes are really needed.
And last but not least, it is communication, or rather its absence. Since the majority of stakeholders are very busy, there are cases, when it’s hard to communicate with them to the extent that is required for quality work with requirements. In such cases, I would recommend dividing the stakeholders by the degree of their influence and interest. Then we can evaluate the “amount” of involvement of each stakeholder we need. Based on this information, we can draw up a communication plan and coordinate it with the stakeholders.
- Do you have any “special tricks” or rules which you developed yourself during your work?
- In fact, loads of rules and methods already exist. I just do my best to put theory into practice.
The things I consider important, are the following: you should always clarify and confirm all the information incoming. After all, it is better to spend time on additional communication than on redoing documentation or functionality. You should not be afraid of telling the client to get real; it doesn’t matter whether he or she is distracted by other topics during communication, or is dreaming about new features, or considers the team can work non-stop while he’s/she’s trying to add these new features without prioritizing them, or presenting them as a bugfix of current tasks.
It’s important to remember we are representing the company and ourselves as professionals. We want the client to be satisfied and come back to us again and again. So all the issues should be solved there and then. And the main thing here is to keep calm and analyze!