Business Analysis Guidebook/The Business Analyst Role

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What is a Business Analyst?[edit]

According to the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), a business analyst works as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.[1] A variety of roles are covered by this definition and many titles are used to describe those roles which causes some confusion. Some examples of different types include:

  • Business Analysts have very strong business skills and understanding of the business domain. Their key role is to analyze business processes, procedures, architectures, etc. in order to identify problems and determine solutions. These analysts are more involved in what the IIBA defines as enterprise analysis and are likely to be involved prior to the initiation of an information technology (IT) project.
  • IT Analysts are focused on requirements elicitation and analysis, and solving problems using information technology solutions. This analyst serves as a bridge between business and IT and generally begins work after a project has been initiated. This analyst specifies “what” the system must do.
  • Systems Analysts are an IT information information system analysts who are more focused on system design and the technical aspects of the solution. This analyst takes the requirements and creates functional specifications regarding “how” a system will do the “what.”
  • Many other titles are used including the Business Systems Analyst which has been described as a combination of the IT Business Analyst and the Systems Analyst.

The most important element is the business focus; ensuring business needs are understood and communicated so that problem solutions meet the business needs and goals. Solutions may be IT related, non-IT related, or some combination of the two. The business analyst is responsible for eliciting the actual needs of stakeholders (not simply their expressed desires) and often play a central role in aligning the capabilities delivered by information technology with the needs of business units.

The Evolution of the Business Analyst Role within NYS[edit]

The Business Analyst role within NYS has existed for many years, but the duties were provided by those who were in titles that ranged from IT Specialist to titles specific to individual business units. In 2003, the Business Systems Analyst title was created by the NYS Civil Service in an effort to help improve the success of projects. It was at this point that some effort was made to better understand what exactly a Business Analyst is, and what BA responsibilities should include. Most NYS State Agencies are working to better recognize the role and/or need for Business Analysts and continue to refine these position definitions. State Agency staff are working with the NYS Civil Services to create job specifications and tests that will better support the NYS goals for BA workforce improvement. These definitions will ensure that staff can focus on BA activities and are allocated only to those tasks, rather than as an addendum to the responsibilities for other jobs within an Agency.

Project Manager Versus Business Analyst and When You Are Both[edit]

The best way to succeed on any type of project is to have a strong, experienced Project Manager (PM) and a strong, experienced Business Analyst (BA). Working together from the beginning, they set the stage for success by accurately planning and clearly defining the expected outcomes. Each role provides specialized capabilities and is responsible for a different set of tasks. The PM keeps an eye on the management of the project, ensuring the project delivers on time, on budget and with the full scope of the requirements met. The BA focuses on understanding and aligning the planned solutions with the needs of the stakeholders. The Project Manager owns and manages the execution and completion of project deliverables. The Business Analyst owns the development and elaboration of the business requirements, from understanding the business need to ensuring that the delivered solution meets the identified need. This approach ensures that the result (deliverable) will be successful, adding the intended value to the organization. Excellent PMs and BAs will work together to make the most of each other’s strengths.

On some projects one person is required to act as both the PM and the BA. This is often the case on smaller projects. For the individual, the challenge is to be aware of the overarching project management activities and manage the balance between those activities and the BA activities that must also occur. For larger projects playing both roles puts the project at risk for either rushing requirements elicitation and analysis tasks and missing important requirements or spending too much time working on requirements and jeopardizing the project schedule.

References[edit]

  1. "Section 1.2". Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK Guide) (2.0 ed.). 2009.