Role of a Business Analyst in Today's Volatile IT Environment

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 1913 , Published on 03 November 2012
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Business Analysis is an essential part of any business or company. Primary reason for this is that in today’s volatile industry environment, change is inevitable and it is absolutely essential to be able to deal with it at all the times. In order to survive and to achieve success in these volatile times it becomes even more important to perform proper business analysis, which should be done at the right time at the right place and in the right context.

Role of Business Analysts in the Information Technology industry has typically been under estimated, there importance been realized only very recently when-owing to a drop in the business and client engagements, companies have begun to add more value to the existing services being provided to their customers. The rise of a Business Analyst has been enabled primarily by the rise in the usage of Software as a Service (SaaS) and the commoditization of technology in general. In this era of outsourcing and shifting of the mundane, technical jobs to low cost centres – the implementation is no longer a critical task, it’s the “How’s” that have become more important: How to apply the requirements; How to meet the Business Needs; How to get people to use it and a business analyst serves this purpose very well.

The aim of a Business Analyst is to bring Information Technology closer to Business and its specific needs. It is imperative that the BA considers and understands all the aspects of a Client’s requirements, writes test scenarios and plans accordingly and for all this, what he needs is to have an absolutely keen and observant mind while exhibiting curiosity in his approach.

The best way to approach a problem is to understand the organization, its vision, mission and goals and then try to understand what the business unit/stakeholder is trying to do and how does that trace back to an organization’s vision and goals; this will enable effective Requirement Elicitation. A Business Analyst must be able to trace these high-level goals into an elementary process. In the initial days, requirements used to be “gathered” where a meeting was set-up to ask the client about what they wanted, written down, a solution was built, the solution was then reviewed and more frequently than not, face a waste of time and resources rebuilding the solution when what was built was not what was expected.

Elicitating requirements on the other hand, is a process where the Business Analyst doesn’t expect the user to know what exactly they want, instead it’s more of a collaborative process with both the users and the BA’s working hand in hand – understanding requirements, defining assumptions and deciding upon a mutually-agreeable solution.  An efficient elicitation process is the baseline for the subsequent BA tasks namely: Modelling, Analysis, Assessment etc. that can all be rendered useless in the absence of a proper elicitation.

In addition, in order to avoid last minute reworks and to prevent painful delays in go-live, it’s essential that a detailed stakeholder analysis is done before embarking upon detailed requirements analysis. A Business Analyst is also supposed to possess enough technical knowledge, which can help in sorting out small glitches while implementing the business requirements on the system.

One of the ironies of the change the user expects by putting a Business Analyst on to his task is that they talk a lot about change and to make things better but in reality the user does not want to change too much. Basically, it is not the change people are against, it is being changed. The role of a BA in these situations is to understand the business problem, organization’s culture, the stakeholders and try to identify the aspects, which they do not want to be changed. These aspects can easily be overlooked while gathering the requirements in a traditional way. Sometimes there may be valid reasons behind the resistance towards change. A BA has to play the role of a counsellor in such scenarios and try to convince the users that the change will make their lives easier, he should try to address the positives and be patient at all times. More often than not, this helps in breaking the ice and in addressing the reservations users have towards the change.

To summarize, in this ever changing world of Information Technology a good Business Analyst should be able to reach beyond the requirements and should also be able to constructively engage with all the stakeholders to determine what the project is trying to achieve and how the proposed solution / change intends to deliver this. Business Analyst of the new age is the one who can act as a link, a connection and a smart analyst who is able to balance the ever incompatible  and inconsistent supply of Information Technology resources and ever-dynamic demands of the business.

This article has been authored by Shobhit Mishra from SPJIMR.


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