So, what exactly is a Business Analyst? What is the role of the Analyst in solution delivery? If you don’t want to be completely confused, don’t bother trying to get a conclusive definition by just “Googling” it. There are dozens of variations on the BA role depending on the company, and on the software engineering methodology used.
You’ll hear of Systems Analysts, Requirements Engineers/Analysts and a host of other related titles. These, again depending on the company, may be the same thing as a BA, somewhat similar, or completely different.
Based on my experience, I like the Business Analyst job description provided over at Mike Schaffner’s blog. It seems to hit all the main points as well as some of the more generic desired attributes in an IT professional.
I like that Schaffner goes a bit further in pointing out specific attributes (I’ve highlighted them in blue text) that distinguish the BA from a typical “good applications person.”
Here’s the list:
- Elicit requirements using interviews, document analysis, requirements workshops, surveys, site visits, business process descriptions, use cases, scenarios, business analysis, task and workflow analysis.
- Critically evaluate information gathered from multiple sources, reconcile conflicts, decompose high-level information into details, abstract up from low-level information to a general understanding, and distinguish user requests from the underlying true needs.
- Proactively communicate and collaborate with external and internal customers to analyze information needs and functional requirements and deliver the following artifacts as needed: (Functional requirements (Business Requirements Document), iii. Use Cases, GUI, Screen and Interface designs)
- Utilize your experience in using enterprise-wide requirements definition and management systems and methodologies required.
- Successfully engage in multiple initiatives simultaneously
- Work independently with users to define concepts and under direction of project managers
- Drive and challenge business units on their assumptions of how they will successfully execute their plans
- Strong analytical and product management skills required, including a thorough understanding of how to interpret customer business needs and translate them into application and operational requirements.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills and the ability to interact professionally with a diverse group, executives, managers, and subject matter experts.
- Serves as the conduit between the customer community (internal and external customers) and the software development team through which requirements flow.
- Develop requirements specifications according to standard templates, using natural language.
- Collaborate with developers and subject matter experts to establish the technical vision and analyze tradeoffs between usability and performance needs.
- Be the liaison between the business units, technology teams and support teams.
For more information, below are some other links to posts specializing on defining the business analyst role and responsibilities, as well as some ideas on how BAs can best be used to solve business problems.
- It’s Good to be a Business Analyst
- McDonald’s Burgers and High-Quality Business Analysts
- Business Analysts: SME’s or Generalists?
- Finding a Home for Business Analysts
- How Can a Business Analyst Help You?
- Thought, Problems, and Business Analysts
- Corporate Strategy and the Business Analyst
- On Business Analysis in an Agile Setting
- Excellent Resources for Business Analysts