I have a simple notion of the true value a business analyst provides. In short, a business analyst is a communication expert.
An analyst’s communication expertise is applied to perform the following tasks:
- Get what’s in a stakeholder or group of stakeholders’ minds regarding a problem and criteria for success into his/her own with as little loss of fidelity as possible.
- Confirm that his/her understanding of that vision matches that of the stakeholders.
- Model the implications of the problem and criteria for success in a way that enables the analyst to transfer it to the minds of the team who will design, develop and deliver the solution.
- Confirm that the understanding of the delivery team matches that of the stakeholders.
- Iteratively reconcile the vision of the stakeholders to that of the delivery team (and vice versa) throughout the process of solution delivery – through change control, constraints, and any other challenges that may alter the relationship between desired vision and reality.
While I said the notion was simple, it certainly isn’t easy. The reason we need communication experts is that transferring a vision – while maintaining clarity and meaning – is incredibly difficult.
There are techniques, models and good practices that are useful in facilitating this communication, but it is important to remember that the goal isn’t just to create a document or process flow or mock-up, or to “follow the process,” and certainly not to jot down a list of whatever the customer says – but to create a shared understanding of the problem and what is required for a solution to be successful.
That is how an analyst puts an organization in a position to deliver a successful solution.