“We need to remember that we’re business people first.”
Those are among of the first words of wisdom imparted by my former employer’s incoming CIO to the IT organization, and they’ve been on my mind since. First, I appreciated her emphasis on business literacy throughout IT. Second, I felt some validation in that I’ve long thought that way about my own role as a business analyst/business analysis manager even though I report through the “IT side”.
Business analysis is a business discipline. Yes, business analysis is a business discipline.
It’s great to have technical skills and literacy. They give us credibility in our interactions with our solution delivery team members, and are useful in helping provide the business with an idea of what is possible or practical through technology, but business analysis is, first and always, a business discipline.
Analysts don’t enable “IT” solutions, they implement business solutions with business value to meet business goals. Because of the ubiquity of technology in business, solutions typically include a technology component, but they are driven by a business problem and intended to produce a business benefit.
Technology, and, by extension, the IT department, is often viewed simply as a tool of the business, or even as a disconnected entity from the business. Our reporting structures often don’t do much to shake that perception.
With all that, I’ve found value in shifting my own perception of my role from a service provider to that of a partner or trusted business adviser. I try to approach my relationships with business stakeholders as a partner who brings value to the business relationship, not as a subservient or separate entity with separate motivation, and goals. I’ve found that as I approach my role in that way, my business stakeholders begin to treat me in kind.
Beyond that, the most successful business analysts I’ve known (and I know many!) are experts in business. By that, I mean expert in the generalities of what is required for business to work, and in the specifics of the business or market in which his/her company competes. They speak process and human factors with the same fluency as they talk technology and systems. Business literacy is a foundational attribute of a successful business analyst!
So if you haven’t gotten the gist of this post, let me conclude with this: Business analyst – with all the other IT or business enabling roles – is a business role.