Starting a new product or company you might be puzzled about whether you need a separate person in-house for business analysis? No doubt every company needs business analysis for effective operations and successful results. However, sometimes the functions might be spread across team members, performed by the Product Owner, or delegated to an external specialist.
Many people believe that a business analyst is not necessary for the early stages of company development. But as you grow your team, it will quickly become apparent that there’s an increasing need for a professional to deal with data-driven decisions. Business analysts provide the necessary analysis on business needs to allow teams to move forward with confidence and create effective strategies for success.
What are Business Analysis and Business Analyst?
Through business analysis, a tech team tries to maximize the value delivered by a company to its stakeholders. It is a very popular discipline in the software development field.
Business analyst (BA) uses data analytics to bridge the gap between IT and the business, allowing for faster, more efficient decision-making. They may work with software, hardware, services, or processes to improve and add value to the key focus of the company. To achieve this business analyst performs functions that may come down to gathering data, interpreting data, and proposing solutions. Through the activities, they find solutions to solve the problem or improve efficiency that are technologically feasible and functionally and financially reasonable.
How Does Business Analysts Help Tech Teams
A lot of software projects fail because the tech teams are not very good at listening to their users. Business analysts help the technology team focus on problem-solving, rather than software development. BAs translate business requirements to understandable content for developers.
A huge part of business analyst work is communication:
1. BA needs to lead the team members to a consensus about what the business really needs. Stakeholders will often state firmly that something is very important when in fact it is not: it may be a part of another project, BA already has it elsewhere in their document or the solution will not be necessary when it is finished. When it comes to concerns, it is important to handle them respectfully while maintaining an accurate picture of what the business needs really are.
2. «Requirements clarification» is the other essential part of business analysis. Stakeholders often don’t know what they want or have contradictory ideas. A BA needs to clarify and untangle all these thoughts into straightforward and unambiguous requirements so that the development team can build based on them.
The activity itself might seem very easy, but it is one of the most difficult things in IT especially if your project is complex and mission-critical.
The functions of a Business Analyst in a product tech company and software development IT company varies.
The product does not exist yet, BA works actively on a discovery phase of a project and might do the following:
- Before project: help identify the main business goal
- Project planning: understands the project, analyze stakeholders, choose BA approach
- Extract and interpret information necessary for product stakeholders. Then Business Analyst needs to be able to clearly present the information that each team is eager to learn
- Define goals and objectives. A BA works with stakeholders to define who this project is for and why they need it
- Identify options. A business analyst brainstorms with cross-functional teams to find ways to achieve set goals and objectives
- Determine the project scope and timeline. The scope identifies what will be included in the project and the features that can wait until a future release. Business analysts know how each team functions, have a broader view, and can determine what to include in the first release
- Define requirements and prepare specifications. Developers use the requirements document to build the product. Then the BA prepares an SRS document explaining each and every module of requirement in detail. The document includes all the functional and non-functional requirements. After that project development starts.
- Support implementation. Business analysts can be brought in after the product has been developed if an unforeseen problem makes it necessary to add new requirements.
In an existing and stable product BA might perform the following:
- working with improvements in the product required by customers through product customization
- problem-solving and troubleshooting: handle questions from developers on how to fulfill certain specifications that cannot be completed because of technical difficulties. An analyst might have to come up with workarounds or have to escalate it to be reviewed with the client.
- analyze user data and analytics programs to identify user trends, successful features, and feature potential problems with the software. As data becomes more important to a company, so does business analysis.
Is Business Analyst Necessary in Every Tech Team?
Business analysis is beneficial for all companies, but not all organizations need business analysts.
1. The need may greatly depend on your size. In small teams, the function of business analysis may be performed by a Product Manager or Product Owner. But when the product grows or the number of projects and teams grows the person may struggle to deal with huge requirements and numerous stakeholders.
2. Problem domain. In some fields that are very specialized, like healthcare, an analyst can be crucial.
3. Agile development teams. Agile is based on cooperation with stakeholders, users, and business in general. Usually, a team is cross-functional, so there is an overlap in skills needed from the team members. The responsibilities of a business analyst might be put within the team that builds the product.
4. Scrum framework teams. Despite the fact that Product Owner and Business Analyst roles overlap in such teams, it is very useful to have both of them in your team. Product Owner relates more to the external representation of the product, figuring out higher-level things, while BA works with the stakeholders to express requirements in detail, break down user stories into small units, discuss them with team members and make sure there are no missed gaps. Business Analyst is a must-have in scrum teams where developers are too far away from the business.
Business analysis is valuable to any company. BAs help you by separating information into understandable chunks and bring clarity to the overall project by bridging the gap between multiple teams.
Having a dedicated person or team to gather and analyze data helps you clarify everything and provide each team member with clear goals, objectives, and requirements. This helps you save time and money, improve development times, and decrease time to market.