Often our customers do not understand why this role is needed if there is a Product Owner with industry expertise and quite good understanding of the future product.
Using our project Bill of Materials as an example, we will talk about this role while focusing on unique features of a Business Analyst in IT project.
The Business Analyst works in two major areas:
— Business analysis
It is the work of a Business Analyst in the conventional sense. In any industry it is a role to analyze financial and economic indicators.
— Process analysis
Let’s look again at the Bill of Matrials project.
Tasks of the Business Analyst:
- Formulate the process.
- Write user stories.
- Give the task to developers.
- Approve the result.
Now when we understand the specifics of the Business Analyst role, let’s take a look how Bill of Materials project have been developing.
- We provided the role of the Business Analyst (later in the text — BA), the best in our team. But in order for BA to cope with the role, it was necessary to dive into the industry’s expertise.
- It happened that the customer who assigned the Product Owner did not provide the proper amount of involvement of this person in the project.
- Often our PO did not have time, and answered some questions with “I already told you about it …»
- Then we decided that we need an industry expert from our side, who, in addition to industry expertise, has that very time resource that will allow the project to move without delays.
- We found an external expert with extensive experience in the area of construction project design.
- She talked for 30 minutes with the PO, who was introduced by the customer, and then, together with our BA, structured the task setting process for the development team.
How does the BA interact with other roles in the project, at what stage does the BA come in, and who uses the fruits of his work?
- The BA in the project interacts with the majority of project participants, both on the side of the Contractor and the Customer.
- The BA is a mediator between the PO and developers. In the process, he actively interacts with the PM and the Architect.
- BA acts as a translator for the development team. Often in projects there is a tendency of preparing heavy specifications volumes with a few hundred pages. But the development speed plays pivotal role now.
- As analysts, we need to set the task for the developer as clearly and easily as possible, so we actively use various diagrams and screen sketches.
- In the process of implementing a project, developers have questions from the category «how do we go further» and PO can not always answer these questions for a number of reasons: he did not dig deep enough in the details of implementation or simply has no time. Here, the BA can facilitate the thought process of the development team and lead to an understanding of the next step, taking into account all known factors.
- And during demonstration of the final product to the PO, the BA completes the task by answering the questions: does the result meet the expectations of the PO? Is the product or service convenient for the end user?
What education do you need to become a BA? Does a BA need to be able to write CODE?
Higher education is enough. And in any subject area: economic/financial, technical or natural sciences.
The key requirement is a disposition towards analytical/logical thinking and an irrepressible drive to understand the smallest details.
What competencies are necessary to offer the best performance as a BA?
- Having a systems thinking, a BA can quickly dive into a task and build a model of a process or product.
- Knowledge of industry details plus experience of previous projects, is always a plus for BA. For example, when I work in IT projects related to the automation of financial processes, my personal experience in corporate finance helps me quickly navigate the task, anticipate the customer’s needs in the future, and take important steps in this project, which will later help to avoid problems and losses
- At the same time, the BA may not have industry expertise, then an industry expert comes to the rescue, and the BA who already has systems thinking, the ability to ask questions and quickly explore a new area, creates models, maps processes, and simplifies the understanding of tasks for developers.
The conclusion of all what was said above can be expressed in the phrase:
The Business Analyst is the one who explains complex things in a simple way, and is a translator from the Product Owner language to the developer’s language. This means that the BA must have not only analytical skills, but also be able to speak different languages equally well.