Variety, the Spice of a Business Analyst’s Life

Part of the reason why some people still struggle with what it means to be a Business Analyst is because it is a very diverse career by definition. Business Analysis is defined very clearly in the IIBA® BABOK® guide, and yet, if you read this guide, you will agree that there is enormous scope for a Analyst to do a wide variety of things with their careers. So let’s look at some of the aspects that make our careers so diverse and interesting.

# All industries have BAs.

Business Analysis applies to any organisation big or small and in any industry where there is a form of business need that requires a business solution. Business Analysis is analysing the business needs (regardless of domain or industry) and facilitating the translation of need into a business solution. So as a BA, you pick where you would like to work, and you can keep it interesting by moving between industries every few months or years.

# Business Analysis can live at the top or the bottom of the corporate ladder.

Enterprise analysis is more often performed by experienced BAs; as a result, this is a career goal that you need to work towards. It does however exist as a very interesting and challenging analysis role at the top end of the corporate ladder. This makes Analysis even more diverse, as it is one of the few careers where the same set of skills can be applied in both junior and senior roles. The only real difference is that the level and type of business problem will be more conceptual than physical at the top end rather than at the bottom end.

# Analysis can be fluffy and feel good, or very technical and detailed: which are you?

Some BAs are naturally talented in discussing business needs in a language that business stakeholders really understand. These BAs are great at conversing with these stakeholders about their business needs in terms what they would like to achieve, or what they are not achieving. The Business Analyst can then translate these required business benefits into business requirements which can in turn be captured as part of a proposed solution to the problem. Then on the other side, some Business Analysts like the specifics and the details surrounding good business requirement definitions. These Business Analysts are good listeners, good documentation experts, and can be relied upon to support their counter-part Business Analysts who “talk the talk”. Your strengths and your choices will determine where you fit, and remember that both types of Business Analysts play their roles equally well.

# Do you like to work in a loud and explicit way or do you prefer it to be implied and assumed?

In some types of projects, particularly those that are more waterfall-based, you will find that there is a great emphasis placed on requirements gathering activities – running workshops, documenting requirements and running these requirement documents through various cycles of reviews and approvals. This is what I meant when I referred to “loud and explicit” business analysis. In other cases, the requirements gathering aspect of the project is still very important, but takes a more fluid and implied role in the everyday life of the project. Often this is the way requirements are managed within an Agile project environment. Business analysis is therefore applied in two very different ways without changing the nature of what is being done. This makes business analysis very adaptable and flexible as a skill set.

# Which part of the project life cycle would you prefer?

When you are a software developer, you get involved mostly in the build aspect of the software development cycle. With business analysis, you are involved at some or all of the stages of the software development life cycle. This applies to both traditional and Agile approaches. Your involvement will vary depending on which stages you get involved in, but you will nevertheless be performing some aspect of business analysis throughout. So you choose, once again, what type of business analysis activities you would most enjoy doing, and push to be involved in the parts of the projects that you want to be!

# Do you want to be part of a project team or the operations team?

Some Business Analysts are employed as part of business operations. They tend to work on business cases, feasibility studies and a variety of other enterprise level business analysis activities. This is great because not all business analysts like the project environment. However, most Business Analysts are employed in projects and thrive in that environment of peaks and troughs. Depending on your preference, you can once again, choose what type of environment you would like to be a Business Analyst in.

# Business Analysis can be domain agnostic or it can be deeply ingrained in a domain.

The one big divide that I have noticed through the years between different Business Analysts is that there are Business Analysts who taught themselves to be experts in one specific domain, and then there are others who taught themselves to be experts in any domain. Both of these types of Business Analysts are equally valuable. In some cases a particular role requires the individual to be a subject matter expert as well as a Business Analyst and in some other roles it requires pure business analysis skills. Once again, this leaves the highly skilled Business Analyst with a choice about whether they want to focus on one domain and have one aspect of their role as a subject matter expert, or whether they would like to remain a pure Business Analyst who is an expert in transferring their business analysis skills between different domains.

In a nutshell, these are just a few of the huge number of things to consider when you choose to be a Business Analyst. There are many more dimensions for a Business Analyst to choose from when they embark on this career. So jump in and try out as many different parts of the business analysis profession as you can, before choosing which aspect you most enjoy!

Life of an Offshore Business Analyst

This article details on the role as an offshore business analyst and the changing role of offshore business analysts.

With the boom in outsourcing and the focus of firms shifting to add efficiency at lesser cost, more BA roles are being created offshore. Not to say that all jobs are being shipped offshore, but we definitely see firms being more receptive to not restricting a business analyst role being only a client facing role. The world of outsourcing has now evolved to the hybrid model (on site / offshore model of outsourcing and in some cases near shore for strategic reasons). In fact I know a lot of firms that have as a mandate for deals a 40:60 rule when it comes to projects. 40% on site and 60% offshore to better leverage the capabilities offshore and of course manage the project margins better. Organizations, project managers and leads often struggle to increase the offshore numbers and reduce the on site number (70:30) or so in the interest of margins.

Traditionally in the IT and the ITES sector, the offshore roles were restricted to development. The growth of Offshore Development Center’s (ODC) in India in the software export zones are a testimony to this fact.

How does it impact you as a business analyst?

If you are a developer or a programmer, then this could be your golden opportunity to scale up to a BA role. Today there is a big gap between the demand for BA and the supply of quality BA candidates in market. While organizations are looking for quality resources that can scale up from being mere programmers and software developers or testers to take up the roles of solution designers and solution providers. While requirement gathering may be one part of your role, BA roles are expanding to include more responsibilities in the name of optimization.

If you are a programmer or a developer looking to scale up to the role of a BA, keep in mind, the task is not simple. I have in the past had emails from readers, who just send me their profile and ask me to do a magic to get them into a BA role. People always tend to take the easy way out. With a business analyst role, this is a “no-no.”

If you wish to be a business analyst, you need to be willing to put in the efforts to scale up from your current role and expand your area of responsibilities with limited to no supervision. You will need to think out of the box (Think outside the bun as it says in Taco Bell ads) and look at adding value to the project and organization. These are sure shot ways to success. I would rather stick to these time-tested methods than trying my feet on short cuts.

What can you do to position yourself better as a business analyst?

Simple – Scale up. Take on more responsibilities in your offshore role. I know it is easier said that done. But that is your only solution to move up the chain to be a business analyst. Please also keep in mind that a business analyst role comes with its own challenges, responsibilities and of course rewards. If you are looking to be an offshore business analyst or are currently in an offshore business analyst role, then a few pointers below might help you.

  • Communication Challenges – An offshore business analyst often gets struck in the web of communication. Being offshore is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is an advantage because you are more affordable translating to more options and opportunities. It is a dis-advantage because you never truly know what the client is thinking, how he/she is reacting to your comments and what is lost in translation and interpretation over the phone.

So you as an offshore business analyst will need to put in twice the amount of effort to manage client perception than an onshore business analyst. Make no mistake – Onsite business analyst roles are equally hard if not much harder at times. I could be a perfect example. As someone who has been the face of the project for the client, being chewed and crushed in managing perceptions yet swimming through to save face, I had the privilege of being an on site and an offshore business analyst / management consultant. Listening and communication is your core to be great at an offshore role. Work on it.

The effectiveness of the process is always in question depending on the complexity of the business requirement but with time and effort we could evolve to be better in the offshore business analyst role.

  • Standardization of processes – Traditionally it is only the development and testing phase of the projects that were typically done offshore. But things are changing progressively. Now clients require that even the requirement gathering be done offshore through phone and other modes of virtual communication. Though a big challenge, it is well adapted by the industry.If you are an offshore business analyst, look at standardizing your requirement gathering process. Based on your industry and past project experience, come up with effective questionnaire’s that could help the client answer as many questions as possible to provide clarity on scope and requirements. If you do not understand an answer, ensure you do what is needed to get clarity from the client on the question. Never assume an answer irrespective of how logical the answer might seem.

  • If you wish to be truly pro-active, I would in fact, go one step ahead and start circulating questionnaires to industry leaders and to your past clients in your respective industry seeking their inputs on the current challenges in a specific area. This would turn out to be great inputs to help launch your product or service to the client. I’m also certain that the client appreciates the fact that you still think about them and their problems though you are not working on their project at the moment.

Organizations are now looking to bridge the demand / supply gap of business analyst by promoting senior programmers and solution designers to the take up business analyst responsibilities. Are you up for it?

Your resume, experience and expertise could make all the difference between you being a BA or remaining a programmer. Do visit the services page on our website – “The Smart Consultant” to understand what we could do to help you with your resume and transition to your dream business analyst role.

As always, I wish there was a perfect black book to help you. But there never is.

For those of us who believe a BA role is to necessarily only meet with clients and gathering requirements, I hope this article is a wake up call. Welcome to the changing world of business analyst.

For more information on business analyst certification, please refer to the IIBA website.

If you are an offshore developer or a BA or a BA working onsite then, please share your thoughts and experiences through the comments section of my blog.

The Importance of Business Analyst Tools and Benefits of Hiring an IT Business Analyst

Do you want to know the importance of Business Analyst Tools? When it comes to workflow management, you need to use all the tools and processes that streamline and optimize the operations of your business. For instance, you need to utilize software systems that enable you to get improved productivity. These systems include content management systems, document management systems and business process management (BPM) tools.

Remember the best workflow management systems can be costly and challenging to implement. However, by seeking the services of an IT Business Analyst, your company will benefit from them, which means you will get the best returns on your investments. In this informative article, we’ll look at five benefits of these tools.

1. Improved Accountability

The best Business Analyst Tools enable your company to experience improved productivity. Keep in mind many employees don’t respond well to micromanagement, which means you need to use the latest tools to check their productivity. By using the best tools and software, you can know which tasks need to be done, the best team member to carry them out and the specific period the work should be completed.

When you know which tasks and goals need to be met, you won’t need to intervene now and then, that’s unless it’s necessary. That improves the relations between the staff and management by removing personal opinions and considerations from any issue. Databases can store records of what occurred in the system, which gives the administration the ability to audit behavior if necessary.

2. Reduces the Need for Manual Labor

The best business analyst tools provide your team members with the chance to work on non-repetitive tasks. It means they can expand their skills, for example, by working on aspects that require more human input such as in the production process. The best work management tools ensure that work is done faster and without common human errors. Instead of using these tools to replace employees, you should use them to make the workplace more productive and exciting, which improves the firm’s overall morale.

3. Better Communication

The best business analyst tools eliminate the need for paper chasing and use of telephones. That makes the office more efficient and greener, which in turn reduces the firm’s turnover rates. Among the reasons for quitting jobs is poor or inadequate communication in offices. By using tracking software, you can provide employees with a better way of finding out what needs to be done right now and in the future. For you to ensure smooth day to day running of the business, you need to make sure your communication is honest and clear to employees.

4. Streamlines the Business Operation Processes

Workflow or business analyst tools enable you to have valuable insight in the day to day running of your business. For example, by using automation software, you can determine which tasks can be done simultaneously instead of being completed sequentially. You can know which steps are unnecessary; which means you will make informed choices and decisions. For example, you will know which employees perform specific tasks at their best, rather than who happens to be free at that particular time.

5. Faster Completion of Projects

The best business analyst tools enable you to shorten the duration of projects. For example, you can use them to reduce the period between starting a project and having it approved. As the management, you can set these tools to notify team members when the deadline is approaching or if they have missed it. The team leaders can let employees know of any new projects, changes in scheduling and guideline updates. Remember that in the long run, the time taken to determine these issues can prove to be a lot, meaning you need to use the latest tools to move on to new profitable projects.

What to Do

When switching over to using the best Business Analyst Tools, you may encounter several challenges. That means you should evaluate your office or business needs before deciding to make the switch. If you regularly meet your goals or surpass them, you may choose to leave it as it is. However, if you think you need a general overhaul of your operating systems and routines, you should consider moving your company to the next level.

Before implementing drastic changes, you should open up and consult with your team members about the impending changes. You should then consider hiring an expert IT Business Analyst to help in the process. Below we look at benefits of hiring them.

Benefits of Hiring an IT Business Analyst

One common question on online business forums is; what are the benefits of hiring an Information Technology (IT) Business Analyst? For some businesses, business analysts provide them with many benefits. However, others may not know these benefits, which mean they fail to get the many positive results that analysts bring to companies. In today’s business environment, business analysis can be the glue that holds a company or business together.

What’s The Role of a Business Analyst?

Breaks Down Work into Manageable and Small Bits

The primary function of an IT Business Analyst is to help make work more manageable by breaking it into smaller pieces. Developing and testing are also made simpler by business analysts. These professionals ensure all projects are on track by documenting their progress. That means the best returns on your investments.

Enhances Communication

IT Business Analysts ensures the communication lines are kept open, that’s by filling any gaps in the case of breakdowns. They eliminate any confusion in the case of requirements, scope and testing by explaining the processes in a way that team members can understand. It means that the workplace efficiency is improved and tasks completed faster.

Provides Support

In the course of carrying out challenging tasks, the project managers may be overwhelmed by budgets, reports, schedules and other issues. Business analysts can step in and help by providing them with professional support to the team members, project managers and sponsors. The result will be improved returns and faster completion of projects.

Increases the Business Returns

Professional IT Business Analysts know how to increase the company’s potential benefits and returns. For example, they know how to uncover or discover new business needs and ensure that your business priorities are focused on bringing the best value. Remember that they use the best Business Analyst Tools to arrive at their decisions.

What 2018 Holds For IT Business Analysts

As far as the role of Business Analysts is concerned, the year 2018 offers them new predictions. That’s because new Business Analysts Tools provide them with more chances to improve the operating systems of companies.

These professionals will be tasked with many projects that include project and testing management. Many will offer their services on a specialist basis, for example, cost-benefit analysis, scoping and other project requirements.

For those with business analysis backgrounds, they will continue their migration towards critical and influential positions in different areas of the organization. The result may be a change in their titles, which may result in disagreement or confusion over their exact job description and responsibilities.

How to Hire the Best IT Business Analyst

• If you’re asking yourself whether you need to hire a Business Analyst or a project manager, you need to consider the value that each of them brings to your organization or project. In some instances, the project manager may have vast expertise.

• On the other hand, the business analyst may have experience and knowledge in examining information and other facts, which means they can provide your company with the right questions and carry out thorough research.

• The primary factors for hiring an IT Business Analyst is that he or she can be able to break down information into several parts, document and workflows.

• You need to ensure the business analyst you’re hiring has the best experience in the IT field which you need. It may seem like an obvious consideration, but you should remember that IT fields are different.

• Other qualities you should consider are their industry knowledge, problem-solving skills and effective documenting. They will ensure you get the best results. Remember that any professional should be self-directed and motivated.

• The business analyst should also have the best working skills and communication abilities. They will ensure that he or she works with your team to solve problems. Remember that it’s only through effective communication with your team members that the professional will able to bring you the best results.

• When hiring them, make sure you have written agreements on how fast you should expect results, the processes involved and how much they will charge you. That will enable you to plan your budget estimates to ensure that no payment disputes occur during the work or after completion of the project. Compare quotes from different professionals before settling on the best one, who should have experience and provide you with competitive rates.

Conclusion

The best IT Business Analyst should be able to use the latest Business Analyst Tools to ensure that your business improves its efficiency and profits. Consider hiring those who use the most recent software and have experience in your particular field.