When the words “Business Analyst” come up in any conversation, most people unfamiliar with the role would jump to the conclusion that you form part of the finance function within an organisation. This could not be further from the truth, and what I would love to do today is maybe paint a picture of what the purpose of a business analyst is.
Firstly, business analysts are not necessarily confined to one industry. They can branch out into multiple industries during their career. There are cases where this might be the preferred option, and the business analyst chooses to stay at one company or as part of one industry for the remainder of their career. In this case, the business analyst would usually also become a subject matter expert.
A business analyst generally serves the purpose of bridging the gap between IT and business. IT can refer to either people (forming part of an IT department) or IT products/software. You might ask the question, what does “bridging the gap” mean? This usually means that the BA would try and move the business forward in terms of its use of technology to improve the process and make data readily available across the functional business areas. Regarding, bridging the gap would refer to closing the communication gap between business and IT.
The BA must engage with business stakeholders and understand their business needs/requirements, processes, products and services. After this, the BA needs to know how changes can be implemented to add the most value to the business by improving efficiency (usually through incorporating software).
Once the BA has spent the required time to understand the business, they have to articulate these requirements in an understandable way, so that the business and IT can engage with artefacts (documentation) and make informed decisions on how to best approach and implement the suggested change.
Below is a list of essential artefacts that a BA would usually produce:
- End-to-end process maps.
- Business requirement document.
- Use cases.
- User stories.
- Functional requirement specification.
- Test cases.
There are many more artefacts that a business analyst could be required to produce. However, it will depend on the project, the methodology used and even, in some cases, the team dynamic within the project.
One of the key responsibilities of a business analyst is stakeholder engagement. They are required to engage with various people on various levels within an organisation, which means that a BA must have excellent, clear and concise communication skills.
I believe that as a business analyst, technical skills are essential and a great asset, but if you can establish good, long-lasting relationships with all stakeholders involved and make sure that the communications channels are always open without blurring the boundary lines, you will make a great business analyst. You can always learn and work on the technical aspect thereafter. 😉