Most software development projects have a standard structure. While developers, QA engineers, UX/UI designers, and project managers have clearly defined functions, the role of a business analyst in an IT project may be sometimes confusing for clients outsourcing their tech projects.
What does a business analyst do? Why do companies need business analysts? What are the benefits of having such a specialist assigned to your project? The Rocketech experts summed up the answers to these questions in five simple reasons.
What is Business Analysis?
Imagine a hypothetical scenario: a client needs an automated telemedicine management platform (creating and synchronizing schedules, making appointments, updating patients’ information, etc.).
The client subcontracts a development team. Each team member equally communicates with the client, writes their part of the code, and does a fair share of testing. And as long as the tasks are relatively simple, everything goes well. Suddenly, the working scheme fails when the team needs to develop a more complex, business-specific subsystem. The client no longer accepts the results and considers changing the subcontractor.
In many cases, the reason for this outcome is straightforward — the developers lack extensive knowledge of the client’s industry and the time to dive deep into understanding the business processes the software is to cater for.
The business analysis combines methods and practices defining the organisation’s current state of affairs and growth goals. By using the organisation’s past performance, such practices empower informed decision-making and help leaders develop comprehensive plans to reach the set goals.
In custom software development, business analysts (BA) act as a “bridge” between the customer and the tech team. They address a wide range of questions, from “What does the client’s business need?” and “What does the end user want?” to “How should it be implemented in the product?”
5 Reasons Why a Business Analyst is Important
In simple words, everything a good business analyst does revolves around the word ‘requirements’. Analysts define, document, and manage them. However, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. A more detailed role description will shed some light on why you should sign up a business analyst for your project.
#1 They Define Your Project’s Requirements
From the BA’s perspective, the project’s first step is to gather as much information as possible (including elicitation in business analysis). It mostly involves:
- The client’s business performance data;
- The client’s goals;
- Customer interviews, surveys, and focus groups;
- Product requirements;
- Competitors’ analysis;
- Information about the client’s industry or the product’s niche.
By analyzing this data and communicating with stakeholders, business analysts understand the project’s objectives and what the client wants to achieve. According to this, BAs articulate the project’s requirements and ensure they are clear to all participants.
Many BAs come to the IT sector from other fields. These professionals have extensive practical experience in particular industries and niches, which helps them formulate the requirements. However, it’s impossible to prepare for projects across all industries. In that respect, quick adaptability to new topics and environments is one of the most required skills of a business analyst.
#2 They Connect Your Business with the Development Team
Here’s another common case. A client comes to a developer with a requirement, “I want a website identical to the one our competitors have”. The developer requests detailed terms of reference to understand what the client expects. But the client keeps insisting on the “identical product”.
However, during a more thorough discussion, it turns out that the client doesn’t need the ‘Compare’ button or two separate pages for payment and delivery. Here, what is an “identical website” for the client is a completely different functionality for the developer.
The opposite also happens. Sometimes the development team creates highly-functional products but fails to explain them to the customer if using technical terms that the latter simply doesn’t understand.
The business analyst’s task is to connect your business and your product vision with a team of software developers, designers, and QA engineers. That’s why, besides technical and industry knowledge, BAs are required to be strategic communicators. They know what the customer wants and can translate it into easy-to-comprehend concepts for both the client and the team.
Before the development even begins, the business analyst defines the requirements in detail and communicates them to the developers by explaining what features the product needs and how they should function.
#3 They Write Documentation
Some IT professionals joke that if BAs are not in a meeting, they must be writing documentation. In fact, it is the most time-consuming part of a tech business analyst’s day-to-day activities, which is also crucial for the overall project’s outcome.
Here are the main documentation types business analysts deal with.
- Software Requirements Specification
BAs turn the client’s creative thoughts into a structured document that clearly describes what the development team needs to do. After the client approves this document, it becomes the project’s foundation.
- Change Request
Projects often change, adjusting to new market conditions or budget amendments. The client would often request certain modifications in the product or development process after the project has already started. BAs document each of them, stating which system part is modified and how it affects time and cost.
- User Manuals
User manuals include instructions for the client and training materials for end-users. They describe how to use the system and provide tips and answers to frequent questions.
#4 They Perform Testing
Since it is the business analyst’s role in an IT project to recognize and interpret the customer’s requirements and desires, it’s often them who verify the results of the programmers’ work.
The crucial practice at this stage is User Acceptance Testing (UAT), the process of validating the product’s effectiveness and functionality. By performing UAT, BAs:
- Understand how the product functions in “real-world” conditions and whether the result is as intended;
- Determine if all possible features have been added;
- Check if any bugs will hinder the user experience.
BAs don’t verify the objects’ sizes and colors or write automated scripts. It should be part of a well-organized QA process. Rather, they test the product from the end-user perspective. Is it convenient and intuitive? Has the team managed to implement business logic? Are there any inconsistencies?
Business analysts are aware of the software bottlenecks and hacks unknown to the client. The unbiased system assessment is vital — the sooner BAs identify them, the easier it is to fix them.
#5 They Are Strategists with a Backup Plan
A business analyst role is all about “learning fast”. Many experts highlight empathy as a critical requirement for this position. Besides a quick and deep dive into new niches and subjects, it involved a complete understanding of the product idea, the people developing it, and the end-users it’s meant for.
The importance of business analysis is in a holistic (or systemic) vision. It includes the highest-level planning skills and strategic thinking. When BAs enter a new area, they must realize its complexity, identify the key elements and link them together. And it is how they build a knowledge system.
At the same time, analysts don’t exist in a vacuum. They interact with each team member and recognize their experience and competencies. Such a comprehensive overview of the team and working processes enables them to anticipate possible drawbacks and rapidly find solutions to critical issues.
Related article: The Discovery Phase: Why Is It Crucial for Your Project Success?
At Rocketech, we understand that business analysis in software development plays an essential part. The process of creating successful digital products includes policies, standards, technologies, the environment, and people. And the business analyst’s best practices involve connecting all these elements.
Our philosophy is to partner with our clients and share our expertise. Most Rocketech projects involve a business analyst role. Our BAs assess the partners’ organizations, synthesize information, and help the leaders develop the most cost-effective strategies to bring their business to a new level.