As a new emerging career stream, not everyone fully comprehends the role of a business analysis. The scope may vary depending on the organization, size of the project, and even cost. Business Analyst job description not only differ by the above mentioned factors but is also subject to change with time on a project (or so I’ve experienced). Lately I have been doing a bit of research on this by checking out some profiles on social media to get an idea as to what BA’s out there do. It turns out that a lot of us don’t just ‘bridge the gap’ between business and IT. Other than the preconceived notion of a BA’s functions (such as: documentation, requirements elicitation, requirements management, etc.), turns out we do a lot more than you think.
Testing, for instance, is one of the activities you can definitely find a lot of BA’s engaged in. Testing goes through a series of phases before the program is finalized to go into production. Many a times you would find that the BA performs a layer of test before it is sent for UAT. This is predominantly because the BA gathered requirements and understands the business and therefore if it passes the BA then it will surely pass the end user. Now, you might argue that, the BA would have submitted use cases and so as long as the system performs what the use cases say then the tester just needs to ensure that the system does exactly that. I hear you and I agree completely. The use cases although serve as a checklist or a guide for the tester, there are occasions where your tester me be more of a technical tester rather than thinking in terms of the business. Time is a scarce resource and you probably want to ensure that if not all then, most of your UAT pass. As the BA, you might want to step in and ensure the guarantee of the test case passing by doing a test run yourself.
Creating end user manuals is another task I find many BA’s would find themselves doing. It so happens that since – we have helped in the requirements gathering; we understand the business; we also have performed testing; thereby us being suited to document a user manual. BA’s equipped with the system behavior as well as business scenarios, and furthermore one of the key qualities of a BA is documentation and therefore put them into the position of documenting user manuals.
Business Process Development is also something that BA’s are engaged in. I’ve experienced when a new system is being developed for the business a lot of times the new system having new features that eliminate a lot of manual work and/or duplication often undergo business process reshuffling. During requirement elicitation, the BA make suggestions to the business on how to streamline certain functions, which may be a sign for a change in the existing business process. Change of system or change in the existing system would definitely have an impact on the business process and the BA’s involvement is crucial in this area. The depth of involvement may vary, nonetheless it is an aspect that the BA covers.
You must have come across various books, blogs, websites that suggest that the Project manager and the BA must work closely. Now, one of the key function of the project manager is planning. The BA also has a lot have planning to do on his/her end. Not just the planning for requirements workshop and meetings, but also planning on the documentation, delivery of requirements, priority of requirements, stakeholder availability, sign off of requirements just to name a few. The project manager includes the BA while determining timelines, priority and WBS.
Having named some of the activities of a BA that are not by book, I believe BA’s have a lot to deal with and I also believe that they are the ones learning the most in the process (working twice as hard too).
There are more to the ones that I just mentioned. If you are a BA or you know someone who is a BA, I’d like to learn what your functions as a BA. Please mention them in the comment section.