Do you perform or know someone who performs the following activities?

  • Asks questions, analyses data, investigates, takes interviews to understand what a new or existing Product offering is.
  • Asks questions, analyses systems to understand what a new or existing software system functions are.
  • Asks questions, analyses data, observes to understand what people in a particular department do on day to day basis.
  • Writes documents explaining what a Product offering is, system functions are, processes people follow in a department etc.
  • Writes documents explaining the positives or negative of using existing systems, processes, products.
  • Writes documents suggesting new solutions to improve products, systems, processes in terms of what the Product offering should be, what the new system should do, what the new processes should be etc.
  • Guides the implementation teams through the entire processes and realises the benefits of the suggestions made.

Then that person is an Analyst. 


A Business Analyst will analyse anything that is put in front of him be it data, systems, process, people etc...  He is someone with a strong analytical and problem solving attitude, willing to dive into learning and understanding something new.


The person may be called a Product Analyst, Process Analyst, Data Analyst, Systems Analyst, Business Analyst, Solution Designers, Project Managers, Architects. But essentially he/she is performing business analysis function.

 

These job functions mentioned above may require specialist skills for example a Process Analyst focusses in business processes involving people however they need to posses the core business analysis skills to be effective in their roles.

 

Definition of Business Analysis:

 

**A structured research, analysis, review and documentation of business functions to bring forth current business situation and suggest solutions to improve the situation to help support future changes in terms of new products, systems, processes. The clear definition of requirements with acceptance criteria on the business functions, processes and systems impacted by the suggested solution and identification, quantification and realisation of business benefits.**

 

As businesses matured and understood the role of IT systems in reducing operational and management costs to gain competitive advantage, the demand for IT infrastructure and software systems increased.

However, due to the lack of knowledge in designing and implementing software systems themselves, organisations either employed IT staff who had very little knowledge of the business or outsourced the IT projects to external provider.  This created and increased the gap between business and IT which resulted in business managers spending time and energy in trying to identify manual workarounds to IT problems and resourcing staff to perform these manual jobs.  Thus organisations failed to reap any benefits by trying to enable business using IT.

Organisations then were in dire need of someone who helped them understand the underlying problems why software systems failed to fulfil the real needs and in turn understand what organisations really wanted from the systems.

Before the Business Analyst role was born the task of understanding business needs and imparting them to the software implementation team was the job of the project manager and systems architect or designer. However because these individuals had to perform dual roles there was little justice done to the task of fully understanding all needs and eliciting or challenging those needs to justify the need of software systems.

This raised the need of an IT business analyst.

Business Analysis is a art which depends on the following qualities in individuals involved in requirements engineering. 

  • ability to not accept statements or requirements at face value.
  • ability to grasp new and abstract concepts quickly.
  • a genuine interest in solving other people's problems.
  • ability to understand the difference between perception and reality

These are inherent human skills which can be taught to many but are mastered by few.

 

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