Today, the question of the role of a business analyst in projects has been considered insufficient detail: it is known what qualities he should possess, how best to build a career, what skills to develop. It is enough to use Google to find adequate answers.
How to Avoid Business Analyst Mistakes: BA Roles and Responsibilities
In this article, we propose to consider the most common mistakes that junior business analysts make. Perhaps the things that will be discussed will seem obvious to you, but believe us: this article is written on the basis of material collected in practice and such errors are regularly found in the work of even experienced business analysts.
What is the IT business analyst role?
Let's take a look at main business analyst role in it company. There is a fundamental work in the world describing the professional standard / set of rules for business analysis, which is being developed by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) under the name BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge). We propose to take from there definition and an understanding of the role of the business analyst.
A business analyst is an employee of a company or a project participant who identifies the needs for changes in the organization (organizational development), summarizes them, records, classifies and recommends decisions on changing the structure of the company's activities (processes), justifies these changes for management and participates in detailed development and implementation of changes.
Of course, basically, these changes are needed by the company to generate more profit, i.e. fulfillment of business goals. The business goals themselves can be born both within the company and under the influence of the external environment and changes in the market in which the company trades. At the same time, the business goal is the benefit for the company that it will receive after the implementation of the new solution. Simply put, the business analyst has a finger on the pulse of the company's internal business development and responds to changes in the pulse. External factors that affect the company's business are recorded or studied by the marketing direction. At the same time, marketing can act as sources for the formation of business needs. Thus, the business analyst identifies the needs of the business and can always explain the reason for a particular change.
Let's also look at which teams/jobs the business analysts are involved in and what their role is in each of them including the role of business analyst in web development.
Consulting are project teams that solve the problems of changing the company. This refers to the change in business processes - for example, KPI systems or the creation and implementation of new projects.
2. Strategic block.
This is the division of the company that deals with long-term planning and business development. For example, analysts decide whether a company will implement new extensions or launch new lines of business.
3. Digital transformation.
The division of a company that implements digital technologies to optimize business processes, increase customer value, drive innovation, and improve organizational results.
The use of data exchange tools, the Internet of Things allows you to receive metrics from large production machines, combine them into a single ecosystem and minimize losses, for example, metal, as well as optimize labor costs.
4. BI and reporting.
This is a team that creates tools to collect data and then to run a company based on data. BI - a solution on its own engine or inside Tableau, Power BI, QlikView services. Allows you to create automatic reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of the company.
5. Operations team.
Analysts in operational teams can calculate the financial model of the project: how much money needs to be invested to implement the project, which framework is advisable to choose for faster time to market, when it is necessary to create an application from scratch, and when it is enough to simply rewrite it. In such cases, it is a specialty adjacent to management.
Main responsibilities of a business analyst.
In short, the main roles and responsibilities of business analyst in software industry are analysis and solving customer problems. Moreover, BA understands both the technical part and the business one. they translates business needs into technical language and makes sure that the team has the same understanding of the final solution.
Main roles and responsibilities of ba:
- communication with clients;
- collection and analysis of customer requirements;
- drawing up a solution concept;
- formation of specifications (technical documentation);
- writing technical specifications and prototyping;
- requirements management - documenting, analyzing and prioritizing requirements throughout the project;
- communicating requirements to the development team, including programmers, designers and testers.
Main qualities of a good business analyst.
Qualified analysts are valuable in themselves, as they combine many important qualities, skills and knowledge. So what is so great about a business analyst? The professional in this field is distinguished by:
1. Analytic mind
They do not have to have a PhD in mathematics or statistics, but they should not be intimidated by, at least, descriptive statistics (median, quartile, etc.), and they should be ready to learn.
2. Attention to detail and methodicality
If these numbers, reports, and analyzes make it to the executive’s table and influence business decisions, it’s better if they’re right. And it is better if the analyst always adheres to the rule "measure seven times, cut once."
3. Rational skepticism
A good analyst intuitively understands when something is wrong with raw or aggregated data or analysis results. First, they predict which values would be more likely. Second, the quality of the data is questioned, and the source and calculations are re-checked when the metrics deviate from what was expected.
The analyst presents the results of his work to colleagues (managers). If these results are unexpected or reflect inefficiencies in some aspect of the activity, colleagues may question them, and therefore the analyst must have confidence in himself to defend his point of view.
5. Communication and storytelling skills
The analyst's work is meaningless if the results are not communicated to decision-makers who are able to use them. The analyst needs to be able to tell a compelling and coherent story based on data and analysis. To do this, he must have data visualization skills and be able to articulate his thoughts convincingly, both orally and in writing.
6. Love for data
In the same way that many programmers just love the process of writing code, some people like information as a resource that helps them understand and influence the world around them. They just enjoy trying to figure things out thoroughly. Hire people like that.
7. Pragmatism and business approach
The analyst must be able to concentrate on the right questions. Sometimes it can be difficult to resist falling down the rabbit hole and spending a lot of time studying a separate borderline case that will not have any impact on the business. Like a good editor, the analyst should always keep the big picture in mind and know exactly when to stop and switch to something else in order to spend his time more efficiently.
13 common business analyst mistakes
Below, let's take a look at the top biggest business analyst mistakes.
1. English language.
One of the main and most significant drawbacks of a bad business analyst is insufficient attention to the level of English. At interviews, you may often encounter candidates with a high level of knowledge in the subject area and impressive work experience, but with quite poor English. It should be borne in mind that most IT companies and projects are focused on foreign customers. The need for fluent and accurate English is determined by the place of the business analyst at the intersection of the product and the engineering team and the daily tasks facing it (effective communication between these teams). The role and place of a BA in the Scrum team is a topic for a separate holy war.
A particular aspect of the language issue is professional slang, which is paid attention by employers, customers, and team members. The task of a business analyst is to establish effective communication, and this is only possible if you can speak the same language with all team members. In addition, the vast majority of professional literature and training are presented in English. In general, without knowledge of a foreign language, full-fledged professional development is impossible.
2. Following the framework blindly.
From the issue of effective communications, another rather serious mistake follows - a dogmatic adherence to the approaches of the chosen framework. It is necessary to take into account that IT is a dynamically developing industry and the secret of success in it is the ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
You can tell the team as much as you like that “we work according to the classic Scrum / lean / Kanban”. But if the daily tasks and processes are unclear to them or take more time and resources than they could, were the team to use an approach different from what the textbook gives, then there is no point in this. In that case, it would be unprofessional to say "this is a bad team, they are not following my ideal approach to the methodology correctly." The task of a business analyst is to study different approaches and choose the one that will be most effective for a particular team in a particular project. It is worth noting that in our practice we have not seen a single project with absolutely “book” processes.
3. Ignoring the culture and corporate policies of the customer.
Closing the topic of the importance of effective communication for a business analyst, it makes sense to mention the need to consider the culture and corporate policies of the customer when planning their work.
Despite the certain obviousness of this issue and the fact that it has already snapped many, some business analysts do not pay due attention to the cultural aspect of interaction with the customer. However, this point, combined with insufficient English proficiency, can lead to situations where a client may perceive a business analyst as "rude, not polite." This negatively affects the work of BA in one of the most important aspects - interaction with stakeholders.
So, for example, it is better not to forget that representatives of Asian cultures can not always directly say “no”, and when working with Americans or Canadians, it is worthwhile to spend 5 minutes talking about the successes of their local sports team.
4. Ignoring changes in the customer’s domain.
In direct project work, one of the errors may be the termination of the study of the domain and the specifics of the client’s business. There are situations when even experienced business analysts, having worked on the project for a long time, could not answer the question of how exactly their product works in fairly simple scenarios. Loss of interest in trends in the domain area and a halt in the study of the customer’s business can play a trick on the project, especially in dynamic, rapidly changing business areas. Almost all experts mention the need to constantly study and immerse themselves in the client’s business when it comes to the pros and cons of the business analytics profession.
5. Lack of proper roadmap.
One of the serious difficulties may be the absence of such basic documents as vision and roadmap on the project, based on customer sales plans. Perhaps this issue is more important for large projects and belongs to the sphere of responsibilities of product managers, but a business analyst in any case can and should initiate and facilitate the process of creating such documents. If BA plans to develop in the direction of product management, this is worth considering.
6. There is no communication plan and stakeholder map.
If you delve into the details of the work of a business analyst, the mistakes of beginners may be the lack of a communication plan and matrix of stakeholders. You should accustom the customer to hold regular meetings, and yourself - in advance to prepare a list of issues for discussion. Frequent cancellation of calls due to lack of topics or lack of constructive dialogue may lead to the fact that stakeholders simply do not come to a seemingly planned meeting at the most crucial moment. At a key moment, he may not seem to them quite important and urgent.
7. Arrangements are not fixed.
In continuation, one can note such a mistake as the absence of meeting notes compiled from the results of communication with stakeholders. Writing meeting notes is an excellent form of team defense, especially on dynamic projects with great mobility of managers.
We had to deal with situations when, after a while, the customer either forgot about the agreements reached, or in connection with the change of the product team, such agreements were lost, and we had to convince the customer that certain changes, for example, in the release plan, were not a miscalculation, but a real deal.
8. Lack of visibility.
It is worth noting the format of daily stand-ups. It is extremely important for the customer to have a sufficient level of visibility, to know where and how efficiently his money was spent. Beginning business analysts (although often not only them) do not always manage to briefly and informatively explain to the customer what work has been done.
Remember that the client will not like to know that, for example, all last week one of the team members was in the blocker and did nothing. Use the time when you are in the blocker to improve existing processes on the project. Fortunately, there is plenty of such work (especially on new projects). And when you tell the customer about completed duties, proceed from a proactive attitude, think about what counter issues you can anticipate.
9. Too much time is spent on details.
Excessive focus on the details of the ticket and / or the intricacies of implementation in its description is another mistake. On long-term projects, it is necessary to take into account that the implementation details may change with the transition to a new technology, while the client’s business will remain the same. Incorrectly prepared acceptance criteria with many implementation details (for example, describing specific methods or request / response APIs) will result in the product backlog having to be rewritten.
Otherwise, from the point of view of regression testing, the actual behavior of the system will differ from existing requirements: it is technically necessary to start a bug ticket, the backlog becomes “outdated” (that is, the description of the state of the system becomes irrelevant). At the same time, there are no formal reasons for rewriting requirements if the client’s business processes have not changed.
10. You do not have a vision of the whole project.
Also a typical mistake for large, long-term projects may be a lack of understanding of the “big picture”, links with other elements of the ecosystem, and a lack of “helicopter view”.
Understanding the connections of your module with others and knowing how a connected system develops, allows you to correctly and timely develop your own product, avoiding "dumping the details of implementation."
11. You go from the opposite.
Connected to the previous one is the mistake of writing requirements “from the opposite” - that the system should not do. The result is a backlog of requirements, from which it is clear what the system will not do, but it is not clear what it will do. This may be due to the fact that the focus on the client’s business is lost. It must be remembered that BA thinks first of all directly about what the system does to address the business needs of the client.
12. Incorrect assessment.
But the most common mistake that no business analyst can avoid is underestimating or overestimating the scope of the project’s tasks, as well as their professional skills. These are two extremes of the same phenomenon, which naturally arises from a lack of experience and understanding of the actual level of one’s skills.
Perhaps the most effective advice would be to not be afraid of anything, but also not to vouch on behalf of the team for some time and work in front of the customer / stakeholders. It is step-by-step to carry out all the actions that are expected from a new business analytics project. Do not forget that the same BABoK contains all the action plans you need. It’s normal that at the beginning of the project nothing is clear.
Remember that the main tool of business intelligence is communication. Even if nothing is known, identifying stakeholders is a good start to find out the project’s goal, the customer’s business and draw up initial context and workflow diagrams that will give answers to all questions of the project. And more experienced colleagues who have worked with this client or project for longer will help you to avoid creating incorrect customer expectations from the product.
13. Fear of mistakes.
Sometimes business analyst paralyzes and, instead of starting to act and adjusting the course of the project, the novice business analyst begins to “prepare for action” for a long time: carefully write letters to the customer, focus on describing edge case scenarios, unlikely workflows, which, at the first stages of the project, generally neglected. It’s okay to make mistakes: both Agile and Scrum are about making mistakes quickly and reacting to errors just as quickly.
As you know, "the one who does not work is not mistaken." In our experience, when an employee makes a mistake for the first time, it is often enough to pay attention to what needs to be corrected. This "correction through positive reinforcement" is effective 70% of the time. If the mistake repeats, then we begin to understand the reasons, talk with the employee about what the consequences of their wrong decisions may be.
Systemic errors are more difficult to "treat". In this case, a coaching meeting is scheduled in the Geniusee team - a conversation to assess the employee's level of motivation, which helps to identify, among other things, personal problems. As a result, the employee is provided with new opportunities within the company and outside it ... It is optimal if such a meeting helps the employee to understand and solve the problem - then the errors disappear and the work returns to normal.
The main business analyst roles and responsibilities in it company are, taking into account all the project constraints (budget, deadlines) and business "wishes", to come up with and think over a set of functions that will be most useful (first of all) and most convenient (secondly) for the user.
We wish all BA specialists not to be afraid of mistakes and move forward boldly. We wish you success in IT business analyst role and responsibilities.