What is Business Analysis and what is it for ?
Before going into the heart of the matter, here’s a small flashback:
A few years ago now, I was a developer. I could put all my energy into the realization of the projects entrusted to me: to make sure that the code was optimized, that the quality was at the top ... Nothing helped, the customers were always dissatisfied.
And every time, I was frustrated. I had done what had been asked!
I had the opportunity to meet some of my clients and asked them why they were not satisfied with the tools I provided them. The answer was always the same: "the tool is very good, but it's not what I wanted, it does not match what I expected". It changes my life.
So I tried to understand where things went wrong. And finally I came to the conclusion that the problem was simply the first phase of the project. Misunderstanding between the business which was the customer, and the project team in charge of the realization. I then saw an opportunity to act as an translator between these two types of actors. I left my job as a developer to become Business Analyst.
So what does the Business Analyst do?
Well, it is neither more nor less than an translator who understands at the same time the language spoken by the customer (the people who ask for the realization of a product or a service) and the one spoken by the "technics" (team in charge of the realization of the requested product or service).
That's all ? will you tell me
In fact, not quite, the work of a Business Analyst requires more skills than just translation.
It is easy to translate a need from one language into another: just learn the vocabulary of the two parties involved. But you have to be sure that the need that is expressed is the one that is expected ...
The work then begins to get complicated.
The Business Analyst has the hard task of understanding what is behind the words expressed by his client (the business). He must at the same time:
listen to what is said to him,
to be able to validate that what he understood is what the client meant,
check that what has been expressed by the customer is what the customer needs.
As much to tell you that when your client says : "I want a red Ferrari", it is not necessary to take this for cash. By dint of pertinent questions, trying to understand the problem or the situation the customer is trying to answer, we often get the customer to say that ultimately, what he really needs is a "blue bicycle".
Having a good analyst in a project allows you to start on a good foundation, on a solid base. From there, it is the responsibility of the project manager, as a bandmaster, to coordinate the different trades for the realization of the requested service / product.
Warning ! The business analyst does not only intervene in the project analysis phase. He is present throughout this one:
he must make sure that the realization of the service / product is in conformity with what the client asked him
he must also check that the client has no new constraints, new needs that must be taken into account (otherwise the service / product that will be delivered will be useless)
he is also in charge of setting up a test strategy and coordinating it
finally, he is also often asked for change management (communication, training, ...)
"What? Oo The business analyst must do all of this on a project ???"
Yes and no. When a project is small, a team composed of an analyst, a project manager and a technical team may be sufficient. And the tasks are often shared between the project manager and the analyst. It often happens that the project manager manages both roles.
On the other hand, when the projects become substantial, the tasks stated above are then assumed by different people / different roles: an analyst, a test manager, a change manager, etc.
The following diagram shows the set of roles that can be associated with the analysis:
Business analysis is also used at a higher level of the company to define its strategy, the evolution of its processes, its transformation ....
The analyst then provides detailed studies on the topics assigned to him, so that the leaders can make strategic decisions. Its role is then to:
make an inventory of existing (inconvenience, financial losses, image, costs ....),
learn about the perception of stakeholders about the subject of the study,
benchmark the possible solutions (their price, their advantages / disadvantages),
propose several possible scenarios (including not changing anything of the current situation).
I will describe, in future articles: my feedback, the tools and methods that I use every day as part of my Business Analyst role.
Feel free to leave your comments !