The roles and responsibilities of business analyst are fundamental in satisfying stakeholder expectations and delivering a viable solution. Project management and business analysis are strategic processes that assume different perspectives on a project. Basically, project management aims at creating the services, products, or results of a project to achieve the set objectives. On the other hand, business analysis focuses on understanding stakeholders’ needs and defining solutions that will meet those needs.
While these two processes can exist independently, a project cannot be implemented successfully according to stakeholders needs if thorough analysis is not done throughout the lifecycle of the project. This underscores the fact that project success is as a result of strategic and high-level coordination between different professionals.
The process of analyzing project activities for possible breaches in business needs and inadequacies in solution delivery is performed by a business analyst (BA). To understand the ways in which business analysis plays out in projects’ lifecycle, it is important to understand how business analysts support the success of projects.
Here are the critical roles and responsibilities of a business analyst in project management.
1. Requirements Gathering
Requirements are an essential ingredient in any project because they form a foundation upon which projects are built. The requirements gathering process is pretty much a partnership between the business analyst, stakeholders, and the development team. The stakeholders need to communicate their needs and at the same time, the developer should anticipate needs.
The role of a business analyst, in this case, is to compile those needs while documenting questions relating to business requirements. Some business customers tend to think that developers are mind-readers who can design a viable product based on unknown or unspoken requirements. However, this is not practical. All requirements should be provided and captured in a reference document.
A business analyst needs to understand the needs within a certain context and align them with business objectives. Furthermore, the analyst should effectively communicate those requirements to the development team and stakeholders. To accomplish this, the needs should be gathered and then written in a language that both groups can understand.
2. Elicitation of Requirements
Discovering business requirements is not always at the disposal of a business analyst. It’s not easy for one to look up these requirements because they are not recorded anywhere. This is because business requirements reside within the minds of clients and stakeholders. Other sources of requirements constitute feedback from end users and surveys that are yet to be conducted.
So, business analysts must elicit business and technical requirements from stakeholders. Requirements elicitation is a linchpin to any project because mistakes made at this phase are many times linked to project abandonment or failure. Adequate preparation and study for requirements elicitation play an essential role in preventing such mistakes.
The purpose of elicitation is to thoroughly determine business requirements, needs, risks and premises linked to a given project. A business analyst must identify relevant stakeholders to guarantee effective understanding of business requirements.
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3. Determines Functional And Non-Functional Requirements
Ensuring that a satisfactory end product is attained is one of the roles and responsibilities of business analysts. Functional requirements constitute what the desired project should do while non-functional requirements establish how a project ought to work. As a business analyst, one is responsibility for determining, extracting, and anticipating these requirements.
To accomplish this, one should research and interact extensively with both current and future end users. Additionally, an efficient business analyst should consider future technological changes and how they might impact the project.
The functional and non-functional requirements can offer great insights regarding the capabilities of the final product. As the project is being implemented, the non-functional requirements gain more importance. This is because the operation of a project can be improved once it is delivered in the real environment.
4. Requirement Analysis
Analysis of requirements encompasses organizing and prioritizing collected requirements. Sometimes, business requirements are too huge to handle as a whole. Thus, the business analyst engages in a set of tasks and activities that are aimed at dividing and sorting business requirements.
The aim of requirement analysis is to discover, define, document, and analyze requirements that are associated with specific business objectives. This facilitates business analysts to come up with a precise and clear definition of the scope of a project. In doing so, you can assess the resources and timescales required to complete a project.
Accurate business requirement analysis translates to a better understanding of business needs. In addition, it helps a business analyst to break down those needs into specific and detailed requirements that all stakeholders can agree on.
5. Translates Business Needs Into Detailed Requirements
A business analyst is tasked with translating the business needs of stakeholders into detailed and functional requirements that make sense to both the tech and business side. To accomplish this role, the analyst begins by compiling all the business needs.
As the BA, you need to elucidate business problems and confirm every detail with stakeholders. To do this, all stakeholders should be identified together with their needs. Following this, the BA determines business objectives, strategic mission, vision, and processes, and analyses them against identified needs and problems.
By conducting this analysis, the BA assesses opportunities and develops solutions that will address business problems. The proposed solutions are forwarded to appropriate persons for review, and their feedback is analyzed and incorporated as required. Ultimately, a list of detailed requirements is created.
6. Documenting Business Requirements
Requirement documentation is among the integral roles performed by a business analyst. Throughout a project life cycle, business analysts create many documents to satisfy different project needs and communicate with different professionals and stakeholders. There are many parameters that determine the type of document to be created and specifications to be included in each.
These include the type of project, stakeholders’ requirements and expectations, needs of a business, and organizational policies and processes. Some documents that business analysts create and utilize throughout the project’s life cycle include requirements management plan, use cases, user stories, and project vision document.
Although there are many documents associated with projects, business analysts do not create all of them for each project. In practice, most BAs chose to create only the essential documents depending on the nature of a project. Through documentation, business analysts maintain a list of requirements at every phase. Additionally, they offer regular updates to the technical and business teams.
7. Functions As The Liaison Among Stakeholders
A business analyst cannot develop detailed requirements independently. Instead, the BA works with business stakeholders and experts such as executives, IT professionals, and end users to analyze, elicit, and validate requirements. The analyst communicates with the client or organization that has requested a project and the development team.
As such, strong teamwork and communication skills and efficient negotiating abilities are absolutely essential in this role. The development team, for example, may have questions concerning some aspects of a project. Usually, they cannot inquire directly from the client. As per protocol, they should communicate the matter to the business analyst who ought to obtain the required information from the client.
Although not mandatory, a BA needs to have some knowledge about various sectors including IT. Such familiarity enables the analyst to be efficient in performing analysis tasks and communicating issues and requirements to stakeholders and specialists.
8. Elaborates Project Details
One of the crucial responsibilities of business analysts is to clarify the details of a project. This involves assessing the needs and ensuring that the project implementers have and understand every detail they require to create and implement processes and solutions. To achieve this, the BA works with all stakeholders in order to guarantee their requirements.
Similarly, the analyst engages the development team into a detailed conversation regarding the underlying problem and what they need to build. Notably, this conversation is done in all the phases of project development to guarantee that all business needs are identified and the final product is satisfactory. Obscurity is a key contributor to the collapse of many projects. Thus, the BA needs to elaborate project specifications to both stakeholders and developers so that both sides understand what needs to be implemented.
In most cases, the BA prepares the detailed requirements that have been approved by stakeholders and communicate them to the development team. A business analyst ought to ensure that solutions are communicated effectively to realize the projected results.
9. Supports Project Implementation
Generally, a business analyst is indirectly involved in projects implementation process. Nonetheless, the analyst is naturally called on whenever concerns or problems arise during implementation. This is because some issues may bring about new or additional needs that should be communicated to stakeholders.
Business analyst support may involve coordinating a problem-solving meeting to deliberate on and determine how certain needs can be satisfied alongside newly acknowledged constraints. Sometime, proposed processes and procedures may require review during implementation stage because of technological, functionality, or compatibility issues. Such cases require the business analyst to engage the concerned stakeholders and the development team to device new ways of achieving projected results while saving on available resources.
As implementation task gets to completion, business analysts become more active in some projects. They are liable for supporting clients in accepting the product that is being finalized. This role can comprise testing the new product, training clients, and obtaining feedback. It can also involve analyzing how the client will apply the solution to complete different tasks and activities.
The business analysts’ role of supporting project implementation ends when the solution is delivered to the client and users can access and utilize it successfully. When new needs, as well as requirements, are discovered, the analyst is brought in and the entire cycle for a new project begins.
10. Aids in User Acceptance Testing
The roles of business analysts are not just concerned with determining business needs and project implementation. Testing the deployed solution is among the key responsibilities of a business analyst. User acceptance testing constitutes the last phase of the testing process. Through testing, the BA seeks to guarantee that the new product functions as envisioned by stakeholders.
Moreover, testing is carried out to ascertain that the user requirements are fully satisfied. Notably, the only possible way to determine these aspects is through user acceptance testing (UAT). Its core objective is to ascertain whether the new solution can execute the required tasks in the real setting.
During the product development and deployment stages, a business analyst should employ testing approaches to create user-testing scenarios that will facilitate the process of UAT. If the new product does not offer expected results, it means that developers built the product based on their own understanding because some requirements were not communicated effectively.
11. Problem Solving
Pro business analysts perceive problems as opportunities that can be leveraged to give value to businesses and customers. To solve a problem, a BA breaks it down into its primary components. Following this, each constituent is analyzed carefully to identify the component with a problem. Critical thinking is among the skills employed by business analysts in examining a problem.
Besides thinking critically, problem-solving encompasses the application of analytical and logical techniques to recognize underlying causes. In doing so, a business analyst is able to propose solutions that guarantee the elimination of identified problems. Problem-solving process encompasses defining a problem scope, which helps a business analyst to establish whether the issue can be addressed satisfactorily.
Any possible solution is dependent on the scope. Eliciting information from stakeholders and resolving ambiguities are critical processes that business analysts undertake to determine a viable solution.
Therefore, problem-solving is not a black art; rather, it’s a logical and analytical process, which can be analyzed, qualified, and broken down to determine root causes.
Business analysts do not just help companies to identify their needs and problems but also improve their products and services. This underscores the roles and responsibilities of a business analyst in the management of projects. They are valuable assets whose roles are indispensable for the successful implementation of viable solutions.