Long time no see. While Dr. Jekyll is off for the small vacation after his almost completely formal Education-Technology article, we can go all Mr. Hyde again, and geek over another captivating business-related topic. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
“Author, your attempts to lure us into reading are irritating. This time, we won’t be so easily seduced. You... ”
Don’t be so fast and furious. Give this article a chance. This time, there is something special for you.
We are going to explore quite “exotic” (in terms of prevalence) profession of Business Analyst at a software company. Probably, most of you’ve heard about the existence of this semi-mythical individuals, but only a few of you have any clues about what they actually do for a living. And those few are not the only one cursed with knowledge.
“Okay-okay. Get to the point.”
So, BA’s job is quite unnoticeable when they do it well. Everything goes as it should, workers are busy with their countless tasks, the business functions properly, and the bosses are happy and relaxed. But, if BAs don’t do it as they should… well, the things start to fall apart.
Why? Because BA is responsible for the evaluation of projects that a company will develop. The analytics adjust a concept of a future project to the realities of a market. And if the evaluation is flawed, the result won’t be viable either.
Imagine a small software company. Let’s call it ImCorp. The company has found a new customer who has a brilliant startup idea and who is ready to entrust ImCorp with it so the company can make the idea a reality. As far as the customer has a concept, a general picture of the startup in their head but not the accurate description of the future project, they expect ImCorp to handle everything.
The customer basically says, “here you have my idea and my money. Do your best with them. And don’t you dare to ruin my expectations. Have fun! See you soon.”
Afterward, the ImCorp managers head over to the BA department so the business analysts could analyze (duh) the startup. The BAs are basically being told, “here you have customer’s idea. Ensure that it will work. And don’t you dare to ruin customer’s expectations. Have fun. See you soon.”
Yep, it’s a slight exaggeration for the sake of drama, but it’s not far from reality.
The analysts have to determine whether the project will be sufficiently competitive and whether the service it’ll provide is demanded. They should figure out the best “package” for the future product, by analyzing the market and figuring out what exactly would be selling the best. For this purpose, the BA department has to conduct a thorough analysis of the market using various technologies and tools:
Persona is among the primary methodologies that are used by BAs. Persona is an accurately determined portrait of a probable customer, which includes all definitive characteristics that may affect their buying preferences.
Good ol’ SWOT analysis. Sometimes, nothing helps better than the evaluation of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a project. Thorough SWOT analysis could be an instant insight generator (IIT).
Sometimes, it is essential to conduct PESTLE analysis to evaluate political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental factors. There is always a possibility of new trend that may intervene with a project.
A use case diagram, which provides an accurate description of the functionality of a project. The diagram describes a system of actions that a user should perform to receive desired outcome.
SOW, or statement of work, which is a detailed description of tasks a company should perform regarding a project under a contract with a customer.
Lean canvas, which helps to deconstruct your business idea into 9 (or less, it depends) key concepts: problem, customer segments, unique value proposition, solution, key metrics, competitive advantage, channels, revenue streams, and cost structure.
And d-o-o-zens of others, which are limited only to one’s imagination and knowledge. Math is simple: the deeper analysis you perform, the more accurate results you receive.
To perform all of this properly, a good BA should be a perceptive individual with phenomenal problem-solving skills.
When the analysis is over, the BAs might notice that something in the original project will be detrimental to its performance. As follows, they have to persuade the client that the project requires CHANGE. Most of the time, it’s not the hardest piece of work. But sometimes, it could be a hell of a task. Go there and try to tell a stubborn individual with glazing eyes and burning ambitions that you are going to change their creation in order to make it more demanded. It’s like petting a tiger while trying to add some nutritional supplements into its meal: quite interesting but completely reckless, and you still have to do this.
Moreover, picture yourself a BA who have managed to convince the client about the necessity of a change, but when the project is ready, it fails. Quite an unpleasant situation, isn't it? One would prefer to flee a country for a while.
Business Analysis is for the bold ones.
When the analysis is completed, and the customer is convinced that the new approach to the project is better than the original one, BAs provide an accurate list of project requirements with painstaking details. They pass it to the developers, saying “here you have the instructions. Make them a reality. And don’t you dare to deviate from the instructions. Have fun. See you soon.”
If the analysis was done correctly and the list of requirements is accurate, the project is most certainly doomed to success. And if not..., you've got the idea.
As you see, a proficient BA should be a Jack of all trades. Such a person should possess great analytical mind, some solid grasp of economic and mathematical theories, deep and diverse knowledge in dozens of different spheres, polished communicating and persuasive skills, and, as we’ve figured out, some decent survival skills. Tigers are dangerous.
Here you have a general description of the professional routine of a business analyst. Spread the word about their adventurous life if you enjoyed the reading.