18 Jan Career Path – Business Analyst
What does a business analyst (BA) do?
A business analyst is a translator that can speak both languages: the business language and the technical language. As a BA in IT, your main function is “translate” the business requirements, document and convert them in documentation, and specifications which technical teams can understand.
You need to have (or learn) the communication skills to gather all the information from the user histories, and document them in a structured way.
Normally, we document “as is” – current situations and “to-be”-desired process, in either white papers, functional specifications or flow charts.
Example of a business analyst in a project:
This might be easier explained with an example: Imagine you are the BA for a new project, which consists in a new app that is needed for the Shipping area of “X” company.
Your role as a business analyst is to gather all requirements from the user, understand the business need of why do they want a new app? What is what they are trying to accomplish? For this, you meet with the Upper management to understand general needs and constraints. Also you will meet with the operative team: shipping managers, and of course the actual people in the shipping docks to understand how they operate.
Later on, you translate your understanding into a business process and also a “technical architecture”: Will the app communicate with any backbone server or impact any existing/new system? Are there any interfaces? NOTE: At this point we are not yet talking specifics of type of hardware, or programming language.
Also, you also will need to analyze data (Reports), to detect trends or possible improvements. Example: In the past month, there have been 150 errors on shipping sales orders. What are the main reasons for that? You will need to see statistics, talk to the users to quantify and classify the errors, maybe using a graphic or Pareto analysis.
Working with the technical teams:
After that, you meet with the technical team and see how to incorporate in the new app the solutions to avoid the issues mentioned. Example: With the app we will decrease the # of sales orders errors by 80% as the user will scan and confirm the shipment before loading the trucks.
Once the technical/design team has the proposed user interface, you will need to go back to the business and validate the proposals. You need to explain in “business” terms what the app functionality is trying to accomplish.
This back and forth between technical and business team continues through a project. As I mentioned in the beginning, you are the intermediary between two areas that speak different languages. If you see any problem, you will speak with the project manager to see how this can be solved.
Working as a BA within a company
If you are a BA within a company and not in consulting, your role is similar, but you might be more focused in other areas like Executive Reporting, Strategic Planning or if working for IT, again gathering requirements for new systems, or process improvements.
Starting as a Junior Business Analyst
The example above is what a more experienced BA will do on a project. As with most roles, when you start as a Jr. analyst, your role will be more on the “routine” tasks on documentation, flow charts, and meeting with users to gather requirements.
In summary, a business analyst will be the intermediate person between business and technical areas.
It is a little long, since I have to confess you a secret: I love this role..it is one of my favorites!..
Talk to you next time!