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New Post 1/6/2009 3:07 PM
User is offline carmelfarrugia
4 posts
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Business Analyst 

Dear All,

Should we as a company employ a full-time business analyst (BA) or hire an external one?

This has been argued vehemently as the topics for hiring a full time analyst were such like: cheaper than external BA; internal BA might have knowledge of how the company functions/activities works etc, hence develop Functional specifications quicker.  The topics against having a full-time BA were like the BA might lack/not employ the best design interface or even lack innovative design skills for system design etc.,

The external BA might bring vast experience.

I really want to see you views.  It seems that my colleagues tried to argue that the functional specification should be written by the external software house who "must have the experience and best knowledge".

PLEASE ADVICE

Regards,

Carmel

 
New Post 1/6/2009 11:45 PM
User is offline Kimbo
441 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: Business Analyst 

G'day Carmel,

My Aussie mate kmajoos (think (s)he's an Aussie) does go on a bit. No offence kmajoos, you made some valid points..... <pause> ....  about concreting ;-)

Only downside with hiring contractors is that when they leave they take your business knowledge with them and you have to start again with the next one. If you're hiring for a specific project then a contractor is a good option (I'm a contractor. Where's the job :-) ) If you're looking to build up long term business knowledge in your team perhaps a permie is the way to go? Although contractors can stay longer than permies sometimes. Years in fact.

Kimbo 

 
New Post 1/6/2009 5:24 PM
User is offline KJ
243 posts
6th Level Poster


Re: Business Analyst 

Carmel,

If you were building a house, would you like the person that lays the foundation of the house to be faster and cheaper, or would you like the foundation to be proper and robust to support your house?

My first point: you want a BA who can develop "functional Specifications" that are robust to support your business systems.

I once contacted two concreters to lay my driveway of my house. Two young fellows turned up with a very detailed car (mags wheels the works) and said they could do it for about $1200. An old Italian guy turned up with his beat-up truck. He surveyed my property, looked at my back yard and the incline of the driveway and recommended that I use reinforced steel and make the driveway slightly thicker. Because of the incline of the driveway and the forecasted temperature (it was 35 degrees C that week) he warned that the cement might dry too quickly and the driveway would later show little cracks. He suggested I keep the cement wet, by hosing it down for a few days. Well I accepted his quote of $1800! My driveway never cracked, others in the neighbourhood had to replace theirs or paid extra money to remedy some unsightly cracks in their driveways.

My Point: Go for the experinced BA and pay him/her the money, in the long run it will save you money.

If I was in the business of creating driveways, I would have employed the Italian Concreter or partnered with him at least. But since I was only doing driveways very infrequently, I have not done one since, I only needed the experienced  concreter for one job.

My point: Unless you are building more systems in the long run, its prudent to employ a BA and have your own expert. If not contract the resource.

Furthermore contractors are not that expensive. Take a permanent employee and factor in sick leave,paid maternity leave, holidays, compulsory training, recruitment cost, redundancy cost, super annuation contribution, medical insurance, liability insurance, office space (I've named a few); the permanent employee cost sometimes surpasses or matches the contract rate.

Now buidling driveways and building systems are two different things. Building systems depends very much on the methodology used. If you are using the older "waterfall"  SDLC then the analogy of the driveway is reasonable, because once the requirements are done the BA can leave. However, if you are going to use RUP or an iterative methodology, then you will need a BA for the duration of the project, as you'll specify a little, build/implement a little.

Lastly, A good BA need not know your business; he or she is an expert in business analsysis. Its better for the BA to analyse your business with the help of subject matter experts, than for subject matter experts to learn BA skills while leading a project. The latter is a luxioury that you just cant afford on a project.

In summary: this whole thing is not about money, but its about having "the [BA] experience and the best [BA] knowledge" to lay a good foundation ( I agree with your colleagues). The issue of contracting or employing the resource depends on whether its prudent to build an inhouse resource. This in itself is another big argument, especially those who believe that we should outsource processes that we need not do inhouse.

I hope this helps a bit. I've avoided the "innovative design skills for system design" thats a later discussion!

warm regards,

K

 

 
New Post 1/7/2009 12:51 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Re: Business Analyst 

Carmel,

You and your collegues (and anyone else who is NECESSARY to make the decision about contract or permie - ie the decision CANNOT be made without them) will need to agree the criteria that will be used to evaluate whether the BA you employ or hire  is a good choice or not. For each criteria set the value that equates to success.

Example: suppose you all agree that cost is a measure by which the success of the appointment will be measured. What is the target (max) cost for the appointment? You might decide that industry experience is important - how much? How many year's experience or how many projects have they been involved in or some other target?

Once you have all these criteria and target values defined and signed-off, use them to define the what the ideal candidate needs to be a good appointment for your position.

Example: the target value for the cost of the BA is $50k per annum. They must have been working in your industry for a min of 3 years and worked on at least 5 projects as a BA. Any candidate who does not meet these targets is - by your definition - a failure.

Now you can advertise and provided that the candidate meets the success criteria does it matter if they are contract or permie?

Of course, one of your success criteria might rule out contract or permie (hopefully not both!). In that case, you probably shouldn't advertise to that segment. I can't really imagine a criteria that would rule out contract or permiebut I guess it could happen in theory.

Hope this helps,

Guy

 
New Post 1/9/2009 3:17 AM
User is offline Craig Brown
560 posts
www.betterprojects.net
4th Level Poster




Re: Business Analyst 
Modified By Craig Brown  on 1/9/2009 5:23:22 AM)

Poorly managed requirements are the NUMBER 1 reason for project failure.  If you have any degree of complexity in your project hire an expert - and not just another contractor from the market.  go to a boutique BA agency or a consulting firm.  It will cost more up front but will save in the long run.

Remember that most projects exceed their budget by 2-3 times the initial budget.  And come in late, and deliver only a portion of the original goals.  And this is usually due to bad requirements management.

If you want to develop BA skills in house, partner your experts wth them for several projects, not just one.  If you are not going to do much IT work - build the relationship ith the agency/supplier and if you need further work in the future go back to them.  This principle should also apply to your solutions development team.

I am currently working on a moderately complex project with a nubers of BAs who have a couple of years experience and some good training.  It is a challenge for them and we need help from one or two more senior/expert BAs.  The value they bring will be in the ball park of 20-30% of the total project budget.  It's an important place to invest in quality.

This also applies for any Agile projects of modrate to significant complexity.

To the point that the BA may be blinkerred by their methodology - that's a choice for the project sponsor/manager. The BA should be able to work within any numebr of processes.  If they can not - replace them with one who can, but first listen to their reasons for their approach.  They are supposed to be an expert in their field.

And lastly - make sure the BA is kept on board until the relase to production, and possibly post implementation to see the beginning of the benefits realisation process monitored and managed.  Don't let them go as soon as the specifications are written up and approved.  This is a certain path to project failure.

 
New Post 1/7/2009 1:41 PM
User is offline carmelfarrugia
4 posts
No Ranking


Re: Business Analyst 

Dear Knajoos,

Many thanks.  What you stated makes a lot of sense.  However, it is now clear that there will be a lot of work for a BA withing this organisation.  Thus, I beleive that it will be prudent to hire one with experience so that the BA will 'hit the road running' as the expression goes.

However, irrespective of whether a BA is external or internal, I believe that there will always be a case whereby one could potentially (at a cost) design a better system...  I got a sneek feeling that the management thinks that by hiring an external BA the BA will get the magic wound and design an innovative system that could potentially be missed if hiring a full time BA.  So far (in the past) the hired external BA liaised with the respective division/s, gathered information and designed a system being either brand new, or replace a spreadsheet/s system or vb system. 

I personally feel that if the BA is full time (as it seems justifiable to do so), then the Functional Specification could be submitted to various software firms to get a price estimate.  If however, we hire an external BA, then the ideas might still be 'blinkered' with the methodology, language etc that the software firm might use.

I hope that the above is clear and I greatly appreciate your comments.

Many thanks.


Regards,


Carmel 

 
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