Business Analyst vs. Superman

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Since when were Business Analysts a one stop shop for all project needs? We are expected to be Superheros; well-rounded BAs as well as Change Managers, Test Analysts, Project Managers and Implementation Managers. The boundaries of these other disciplines is often unclear so this article seeks to explore the activities that fall into business analysis and those that should be undertaken within the other disciplines.

Business Analyst vs. Superman


Change Management

I have always struggled to work cohesively with change teams on projects. Maybe it is because I haven’t had the pleasure of working with Change Managers and Change Analysts who are strong in their capability and often insist on signed off documentation directing them what to do and handed to them on polished silver platter before they can commence any work. So I often find myself defining and executing the change activities such as developing briefing materials, quick reference guides and procedure documentation or assessing training needs, providing end user support and preparing comms. This is simply because I know I will get a better result for the organisation as opposed to being a symptom of my mild OCD.

Change impacts can be identified through solution assessment and design workshops before a change resource is even allocated to the project. It may not be an exhaustive list but an initial assessment of what is planned to change with a particular solution being implemented. If the change team was involved from the outset and came on the journey with the rest of the stakeholders there would be deeper understanding of the current environment and therefore the changes brought about by implementing a solution to achieve the desired target state. This understanding would support the change analysis to be performed and allow the change strategy and plan to be defined without hand-holding from the Business Analyst.

Testing/ Quality Assurance

Business Analysts will always have a strong connection with the testing effort on a project simply due to their in depth knowledge of the requirements that are to be addressed. Depending on the methodology used and the phase of testing being performed this can take on a number of forms.

Projects following an agile or change driven approach will typically require the BA to be involved in determining the acceptance criteria to be tested against for each requirement or logical grouping of requirements. This is the minimum set of functionality that the solution must deliver in order to be accepted by the recipients of the solution.

Projects following a waterfall or plan driven approach will typically require the BA to be involved in defining test scenarios to cover the requirements which can then be translated into test cases for execution by the Test Analyst.

I am comfortable with the expectations to this point, however I draw the line at preparing test strategies and test cases, uploading test cases into a software tool, test data creation and test execution. I believe this is the responsibility of the Test Manager, Test Leads and Test Analysts.

When it comes to user acceptance testing which seeks to test end to end processes including the system and non system steps the BA may be requested to coordinate the resources and then facilitate the sessions to support those resources in performing the testing. I have a problem with this as in my opinion identifying the appropriate resources from the business and securing these resources falls into the Change domain as they should be the ones who understand the organisational structure and closely working with the business to roll-out the change. The BA can be available for any questions at the time the tests are being executed especially in relation to the expected results and whether any functionality that is not accepted can be explained, taken away as a defect or otherwise.

Project Management

Don’t even get me started on Project Managers who shift responsibility to the Business Analyst. A number of times I have been asked by the Project Manager to produce project schedules and end to end cost estimates for delivering a piece of work or even the monthly steering committee pack which shows progress against KPIs and other measures. Part of me wants to push back and remind them that this is not my job and then the other part of me wants to keep my job!

There seems to be a lack of understanding amongst Project Managers how BA Planning and Project Planning differ from each other. I’m more than happy to define the approach, activities and deliverables, select the appropriate techniques and develop the performance metrics to report against, measure success and learn for the business analysis effort on a project.

Implementation

My definition of implementation is the roll-out and verification of a new solution typically on a weekend or outside of core business hours and it also extends to the activities leading up to this point as well as post implementation and end user support for a period of time.

Does it make sense for a business analyst to be part of a support team while the implementation takes place? It’s not an unreasonable request since they are across the business processes, can help to identify workarounds if things go wrong and they understand the business impacts of the solution.

However, I do feel that the overall implementation should be led by the IT & Change Management functions, to plan and coordinate deployment, provide updates to stakeholders, ensure that there is business representation to conduct production verification testing on a sample of data after the solution is live, run briefing sessions for affected end users and provide on the floor support. And to order the pizza of course!

BA’s are an integral part of project success and are expected to contribute to Change Management, Quality Assurance, Project Management and Implementation in a collaborative and supporting capacity. After all the responsibility needs to be shared and teams should be working towards the one common goal. What I don’t agree with is the strong dependence on the BA which in some cases is taken advantage of to execute activities on behalf of these other disciplines. Sometimes I just want to be allowed to be the best BA I can be and leave the other work to other streams.


Author: Sakina Haque, Business Analyst at Transurban in Melbourne, Australia.

Sakina is a career business analyst who achieves satisfaction from seeing her designs and requirements materialize into tangible solutions that improve user experience. She often enters into debates around the differences between business requirements, business rules and solution requirements. Sakina attained the CBAP designation in 2012.


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Business Analyst vs. Superman

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COMMENTS

rohangopal posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 2:53 PM
Fantastic article, well said, I totally agree! ;)
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