Business Analyst: What Is Your Mission?

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Nov 04, 2018
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Every profession in a sophisticated business structure has a certain mission attached to it. This mission includes the job duties and deliverables, but that’s not all.

The only way to really encapsulate the essence of what the profession of a business analyst is all about is to understand the Business Analyst Mission. In other words, the Business Analyst Mission is definitive of the value created by business analysts.

There are certain landmarks with which the Business Analyst Mission can be identified with, compared to, and assessed by. In this article, the focus of the discussion will be on what the Business Analyst Mission really is in order to Identify Needs, Bridge, Advocate, and Deliver.

Identify Needs

Requirements elicitation is the start of a journey. It requires a set of skills to come up with the requirements; however, written requirements alone do not get the job done. Engagement, bridging and advocacy of the requirements to gain a consensus, and buy-in is the rest of the journey.

Bridging

Bridging is when the business analyst becomes the “evangelist” of the business needs. Transforming the unknown to known is the start of a journey to deliver a business solution. In a complex multi-divisional business environment, delivering a solution is not straightforward; it requires engaging every party with a stake in the problem and/or impacted by the solution. Business analysts negotiate priorities, resolve conflicts, and preach the needs across the organisation.

A business analyst is required to fight many fronts at the same time. Be it core business values or intricate technological details, a business analyst is expected to be adept at any and every exposure that is presented. At the same time, it is equally important for a business analyst to be able to “bridge” these fronts in order to take a bird’s eye view of the whole business setup.

Every sizeable business operates on many levels and has a certain multi-divisional structure that a business analyst is required to take into account. Resolving problems isn’t a straightforward process in such instances. There are many stakeholders, none of whom can be left out of the context. This is where the bridging really comes to the fore. By understanding how divisions work together, a business analyst can initiate a process that’s expected to end with a consensus on the nature of the problem and a buy-in from every impacted stakeholder.

A good example of this is the bridging of technology and the organization’s core functions. In some organizations, it is somewhat challenging to make these two divisions understand each other in a perfect synchronization because of their mutually exclusive spheres of operation. A true business analyst can bridge this gap and bring everyone onto the same page.

Advocate

Bridging in itself however, doesn’t suffice. Once the unknowns are unearthed and realized in a broader scheme of things, a business analyst is required to advocate these in a way that’s persuasive but not demanding. More often than not, solutions arrive through a complex, intertwined process that spans across departments and divisions. Thus, it becomes important for a business analyst to advocate these findings, or parts thereof, to various stakeholders using the right combination of division specific languages and tones to pitch the benefits of addressing the needs.

Rifts, friction, or power struggles between various levels of a corporate skeleton are ubiquitous. There are always going to be some units that are primus inter pares. But it’s the responsibility of a business analyst to rise above this. While advocating the needs to a business as a whole entity, a business analyst needs to understand and account for the effect of every action on every level.

A greater part of advocating also includes convincing the stakeholders that the interest of the business transcends that of the individuals. An engine is, after all, the sum of its parts. Neither the engine nor the parts can bypass the coexistence.

Throughout my career as a business analyst, I have come across various situations where projects failed to engage every impacted party in the organisation for consultation and obtain their buy-in. A peculiar example that comes to my mind is a project with a mission to implement a documents storage capability for a loan application process. Although it was a business need, the project assumed that the change was a “technology” change and that business functions had little to do with the details. The project did not consult other parties within the technology division either. The project assumed that the system performance would not be impacted, although the project did not have the expertise to make that assessment. Post implementation of the project, the system performance slowed down dramatically, and frontend users could not submit loan applications. After the rollout of the change, the whole responsiveness of the loan application process went downhill, and soon enough, applicants found it impossible to submit their applications successfully.

What can be learnt from this example is that even though the objective of “electronic documents storage capability” was achieved, it had a negative impact on the engine (i.e., the business). So in retrospect, even though the objective was addressed in a limited context, it actually had a negative impact on the process as a whole simply because every concerned stakeholder was not engaged and consulted.

Identifying the right stakeholders, assessing the impact of every action on every function in the process, and bridging and evangelising related needs are thus the first tenets of the business analyst’s mission.

Deliver

The most important part of a Business Analyst Mission is the delivery of promises.

Elicitation of facts, identifying problem areas, and advocating for the needs to various stakeholders don’t explicitly guarantee a successful execution of reparation measures. A business analyst is supposed to see to it that these promises are converted into tangible outcomes and solutions.

A business analyst will be required to work closely with the delivery team to ensure this. Working in tandem, a business analyst and the delivery team can carry out an efficient management of change in order to reach the optimal solutions.

The ultimate success of a business analyst lies in the successful execution of solutions and the end user satisfaction.

Right from identifying the issues across various business levels and divisions to bridging them all together in a business-wide context, a business analyst has the power to truly organise. Advocating for these division-specific needs to all stakeholders while accounting for the greater interest of the business engine, a business analyst can drive the change forward smoothly and effectively. Whether it is working in close quarters with project teams to deliver tangible outcomes or being accountable for the changes made or planned, every facet of a change is administered by a business analyst. Thus, a business analyst is required to bridge in order to engage all the concerned stakeholders in the process of making changes and creating awareness about the realities of the changes, to advocate for these changes to overcome any objections and gain buy-in from the concerned stakeholders, and finally, to deliver what was agreed upon.

We do more than requirements elicitation; we go above and beyond. We add value by bridging all impacted parties, advocating for the needs, and delivering what we promised.


Author: Adam Alami, PhD Fellow, IT University of Copenhagen

Adam Alami is a PhD fellow at the IT University of Copenhagen. Adam has a wealth of experience in information technology practices. He started his career as a software developer, then moved to business analysis and project management. His 20 years’ experience revolves around major business transformation projects and process improvement. He accumulated a wealth of cross industry experience in major projects in the areas of Enterprise Transformation, Integration, Migration, and Systems Modernization.

He has a track of academic achievements. He holds a Bachelor degree on Software Engineering from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) and a Master degree on Computing from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

Email: adamalami2016@gmail.com





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