In their regular course of business operations, companies tend to do various projects across several functions. Each project involves different stakeholders who have got specific skill-sets on the job. In today’s competitive environment, businesses require themselves to adapt continuously to the ongoing change with agility and promptness.
A Business Analyst plays an important role in steering and driving the ongoing project through continuously monitoring and updating the status to all stakeholders involved in a project. Business Analysts are a bridge, acting as an intermediary between the cross-functional teams or between companies to coordinate and communicate about the requirements of both parties across the board. Business analyst salary reflects their importance to the businesses.
Role of a Business Analyst
1. Business Requirement Document
The role of a business analyst usually starts during the inception of any new project. His/her first task is to start by understanding the client’s requirement. This document usually involves preparation of a complete understanding the scope of project’s work (this document is also known as Business Requirement Document, BRD) and communicating the entire team about this document to take their perspective.
After finalizing the document, the same will be shared with the client, and approval will be taken for further execution. This document will be used as a guideline for the detailing about the work and used for referencing whenever there is a difference in opinion during the implementation phase.
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2. Budgeting and Planning
A goal without a plan is just a wish. Therefore, once the scope of work is finalized, next comes the ‘budgeting’ and ‘planning’ phases. This involves clear segregation of responsibilities and delegation of work to each stakeholder involved in the project. Planning is the most important step in determining the timelines of completion and costs involved in completion of the project. Project managers also involve in this phase. Although the role of a business analyst sounds in synonymous with the project manager, it doesn’t always necessarily need to be that way.
Project managers take support from business analysts for the execution of projects and forecast the details of costing, etc., while business analysts focus on techno commercial aspects of the project. In large projects, where there are a lot of moving parts are involved, project managers usually take support from multiple business analysts for effective coordination with the client.
3. Execution and Coordination
After the work is delegated to each stakeholder, next comes the phase of execution. Execution involves the effective delegation of work to all the team members of a project. Delegation of responsibilities depends on the matrix of organization and type of project work. If it is a technical project, business analysts ensure development work and testing of each phase of the project before it is handed over to the client. If it is a non-technical project, business analysts ensure each aspect involved in the current phase of a project is executed. Business analysts need to report about the ongoing status of the project to ensure the customer and internal stakeholders are on the same page.
4. Change Management
Depending on the nature of work, typically during the execution phase projects usually require a slight deviation from the initial plan. Effective planning usually ensures minimal scope for deviations in the scope of work of any project. If the client requires to change the scope of the project during execution, the same need to be taken into account and communicated to the concerned stakeholders.
This process is also called change management or deviation in the scope of work. Every change involves additional cost implications or extension of final delivery, the same needs to be communicated to the project manager. The project manager then adjusts the pricing or billing as per the new scope of work and releases the updated schedule of delivery of the project. It is the responsibility of a project manager to communicate about the ongoing changes to the entire team and the necessary cost implications associated with it.
5. Reporting and Final Delivery
One of the important aspects of the role of a business analyst is to continuously update the status of the project or work to all participants. Constantly updating about the progress of the project ensures all teams are on the same page with respect to the status of execution. This involves the preparation of reports in agreed formats.
Reports are used by the management to get to know the ongoing work’s status without going too much into detail. Once the work is completed as per the agreed scope of work, final delivery needs to be sent to the client along with the details of final billing.
Skills required for a Business Analyst
Although the skill-set required to become a business analyst is subjective to the kind of work that needs to be executed, there are few general expectations from one to perform effectively in this role.
In large IT corporations, business analysts are necessitated to have technical competency in the area of work they are expected to perform. Technical competencies include programming work and testing of the product to check if it is meeting the requirement.
This helps business analysts to effectively translate business requirements into the language which tech developers speak. Apart from this some general tools which come in handy while performing their day to day job, there are data presentation and analytical tools. Presentation tools include MS office and analytical tools include google analytics and tableau etc.
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Other traits which are important for business analysts are all forms of communication skills – Verbal, written and presentation skills. In today’s dynamic business environment, constant communication with clients and internal stakeholders is a must for effective execution. Hence, business analysts need to communicate with all stakeholders using all forms of communication.
Planning and Leadership Skills
Planning is required to facilitate the execution process with timelines during the implementation phase of the project, while leadership skills are required for effective identification of resources and delegation of work. Read more about Business Analyst skills.
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How does a day look like in the day of a business analyst?
During the planning phase, the business analyst defines the scope of his/her tasks to be performed during each phase of the project life cycle. Depending on the current phase of the project, the business analyst plans his/her work. It usually involves preparation of analysis document against the initial scope document using spreadsheets and communication of issues (if any) through writing emails or sometimes through phone calls. A great deal of time goes into investigating issues where the teams are stuck or there is no progress in the defined work.
With the advent of big data, it is often necessary for business analysts to analyze information from various resources and do data crunching before reporting it to the next level. Synthesizing information and presenting the insights is another important task they are expected to perform.
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Challenges faced by business analysts in their day-to-day work
As mentioned earlier, business analysts act as a bridge and facilitators by carefully studying and understanding the requirements as elucidated by clients. While this role sounds extremely exciting, it also comes with some challenges which one should be aware of-
Lack of clarity
During the preparation of the business requirement document, the detailed scope of work has to be prepared and reviewed through the client up to satisfaction. The same needs to be run by the internal stakeholders who are expected to execute the work hands-on. If there is any misconception about the scope of work, the same needs to be clarified mutually through communication. If anything that’s promised is not delivered, it will have an implication on costs for both parties at a later stage. Also, developers consent needs to be taken into account before promising about any feature of the project.
Change Management is often the most frustrating aspect of any project. As developers put in a lot of effort in building a feature, they often are not appreciative about doing any sort of rework. So, carefully analyzing the direction of status during the implementation phase is necessary.
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‘Planning’ and ‘Requirement building’ phases are usually smooth as they don’t involve any implementation. However, during change management, if there is any difference of opinion, one often needs to take blame or responsibility for being able to foresee the upcoming deviation.
This leads to friction in dealing with one another. The project manager at this stage needs to step in and steer clear of all arising conflicts. To avoid such conflicts, a business analyst should document all sorts of communication along with reports.
Business analyst skills are a combination of hard skills and soft skills. If you want to be a successful business analyst, it will always help you to work on your people skills as well as bettering your technical capabilities.
Companies across both IT and e-commerce sectors pay excellent compensation to deserving candidates who can add value to their organization. Apart from the regular educational qualifications and work experience, having advanced Business Analysis certifications also helps in bagging jobs that offer high-level salaries.
What is the biggest challenge faced by a business analyst?
Business analysts are highly valued in every organization. But, at the same time, there are plenty of challenges faced by a business analyst. The most common as well as the biggest challenge faced by every business analyst is resolving conflicts. The reason behind conflicts coming up in the organization could be any such as timeline issues, arguments over implementations, and team members proposing a new idea for certain projects.
Whenever the team members are not able to come to a consensus, it is the responsibility of a business analyst to step in. They need to solve the conflict without hampering the current schedule, deadlines, and also productivity.
How can a business analyst resolve conflicts?
As a business analyst, you need to have specific techniques over your sleeve to make the conflict resolving process easier. By following a few strategies, the conflicts could be solved easily, quickly, and even effortlessly.
Here is the list of techniques you can follow as a business analyst for resolving conflicts:
1. Rationale investigation.
2. Discussion and negotiation.
3. Compromising between alternate solutions.
4. Voting among the conflicting parties
5. Defining alternatives
6. Take an opinion from some expert
7. Build a decision matrix
8. Overruling (Only use this one when no other conflict resolution technique doesn’t work)
Using these techniques will make it pretty easy to solve the conflicts happening in your organization.
What is the demand for business analysts in the future?
In the upcoming years, there would be a huge demand for business analysts. Some of the top companies like IBM invest more of their resources in finding the right business analysts to effectively and accurately reach their business goals.
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there would be an increase of 21% in business analyst jobs by 2024. This can help you understand that if you are thinking about exploring your career as a business analyst, then you can expect a bright future up ahead. It is not only about job security, but there is a constant increment seen in the median salary of business analysts. With steady growth in demand as well as salary, it is clear that there is good scope in the future for a business analyst.