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What do Business Analysts Do?

What do Business Analysts do?  They act as a key advisor and strategist by focusing on relationships, core business needs, creativity and project planning principles.

Establish Value Add Business Relationships

Forming authentic relationships involves both business analyst and business partner bringing value to the table based on their unique experience. As these relationships are established, the business analyst becomes a representative and trusted advisor to the business stakeholder; both seek to realize the business value from the final implementation of the product. 

Business partners aim to achieve business goals by highlighting key pain points in the business cycle that inhibit growth and expansion, lead to lost revenue opportunities or produce inefficiencies that raise operating costs.  Business analysts also document business processes and analyze options.  They define process changes and specifications for enhancing and/or creating new products.  

Business Analysts Display Deep Understanding and Appreciation For Technology

To ensure strong relationships on the technical side, business analysts need to have a keen understanding and appreciation for the technical complexities that bring the business vision to life.  Additionally, business analysts need to communicate with both business and technical teams (network administrators, IT specialists, etc.) with integrity - advocating a greater understanding of the challenges and points of view of both sides.  To gain a greater understanding of the technical side of many companies in the information age, consider enrolling in a technology-focused online degree program.  By gaining official certification in specialized areas, a business consultant can bring even more relevant expertise to the table.

To ensure  relationships remain trusting when project hurdles are encountered, the business analyst must address conflicts directly and authentically with the individuals involved.  He or she must emphasize an end result of achieving the team goals rather than focusing on who made the specific mistakes.  It's all about focusing on the positive. 

Business Analysts Walk a Mile in Someone Else's Moccasins

To be a successful business analyst, you need to put yourself in the day to day routines of the departments that you are analyzing. Examine their daily processes and look for system barriers.  By observing a day in the life, you are "down in the trenches", getting a feel for the process and resulting challenges. 

Traits of a Successful Business Analyst:

  1. You must have a passion for capturing opportunities to increase revenue
  2. You must have an innovative drive to bring a product to end users that has anticipated their future needs and wants
  3. You must become the empathetic advocate for solutions that will achieve the end user/department/company goals.  You have to begin to think like the business, presenting them with options regarding how they can achieve their goals.   

Business needs should drive product innovation and technology implementations.  If the end results do not help the stakeholder reach their goals, implementing these new products and solutions will not be successful.  Additionally, return on investment will not be obtained.  As an advisor and a strategist, you must encourage both the business and technical resources to approach the project with two goals in mind: to add business value and to obtain Return on Investment (ROI).

Get Creative In Making Prototypes/Proof of Concepts

When envisioning both process and technical solutions, business analysts need to leverage their ability to create a mental picture.  It is extremely important to listen, to observe, and to draw upon the challenges, needs, and wishes of a client.  Form a tangible mental model of what needs to change.  Ask yourself what the solution could look like? What could the solution do? How would the person in need of help interact with this solution?

Take these preliminary thoughts and make tangible prototypes - a simple working model, a picture, or a process map - and get feedback from your end users about your proposed solution.  It is easier for people to say "this piece doesn't work" or "that is going in the right direction" once you provide a solution they can see and touch. 

What Else do Business Analysts do? Brainstorm & Project Plan

To elevate your role as a business analyst, you need to be able to create, understand and assess impacts to project plans. When negotiating scope with both business and technical teams, you will be able to talk about impacts to critical path items, work streams, cost and timeline.  Additionally, you become a key participant in brainstorm sessions about how to break the solution into multiple phases of implementation; spacing out the time between changing functionality and end user deployments to reduce overall risk. 

Finally, stretch yourself to take the  driver's seat when it comes to planning how this solution will be implemented and executed.  In partnership with the business you are serving become the owner of Requirements, User Acceptance Test and Change Management work streams.  Identify deliverables, estimate work effort and resources, and highlight potential risks involved and you will be on your way to being a key player within the project core team.