Why Your Project Needs a Business Analyst
If you have never worked with a business analyst on your project, you may think that this team member will just slow things down, add more costs, create unnecessary documentation and communication overhead. This article will explain how business analysts add a tremendous value to the project and what you can expect from this role.
Moreover, the points below could help you explain to your clients the benefits of having a BA on a project.
Business Analyst Benefits for a Software Development Project
- A business analyst will add value through reducing project costs.
The biggest waste on a project is the development of incorrect or unnecessary features. A BA can help to prioritize features and define scope to meet client’s business needs. Moreover, instead of investing into the development right from the project start and getting a risk of multiple re-works by the development team, it is better to invest into the analysis and investigation to figure out what your client actually needs.
- A business analyst can help find more cost-effective solutions.
A good BA will clarify, which client’s problem should be solved. In most cases, there is no need in huge custom technology solutions. There might be tools, which already solve part of the problem and which could be re-used. Or even there might be a business process in the client’s company that could be partially changed to eliminate excessive spendings. All these solutions as an alternative to the custom development you can expect from your BA.
- A business analyst can discover new business benefits and propose valuable improvements.
Initially a BA asks many right questions, which should get him to the root cause of the business needs and which might change understanding of the product or service that should be developed. Also a BA works with many documents, regulations, and competitors on the market. While conducting those investigations, a BA may find and provide clients with new ideas, ways to improve user experience, add new monetization channels, all of which may result in ROI increase.
- A business analyst can crucially decrease misinterpretation and miscommunication between a client and a team.
A BA should be a single entry point for the requirements. There are always many ideas, change requests, or just clarification questions from the client. A BA can analyze those requests and find good solutions with the development team and PM. The team will avoid situations when the same request is handled by different team members or the client gets inconsistent answers.
- A business analyst can add more accuracy or even reduce the estimates.
Having a BA assigned to a project means that effort estimates will be much more accurate. BAs are good in providing a detailed, fairly accurate description with specific assumptions. They should be responsible for adding requirements missed by clients and avoiding duplicated features. Moreover, a BA can potentially reduce estimates by proposing easier to implement solutions, thus cutting costs to the client.
- A business analyst is very helpful in test management.
A BA can review efforts and consistency in the development of testing materials, ensuring that testing will cover all features and flows. A BA serves as an informed resource that works to assist QAs in creating test cases, test scenarios, test data, and test results verification.
- A business analyst is responsible for the change management.
In Agile we always welcome changes as they are critical to the long-term success of a project. Since a BA has a “ground level” understanding of the product, he or she can analyze how changes will affect already implemented functionality, project’s scope, timeline, and budget.
Business Analyst Minimum Package: Working with Requirements
Now let’s review how a BA works with requirements and what you can expect from this role. Depending on a project, a business analyst can take part in multiple activities, but as a minimum each BA is responsible for requirements management including:
- Requirements elicitation: an interactive and investigative process, which takes place through communication with the client and users, documents analysis. It is the role of a BA to help the clients to figure out what they “want” and what they “need.” A “want” is usually a functionality or feature that the client would like the product to have. A “need,” on the other hand, is a core functionality that the product must have in order to fulfill the product’s purpose.
- Expressing requirements: a process, which involves framing the requirements identified through discussion in a way that allows a product to be built. Initially requirements are described through notes from meetings or documents analysis. After that a BA should select more concrete representation. Typical representations include use cases, user stories, or storyboards. They could be simple or complex, textual or visual. It is up to the project manager and a team to determine and use representations that would work best for the project.
- Prioritizing requirements: using requirements prioritizing techniques (e.g. MoSCoW: acronym for the categories of “Must have,” “Should have,” “Could have,” and “Would like but won’t get”) requirements could be placed in the categories.
- Analyzing requirements: the process of examining the listed prioritized requirements of a project to ensure that they are clear, complete, and consistent. This is not a one-time action; requirements should be improved during the whole project timeline.
- Managing requirements: involves the organizing of requirements and possibly reusing subsets of requirements. It also involves keeping track of priorities, analyses, and changes in requirements.
So, let's sum up all benefits that a BA can bring to your project. Your BA is a person who knows why the product is needed, what and when should be developed by your team, can produce ideas, which bring more value by domain market researches and reduce costs by proposing easier solutions with the same business value. Finally, a BA serves as a bridge between a client and a development team, using his or her experience to create superior software.