Why you should hire a Business Analyst for your project
When a customer chooses a provider of software development services, one of the important selection criteria is the balance between team expertise and solution budget. If the planned project is quite large or complicated, IT companies often include a business analyst to the development team. And it’s the moment when the customer meets a question:
Why should we add a business analyst?
Undoubtedly, the customer is ready to purchase the development services itself, because it provides a visible result - a functioning software solution. But sometimes, the customer does not have a clear idea of what he pays for during this phase of the project.
A business analyst is any person who performs business analysis activities, regardless of their position or organizational role. The Business Analysis Book of Knowledge (BABoK) states these activities as:
- Understanding the problems and goals of the organization
- Analysing needs and solutions
- Developing strategies
- Driving change
- Facilitating stakeholder collaboration
During contract agreement stage, the customer can meet the following arguments for the BA presence on the project:
1. Developers will not help the customer to form requirements.
This statement is based on the fact that developers often do not have sufficient skills for effective communication and business understanding to identify and generate requirements. In fact, it all depends on the professional competence of the team and the willingness of its members to engage in communication and dive into the details of the business domain.
In addition, experienced developers often already have good analytic skills and even can have a much deeper knowledge of the customer's industry than a business analyst.
2. Neither the customer nor the development team will be able to identify and document their own requirements well enough. It’s true once both parties do not have enough time and desire to do this part of work. But with a short training and mutual interest, both the customer and the development team may cope well with the requirements elicitation and do most of this work without analyst’s help.
Nevertheless, a project developed without a phase of business analysis can be many times more expensive than a project with it. The business analysis allows the software service provider to understand the customer’s needs, its users and turn them into a solution. So, what exactly does the customer pay for?
Defining Project Vision and Scope
Preparing Project Vision and Scope document helps all parties have a single and congruent vision of the project. The process of creation includes listing and documenting goals, costs and timelines, the responsibilities of each person involved, as well as defining the scope and deliverables.
Collection of requirements
The main purpose of business analysis is to investigate the customer's needs and suggest the best possible solution. Therefore, requirements gathering is the crucial task on which the success of the project depends.
The BA expert gathers and analyses information from a large number of people who interact with the business. If these are stakeholders, the business analyst is responsible for identifying and articulating real requirements, not just expressed desires, and determining the relevance and priority of them. In addition, a customer may have the necessary expertise and knowledge of his business domain, but this may far not be enough to clarify users’ real needs.
There are several ways in which a business analyst identifies these needs, study users’ behavior, habits and pain points, such as interviews, observation, usability testing, etc. It allows analysts to identify and understand the essence of user requirements that may be critical to the entire project.
Typically, the business analysis is conducted at the early stages. But when the project is large, the analyst can support it throughout the development process, identifying and documenting new requirements, keeping track of the relevance of earlier targets. In this way, the BA expert ensures that the product has not lost relevance during the development process and still meets the customer's business needs. The analyst informs stakeholders about the urgency, value, benefit and risk of the next development phase. Some BAs may also perform the tasks of setting up a software tool and performing SQL queries to retrieve analytical data.
Change management in the project
Regardless of how well the requirements gathering phase was done at the project beginning, some modifications may be required during its development. Business analysts manage these changes and ensure that they can be easily implemented, taking the budget and existing features into account. The presence of a BA is vital when a development team works in Agile methodology, that means iterative work and regular software releases.
Demonstration of intermediary results and the end solution
In many companies, the BA visualizes processes with diagrams and often in collaboration with developers and UX designers, prepares basic layouts and wireframes. In this way, the business analyst shows the customer how the team understands his vision and verifies that the product meets his needs.
The BA can also help business employees adapt more quickly to the changes that the new project brings. Change can become a challenge, and a business analyst acts as change management specialist. He conducts master classes for employees, and transfers the change value to them.
Business analyst is the contact point between the development team and the customer. He or she works closely with the customer’s side, software engineers, testers, and project managers and helps prioritize, coordinate, and approve proposed changes with the customer to prevent misunderstandings. It happens that ideas about the look of the end product diverge during the development process between developers and customers. Negotiating on it is time-consuming, and here BA helps the customer side to minimize distractions from the business tasks. For the development team, the business analyst is needed to get the answers quickly and use working time effectively.
Also, one of the main reasons that software projects fail is that the technology team does not listen well enough to the customer, so that important business issue slips out of their attention. The BA can help the technology team stay focused on problem solving rather than software development.
Therefore, a thorough business analysis performed on a project is a very good investment in the future of the project, as it helps to create a more successful product that can solve more problems. In addition, the analyst helps the customer to identify hidden opportunities in his business and ultimately save the customer’s time and costs. Thus, correctly identified and prioritized business requirements are turned into a powerful and convenient software solution.
- business analytics