01 December at 03:00PM
Reintroducing the Business Analyst Role to Project Teams
During the days of using the waterfall approach for projects, the Business Analyst (BA) role was clear: gather requirements from the business, prepare documents of detailed requirements, communicate those requirements to the development team and the Project Manager (PM), and deliver the final product.
If we fast forward to the days of Agile, Lean, Scrum, DevOps, and XP, the traditional BA role becomes blurred. The skillset, however, remains distinctive and is now distributed across multiple roles as well as being a stand-alone skill. The BA skill set can be found within job titles such as Product Owner, Systems Analyst, Process Analyst, Scrum Master, and Management Consultant.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the pivot towards digital workplaces for many organizations, the business analysis skillset has become even more critical in ensuring successful solution delivery. Many PMs are increasingly having to draw on their BA skills while working virtually to deliver their projects or add a stand-alone Business Analyst to their project team to boost the likelihood of success.
Here are three key areas that a BA can lean into to deliver successful projects:
1. Focus on the People
Stakeholder management is an integral part of any project and a foundation for most PMs. A Business Analyst’s primary skills include distilling needs from wants, utilizing their experience eliciting requirements from senior management, and conveying information to all levels in the organization. A BA is well equipped to assist in streamlining the communication on a project team, regardless of the methodology being used. Business Analysts have various techniques in their BA toolkit for ensuring that their communication is tailored to the audience with the appropriate amount of detail required.
2. Focus on the Process
Whether it is adhering to the tenets of the methodology being used to deliver the project or to the core underpinnings of the operations of the organization itself, the Business Analyst must become well-versed in the processes surrounding the project to ensure successful solution delivery. There are instances where a PM doubles as a BA on smaller projects and has the bandwidth to get into the details of the processes. For large-scale enterprise projects, a dedicated BA is best suited to get “into the weeds” and partner with the relevant stakeholders to ensure no process is overlooked. The BA—as a change agent on a project—ensures that new processes that need to be introduced—either as part of a transition or more permanent end-state—are vetted for completeness and cohesion with existing processes.
3. Focus on the Business Environment
Each project’s success must be evaluated in the context of the business environment it is operating within. A BA is typically brought on to assess the feasibility of a project prior to initiation. They bring a keen understanding of the internal and external factors that can boost or derail project success. A BA can bring this knowledge to the team and give input to the PMs that can assist in the decision-making process. As a partner to the business team, the BA uses various tools and techniques to gather and convey insights that could affect the projects’ overall ROI thereby, allowing the PM—and the wider project team—to realize certain benefits including first-mover advantage or increased profitability.
The role of the Business Analyst is multi-faceted, and this article presumes a wide cross-section of skills for the BA. A BA on a project regardless of their job title is an asset to every project team and when leveraged correctly, can ease the workload for the PM. For a BA to provide these benefits well, however, they must be well-versed in a broad range of areas and have the ability to focus on the “forest as well as the trees.” For more information on how a BA can play a vital role to your project team, follow PMI Toronto’s Business Analysis Community social channels at:
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