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Being a Business Analyst: What we do and how we do it!

Updated: Aug 10

Business analysis is the process of identifying business needs and identifying solutions to business problems. It is a function sometimes overlooked, often to cut costs. This can be a problem. If we could regulate, educate, and communicate to document, improve, and automate processes to create sustainability, transparency and accountability while improving efficiency, quality, profitability, all the while bridging the gap between IT and Business Operations, would you skip this function?


Business analysis

In a Nutshell

While the traditional Business Analyst (BA) is the custodian of business operational knowledge, the BA in an IT world must be skilled in not only understanding and refining the business requirements but also able to communicate this in a way that the Technical Architect and Development teams fully understand, typically through detailed process and functional specification documents. A Business Analyst is directly involved in the implementation of a software development project from start to finish.


Importance of Communication

One of the most important steps of a successful BA is to clearly communicate and verify the project purpose to all stakeholders.


BA's need to know their target audiences to communicate appropriately, e.g., different content of the business requirements document will be communicated to different levels of detail to the various audiences, IT Developer, Executive, Project Manager, etc. Business requirement documents must be summarized for management to get sign off to proceed to the next step. This is important as it formalizes the commitment as well as to acknowledge that the business requirement documents are complete and understood by all parties.


A Business Analyst must be able to communicate smoothly, effectively, and efficiently to business. We need to be able to describe once and use relentlessly!


Tried and Tested Methodologies

  • WHAT model - includes activities that are performed to achieve a purpose statement. Decompose complexity by breaking down the purpose into activities, then check that the activities and sub-activities to fulfill the purpose.


  • WHO model - shows who performs activities together with their roles and responsibilities allocated to each activity.


  • WHERE model - shows the geographical localities of where activities take place. If the process occurs in more than one location or department, then it can be grouped into locations based on similar needs. The network information then needs to be determined; this will show costs, cycle times and any inefficiencies.


  • WHEN model - shows time frames and units in which activities take place. Communicate with business to find out time considerations (e.g., calendar time, financial year-end) used for activities. Then determine time frames used for activities, decompose time units, time frames, and add missing descriptive information.


  • WHICH model - shows which information is needed to complete activities. This means identifying inputs and outputs of the activities. Then identify and group attribute level information to identify and establish relationships.

  • HOW model – is a complete business process model which depicts all the information collated. This will be modelled sequentially from start to end. The functional specification document will then be drawn for the Technical Architect and Developers.


In Conclusion

An IT Business Analyst is abreast with business needs and can match software solutions to streamline processes and systems. As we rapidly grow into an ever-evolving information technology economy, so too will the function of business analysis become more prominent.

Keep in mind that for a higher chance of success, business analysis is worth including in any project!


by Chanel Naidoo

SharePoint Consultant: Digital Workplace

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