What’s in a Name: Business AnalysisApril 12, 2016
What is Project Management: Understanding Your ResponsibilitiesMay 10, 2016
Whether you have the title or not or know the business analyst responsibilities, if you’re doing the work of business analysis, your job is to recommend solutions that will enable the organizational changes necessary to deliver value to stakeholders. In other words, at its most fundamental level, the roles and responsibilities of a business analyst are about moving the organization forward and making it better.
Of course, that’s a pretty broad statement. To understand how the function of business analysis actually operates in the real world of an organization, it can be helpful to break out the various responsibilities and see how they support the overarching purpose of enabling an organization to reach its goals.
Let’s take a closer look at each of those individual responsibilities.
Drilling Down: Key Business Analyst Responsibilities
- Developing the Business Case: Discovering a problem and finding a better way is only the first step in enabling change. To gain the confidence, support and approval to move forward, you need a compelling business case. Business cases are essentially communication tools, and as such, they shouldn’t be overly complex or highly technical. The most effective ones document the key points in clear, simple terms and include these five sections: business need, solution scope, stakeholder concerns, estimated time and cost, and overall ROI.
- Stakeholder Analysis: Business analysts have to interact with wide-ranging stakeholders to get the necessary information, engagement and involvement to move a project forward. One of the most important business analyst responsibilities, the IIBA points out that business analysts are the liaisons among stakeholders and may even serve as the “translator” between stakeholder groups. But every stakeholder is unique, bringing different attitudes, perspectives, levels of interest and motivations to the project. As part of your roles and responsibilities of a business analyst, conducting a stakeholder analysis allows you to understand these nuances so you can determine the best way to involve and engage each to meet the project’s needs.
- Use Cases and User Stories: Every project has users—those people who will interact with whatever it is the project is designed to deliver, whether it’s a product, a service or some other result. Getting their input is an essential part of business analyst responsibilities, and there are two tools you can use to ensure you get the information you need: the use case and the user story. While both can be applied to any project deliverable, user stories, which provide context for the use cases, are typically higher level and more conceptual. Use cases go into more detail and describe specific actions and behaviors.
- Business Requirements: How do you make sure the end result of a project is what the business really needs? While the project management organization will develop a project charter and project plan, this documentation doesn’t address the business side of the project. That’s where the business requirements document comes into the picture. A key part of business analyst responsibilities, developing business requirements allows you to set the context for both the stakeholder and the solution requirements, ensuring that the project scope is aligned to meet the business purpose.
- Functional Requirements/Non-Functional Requirements: To get to a successful end product, part of your roles and responsibilities of a business analyst you have to determine what it should do and how it should work. In business analysis terms, these are the functional (what it does) and the non-functional (how it works) requirements. Both functional requirements and non-functional requirements play a role in defining the capabilities of the final product or service. As product categories mature, however, greater importance is typically placed on non-functional requirements. That’s because once the product has become part of a user’s day-to-day life, you can begin building on what it does to increase its value.
- User Acceptance Testing: Your business analyst responsibilities don’t end once the project’s needs and requirements have been identified. In fact, one of the most important business analysis responsibilities is making sure what’s delivered to the users not only satisfies their requirements but also works in the environment it’s designed for. The only way you’ll know you’ve achieved this is through the process of user acceptance testing. While the project is in the development and deployment stages, you should be actively working on preparing user testing, via testing scenarios, to get to user acceptance—the best indication that the end product will deliver the results you intend.
Mastering each of these business analyst responsibilities is key to success for anyone who has been tasked with the work of business analysis. Together, knowing the roles and responsibilities of a business analyst will help you create the conditions for the organization to continually improve and achieve its goals.