Most organizations think of hiring a business analyst at the beginning of a project, when they need an experienced professional to help with creating and documenting requirements. Whether collecting user stories or building matrixes or identifying actors, a good business analyst is essential. Business analysts, however, can provide so much more through the life of a project than an initial set of requirements.
Business analysts bridge the divide between business and IT staff to ensure everyone is on the same page with the business needs that the final product should fulfill. Here are seven reasons why you need a business analyst after the requirements are gathered.
1. Validating requirements during procurement
Often large IT development projects begin with the acceptance of a bid based on a set of requirements. Who better than the analyst who wrote those requirements, or an experienced IT business analyst, to help write the RFP to find the right vendors or even help evaluate solutions in some cases? Depending on the potential market solutions, the business analyst can ensure the requirements are written in a way that will maximize the number of responses from qualified vendors.
2. Maintaining requirements after vendor selection
The gap between the requirements phase and the start of the project is often several months or more, which means those valuable requirements may no longer be as representative of current business practices as they were when they were written.
Organizations need someone who can adequately review those existing requirements and work with staff to determine the relevance and accuracy of those requirements. The business analyst can guide staff in updating the requirements if necessary to make sense to the chosen vendor.
3. Translating complicated business processes during development
Every organization must detail their existing or new processes as the project progresses. Though business staff are experts in what they do, they are not experts in communicating about what they do in a way that can be understood by those with no experience with the organization or by technical professionals.
A skilled business analyst can translate the intricacies about how the business works for technical staff.
A business analyst can also serve as a point of contact during development for quick answers when staff is occupied with the daily needs of their business. This prevents “blockers” for development staff so they can continue moving forward and staying on schedule.
4. Test management
Many projects are not large enough to involve full-time test management. The project manager can schedule the testing activities and see that test cases, test scenarios, test data, and test results are completed on time and in the format required. However, they generally do not have the time or skills to provide mentorship and oversight throughout the testing process.
The business analyst can provide the mentorship and consistency in the development of testing materials, ensuring that testing will cover all the topics necessary for a complete test. They serve as an informed resource that works to assist the business staff in performing tests that represent the real world of the business from A to Z. Their unique whole-system view allows them to catch or prevent errors or defects that may be missed by individual testers.
Additionally, a business analyst can provide all the final testing documentation, which is critical in meeting oversight and auditing requirements to demonstrate how the testing led to the “go live” decision.
5. Data conversions and migrations
Most SMEs and product owners understand exactly what data is supposed to exist in their applications, but don’t have the expertise to define how that data is supposed to get there or how to confirm that it is the correct data. Again, the project manager can organize the tasks and the review process, but a business analyst can be essential to a project by working with staff in defining, mapping, converting and validating the data in a new or updated application.
The business analyst can help staff organize and define current data and determine equivalences and gaps with new data sets. They can help to document the clean-up or correction of historical data or the mapping of old to new. Most importantly, they can mentor and lead staff through a consistent set of processes for validating and verifying that the correct data is residing in the correct place. This can save a project precious time at the end when data migration often occurs.
6. Change management
Ensuring change is accepted is critical to the long-term success of a project. If a project does not have the resources for a full-time change practitioner, a business analyst can help staff understand, prepare for and reinforce changes to the system they use.
Because a business analyst has a “ground level” understanding of the work from the staff perspective, as well as the wholistic view of the project, they can help staff understand how project changes will affect their work processes. They also have a constant pulse on how staff is feeling. This gives them an understanding of any resistance to change that exists and why, and can help project staff address those concerns before implementation.
7. Post implementation
The business analyst is uniquely situated to have a complete understanding of a new application when it goes live. They have worked with staff on every aspect and component of the application and helped them test the functionality. Staff will quickly become experts at subject areas that pertain to their work and appropriately have little understanding of other critical areas. Development teams and the project management will have their own narrow focus, but the business analyst will have the broadest, most complete perspective. This can be critical as various staff build up experience with the application, but need to understand how processes outside their area of expertise impact their work. During this transitional phase, the business analyst can bring continuity to the initial implementation.
Once any organization has experienced working with a high-quality professional business analyst, they are going to understand the value of having a skilled business analyst on the project team. A business analyst can help reduce project “churn,” get staff integrated into the project, increase effective communication and ultimately, and help keep the project on time and on budget.
For more than 16 years, Treinen has provided premier management and IT consulting in the Northwest. We deliver value to our clients and their customers by focusing on their needs and providing them with the best resources to get the job done. Our business analysts have an average of 11 years of experience on a variety of industries at all stages of a project, including procurement, requirements gathering, development, testing and implementation. If you have questions about bringing a business analyst on to your project, contact us. We would be happy to chat with you about the process and how you can make the best use of a business analyst.