Have questions about what a business analyst (BA) is and how can they can help your organization? Do you understand enough about the BA to tap into the full value they can bring to a project? Understanding their role can help you solve problems and add value to your business! Don’t overlook your BAs as complex problem solvers!
It can be a challenge to explain what the business analyst does. Consider the physician-patient analogy as a straightforward way to explain a high-level view of the role. The BA is very much like a physician, with the organization as the patient.
If you are not feeling well and go to see a good physician, they will not simply hand out a diagnosis, a bottle of pills, and a date when you will feel better. First, they will conduct some level of exam based on your symptoms. The more severe your symptoms, the more skill and time it will take to complete a diagnosis. Similarly, the BA cannot rush a recommendation for a solution before understanding and examining the company and issues involved. More complex business issues require more time and effort to resolve.
Complex symptoms require the physician to gather a substantial amount of background information about the patient including family and personal history, travel habits, and working conditions. Additionally, the patient will undergo a variety of tests to understand exactly what is going on. In much the same way, the BA reviews a variety of historical data and gathers current data via requirements workshops, interviews, focus groups, and other techniques. The BA then analyzes and documents this information using additional techniques such as process maps and user scenarios.
Eventually the physician will arrive at a diagnosis of the problem and explain it to the patient and their family. The physician asks the patient about their preferences, provides options for care, and outlines the risks involved with each option. The competent BA will also develop solutions for the situation at hand and provide recommendations to implement a solution. The solution should be based on the needs (requirements) of the stakeholders involved and should outline the risks involved.
A patient may determine that they want to look at alternatives to the options the physician recommends. They may want to try a new or unconventional procedure for any number of reasons. The physician can voice their learned opinion, but ultimately it is up to the patient to endorse an option they believe in. Likewise, any BA will also need to present alternatives to ensure that the project stakeholders are satisfied with the option selected.
The next time you are looking to improve your organization look to your business analysts. Recall the physician-patient relationship as an analogy to explain the important role the BA plays in promoting the health of any organization.