Have you ever run a software development project without a good business analyst as part of your team? How did it work out for you? If you’re not staring at your shoes right now then you’re part of the minority.
I’ve been managing IT projects for years and have found that one of the most important people that you can have on your project is a solid, experienced Business Analyst. For those who aren’t familiar with what a BA does (and the role can certainly vary between organizations), a BA plays a key role in three areas:
Requirements elicitation and documentation
The BA will work with key stakeholders from the business to learn and understand the processes that are being automated with the software. The BA will essentially “translate” what the business wants to what the technical team needs to know in order to effectively design and build the software solution.
As the software is being developed, the BA will ensure that it’s meeting the requirements documented in the first phase of the project. Answering questions from and providing guidance to the technical team is the key role of the BA during the design and build phases of the project. The cost of change is always cheaper up front so having someone with intimate knowledge of the business and how the solution is being designed is the best way to mitigate risk of going off in the wrong direction.
With any new system there is always a level of change management that has to take place. This goes beyond training new staff on the software (that’s the easy part). This involves getting all stakeholders who will be impacted by the new system to adopt and even champion for the new system, working with the business through any process changes to ensure a smooth transition.
As a project manager, your job is to deliver the project within the prescribed budget, timeline and scope. Having a BA with experience and the right attitude will help position your project for success.