It is partially our responsibility as business analysts to educate the professional world on what is Business Analysis. Without any exaggeration, some senior successful executives are still somewhat puzzled around this emerging profession. It is impossible to perform your job perfectly while many around you (perhaps even in the same organization) have no clue what you actually do.
And due to that limited awareness, I believe that Business Analysis has been (in the recent past) a doomed profession worldwide and in particular in Egypt; because it is quite a struggle to work when no one knows what you are doing. Looking at the bright side, this limited awareness is only a phase, until the world is more educated. We all know a Sales Person sells, an accountant does the bookkeeping, a secretary arranges appoints, a developer writes code… So what does a business analyst actually do ..
Analyzes the business !! Why !!
Because, no one understands what is your job as a BA and how you do it. It is often misunderstood for anything and everything; a technical writer or an assistant for genius staff members! a project manager or a scribe sometimes. Business Analysis is still the most under-estimated domain in today’s businesses although it is the most critical to the up-rise or downfall of Organizations. You must be thinking now, she’s a little exaggerated that woman. A bit of a business analysis fanatic, isn’t she?
Well, if I am overrating both the BA value to businesses and the devaluation of the BA profession then let me walk you through how organizations actually perform without the slightest idea of business analysis and where they end-up. Let me also shed light on the job nature, functions and responsibilities of the business analyst.
Question: So, what does an analyst really do?
Answer: They write those long boring documents which no one is keen to read and draw tedious diagrams which no one can understand. We can develop systems without them. Our heads are full of brilliant ideas which can and will generate millions of dollars of revenue.. Who needs a BA!
Let’s answer that question again in my own words not using formal terminology or jargon definitions here to keep things smooth..
Business Analysis is the profession primarily concerned to ensure that all business endeavors, projects, processes, functions of an organization (in all organizational units) serve the business plan, goals and objectives. And is the official bridge between business teams and technology teams since technology now plays a significant role in serving the business goals and objectives. Whilst everyone is concerned only with performing their particular job, a business analyst is responsible for ensuring that all organizational units, staff, projects, functions, products are working in perfect harmony towards the interest and declared goals of the enterprise.
How do we do that? Well, we analyze everything….
We are trained and educated to never take anything for granted. Our skill-set revolves around teaching us how to unravel complexity, dissolution and questioning of what you would call ” a business fact”. Whilst everyone is keen to respond fast to the immediate pressures over and over and over again, we are much more keen on a scrutinized once and for all digging down into the root causes of such incidents to eliminate their occurrence permanently.
Our job is to think “systematically, in a very structured mannerism” outside the box while everyone else is stuck inside the box! Thinking out of the box is not staring at the stars in the sky for inspiration ! It is a thinking technique compromised of critical thinking, open-mindedness and mindfulness.
It is our job to assess organization business plans, business needs, opportunities, competition, departments, processes, solutions, staff performance, assumptions, constraints, agreements and spot areas of deficiencies where optimization would add value, reduce cost, or increase profit. Sort of an advocate for the organization (BOD, Owners, and Investors).
The sole interest of a Business Analyst is optimization, improvement of the business. This is done through a set of standardized tools, techniques and proven methodologies prescribed as tasks and responsibilities. It is not a genius calling; we learn it.
Not everyone is intuitively able to become an analyst (a successful one at least), it does require some basic talent “an analytical mind” which spontaneously breaks down any chunky bulks of information into its most granular (atomic) form and is able by the same mindset to synthesize this information flexibly in various themes (topics, solutions, proposals, …etc).
Organizations who have not yet fully grasped the concept of Business Analysis are sinking in vicious loops. Why? Simply because sometimes, they seek the wrong channels to get a BA’s job done; whether a project manager, directly addressing a developer to build a quick solution, hiring an external entity to assess their performance.
Those who have worked as business analysts for years have seen all these below listed symptoms and understand perfectly that organizations performing under such conditions have a short-time span and a self-bound limited market size which they shall never exceed ;
- What does a business analyst have to do with business process analysis and optimization !!
- Business Analysts implement and execute decisions and do not engage in the evaluation of the decision.
- We need a business analyst to write what we have all agreed to be done or to document the system we built quickly last month…
- No delivery team or testing team sign-offs for software solutions specifications. Development can start using the genius touch without specifications and testing is easily checking for big red errors. If they don’t exist, launch your success!
- We have a huge department for business analysts who write the systems user manuals and the very smart ones sell our products to our customers.
- Technology department having the primary opinion in the business requirements and responsible business acceptance!! How convenient! who would understand business more than a technology guy who has never even studied or practiced business before!!
- Business Analysts are not permitted to talk to stakeholders. Requirements are secrets of a high sensitive nature. No one should know them, No one!
- No adoptions of a project estimation technique.. the boss knows everything is the only understood technique. If he said it shall take you three days then you must be out of your mind to question his genius.
Seriously speaking, let me drop off the sarcastic tone for minute
Business Analysts …..What do we do?
- Strategy and Enterprise Analysis comprising Enterprise Business Architecture (be careful many grown-ups till this very day in 2015 still believe that architecture is a very technical word confusing it with Systems’ Architecture).
- Decisions Analysis & Financial Analysis.
- Business & Requirements Analysis starting from discovery and elicitation, management, conflicts resolution to validation and verification.
- Solution Propositions (Business and Software Solutions)
- Business Process Re-engineering and Improvement.
- Solutions Evaluation (Pre and Post Implementation).
- Communication Backbone & Official Bridge between Business and Technology.
- Products and Services Assessment.
If you believe that you want to become a business analyst, don’t just settle for a title. Learn this amazing profession very well, educate those around you and do it the right way!
Written by: Angie M. Eissa, CBAP, MSc BIT, UK Founder & Managing Partner of Business Borderlines