Role of Business Analysts in Projects

Wikipedia states that

A business analyst or “BA” is responsible for analyzing the business needs of clients to help identify business problems and propose solutions

BA plays an important role in any software development project. He is the one who is expected to liaison with the Customer team and conceive the application that has to be built. They act as the proxy Customer for the development team.

Sometimes, it feels that a BA might be redundant in a development project. For example, a website development project. The amount of domain maybe relatively less as compared to a financial services product or an online banking application. These projects might be successful even without having a full-time BA deployed on the project. But, this does not mean that the functions typically done by a BA is not required – this might be taken up by a person who is playing an equally important role (Architect or Technical Lead)

The deliverables expected from a BA is typically

  • Functional Requirements
  • Non-Functional Requirements – this is arguable as the Architect also gets into these discussions mostly
  • Mock-up screens (or Prototypes) – this will let the team know how the screens have to be developed. What are the field layouts?
  • Test-cases – this is sometimes not explicitly mentioned but a very important responsibility. Since the BA knows about the functionality of the application, it is essential that he reviews the test-cases also.

Of late, the role of BA in a project is evolving. They are expected to carry the functionality and know technical aspects. Hence, the role of a BA becomes as critical, if not more, as that of an Architect.

SOA has given a new meaning to the BA role. Since SOA revolves around using and re-using Business Services, it makes sense for Business Analysts to have proper understanding of the technical jargon as well as the functional domain. This way, the services can be designed to provide maximum reusability across any organization.

Does it mean that BA’s have to be specific for a domain? Should they concentrate on one domain for the rest of the career? The answer is YES. This approach will ensure that they will have a focused path ahead of them. They can master their domain and get more insight of their focus of work.

Thus, Business Analysts have a critical role to play in the development projects – the level of their understanding of the requirements from the Customer will determine the completeness of the final application.

P.S. – The International Institute of Business Analysis provides a certification program for business analysts (Certified Business Analyst Professional or CBAP), as well as providing a body of knowledge for the field (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge or BABOK).

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