What Is Business Analysis and Why Perform It Anyway?
Business Analysts (often called BA’s) seem to do just about everything at some companies and many of those companies haven’t actually clearly defined what is a BA. In fact, many people have only vague notions of what a BA is. To make it clear, the definition for Business analysis (which can be found right through Wikipedia) is the discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a systems development component, but may also consist of process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development. The person who carries out this task is called a business analyst or BA.
Business analysts who work solely on developing software systems may be called IT business analysts, technical business analysts, online business analysts, business systems analysts, or systems analysts.
Now that we have that squared away, most people may ask, why do we need to use a BA or why hire a BA? As it turns out, there is a site called Bridging the Gap (www.bridging-the-gap.com) which is designed to help those whoa re considering a career as a BA and also offers job related advice.
One of the things to keep in mind is how can a BA create value? There are many different ways it can be measured. BA’s are mainly tasked to reduce costs and find efficiencies, sometimes through process re-engineering efforts.
Among some of these outcomes include:
- Discovering more cost effective solutions (including finding a better way of doing something)
- Reducing rework
- ROI impact formula: Return on Investment = [Value achieved through the solution] – [Cost of the solution]
- Discovering new needs
- Prioritization of needs and solutions, including the organization of those efforts
- Providing scalable frameworks
People in other roles constantly try to mimic outcomes as these such as Project Managers and even Programmers in some cases but it almost never works because it involves a different skill set and discipline. In both small and large companies, these outcomes alone can save anywhere from a few thousand to several millions of dollars for larger companies or more. Because of those benefits, it generally would make sense to either hire or contract a BA since it is their specialty to do this type of work the best.
To be a BA one needs no more than a high school degree and in some places at least a college degree. What one majors in is unimportant because successful BA’s can major in most any discipline. The only quality that they need to possess is a keen analytical sense honed by natural curiosity to find solutions to problems. Every day is different for the BA and brings something new, some new challenge or a solution that previously wasn’t thought to have existed. As one gains experience, they should look into getting certified (such as obtaining their CBAP certification).