What Does a Business Analyst Do? (And Why Do You Need One?)
“What does a business analyst do?”
If you’re in business, odds are you’ve Googled this phrase once or twice only to find slightly ambiguous responses or information about business “analytics” instead.
Time to put an end to this frustration and find answers.
We’ve made it simple with this complete guide to answering what business analysts’ jobs are and why your company might need one.
The Business of Change
As is common in the world of business, changes occur daily.
Often these changes are made to improve your business software, improve processes, or eliminate wasteful practices.
All of these changes can be facilitated smoothly with the help of a business analyst.
Essentially, business analysts are the gurus for your company when it’s time to make an effective change to move your company forward.
What Does a Business Analyst Do?
The reason this is such a confusing question to find a clear answer to, is that business analysts wear several hats.
Their roles, responsibilities, and tasks vary as your company progresses through a desired change.
A Clarifying Metaphor
Let’s say you own a giant plot of land and you’d like to build a hotel on it.
You’d need to hire an architect or a builder to help you come up with a plan to implement this “change” taking place on your plot of land.
This builder would help you create a blueprint for the physical building, they would ask you all sorts of questions to make sure this plan would work out to meet your needs and desires.
They might ask such things as:
- What’s your budget?
- How many rooms would you like in your hotel?
- Would you like an outdoor dining area?
- Where would you like the pool built?
You get the idea.
This builder would then work with the construction team, the interior designers, the finance team, etc. to make sure this project was all going according to your agreed upon plans and needs.
What does all this have to do with a business analyst?
That builder/architect, is your business analyst.
Your business analyst works with your IT team to translate your company’s needed changes into real, implementable changes to your computer systems and other business functions.
The Basic Role
If our little metaphor still isn’t quite translating for you into what a business analyst could do for your company. Here is a more basic list:
- They analyze your company’s needs
- They help you design a strategy or business case
- They gather information and opinions from stakeholders as well as employees or even customers if appropriate for your needed changes
- They create “plans,” or model requirements for the needed change
- They validate the solution(s)
- They can perform project management
- They can perform project development
- They conduct and/or oversee quality testing
Each of these tasks and the business analysts’ involvement in them may vary depending on the company, the scope of the project, or the type of change needed.
What’s in a Name?
After reading these roles of a business analyst, you may be thinking, “Hmmm, I’ve done many of those tasks myself.”
Well, that’s because, you probably have.
Many individuals on a project have or will perform tasks that a business analyst does.
Be they a data analyst, a user experience expert, a process analyst, a “change manager,” each of these individuals perform a function that falls under the umbrella of a business analysts’ job description.
The plus side of having a business analyst, is that you have one person doing it all for you.
You May Be a Business Analyst If…
Another great way to understand the value and role of a business analyst, is to ask yourself if you’ve done any of the following things for your company.
Have you ever:
- Identified waste or inefficiencies in a process?
- Created new ways or plans for improving an existing process or inventory management?
- Implemented a change?
- Kept track of that change’s results and KPIs?
- Reported on those KPIs?
Or perhaps you’ve played the role of business manager by:
- Gathered opinions from a team about what their needs are for the software you’re using.
- Asked for opinions on how the software should look and/or function.
- Made a list of priorities based on the opinions you gathered.
- Translated these needs and opinions from your team into a language that your IT department could implement.
- Worked as a liaison between IT and your team to clarify any questions or issues.
Communication is Key
One of the challenges for companies without a business analyst, is when they implement a needed change, there are too many people involved to make sense of various needs.
A business analyst, like one from this company, is an asset as they are adept at understanding the languages of everyone involved.
These various parties include anyone from your customer base, to stakeholders, to managers, end users, vendors, etc. etc.
All of these individuals have different perspectives on the project and levels of understanding regarding the business.
A business analyst brings everyone’s knowledge and perspectives together, analyzes it, and creates one clear vision and goal to meet all the needs.
Simply put, the business analyst also works as an “interpreter” for these individuals and the IT department.
They make sense of the needs and translate them into a language the development team can do something with.
The reverse is also true.
The business analyst then takes the often convoluted terminology of the IT department and informs stakeholders about the progress or questions.
Just as you wouldn’t travel to a foreign country without a translator, (or at least a language dictionary), so a business analyst is an essential tool in communicating.
Why You Need a Business Analyst
What does a business analyst do?
They save you time, money, and work to help you implement desired and needed software changes.
Doing without a business analyst is like approaching river rapids with no paddle.
You need the proper tools to maneuver the changes. Or at the very least, you need to know what a business analyst does.
Check out our blog for more tips and tricks for improving your company software.