Emerging role of business analyst

Johannesburg, 21 Oct 2009
Read time 2min 40sec

Business analysts are an often under-utilised corporate resource that could deliver far greater value to many organisations if properly used.

Fundamental to bringing about the change is understanding the role that business analysts play. Many people pigeonhole business analysts as requirements gatherers for IT systems development, yet that is only one of several functions that skilled business analysts must fulfil.

Business analysts, to appropriate portions of the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) definition, determine solutions to business problems, which often include a systems development component, but may also contain process improvement or organisational change. The solutions do not always contain a systems development component. Very often they consist of process improvement or some other form of organisational change.

Once organisations understand the role that business analysts can and should play for them, and how they can benefit from that approach, they can move away from the system design focus that has predominated and take a two-tier approach to resolving business issues: identify the problem, then figure out how to solve it.

The first part of the process tasks business analysts with understanding what the business is trying to achieve and figuring out what must be done about it before going about resolving the problem through a combination of technology, process change and organisational change.

That approach supports the notion that business analysts are engineering business support through business entities, business processes or business rules.

View process as a pyramid

The entire process can be viewed as a pyramid, with the business objectives being the very apex of the pyramid. Business objectives will define the scope of the solution. That leads to what will be affected, such as the business entities, the business processes and the business rules. That step will in turn lead to the base of the pyramid, which is the solution blueprint, the activities that will lead to resolution.

Those steps are made manifest in one of four ways. They result in organisational change, business automation, process redesign, or any combination of the three.

The approach gives businesses and analysts a structured framework to build on. Builders don't start throwing bricks one atop the other without first getting a plan from an architect. In this case, business analysts are the architects of the solution.

Taking this approach means that companies ensure they get the business analysts to analyse the business and not simply gather requirements for a software program that may or may not be the requisite solution. They get rid of all the bloated features that typically permeate those programs because they can compare any feature in a software solution back to the original blueprint, the pyramid framework, and check to see if it is necessary - if it is not, it is struck from the development list.

Editorial contacts
Predictive Communications Lisa Cooper (011) 452 2923
IndigoCube Robin Grace (011) 759 5907
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