I must admit, many articles on how to deploy a stellar project from start to finish are centered around the characteristics and habits of the project manager as the star of the project’s show. Has this approach been short-sighted – a little elitist even – in the IT business solutions society? In light of the following, my answer is an unqualified ‘Yes’! My proposition is this: behind every project manager is a tireless, resourceful, detail-oriented business analyst who, while s/he may not steer the project ship from the helm, has just as much power to keep a project moving forward and on track towards a timely and successful go-live.
So what key roles does an analyst assume? While making progress towards becoming a project manager, here are a few hats that I wore as a business analyst on my teams:
Ambassador to the Business
As official envoy to the client stakeholders and the resident representative of the project teams, the BA acts as a liaison between business units and the project team in all areas of support and enhancements. To what end? To make sure the strategic and procedural goals of the business are consistently met by the deliverables produced. This role is especially key during project initiation and planning as the business need for change is being documented and a project framework is built for development later on.
Leader of Process Definition and Design
The analyst follows (and may even set) standards and methodologies for analysis and documentation of as-is and to-be processes, mapping and requirements gathering. To do so, the BA should be an excellent problem solver with a knack for details and innovative approaches to addressing the pain-points of an existing business system. Business analysts wear this hat in the tasks leading up to and during design to make sure no specifications are overlooked.
Prime Minister of Quality Control
When tech teams develop solutions to meet business needs as quickly as the users want to receive them, there are bound to be gaps between the need and the final solution along with the usual system defects. So, once project design is complete, the BA picks up the job of quality control specialist. Developing test scripts and cases based on the test plan set out by the project manager is a critical part of delivery. Performing program testing and debugging also assists in bringing the final product to the level required for smooth operations after go-live.
While these are a few of the primary roles of a business analyst, this list is certainly not exhaustive. There are so many more roles of the well-oiled project management team that are played by an effective business analyst. There are many good resources that you can use to research more about this indispensable position. Check out the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA), the independent professional society that serves the development of the BA role and those who are looking to succeed in this field of project management.
What would you add to this list?