We are beginning a series dedicated to business analysis and the role it plays in carrying out an IT project. We will look at the responsibilities of Business Analysts (BAs) and explain what their place in a project and project team is. How does their work influence the venture success? Can a project be completed without a BA?  Craftware’s experts will answer these and many other questions in the upcoming articles. Today, we present the first part of the series — enjoy!

An Analyst: between business and IT

To carry out the project, a team, which is intended to create a solution consistent with the requirements within a specified budget and time, is established. Regardless of the applied work methodology, the project team consists of specialists with various skills. Usually, it is formed of an architect, developers, testers, analysts, and a project manager.

BAs are very often called facilitators between the business and IT. On the one hand, they gather business requirements; on the other — they translate them into a language understandable for the project team. What is important, though BAs are a part of the team and represent the customer side, they work with all of the project participants.

Before we explain how does it work in practice, we will discuss in detail their role both from the customer and project team perspective. Let us see who is who in the project.

 

Let’s start with the business, that is the customer

The implementation of an IT system or big changes in the existing solution often affects the whole organization or its significant part. No matter what is the scale of the project, in each one we deal with customer–project team relationship. This relationship appears when an external provider is responsible for the project, but also whenever the task is carried out by an internal IT team.

On the business side, that is the customer, there are two groups who particularly involved in the project: sponsors and stakeholders. It is them, with whom the BA cooperates most often.

A sponsor is someone who orders the project: a representative of the business, the board, or organizational department responsible for the strategy or specific processes. The sponsor ensures support for the project and is accountable for creating success conditions, not only the financial ones, but also the organizational ones.

The sponsor of the project knows both the organization and its surroundings, has a good understanding of the market reality. The implementation of a new system is a way to achieve the essential objectives of the company (commonly the long-term strategy), and the implementation is necessary for building a competitive advantage. Because the sponsors finance initiatives, the success of the project is in their best interests.

Stakeholders are the people who will use the project results or are involved in defining the solution. They know business processes well, because they are their owners or critical participants. Stakeholders understand the reality of the team or department members work, they know the tools, and they also know the degree to which current solutions are used. They want the new system to support its users in their everyday tasks as much as possible, for example, by sending notifications or operation confirmations. Stakeholders care for the system to be modern, intuitive, and allow easy access to information.

 

The project team — the other side of the project

While on the customer’s side, we have two groups of participants, in the project team, there are more of them. The whole project is supervised by the project manager, responsible for meeting deadlines, controlling project scope, and taking care of the team efficiency.

A good structure is essential when it comes to meeting customer expectations. An architect holds the responsibility for developing it: creates the concept of solution consistent with the specification and defines its components as well as dependencies between them. The system, described by the architect, is passed to developers and testers. Their job is to deliver a product that not only will satisfy the customer but also will not need additional amendments.

 

Where is the place for BAs in this business puzzle?

Considering BAs duties, one can safely say that BAs are at the core of the project at all stages of its realization.

They are the ones who spend most of their time talking with every party of the project, closely cooperating with customer representatives, as well as with members of the project team. BAs are often the contact persons between the customer and the team. Their good relations with sponsors and stakeholders help in managing the project.

How, then, does the BAs work look like and why do its results create a bridge between business and IT? What does it mean that a BA represents a customer? How do BAs carry out this task? We will write about it in the next article.

Author

  • Anna Seredyn
  • Senior Business Analyst
  • An expert in the field of business analysis and quality assurance. She has been in the IT industry for 20 years, she has participated in projects for the Polish and international clients operating in telco, healthcare, retail, and insurance industries. For four years, she has been taking part in carrying out projects based on the Salesforce platform as a business and system analyst, CRM consultant, and project manager.

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