The Value of Business Analysis:The Trusted Advisor
Often when people talk about the Business Analyst being a trusted advisor within the organization, they are speaking about advising senior management of the organization. That role of the Business Analyst is that of a Management Consultant, the role of trusted advisor goes much beyond consulting or advising management.
The Business Analyst has to become a trusted advisor to everyone within the organization. Whether they are an IT Business Analyst, Business Architect, Process Analyst, Agile Business Analyst or Business Intelligence Analyst they will work with many people within the organization; and they must garner trust from everyone with which they work to gain the needed knowledge from those individuals or assist them in doing their tasks. So let’s look how the Business Analyst works with and advises others within the organization.
The Project Manager
The Business Analyst works with the Project Manager in managing the project to a successful completion. Although their focus is different; the Project Manager is focused on the project and the Business Analyst is focused on the product or solution, their goal of a successful completion of the project is the same. Like many members of the project team, the Project Manager relies on the requirements developed by the Business Analyst. The Business Analyst can advise the Project Manager throughout the project on concerns from both the business and technical stakeholders and may advise on activities or tasks to respond to those concerns.
The Project Sponsor and Business Stakeholders
As the major decision maker of the business stakeholders, the Business Analyst advises the Project sponsor on upcoming project business analysis activities, product features, solution scope boundaries and works with the Project sponsor and project team to resolve any issues that the business stakeholders raise. The Business Analyst works with the business stakeholders to draw out, analyze and document the business needs and requirements for the solution to resolve those needs. The rest of the project team and organization rely on the accuracy and clarity of those requirements. The Business Analyst works with the business stakeholders and Project sponsor to validate and approve the requirements.
The Enterprise Architect
Although an Enterprise Architect is considered a business analysis role, in larger and more complex organizations these will be two distinct roles; therefore, I list them separately. However, realize that in smaller organizations these roles may be performed by one individual. The Enterprise Architect will be concerned with the architecture of the solution being considered; they will develop the technical architecture for the solution based on the requirements of the project. They will put that technical input to the requirements during their development, then use those requirements to ensure the technical architecture of the solution is aligned with enterprise standards. During the development of the architecture and the solution the Business Analyst advises the enterprise architect on the business perspective of the requirements.
The Business Relationship Manager
The Business Relationship Manager is responsible for ensuring that the Project Sponsor is included in all correspondence necessary and that the project team understands the business perspective of the solution scope; in this respective, this is a business analysis role. The Business Analyst will advise the Business Relationship Manager the same as the Project Sponsor and ensure that they both are included in all communication and fully informed as to solution scope. They will ensure that the Project Sponsor and Business Relationship Manager understand the technical side of the solution scope.
The Development Team
As the development of the solution is about to begin the Business Analyst will hold a requirements review session with the development team and business team. This allows to get everyone on the same page with respect to the requirements. This gives the development team the opportunity to raise issues with the requirements, especially if features or components are functionally impossible to deliver. Also difficult to deliver features and components, and alternatives to those can be raised at this time. It is possible that the enterprise architect or Business Analyst has raised and considered alternatives prior to the requirements review. Like the enterprise architect, the Business Analyst will advise the development team on the business need and perspective of the requirements during the development phase of the project.
The Quality Assurance Team
Like the rest of the project team, the quality assurance testers will rely on the requirements for the solution. The quality assurance team will build their test cases on the requirements. The Business Analyst will put the business perspective on those requirements so that the quality assurance team understands the business reason and relative importance of the requirements.
As the organization is expecting to receive some benefit from the change and its solution, the Business Analyst, possibly through the Project Manager, must advise business management of any changes in that expected benefit as the project progresses through its life cycle. Once delivered the Business Analyst will measure solution performance against developed success metrics and advise management on benefits realization.
So as you can see, the Business Analyst, as a trusted advisor, advises many individuals in many roles within the organization. They advise inside and outside of software development and process improvement projects. They advise on topics of business needs and perspective, technical constraints, data, business processes, architecture, communication needs, requirements, user acceptance testing, solution validation and more topics. They use numerous techniques and models to bring shared understanding of these topics across the project team and organization. So when interacting with anyone within the organization, or as someone in one of these other roles within the organization and interacting with a Business Analyst remember the Business Analyst’s duties as a trusted advisor.