What do you think makes certain projects more successful than others? Well, the usual practice is to have a Project Manager and QA specialists on a development team. It looks like a big team, however, there are could be some software development process that unheeded. Software projects may vary in resources, time frames, goals, and content. But there is one risk they all share – if the developed solution doesn’t answer the customer’s business needs the project will down the drain. This is where a Business Analyst (BA) steps in. The key task of a business analyst is to find out all the customer’s business processes what he wants to optimize, process this information and offer the most convenient and easy implement option. Using various techniques and tools, they describe business needs in the language understandable both for Business and for Developers.
A Business Analyst should not be technology illiterate, but at the same time, they are not expected to be an expert in any programming language as such.
What is the role of a Business Analyst?
Communication! Business Analyst is all about communication. So their job is not to spoon-feed the team with stories. They make sure everybody understands the vision of the project.
The importance of the business analyst cannot be overestimated and set the tone for the entire development project. They know why the product will be built, what problem it is going to solve, and for whom. BA’s vision is that people will love the product and use it all the time. They perform the next functions as:
- Information collecting, analysis & project start. The beginning of the project starts with determining the problem and finding the solution to it. The customers’ needs are expressed as user stories. Stories often correspond roughly to a feature or a use case. The customers may have lots of ideas, the business analyst helps them divide these into fairly distinct user stories. That’s why they have to examine the area(s) where the software will be used to understand the real needs, estimate alternatives and determine the particular approach as part of preparing the business cases.
- Documentation. Submitting customers requirements in a clear document is a vital job for the BA. It is typically expressed in a vision statement, which is a clear and brief summary of what the project team members and their customers expect to achieve.
The next document that will provide the team of developers insight into the project details is the Specs(Specifications). The business analyst finalizes it according to the research and negotiations with the customer. The structure of specifications consist of: – General Description – summary of what the features building are for and why building them; – General Flow – scheme that maps all project process; – Technical Items – this part of the epic involves the engineers or tech lead. – Epics and User Stories – they break down an epic in a more user-focused way for the engineering team to understand the product requirement. A user story should be a high-level requirement with additional detail added to the accustomed acceptance criteria. The acceptance criteria is the clear picture for the engineering team to understand ‘what’ they are building.
At the first stage, epics help the developers to assess the costs, the sales manager to relate the budget and the project features that can be supplied, the customer to get the awareness of the future project functionality.
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- Project execution. Once the requirements specifications are passed on for development, BA still has to be involved to provide clarity to developers, negotiate contentious issues with the customer, etc. The BA decides what goes in, and what goes out. They also decide the sequencing – what to build now, what to build later?
To be able to prioritize, they should have some idea of the value of each story, as well as the size. Some stories are critically important, others are really just bonus features. Some stories take just a few hours to build, others take months.
Value and size are what helps the BA prioritize. They communicate with the team to find out what they think is big or small, in terms of implementation effort.
Translate requirements. The Business Analyst must be super professional at translating business requirements to technical requirements. Vice versa, they interpret tricky IT questions and technical complexities for the customer in a way that makes more sense to them – so they can decide on how best to move the project forward.
- Defense requirements – role of Business Analyst in the software development life cycle is to protect the business and user’s needs by verifying functionality, the correctness of the requirements against the original launching documents. The most important job is to decide what NOT to build, and take the consequences of that decision. Because every time we deliver something to customers, they will get even more ideas and ask for even more stuff. This is a hard job and needs to be done in cooperation with the team and the customer.
- System and operations maintenance – Once all requirements have been satisfied and the software solution supplied, the Business Analyst roles and responsibilities in a project change to maintenance or correcting defects; improvements, or making changes to increase the value provided by the product; providing system validation procedures, maintenance reports, and other documents, plans, and reports. The BA will also play an important role in analyzing the system to identify when deactivation or replacement is necessary.
The process of software development engages various professionals. Business Analysis sometimes can be neglected, which is a huge mistake. They are aware of new development and market trends, user experience so you don’t need to spend time and money on research. The BA’s involvement will help you to get such benefits as saving time in negotiations on all project issues; to get particular solutions that are designed according to your specific needs; to create a reliable project vision drawing on customer and specific market requirements. Last but not least you don’t need to be versed in software development and to understand specific developer’s language for creating a successful product because you have a business analyst.
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