The short answer: Because you want a project delivered on time, meets your specifications, and works for the end customers.
The long answer: The following project is a real example to illustrate the missing pieces and how a business analyst could have made a huge impact. Do you see similarities with a project you have?
A team member (let’s call him Guy) worked with the client managing multiple Excel spreadsheets. Guy saw a pain point and realized he could do something about it. He suggested building a web application with relational databases to help the team. The client liked this idea because they realized this new tool would impact forecasting and reporting – affecting the bottom line.
Guy set to work with the client outlining the project and developing the tool. A talented project manager (Pam) joined the project. Despite Guy’s knowledge of the business process and technical skills and Pam’s attention to detail, this product was behind schedule. The end customers found that this tool relieved some pain points but didn’t address all of their needs or use cases.
Why did a product that started out so promising end behind schedule and not fully addressing the end customers’ need?
Simply put, because there was no business analyst. Guy spent his time working with the client to understand the use cases instead of developing the tool. Pam spent the majority of her time collecting the requirements from the client. No one talked to the end customers. The only requirements provided where the “Shalls” included in the contract that did not cover the full scope of the tool. And most importantly, no one ensured Guy spent his time developing instead of gathering user stories.
What does a business analyst provide?
The most important value a business analyst provides is getting the right information to the software developer in the right manner. The business analyst works with the team to make sure the product delivered fits their needs. In this case, a business analyst allows the developer to focus on developing code.
Business analysts bring:
• An understanding of the business needs and the client needs
• A full understanding of user stories and use cases for the end customer
• Detailed requirements translating the customer needs into technical tasks
• Clear communication with the developer to create the right tool
• Detailed work with the project manager to confirm deliverables are on time and meet the contractual obligations
So why should I spend extra money for a business analyst? Because omitting this crucial team player will cost me in time and quality of the final product.
Do you have an example of a project that succeeded because of a business analyst’s work? Do you have a project that could have been better with the help of a business analyst?
About the Author
Stephanie Vineyard, CSM, CSPO, PMP, is the Business Analysis Service Area Lead for Excella Consulting. She provides coaching and training for business analysts in Agile environments and the Federal government. She implements business process improvement using Agile methods, business analysis tools, and project management support to help clients achieve their goals.
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