As the Seattle Chapter President of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), I often get questions about how someone can learn more about becoming a business analyst. Often times those asking have been doing business analysis work realizing it for some time; only they have not yet realized it. This three-part series is to help you understand what business analysis is (part 1), how to know if you are a business analyst at heart (part 2), and offer the first steps to advancing your career as a business analysis professional (part 3).
I will start with the definition of Business Analysis. The IIBA® defines this as
Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable to the organization to achieve its goals (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge [BABOK®] Guide, Version 2.0 Page 3)
The following two lists offer some more context to “tasks and techniques” by listing tools used and items developed and delivered by the business analyst as documented in the BABOK®.
- Document analysis
- Focus groups
- Interface analysis
- Requirements analysis
- Organization modeling
- Process modeling
- Business case/ statement of work
- Business analysis plan
- Communication to stakeholders
- Data dictionary or glossary
- Data Flow diagrams
- Metrics & Key Performance Indicators
- Scenarios/Use cases
- Sequence diagrams
- User stories
- Requirements package
These lists show that many roles do business analysis activities and deliver business analyst results. Some common project roles include data analyst, project manager, technical writer, and developer. Many people do “business analysis.” So what is a business analysis professional?
The project manager, developer, and data analyst may use some tools and deliver some of the same results as the BA as it relates to their specific role. A business analysis professional works with all the business analysis tools and techniques to deliver work that supports defining, managing, and evaluation the solution or resulting product (“to recommend solutions that enable to the organization to achieve its goals”.) The project manager, data analyst, technical writer, or developer rely on the work of the business analysis to provide clarity on the solution and allow project work to focus on steps needed to most efficiently deliver the desired result. The business analyst is responsible for defining is what will bring value to the business, ensuring the requirements are fully vetted and understood, and that the solution meets these expectations. This allows the project manager for focus on the project process, progress, team, risks, and all those other aspects that make project management a full-time job. Read more on this in The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst. Further, the business analyst frees the technical people up to design and build the solution to meet the need the first time.
You likely play a combination of roles if you are reading this article. Next week we will discuss how to know what you are when you wear multiple hats.
Find out if you are a BA at heart in Part 2.
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