My Project Management Expert

What is a Business Analyst?

I remember talking to a junior project manager a few years ago who was extremely dismissive of business analysts. "Just what is a business analyst and do they do anything other than make life hard for a project manager?" he asked me one day.

Well I had news for him. In my view a business analyst fills one of the key roles within a project and if managed correctly, quickly become a project manager's right hand person.

Looking more closely at just what is a business analyst you quickly discover why this is. Business Analysts are usually involved in projects for the simple reason that they generate and document the changes required by the Organisation. They do this by being the bridge (aka translator) between the commercial sponsors and the technology deliverers by ensuring that all are on the same page with regard to their understanding of the business requirements documentation and project management requirements.

So in this capacity they are often the first people assigned to a project. You will find that your business case or project justification document will have been written by a BA. This is important as it will not only contain a high level project scope statement but also project budget.

As to what they do when the project is actually underway well they are responsible for:

  • Determining which requirements will be impacted by the project scope as well as what new Use Cases etc will be required to enable the project to be delivered.
  • Running workshops to gather requirements
  • Documenting the business requirements document
  • Documenting the more detailed software requirements specification (SRS)
  • Being the guardian of and experts on the project requirements
  • Raising change requests
  • Making updates to the BRD and SRS's
  • Liaising with all stakeholders to ensure what is being delivered meets their perception of the requirements
  • Liaising with the test team to help them write their test scripts based upon the project requirements
  • Running and executing test scripts during the test phase.

So as you can see from above, not only is the role of a business analyst wide ranging and encompassing the entire project management life cycle, but also requires a great deal of business analyst skills.

What is a Business Analyst? - Tip

Never, ever ask yourself, "what is a business analyst?". Just remember that Business Analyst's are an absolutely vital cog in successful project management for the simple reason that should the project management requirements be wrong, vague, misinterpreted or incomplete your project will run into the dreaded scope creep.

Once this happens no matter how good you are at managing project teams, it will be almost impossible to turn around. So get a good Business Analyst on your project and you'll be surprised at the difference it makes to your project delivery.

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