The Rise of the Business Analyst

How Businesses Are Increasingly Hedging Their Bets on IT Projects

 

We've all seen it. Even with competent project managers, application developers and a great CIO at the helm: IT projects fail. And while these misfires can usually be traced to one of three sources — a misalignment of schedule, resources or requirements — IT executives are more interested in known solutions. With cost-effective IT spending more important than ever, businesses are increasingly turning to business analysts (BA).

 

As a matter of fact, a recent Forrester study ranked the BA at #1 of their list of the 13 Most Important IT Roles. A whopping 70% of the IT executives surveyed held the BA in the highest regard — literally. So why is the BA getting the limelight like never before?

 

The Climbing Stature of the BA

Since the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) was founded in 2003, its membership has soared — doubling in the last two years alone, from 7,000 in 2008 to 14,119 in August of this year. Additionally, the organization just launched the Online Library, the second version of the BA Competency Model, and recently announced their second certification level. The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) guide is adding an Agile extension and is being translated into myriad new languages - including Urdu, one of the two official languages of Pakistan.

 

"Our growth has been remarkable," concurs IIBA President Kathleen Barret, in a company press release. "Another 59 new chapters are in progress around the world." She feels this is indicative of the growing importance of the business analyst across sectors. We agree. Within our own consulting practice, we have witnessed a steady increase in the demand for BAs.

 

So, Why Now?

The bottom line is that, no matter what industry, structure or size your organization is, with the economy what it has been these last three years, IT project failure is not an option. 

 

This has forced IT executives to closely examine where their projects have misfired. Often times there is a gap between IT and the business. For example, if a project was completed on time and within budget, but the customers were unhappy with the results, it is likely that the business requirements were not properly gathered and documented. As a liaison between IT and the business, BAs play a crucial role in ensuring against this.

 

As STAR BASE Business Analyst Aaron Whittenberger explained on in a recent STAR BASE blog post, "The goal of all business analysis activities, whether it is Enterprise Analysis or Requirements Gathering, should be to create a shared vision among the stakeholders."

 

How to Identify When Your Organization Needs a BA

The STAR BASE Business Analysis Office Services offer the culmination of best practices of today's senior-level BAs. Unlike a project manager (PM), which is focused on management and execution, a BA's focus is set on identifying the business needs and building out requirements to meet those needs. Often a BA has technical background working previously as a programmer or engineer; however, it's their ability to understand the bigger business picture that makes them well suited for this unique role.

 

When companies are evaluating the need for a BA, based on our experience and expertise advising organizations, we have identified the following situations as clearly warranting a BA:

 

         IT project failure rate is high

         IT projects are delivered late, over-budget and/or not meeting the needs of the business

         IT projects are not aligned with the business strategy

         There is no IT governance strategy within the organization

         There is no uniformity in servicing the business among the BAs

         There is no Enterprise Architecture

         No Gap Analysis is being done within the organization

         Project Management, Six Sigma are given attention within the organization, but BA methodologies are not

 

Why the Business Analyst Role is not a Trend

Business analysis has the power to impact an organization unlike any other function. From project portfolio, financial performance, product offerings and go-to-market speed, business analysis can yield tremendous competitive advantage.

 

While many have compared the BA role to that of a bridge, the BA brings exponential benefit as a bridge builder. Containing all of their knowledge within them individually puts the organization in a precarious position should they leave; but when they build their work and body of knowledge into the organization, it continues independent of them. Skilled business analysts will not only transform your IT projects, they have the potential to transform your entire IT department.

 

Contact STAR BASE for an evaluation of how a business analyst can guide your IT projects to success. Call 513.245.0400 or e-mail jwelsh@starbaseinc.com. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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