As IT managers are faced with more challenging demands from stakeholders to bring products to market faster, they are faced with a shortage of qualified applicants and a number of positions to fill. The typical positions to top the list are security, infrastructure or developers. However, how often should managers think about the role of a business analyst and what value a person with this skill set might bring to the team? If you haven’t been thinking about a business analyst joining the team, you should! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of management analysts (which is what the Bureau calls business analysts) is expected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, placing the business analysis profession as one of the fastest growing occupations.
The business analysis profession is not one that is new to the IT industry, but is often the least understood in terms of the role and value a business analyst can bring to a team. While the business analysis profession has been around a long time, the formalization and recognition of the role is directly linked to the creation of International Institute of Business Analysis™ (IIBA®) dating back to 2003. In 2003, IIBA formalized the profession and created the first industry-wide standard and certification. Even with the formalization of the role, it still is unclear to IT managers how to leverage a business analyst within their organization. So let’s set the record straight as to what a business analyst is and why IT managers need them on their team.
What is a Business Analyst?
According to A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide), the definition of business analysis is “the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.” A business analyst is a person who performs business analysis work in an effort to uncover and analyze information from a variety of sources to elicit and document the needs of stakeholders. A business analyst’s goal is to be a liaison between the business stakeholders and the IT team to help the IT team understand:
- why the organization exists;
- how an organization accomplishes its work;
- what are the organization’s goals and objectives; and
- how an organization needs to change to meet those goals and objectives.
Why do IT managers need business analysis skills on their team?
As organizations are under even more pressure than ever to bring products to the market place faster, the level of integration needed to achieve this has caused a layer of complexity amongst enterprise systems. The amount of money organizations are investing in software projects to do more with less is staggering, but the cost of getting those projects wrong is even more troubling. While there are various issues that contribute to project failures, a good number of them stem from improper requirements development and management. According to research documented by the Project Management Institute in its 2014 report, “Pulse of the Profession: Requirements Management — A Core Competency for Project and Program Success” here is what the impact of poor business analysis looks like:
- For every $1 billion dollars spent on projects and programs, $51 million dollars was wasted due to poor requirements management.
- Forty-seven percent of unsuccessful projects fail to meet goals due to poor requirements management.
- Sixty-three percent of the organizations surveyed, as a whole, somewhat value requirements management as a critical competency for projects and strategic initiatives and thus this continues to plague organizations with a lack of proficiency in the business analysis discipline.
- Only one in five organizations report having a mature requirements management process resulting in continuous missed opportunities for project success.
- Organizations performing at the lower end of the spectrum are wasting 10 times more money on projects and programs due to poor requirements management.
How do IT managers make the transition?
Making the transition will not be easy, as it is clear organizations still do not fully understand the role of a business analyst. Mitigating the risk poor requirements have on projects starts with embracing the need for skilled business analysis professionals. Understanding the value of business analysis skills starts with the executive management team. Creating a framework that clearly identifies and supports the business analysis role and responsibilities will be the first step to mitigating project failures.