There may be projects that can struggle on without a Business Analyst but if you work on large, complex engineering or construction projects you need detailed business requirements to deliver what is needed. And to deliver detailed requirements you need a Business Analyst.
But a BA does more than just ensure there are detailed requirements and specifications in place before the project work begins; they also ensure stakeholders are on-board with the project so will provide the support they should. And when the inevitable changes are required part way through the project they can help to reformulate the specifications so that you don’t lose sight of the underlying business case. Which, ultimately, gives you a better chance of delivering the right end-product first time around.
But just what is involved in the role of Business Analyst?
It can mean different things to different organisations and industries, which is one of the things that can make it hard when it comes to promoting the value that a BA can bring to a project. But a simple analogy that I have heard used many times is that of an architect – most people understand that role when it comes to designing and constructing a building so its is fairly easy to understand the same concept for designing and constructing pretty much anything from a bridge to an aircraft to a complex IT system.
A BAs stock tools of the trade are documents, plans and visuals that outline, initially, what will be built and then go into the fine detail of that end-product with detailed specifications that ensure the customer gets what he/she wants.
And, again using the architect analogy, you would employ an architect to plan your building and then a project manager to ensure it gets built – the same is true for business projects, whatever the industry.
We’ve all heard of projects that over-run on time or over-spend on budget or, even worse, fail to deliver what the customer was expecting. These are all problems that a good BA would alleviate if not eliminate entirely and that is the most important thing a BA brings to a project.